Before you enjoy my reunion with MvC2 in 2017; be advised that this article is part of a series – take a look at the MvC1 retrospective here!
Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes showed that the fighting game developer had hit upon something interesting here; beyond the thrill of pitting Spider Man against Chun-Li, there was an interesting gameplay dynamic with the 2v2 format, assist roulette, and explosive super combos. However, this template would be taken to another level with the sequel. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes would boast a huge roster, its 3v3 format would replace the first game’s “2v2 plus assists” dynamic, snapbacks – where a character will use a super meter to knock their opponent out of play and force another team member in – made their debut, assists were now character-specific, and everyone had three to choose from on the character select screen. It was released in arcades just two years after CoSH made its coin-op debut, and yet it was easily capable of devouring credits and spare time thanks to its rewarding gameplay and the wealth of variety on offer within that character select screen.
As I return to MvC2 in 2017, I’m reminded that it was probably the first time I was really introduced to the series, and even without the context of CoSH (and how much more was being introduced in NAoH), I was still left in awe at the sheer spectacle. Teams of three characters would throw screen-filling hyper combos at one another, bring each other in for temporary assists or hard tags, use the new snapbacks to force opponents into switching their active fighter, and build multiple meters for that explosive finish (which can be a standard hyper combo, the “delayed” hyper combo, where multiple hyper combos are used one after another, or the team variant where all hyper combos are used at once.) Like each MvC game, it seemed like something where you could just thrash around on the surface and get instant results by hitting buttons, but those who knew the strategies embraced a much more deep and engaging fighter.
Mvc2 in 2017 – excess and charm
Playing Mvc2 in 2017, you also find that the game also had a lasting goofy charm thanks to the presentation that accompanied the bombast. Take the soundtrack – even if you don’t know how the “Clown Stage” music goes, you still know how the music goes… you just hadn’t associated any name to the piece. What’s more, a hyperactive set of horns, distant guitar riffs and funky plucked bass give the tune an identity all of its own. Fire up MvC2 in 2017 and try muting the TV or playing the SFII Ryu theme over the action – it just doesn’t feel the same. And then there are the soundbites – the round call of “Get ready to kick butt” and the post-match dudespeak of “Oh man… I almost had a Heart Attack there” are much more memorable than a stoic “Round 1, Fight!” due to their inherent silliness. However, there was more to the presentation than just daft audio – each character had great animation and incidental details added – Jill calling her dog onto the stage, Sentinel’s arm transforming and extending when a rocket punch was used, Abyss opening up his mouth as he prepares a giant lunge attack… it was on another level to other fighters I had seen. Playing MvC2 in 2017, you’re reminded of those feelings when you first saw it in motion – it truly felt like watching cartoon characters battle it out amongst one another, and even if I didn’t know the mechanics of the game yet, I still knew enough to get excited whenever the hexagonal character portraits heralded a team hyper combo. Marvel vs Capcom 2 made its arcade debut in the year 2000, and it’s funny to think that whilst games like DoA and Tekken were feeling out the 3D space with measured but engaging brawlers, this was breathing new life into the flat 2D fighter with nothing more than unapologetic excess. Again, it was my first proper introduction to the MvC series, and at the time my mind couldn’t believe that a 1v1 beat ‘em up could handle so much… stuff. “How many characters? And they’re in teams? And they all have assist attacks? And the combo strings are how many hits long?”
Mvc2 in 2017 – have fun
I may never be good enough to excel at competitive Marvel vs. Capcom play, but even as I return to MvC2 In 2017, the game is so enjoyable that I don’t mind just having fun with the goofy fruit transformation of SonSon (who, let’s be honest, was long overdue a fighting game debut) or Dan’s Otoko Michi (an explosive hyper combo that does large damage to both the opponent and Dan himself.) If you’re a fan of fighting games or super heroes, you can still enjoy MvC2 in 2017. If you’re willing to put in the time, you can look forward to a deep and rewarding fighting game with plenty of replay value. Whilst gathering thoughts for this article I had the Xbox 360 set up and the game is still as fun as ever. Besides, if Disney’s going to continue giving kids Spider Man and Avengers cartoons to watch on digital TV, why not introduce your kids to some MvC2 in 2017 and let them have fun hitting buttons? They might not know the best combinations of characters or pull off every hyper combo, but it creates a bridge between the cartoons they watch today and the games we played in the past. Or maybe I’m being a bit too optimistic there.
Mvc2 in 2017 – hype machine
Before I wrap this article up, I’ll share a final thought – after New Age of Heroes there wasn’t another Marvel vs. Capcom game for over a decade, and I can’t help but think that the intervening years helped MvC2 garner so much love from fans. As the aforementioned 3D fighters offered a new take on the beat ‘em up genre, and as mainstream interest shifted towards other areas, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was still neatly preserved in its own bubble of bombast and excess, and it’s arguably one of the most memorable videogames to bear the Marvel name. In 2009 it made its debut on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN , renewing interest in the series just in time for the announcement of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 the following year. Today we can enjoy MvC3 and will follow news of Infinite with interest, but New Age of Heroes certainly helped keep the hype alive.