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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Capcom

Ups: 56 fighters; furious action; insane graphics; incredibly fun. 

Downs:  Eye strain and cramped thumbs are a known hazard.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

105.jpg (5215 bytes)This is the most insane, bizarre, and ridiculously beautiful fighting game I have ever seen. Marvel vs. Capcom is the high point in a genre that has not lacked high points. It delivers an unprecedented fifty-six characters for your slug-fest enjoyment, which is undoubtedly the most impressive line up ever established in a fighting game. All the usual characters are there for Capcom; hordes of the Street Fighter gang are present including Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile, M. Bison, Zangief, and others. Perhaps the most enjoyable addition is Jill from the Resident Evil series, but the list goes on and on. The Marvel universe provides such staples as Spiderman, Captain America, War Machine, Ice Man and Venom, while also adding a host of new characters including Cable, Thanos, Psylock, Rogue, Storm, and Dr. Doom. All in all it’s safe to assume that at least some of your childhood comic book heroes and the dastardly villains they did battle with have made a triumphant entrance into the interactive world and I couldn’t be happier about it.

12.jpg (4918 bytes)Much has changed since the first installment of Marvel vs. Capcom. In the last installment players chose a two person tag team and a helper character who could be called in for an assist. In MvsC 2, each player chooses a three character tag team. You then choose from one of three assist types that each character has available, and you can call in that character to perform that assist type during the fight. Assists range from characters running out and blasting your opponent, punching them, catching them somehow, or healing you. You can also tag your characters in and out as you see fit, and they will gain life while they are resting. Among the special attacks available are the double team and triple team attacks that look amazing and are easily the most devastating moves in the game. MvsC 2 has also abandoned the six attack buttons found on the last installment in favor of four buttons; two punches and two kicks. The remaining two buttons are devoted to your tag partners and make it much easier to call in an assist or bust out a triple team hyper combo.

16.jpg (5703 bytes)Graphically, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is the most impressive 2D fighter I’ve ever seen, with fully 3D backgrounds rendered at twice the resolution of the already impressive Street Fighter III Double Impact. The characters are still 2D sprites, and this gives them a slightly odd look as they move across the beautiful background, but it’s not a bad sort of oddness, and if anything it comes off looking very much like the comic books they are reflecting. The colors are vibrant and varied, while the explosions are brilliant and abundant.

18.jpg (5293 bytes)The soundtrack is just plain bizarre, featuring a medley of jazz and lounge music that almost defies explanation. It’s just plain weird watching Dr. Doom blow the crap out of Tron Bonne to soft jazz, but very little in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is aimed at doing the same old thing everyone else is doing. Strange and outrageous is more true to the theme of the game than the techno rock toons that quick wisdom recommends. While many find the wacky soundtrack too peculiar for a fighting game, I found its abnormally upbeat soundtrack to be a hilarious complement to the eccentric battle of the titans.

21.jpg (5409 bytes)The Street Fighter franchise offers devoted enthusiasts the ability to spar, to push the limits of a highly refined system that leaves little room for error and less room for true innovation. Other great fighting games like Tekken series offer a strike and counter strike, and a beautiful 3D highly refined fighting system that lets opponents duel to the death like samurai in a low budget movie. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 offers none of these things, but creates something entirely new. It offers a genuine comic book feel, it offers a bizarre madness in a thoroughly anime surrounding that becomes endearing because there is a method to the madness, although defining that madness is something of a chore. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a comic book series gone horribly wrong in order to create something horribly right, it is poets pounding on keyboards, it is chaos illuminated by fireworks, it is a comic enthusiasts wet dream, and it is the best 2D fighter ever.

47.jpg (4733 bytes)Where else can you see a fight where B.B. Hood, who looks like a cross between Little Red Riding Hood and Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz, complete with a little puppy at her feet and tweety birds flying around her, be in a fight with the demon lord Blackheart who summons a host of demons to devour the poor girl, only when she’s being mauled she whips out an uzi from underneath her dress and proceeds to wax the demon lord before reaching under her bonnet for a flame thrower to finish him off. But just in the nick of time he summons Rogue, who jumps onto the screen and starts making out with the faux little red riding hood to steel her power, only right before little red riding hood goes down for the count she summons Sonson the monkey girl who turns into a giant fire-breathing gorilla and waxes Rogue, who then tags in Amingo, a giant cactus with a sombrero, who proceeds to devastate poor monkey girl until she tags in Jill from Resident Evil, who summons a flaming zombie who begins to maul the hapless cactus warrior, while she whips out a rocket launcher and tags in all her partners for a triple team sixty-five hit combo that puts the cactus down for the count. Bizarre is an understatement, and disturbing doesn’t quite fit either. I mean, damn, those kinds of images stay with you. At worst you may end up spending your hard earned dollars on therapy, and at best the real world will begin to seem surreal and rather dull.

83.jpg (4723 bytes)The Japanese version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 featured online play over a specialized network, and all accounts had on-line play set for the U.S release as well. Unfortunately, tragically, this is not the case. MvsC 2 has no Internet support at all and this is a great loss to the game, and to humankind as well. Someday, on some Capcom fighting game, it will happen. On that day I will plug my Dreamcast controller in like I’m planting a flag atop some forgotten bloody battlefield and I will proclaim its merit across this beautiful world. Bells will chime from sea to shinning sea and light will spring back into eyes that were too bloodshot to see straight, and new vigor will spring into the sore and gnarled thumbs of gamers who had lost hope that their vision would one day be a reality. It will be a time to rejoice, but until that day comes we, the gaming public, will have to be content to beat the hell only out of people we can coax into our living room. Don’t despair, fellow gamers. The fighting game gods are out there, watching, waiting. Pay them homage, offer them sacrifices, and ask them nicely to give us a fighting game with real on-line play. Don’t listen to the unbelievers who scoff at your dedication and 2D rituals. The almighty God of fighting games is watching over us, and its name is Capcom.

--Jeff Luther