Marvel vs Capcom 3: I wanna take you for a ride!

, | Game diaries

Marvel vs Capcom 2 was a big part of my life in high school. I grew up in a town with a vibrant arcade culture, and as a gaming and comic nerd, I’d followed Marvel’s versus series since X-men: Children of the Atom. So when the 3rd installment of the series was announced, I was understandably excited. But it’s been over 10 years since the last game came out, and probably 6 years since I last put away my Dreamcast and my well-worn copy of MvC2. So, I’m understandably a different person now. In that time, I graduated from college, got married, pursued careers in 2 different industries, and have a real, grown up job at a real, grown up company. So, I figured I’d pick it up for a little multi-player with friends for old time’s sake, and that it’d quickly settle down next to Rock Band in my pile of games that only get pulled out for company.

After the jump: Why does that match count say 792-1242?

Fighting games in general have always had an unusual hold on me. I’m not an especially competitive guy, and I don’t have the drive to practice individual games until I can memorize combos or perfect timings, or any of the pre-requisites for play at even a reasonably high level. I spend a lot more time losing than I do winning, and I always have.

But they were always available in arcades in my neighborhood, and they were always in rotation on my friends’ consoles when we hung out after school. At some point they just became a part of my identity. Playing fighting games is a thing I do. They’re “my genre”, even when I haven’t played one in years. Like most other casual fighting game players, I scraped along during the lean years in the early 2000s. The Capcom vs SNK games were a godsend for an old saw like me, but they were never going to get much traction in the US. Then, the really bad times. Capcom Fighting All-Stars. NeoGeo Battle Coliseum. I may even have dabbled with Mugen a few times. I’m not proud. I was young, and needed a fix.

I suppose I could have tried to play some of the 3D fighting games, but Virtua Fighter was way too hard, and Dead or Alive seemed like a one-trick-pony. I didn’t want to spend my time memorizing long button sequences and animations. And besides all that, it still wasn’t my thing. I played 2D fighting games, not 3D ones.

Through it all, Marvel vs Capcom 2 stood as the pinnacle of the genre. It wasn’t the best game, strictly speaking, but it was a fast-paced, madcap brawl, a crazy mashup of characters that had no business being in the same universe, let alone the same game. It was also horribly unbalanced at the high end, fielding only a handful of characters as competitive in the tournament circuit. But I wasn’t going anywhere near the tournament circuit, so I didn’t care all that much. I just knew it was a relic of an earlier time. Technology and game design had moved on. I’d just as well be wishing for new adventure games, or new pinball tables.

Things picked up a bit when Capcom decided to re-introduce the world to fighting games with Street Fighter 4. I picked it up, and had a good time with it, but a new Marvel vs game was way off my radar. Activision still had the Marvel gaming rights locked up, and Capcom was clearly pursuing other interests, like Tatsunoku vs Capcom. The pieces were falling into place, but it was far from a sure thing.

And then, suddenly, it was.

Next time: Dog!

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.