A super jump in Marvel vs Capcom 3 is accomplished by tapping the joystick down before jumping normally. Done properly, it launches you flying into the air, scrolling the screen upwards to follow you. The rules change a little in the air. All your normal attacks have different animations. Some special moves will still work, most won’t, and some new ones become available. And of course, you’re always falling. In many fighting games, it isn’t possible to block while jumping, leaving you particularly vulnerable. In Marvel vs Capcom 3, air-blocking is allowed. Combined with the super-jump, it’s possible to spend a lot more time in the air, a fitting place for the Marvel super heroes. Air blocking is actually one of the signature features of the Versus series. And it all starts with a super jump. But I couldn’t do it.
After the jump, I’m a bad carpenter
Maybe it was mental. My friend Chris can super jump pretty consistently using the 360 controller, but he’s a lot better at the game in general. On the other hand, I tell myself that his controllers are newer. And didn’t they do that d-pad redesign on the 360 at some point? The less said about the 360 d-pad the better. It seemed like I couldn’t flick the analog stick quickly enough, and consistently straight down enough, to get a solid super jump every time. I’d be hit by attacks I should have jumped over. I’d jump slightly forward instead of straight up.
Blocking was another. In the time taken to travel the analog stick down-back, my opponent would already have attacked, or so it appeared to me. I was getting hit when I knew it was coming, when I was ready for it. It’s one thing to be outwitted. It’s another to be out-twitched.
But the last straw was the bionic arm.
Nathan “Rad” Spencer has a bionic arm. He’s pretty proud of it. It’s kind of all he talks about. As in his games of origin, his bionic arm provides a good deal of mobility. He can use it to zipline or swing across the screen in various directions, creating openings or avoiding attacks. He can also shoot his (bionic) hand across the battlefield to grab his opponent. He’s kind of like a slow mechanical Spiderman. Although not really like Spiderman, who plays differently in this iteration. But you know what I mean.
The only problem is that it takes a long time to shoot a bionic hand across the screen. You have to brace yourself, shoot it out, and pull it back in. There’s probably a motor in there, winding up the cable, and it fits in an arm, so it can’t be a very big motor. It’s slow, and it leaves you vulnerable. It’s something you only want to do when you’re guaranteed a hit, or when you’re far enough away that the opponent can’t punish you if it misses. Above all, it’s something you only want to use when you’re absolutely sure it’s the right time. You definitely don’t want to consistently accidentally do it while right next to a blocking opponent.
But, that’s what I was doing. I guess my sense of center is a little off, and I’d consistently tilt the analog stick a little forward when I meant to tilt it down. The game (quite reasonably) interpreted this as a down, down-forward-forward motion, and shot the bionic arm, leaving me standing with my arm out like a moron, and usually about to enter a world of pain. So, an analog stick was clearly not the right option for me.
I suppose I could buy a real arcade stick. But those things are expensive, and they take up a lot of room, and I don’t really have the right coffee table for it. But mostly, my wife would make fun of me, and really I don’t want to think of myself as “that guy”. You know, the kind of guy who has an arcade stick in his house. So I picked up a Marvel-themed fighting game controller. It boasted a fancy microswitch based design, whatever that means. But more importantly, it had an 8-way d-pad with a nice clicky feel. No more mushy analog directions for me. It did the job pretty well for a couple months, at which point the “down” microswitch stopped working. So, maybe it’s really just me. Maybe I duck too much.
For now, I’m rocking a WWE themed controller that I bought during a clearance sale. It’s the same one that Madcatz released for Street Fighter 4, except it has John Cena and the Rock on it. It’s hideous, and a little embarrassing, but it does the job. As for the microswitch controller? It’s in a drawer at the bottom of my desk. I can’t quite bring myself to throw it away. It’s the first time I’ve ever broken a controller by simply playing too much. I’m actually kind of proud of it.
Charles Wheeler is the satan of martial arts and can survive anything — even nukes. He has been making and writing about games for over ten years. His latest project, The Rules on the Field, is a blog about sports and game design. You can find it here.