They’re gonna take you for a ride. Again!
Capcom must have been smoking a few pounds of green stuff back in the day when they started coming up with these mashup games. (In a way, I still think they are.) Set in the tradition of X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is the craziest of them all, introducing a third character to the tag team combo and even more ridiculous combos that can be devastating depending on the team you’re controlling. It was a game that rewarded skill, yet still managed to welcome new players with easier, more forgiving attack inputs. So much that even I, a fighting game veteran who has lots of experience but absolutely no skill, can enjoy.
[image1]What makes Marvel vs. Capcom 2 so fun is how moves can be stringed between your selected team of characters. As you build up your special attack meter, the possibilities for linking special attacks together become greater and greater, usually resulting in a hyper combo that fills the screen and empties your rival’s life bar. Not only do these attacks act as offensive strategies, but also as counterattacks that can easily turn the tide of a losing battle.
There’s a huge variety of combinations that can be made with the enormous cast of characters which brings in nearly all the fighters from previous Capcom fighting games that included Marvel characters. That includes fan favorites, like Spider-Man and Captain America, as well as newbies to the crossover series, like the hero from the future, Cable. You can also count on seeing some off-shoot Capcom characters too, like Dragon Ball’s Goku-like Son Son and mech pilot Hayato. Character combinations, if properly planned, can provide strong chains of attacks, so just mixing and matching teammates is an enjoyable necessity.
Team strength is not only based on which characters you choose, but also on which of three special partnering moves you assign to each character on the team. Inactive characters can be brought in at any time, for the aforementioned combos or for just getting out of a binds, effectively canceling during a foe’s powerful attack if properly timed.
[image2]This downloadable version keeps the core Marvel vs. Capcom 2 game and makes a list of improvements, some of which can be noticed right when you hit the character select screen: All the characters are available at the start, without the need to complete any of the insane home port requirements from the Dreamcast and PS2 versions, like having to play the game for more than 200 hours. Even if you are a MvC2 veteran, you probably did not see some of the harder to unlock characters. And if you brand yourself an expert player, you’ll enjoy jumping online to take out others like you. The look and feel of the original game is thoroughly preserved as well, including the awfully awesome and catchy "I’m gonna take you for a ride!"
Online play is what will carry Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for a long time, since it carries a mostly lag-free game mode that carries the quality net code first introduced in Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting HD Remix. On the other hand, we still get an online mode that presents no skill-based matchmaking, which acts like a Russian roulette whenever you look for a player or ranked match, which can pair you with another player in equal skill or an arcade shark that will wipe the floor with your face. In either case, the gameplay is extremely addictive and is worth investing time in to learn some of the longer strings of combos with special moves.
[image3]You’ll mostly be playing this online, since the single-player arcade mode is generally cheap, taking you through seven stages that end in a three-part boss battle that will surely drive the more stubborn player bananas, as the boss freely uses special attacks even while you’re attacking him with the most powerful of combos. The computer-controlled characters also tend to have a sixth sense to block in the most unfair situations, but will prove to be a temporary distraction as you hone your skills for human players. This formula for the single-player mode is shared between all of the crossover games, and trust me, having this three-part battle is much better than some of the other final bosses you’d have to contend with in past games. If you plan to gain some of Marvel vs. Capcom 2‘s achievements or trophies, though, prepare to grit your teeth and repeat this mode a lot, since some of them require a perfect play-through without a single continue.
Taking the 2D online brawlers in the marketplace into account, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is easily the friendlier of the bunch in terms of new players jumping in. Hopefully, the game’s online community will remain strong and will provide everyone with a variety of opponents, even with the non-existent skill-based match-making system. There’s a strong possibility it will remain popular online, as this game is a blast to play, whether you have a buddy sitting next to you or your most hated foe waiting for you online. If the character selection menu music is any indication, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will take you for a nostalgic and exciting ride… just be sure not to let it punch your ticket.