REVIEW: MARVEL VS. CAPCOM (DREAMCAST)

Because I still had my Dreamcast hooked up, and the fact that it’s being rereleased as a download title in two weeks, I decided to take a look at the original Marvel Vs. Capcom.

In the late 1990’s, what was known as the “Vs.” series became hugely popular due to its combination of Street Fighter controls and flashy, over the top, seizure inducing super movies. Capcom had dabbled in Marvel Fighting games with X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes, but it wasn’t until they pitted their own stable of characters against the X-Men that the games truly became popular and took on a life of their own.

Capcom faced a huge problem when it came to the home versions of the Vs. series, however. Of the three systems out at the time, the only system that could come most close to recreating the arcade experience at home was the Sega Saturn, which was not performing well in North America sales wise. Even then the player needed to purchase a 4MB ram expansion so the system could handle the tag feature in the games. The lack of memory in the Playstation only allowed one character to be used per match, with a back up delegated to a super move combination attack.

Things changed in 1999 when Sega launched the Dreamcast, For a short time, the last console from Sega was doing well sales wise before the launch of Sony’s Playstation 2, so Capcom had a mainstream piece of hardware in which to bring the true arcade experience home. Marvel Vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes would launch within the same month as the Dreamcast.

Marvel Vs. Capcom would be a first for the publisher. They had crafted fighting games featuring Marvel characters and pitted them against their Street Fighter characters, but they had never utilized other characters from their other franchises. Now, people could pit MegaMan and Strider against Captain Commando and Morrigan from Darkstalkers or turn them against Captain America and Spider-Man. Marvel would also get a few new comers to their roster such as Venom and War Machine, though the latter was a color swapped version of Iron Man.

While technically the game was arcade perfect, one of the things holding back MvC was the Dreamcast controller. Say what you will about the Playstation versions lack of a tag feature, but it was a lot easier to pull off necessary super combos within a match on a regular controller than on a standard Dreamcast pad. Hardcore fans could purchase fight controllers, sure, but that was an added cost and anyone picking up the game now is going to have a lot more difficulty tracking down specialized controllers for the console (trust me, I looked). When designing Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Capcom had the Dreamcast version in mind and eliminated medium attacks such that all main attacks could be handled by the face buttons.

Marvel Vs. Capcom origins launches two weeks from today for both the PSN and XBLA, and I for one can’t wait. Sure, we live in an age where Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 exists with an insanely large roster, but sometimes it’s just nice to play to see where the origins of that game with a more manageable roster. Besides, I have a Street Fighter controller this time around.

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