Marvel Vs Capcom : Clash Of Super Heroes (マーヴルVSカプコン クラッシュ オブ スーパーヒーローズ)

When it comes to 2D fighting games it is hard to argue that Capcom aren't the kings of the castle. However, it wasn't always that way and it wasn't until the development of the CPS-II board Capcom that the company made a conscious attempt at diversifying their line-up of fighting games from just their Street Fighter franchise. The result was a wide-range of titles ranging from Vampire themed beat-em ups to licensed super hero titles. Among these games was the title Vampire: The Night Warriors. The game build upon the fighting mechanics of the Street Fighter II series and established a fresh new art style that the company would go on to use as a basis for all of its fighting game franchises. One such franchise was the company's Marvel Super Heroes series that started out as a successful take on the beat-em up genre and was one of those rare experiences among video games, a licensed title which didn't suck. As we know, this led to a fusion between Capcom's new Marvel franchise and its other properties such as Street fighter with titles like X-men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Street Fighter..

The artwork for MvC is top notch!

I absolutely loved the frantic gameplay of the aforementioned with its over the top attacks and hilarious commentator and this game is more of the same but with a few new features. As usual you choose any two characters to battle against 7 other teams, who are followed by the final boss which in this game is Onslaught from the X-men series. The crux of the game centres around attacking your opponent while tagging back and forth whenever you you get low on health. This brings in an interesting tactical element as when your character is resting he will slowly regain any lost health so you must ensure that you keep an eye on your health bar during battles. Attacks drain your health two ways – either it is totally lost or just clipped which is represent in red. This red area can be recharged when the character is resting outside of the fight so by smartly interchanging between characters you can ensure your characters are constantly healing.

1-4 players, VGA compatible, ace!

Another addition in Marvel vs. Capcom are the new assistant characters which are chosen at random before each battle (although they can be accessed via cheats). You get a different one every battle, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. These characters range from familiar characters such as Cyclops to much more obscure ones like Pure & Fur and Ton-Pooh. You get to use these characters a set amount of times, and they add an excellent new dimension to the game and if used effectively can make the difference between a win and a loss.

You gotta love the effort Capcom used to put into its artwork

I like the lineup of this installment of the VS series, in addition to the Street Fighters of the previous games you get to also play around with Megaman, Strider, Roll and Capcom stalwart, Captain Commando. From the Heroes side its nice to now be able to play as Venom and pit him in a team with Spiderman, although the other additions of Gambit and War Machine are slightly underwhelming.

The game's lineup is more varied than the Street Fighter/X-men focused ones of previous games

In addition to the regular arcade mode you get a training mode,survival and a crossover battle mode which allows for four players to play at once, with each person controlling one character in a team. These battles are really frantic with parents constantly tagging in and out and they are a great way of ensuring no one is sat around during parties and such. It's also during these 4 player games that you notice the increase in power that the Dreamcast has over the previous Saturn games with everything looking so colorful and running so smoothly, even when the bigger sprites such as Hulk and Zangief are onscreen. The sheer lack of load times also is impressive and at the time confirmed the Dreamcast's position as a 2D powerhouse. To think about it, this game was possibly the first truly, "arcade-perfect"Capcom fighter and a million miles away from the crippled Playstation port.

Even with all this action on screen the game never stutters

Also, with its hand-drawn backgrounds and 60fps performance, I would argue that the presentation is also better in Marvel vs. Capcom than the sequel. Especially when you take on board the crystal clear stereo sound and the quality remixes of classic audio tracks, which trump the misjudged Jazz tracks of Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Its cool how each character has their own unique theme with many made up of remixes of classic character themes. Some tracks, like the remix of Ryu's classic stage theme hand me humming the old tune during battle, and overall the music is really well done. In fact, the only complaint I have, like with all with all 2D Capcom games on the Dreamcast is that you will need a joystick or ASCII pad to get the most out of the game, but that is more a criticism of Sega's controller than the Capcom's mechanics.

Four player games are great fun and add an extra level to the game's frenzied action

While it is not the most balanced fighting game in the world, and may not live up to the technical heights of say, something like Capcom vs. SNK 2, Marvel vs. Capcom makes up for its shortcomings by being so damn fun. Beginners and pros alike will find enjoyment from the game's accessibility. The gameplay is sharp, the art style is original and overall it is a more refined focus affair than the over-the-top sequel, much in the same way that the first Powerstone was compared to its successor. Simply, Marvel vs. Capcom is a fitting sayonara to the CPS II board and a must-own for any 2D beat-em up fan.