Two of what are considered the geekier side of popular culture are comic books and video games, so, logically, it makes sense that they crawl into the same bed together on the odd occasion. This is what happens when the world of comics crosses over with the world of video games!
The Capcom VS. Series
It Starts With the Children
It was the mid-90’s and two things couldn’t be stopped, that was Jim Lee’s run on the X-men and Capcom’s CPSII and Sega NAOMI arcade fighting games. -Enter ‘X-men: Children of the Atom’ – using the art of the 90’s X-men, run very liberally, this game combines the visually iconic run with Street Fighter Alpha style brawling. Loosely based on the storyline “Fatal Attractions” the game actually features Akuma from Street Fighter 2 Turbo as a secret boss.
Something to Marvel At
Not but one year later in 1995, good ol’ Capcom was at it again, but this time tackling the larger Marvel pantheon in the creatively named “Marvel Superheroes”. This played much like X-men:COTA but with a nicely expanded roster featuring: Captain America, Spider-man, Doctor Doom, the Hulk, Iron Man, Magneto, Psylocke, Wolverine, Thanos, Juggernaut, Blackheart, Shuma-Gorath and Anita. The games narrative is unsurprisingly steeped in the 90’s Marvel event the Infinity Stones
Meeting some new friends
1996, this is where the real cross overs begin. X-men Vs. Street Fighter can be seen as a full blown sequel to 1994’s X-men:COTA, but as the title would suggest, the larger cast of the then current Street Fighter Alpha games come over to play. Punctuated by its innovative mid-match tag mechanics this can be seen as the first true entry in the Capcom “Vs. Series”. It’s important to note that the home ports of this game suffered severely from memory issues, having to cut out animation frames in order to keep the action to a decent pace as well as only the Sega Saturn release supporting the tag mechanic, and even then, it needed the optional 4Meg RAM card expansion.
We’re almost there
The relationship between Marvel and Capcom was on a roll, and naturally, given the pattern you can guess what’s next. Marvel Superheroes Vs. Street Fighter featured similar gameplay to that found in X-men Vs. Street Fighter, but added the revolutionary “Variable Assist” feature, which allowed players to call in their tag partner to come into the match, throw out one special move and then retreat back into the stock. Unfortunately, this game didn’t feature any characters that were new to Capcom’s Marvel games but did bring in a lot more of their streetfighter characters, notably series favourite, Sakura Kasugano.
A joining of two families
Okay, now were in business, the video game golden age of 1998 is upon us and the first Marvel Vs. Capcom is released! Now, slightly less exciting is that the game still sticks very close to what was seen in the previous year, two characters per player, tag assists, dual super moves, the usual. What is important to note though is the swapping out of “Street Fighter” with “Capcom” in which they should be applauded by showing the restraint to only feature 3 Street Fighter characters (they in no way will show this much restraint next time) notable non-SF characters featured include: Mech Pilot Jin Saotome, Ninja Strider Hiryu and Sci-fi military man Captain Commando.
Take me for a ride
At the turn of the century is upon us, the futuristic year of 2000. I’ll be honest with Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 – new age of heroes Capcom went a little nuts… The playable roster jumped from 15 to a whopping 56 right out of the box, no doubt an advantage from having sprites that date back to 1994. Featuring 12 Street fighters and 16 X-men. Despite the expanded roster these two series definitely get the most love. As far as Marvel representation goes there is a great mix of your mainstream Marvel folks from Spider-man, Captain America and Iron Man to characters a little more out there like Omega Red, Silver Samurai and Marrow. MvC2 launched in Arcades on Sega’s fairly fresh NAOMI arcade hardware which resulted in an absolutely stellar Dreamcast home version, nowadays this gem can be found on Xbox360 and Playstation 3
The fate of two worlds
MvC fans had a long wait for the fabled MvC3, an 11 year wait to be exact. Blasting into the HD era with new polygonal graphics with a custom shader to help emulate the high contrast of the comic art that inspired it, brought to you by Capcom’s extraordinary MT framework engine. Capcom took this opportunity to shine a light on Marvel characters who haven’t appeared in the series yet such as Thor, Phoenix, X-23, Super-Skrull and MODOK. Likewise, from the Capcom home team we saw representation of characters who rose to popularity in the 11-year dark spot including: Viewtiful Joe, Amaterasu and Dante. To general fan dismay an updated and expanded version of MvC3 launched under the title: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom (as a nice nod to Marvel’s ultimate line of comics). You may think, but why would you not want an expanded version of a great fighting game? This update launched less than a year out from the initial release which left many fans feeling as if they were being asked to buy another full boxed release rather than doing a digital update of the original. This was compounded with the buyout of Marvel by the Disney corporation in 2012, resulting in Capcom losing the licence which meant that digital sales of all Marvel vs Capcom related content to be removed from online storefronts. As a happy ending to this MvC3 arc, as a promotion for our next title, they allowed digital versions of UMvC3 to be sold on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live for the PS4 and Xbox One.
Six years later in the bold age of 2017, in a new age where the Marvel brand is now forever linked with its cinematic counterpart, Disney must have re-evaluated the beneficial relationship Capcom and Marvel had in years past because they launched Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite. The gameplay works as some of a back to basics approach, likely an attempt to capitalise on Marvel’s new film-based fans, going back to a two on two structure with a much more modest roster of heroes, as well as a focus back on the infinity stones (a purist would like to think this is because of their involvement with Marvel Superheroes in 1995, but let’s be real, it’s the movies). In an attempt to bring in new players the Marvel heroes designs are now inspired by their depictions in the MCU, this had mixed results as this did involve dropping the well-received custom comic book graphics shaders present in MvC3, resulting in a negative response from fans claiming it looked like a mobile game. Another negative comment the title received was the noticeable absence of any characters from the X-men brand, a former staple of the series.
If you, like us, immensely enjoy both comics and video games, the best place to be on Feb 1st and 2nd is Guildhall Games Fest! Tickets available here !