What won't they think of next?
Hoping to drive the 2D fighter genre into the ground further than ever thought possible, Capcom has just released Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter. This latest product of Capcom inbreeding doesn't take us much further than its predecessors, but hey, if it ain't broke...
Capcom pretty much just gave up on writing stories for these fighting games. Did we ever care anyway that Chun Li's dad was killed by M. Bison who also killed Charlie who was Guile's best friend? Good riddance -- let's just get to the ass kicking. Actually there is an intriguing story that I will quote directly from the instruction manual for you: "Once again, the evil mutant Apocalypse is trying to control humankind with his terrible powers. It will take the amazing skills of the legendary Street Fighters and the powers of the mighty Marvel Super Heroes to stop this madman!" Wow.
Anyone who's been to the arcade in the last 8 years, should recognize the gameplay of MSH vs. SF. There are six buttons, each assigned to either a kick or a punch, and special moves are performed via button combinations and manipulations of the directional pad. During the course of the fight, your 'hyper meter' builds up and allows you to perform extra special moves. The game is played from the side view and the two combatants battle it out in a best of three match. The purpose of the game is to beat everyone who gets in your way and eventually defeat the boss characters.
One of the biggest disappointments straight off the bat is the loss of the true tag team option due to limited RAM on the PlayStation. In the arcade, each player could choose two fighters for some nasty tag team action. But in the translation, only one player can actually be played, while the other only comes in to perform various special moves. X-Men vs. Street Fighter, released in 1998, also suffered this same fate. The designers did put in a mode where true tag teams can play with the restriction that both teams must be the same. Hey, at least they tried.
The variety of characters in MSH vs. SF is a definite plus. There are 17 immediately selectable characters and around 6 or so hidden characters. The 17 characters include: Akuma, M. Bison, Blackheart, Captain America, Chun Li, Cyclops, Dan (Note to Capcom: No one likes Dan. Dan sucks. Next time put in Psylocke or Jean Grey.), Dhalsim, Hulk, Ken, Omega Red, Ryu, Ken, Sakura, Wolverine, Shuma Gorath, Spider Man, and Zangief. This is definitely one of the finest casts ever assembled.
In MSH vs. SF, the chain combos and glorified special moves are taken to new heights. Although you can't control your second character, they play a huge role in producing devastating super moves. A direct hit from a two-character special move can produce an awesome 30+ hit combo and take away a big chunk of health. What's also great is the strategy involved in choosing characters. Because each character has a unique move, the combination of two different characters can make all the difference in the world. The chain combos are easily performed by pressing punch or kick buttons in order of strength. The 'aerial rave' is a cool chain combo performed after knocking an opponent into the air and catching them with another combo.
Graphically MSH vs. SF looks just like it did in the arcade (kind of nasty in my opinion). It has a distinct cartoon quality and stays true to the look and feel of the characters. There is a loss in the number of frames of animation for the characters because of the limited RAM, but this isn't really notable. The game plays rather fluidly and the tag team special moves are amazing to behold. As with most Capcom fighters, the controls are right on key.
Holding a PhD in Street Fighter 2, I've come up with a classification for Capcom fighting games [Ed note: Can we call you 'Dr. Geek?']. There are the 'Street Fighter' style games, which have been the influence of almost every 2D fighter since the release of Street Fighter 2, and there are the 'Marvel Fighter' style games, which are derived from the 'Street Fighter' style games but have a unique personality of their own.
What differentiates a 'Street Fighter' game from a 'Marvel Fighter' game? Simple. The 'Marvel Fighter' prizes itself on huge chain combos, air juggling, ridiculously high jumping, and furious gameplay. The 'Street Fighter' games excel in the technical arena, focusing on finesse, strategy, and thoughtful gameplay. One must raise the question "But what category does Dark Stalkers fall into?" Dark Stalkers is no doubt a 'Street Fighter' style game- the easiest way to see this is that one cannot jump leagues into the air.
So what the hell is my point? MSH vs. SF is definitely a 'Marvel Fighter' game and thus 'Street Fighter' gamers who prefer the old school style should hold onto their breaths for Street Fighter Alpha 3. But if you're a fan of the big guns, 36 hit combos, and air juggling until your ass hurts, MSH vs. SF is the cream of the crop of the 'Marvel Fighter' games on the PlayStation.
And those of you who have no idea what I was saying in the last three paragraphs should consider this: MSH vs. SF is just like X-Men vs. SF, and Marvel Super Heroes, so if you own any of these already, you can probably live without this latest rehash. This game should be entertaining for those of you who haven't touched any of those aforementioned fighters. MSH vs. SF, on it's own, is a well made and entertaining - especially with two players. On the other hand, in the context of all the other Capcom fighters, MSH vs. SF is nothing more than a corporation trying to suck your soul dry.