Ten years ago, I was just coming out of college. I was single, writing reviews for WYWS Magazine (street cred for those that remember it), and sleeping from 7am until 3pm after long nights of video gaming. I had, at that time, two arcade sticks for my game systems. Any punk that challenged me in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 (for the Dreamcast!) was going to get their ass handed to them in a cold rain of shinkuu-hadokens.
Today, I’ve got the arcade sticks packed away, in favor of my kid’s toys. My game systems are inside of a locked television stand. WYWS went out of business years ago and the editor-in-chief lost my number. I have a day job. A wife. A kid. I no longer go to sleep at 7am; I get up for work at 6:45am.
Oh, and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds hit the streets this week.
No way my wife would let me couch-it for a week, use up my vacation hours from work, and slam buttons on a joystick all night, just to figure out if MvC3 is appropriate for kids to play. But a guy can dream.
Eventually, we’ll get to the part where we let you know how Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is for your kids, but you’ll have to allow for a 10-years-in-the-making geek-out first.
Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is one of the most anticipated games of the decade – no kidding – since MvC2 was still played up until last year in the Evo Championship Series, an international fighting game competition. Whereas most fighting games have relied on some form of technical punch-trading and grappling, the Marvel Vs. Capcom series has focused on 3-versus-3 multi-hit combos and comic book mayhem. Not that MvC isn’t technical too, but when Iron Man can fill the screen with a laser blast, you tend to not worry as much about “chip damage” as you would in a series like Tekken. On the other hand, MvC3 gives you a team of three characters to combo up, and the best players out there will combo-together impressive 80-hit, 3-man combos.
The story is more or less unimportant, since you’re crossing a video game world with a comic book world. The basic idea is that this giant bad dude named Galactus woke up on the wrong side of the universe and wants to take it out on our heroes. So, for some reason, you’ve got to fight each other, and then Galactus. You know, because if aliens flew in and threatened Earth, the first thing we would do is attack Mexico and send troops to China, just as a warm up for fighting the aliens.
Strangely enough, a game that could pass off a minimal amount of brain-dead dialogue and story was actually written by comic book veteran writer Frank Tieri, who has written plenty of popular series including Captain America and Wolverine. The characterization shows, and what little dialogue is in the game fits characters appropriately – and is punctuated by the game’s beautiful graphics. As an old school MvC fan – I still hang on to the idea that I would have liked to see a fully-2D game like MvC2 or Street Fighter III, but it seems with the new breed of 2.5D games like MvC3 and Street Fighter IV, my old school sensibilities need to be broken. Other elements of the game are big and bright – which if playing with your child, equates to “exciting,” since it feels like this action is happening inside of a comic book.
Allow me now to sandwich my main grievance between two positive statements. There’s a great cast of unique characters in this game – 36 for now, plus two DLC characters. BUT, MvC2 had a mind-numbing 56 characters, which disguised throw-away characters inside the horn of plenty. In MvC3, it seems like Capcom has really focused on their offering and given characters varied move sets.
See, you didn’t even notice that I said that it’s a dealbreaker to not have Gambit. And Cyclops. And Cable. And Ken. And Strider. And Venom! C’mon!
In fact, it seems like, on the Marvel side at least, Capcom chose primarily to include characters that audiences would recognize from their recent and upcoming movies. Spiderman, Hulk, Iron Man, Doc Doom, Wolverine? Check. And looky what we got on the horizon for upcoming movies – Captain America, Thor, Deadpool and Magneto!
We can go round-and-round about why characters were or weren’t included (I could, at least), but the real meat-and-potatoes of it all is that MvC3 is a better-than-average game. It handles well, looks good, and yes, has a good handful of familiar characters for you – and your kids.
The almighty ESRB rating for MvC3 is “T for Teen.” The violence is not realistic, which for some parents, is important. Some of the characters, however, do have weapons – guns, knives and swords (and Captain America’s shield!) – so if that’s something you don’t want your kid seeing, MvC3 isn’t the game for you. Also included in the game – partial nudity (which a pessimist would call partial clothing), sexual themes and mild language. Again, depending on your family’s personal politics, you may or may not agree with letting your child play the game. Most of what you’re finding in this game is more or less what you’re seeing in movies like the PG-13 rated Iron Man, so again – it’s up to you as a parent to make the judgment call.
Regardless of themes, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is a fun game for a father and son. You’ll wax nostalgic about playing as your comic book heroes, and your kid will have a blast playing as character from popular games and movies. Capcom even included a “Simple” mode where special moves are mapped to the buttons instead of button combos – allowing younger and less experienced players to pull off big moves without having to remember all that QCT+PP nonsense. Still, for a youngin’, button-mashing will work – yet a player that takes the time to learn move sets and combos will undoubtedly do better. Standard button layout has a light, medium, high and “special” attack button (that mainly pops the other player up for aerial combos). In a 3-on-3 game like this, aerial juggling combos are a big part of winning the game.