Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins|
Marvel vs. Capcom – it really flows off the tongue. The words seem to fit so well together that the title itself has become an entity of its own over the past 15 years, with many gamers assuming it to be simply another ambiguous fighting game title, like Dead or Alive, Tekken, or Virtua Fighter. You know…Marvel vs. Capcom – see, it works.
Many gamers – especially the younger set – do not realize that the franchise originally began as the amalgamation of two established fighting franchises; Capcom’s flagship fighting franchise Street Fighter, and Capcom’s Marvel-licensed superhero beat-‘em-up, The X-Men. The X-Men franchise evolved from a traditional side-scrolling pummeler to full-fledged fighting game with X-Men: Children of the Atom in 1994. This eventually melded into the 1995’s Marvel Super Heroes, as lineup was expanded to include additional characters from Marvel’s universe, including Captain America, Spider-Man and Hulk.
X-Men and Street Fighter were pitted against each other for the first time in 1996’s arcade release X-Men vs. Street Fighter, which was followed shortly thereafter with 1997’s Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter featuring the expanded lineup. If that was not confusing enough, the Street Fighter franchise drew in its own share of additional characters – digging deep into the Capcom gaming library to include the like of Mega Man, Captain Commando, and even a vampire from Darkstalkers. This resulted in the first official Marvel vs. Capcom title, 1998’s Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Super Heroes.
This long and sordid series of releases has resulted in one of the most popular fighting franchises in the genre – the most recent of which, 2011’s incredible Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and it’s “Ultimate” expansion pack are widely considered as one of the best 2D fighting titles in the history of gaming. It appears that Capcom is intent on reliving the early days of the Marvel vs. Capcom lineage with their newest Xbox Live Arcade release, Marvel vs. Capcom Origins. A combination history lesson / fan service offering, this new Origins release contains pixel-perfect remakes of two flagship titles in the Marvel vs. Capcom library; Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Super Heroes. If that weren’t enough to whet your appetite for 2D fighting, Capcom packs in a solid challenge mode and online play support. The result is a fantastically enjoyable and surprisingly relevant 2D fighting experience, even if it consists of two 15 year-old games.
The one major benefit that those early 2D games have over their 3D competition is that even after 15 years they can still look nearly as good as the day they released; both titles in Marvel vs. Capcom Origins look absolutely stunning with solid character models, fluid animations, colorful costumes, and amazing visual effects. These two titles might be old enough to have their learners’ permits to drive, but they still look better than some recent releases.
And if you want nostalgia, Capcom gives it in spades with a series of unique game views attempting to simulate the original arcade experience. Whether it be the standard 4:3 letter-box and stretch views, or the a cool slanted arcade cabinet player view, the over-the-shoulder spectator view, or the filtered “CRT” view, Origins definitely delivers in terms of nostalgia factor. Just to put this in perspective, the developers cite over 30 different view combinations that can be achieved with the various HD filters they have put in the game.
When it comes down to the actual gameplay, Marvel vs. Capcom origins makes it painfully clear that fighting games have come a long way in terms of balance over the past decade and a half. Origins can be downright brutal at times – If the gamer happens to choose the wrong character for a particular matchup, there is little or no chance he will ever be able to come out on top. This is quite a difference from last year’s finely tuned masterpiece Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and required a fair amount of study to figure out which character are stilted and which are not. Gamers will want to keep their eyes open for the likes of Iron Man’s War Machine, and Spider-Man’s Venom – both characters are unlocked throughout the course of the main mode, but once available are all but unstoppable.
Origins would not be a proper fighting game if it didn’t allow for local multiplayer, but as an added bonus Capcom has updated the game for online multiplayer via Xbox Live. The single-fight matching system might seem a bit stripped-down compared to the multiplayer lobbies and spectator modes of other titles like Dead or Alive, but what it does it does well with little or no noticeable lag. If lag becomes a problem, Origins even offers adjustments for setting minimum ping rates to keep the online action flowing smoothly.
Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is a fantastic look back into the history of one of gaming’s most-heralded fighting franchises. Both titles in the collection – Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Super Heroes – remain faithful to the originals, warts and all. While the unbalanced difficulty can seem brutally unfair compared to the finely tuned fighters of the current generation, Origins’ amazing presentation and robust online play is an addiction that will keep gamers coming back for many days to come.