The biggest crossover you can fit in your pocket.
Capcom has certainly been eager to get its popular fighting franchise reiterated and ported on as many consoles as it can. With a 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV out last year and an upcoming port for Street Fighter X Tekken on the Vita, it's not that surprising to see Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 make the portable leap as well. What is surprising, however, is just how seamless the transition has been. SSF4-3D (yeesh) was a great port that even added some features while it took a hit in some graphical areas. UMvC3-V (double yeesh) manages to do the same, but with such a minor cut in visuals that only the nitpicky will notice.
This is pretty much what people considering purchasing the game will want to hear, though: the game runs as fluidly as its console counterpart and, as far as I can tell, plays identically. It even includes the Heroes vs. Heralds mode right inside (no need for a post-launch download), which is a surprisingly deep and complicated extra mode for players really wanting to sink their teeth into game mechanics. Online play seems the same as it was before as well, which is fantastic to see on a handheld.
That said, the same old problem many have with UMvC3 on consoles is still here: be prepared to be punished by long, convoluted combos by the masses. Then again, the audience for this version might skew a little more casual, shall we say, so it's possible that your online results may vary from the norm.
Speaking of casual, the Vita version uses “Touch” controls… by which I mean “tap the screen to win”. Doing so basically makes the character mash out a preset combo. This so-called "technique" can be repeated over and over (and over). It's dull and boring and doesn't contribute much to the game at all, leaving me puzzled as to why it was tacked on at all. At least in Super Street Fighter 4 3D, the touchscreen displayed buttons that could be assigned to different moves. That would have been useful here. Canned combos? Not as much.
Granted, there's a bit more to it than that, as you can use the screen to jump, dash, and even swap characters and call out assists. But there's no in-game information that was able to explain to me how it works. Touch controls even seemed to turn an Auto-Block feature on—as in, I was walking toward the opponent, holding the directional stick, and my character would automatically block attacks. Pretty cheap. Luckily, you can disable yourself from connecting to anyone who's using this control scheme if you wish. Simple and Normal control schemes still exist too, but with the decrease in buttons on this version from a controller or fightstick, Simple Mode might be too appealing for casual players.
The other addition is replays, which are auto-saved and can be locked, uploaded, or deleted afterwards. This feature probably should have been in the console release, but it's better late than never—and what's even better is that the replay mode here is the best I've seen for a fighter so far, allowing you to display hitboxes, move frame-by-frame through the replay, and even see player inputs during the match.
Besides this, everything else from the console version seems intact, from the extras, to DLC content (yep, you still have to get it separately), to the mechanics. It is impressive to see the models and animations looking so sharp on such a tiny screen, but keen eyes will notice that many of the special effects (like fire, energy, etc.) have been downgraded a bit. It really isn't a big deal, but it is noticeable for those scrutinizing over whether it looks identical to the console counterpart.
There's not really much else to say that hasn't already been covered, since the game is by and large identical to the previous release. It boils down to this: Either you're so hardcore into "Mahhval, baby!" that you simply must 'take it for a ride' everywhere you go, or you've dabbled in either prior console version of the game and want something deep with online play to give that shiny new Vita something to do. If you don't fall into either of these camps, then Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 on the Vita is probably not going to be worth your time, because you either prefer the console experience, have been worn out by the game already, or simply never cared for it to begin with. It's nice to see the game hitting a portable system, fully-featured and running as well as it does, but it doesn't bring anything new to the table to offer an incentive for people who have already played it.