I loved Capcom’s crossover fighting games with Marvel, but I never really had the chance to play Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes until recently, when I got a hold of the Dreamcast version. And boy, did I miss out on such an excellent fighting game! Since I would usually write about the video games that I play, I try to stay away from playing fighting games. But I couldn’t resist playing this one.
Let’s talk about this game today!
Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is the fourth title in a series of fighting games that feature characters from Marvel Comics and Capcom’s different video game franchises. The Dreamcast version was developed and published by Capcom. Unlike most fighting games released during this time period, MvC2 continued to use 2D sprites as opposed to 3D. Battles feature teams of three characters. And instead of the usual best of three matches, battles consist of only one round.
You can switch between team members at any point in the match. Inactive fighters slowly regain a specific portion of health while they’re inactive. If a fighter loses all of his/her health, they are knocked out and are out of the match. The team whose fighters have all been knocked out lose the match. However, if you’ve got a time limit set, it’s possible for it to run out with fighters still on their feet for both teams. At the end of the time limit, the winning team is the team with the most remaining health.
Like most fighting games, this game has a VS mode for two player competitive play, as well as a single player mode where you will need to fight a number of teams until you get to a final boss. As far as I can tell, the game has unlimited continues. There is a save system, but it only saves your stats and your unlock status, but you won’t be able to save your progress in the single player mode.
The MvC2 Fighting System
Marvel vs Capcom 2 follows a traditional fighting system wherein you have two combatants in battle. The objective is to deplete the opponent’s health meter through the use of regular and special attacks. In this game’s case, you’re aiming to deplete the health of all three fighters on the opposing side. You’ve got two buttons for punches, two buttons for kicks, and two buttons for assist attacks. Special moves are executed through combinations of movement and the attack buttons.
Each team also has a collective Super Meter. As the match progresses, these Super Meters will start to fill up. The rate in which these meters gain energy depend on how much damage you’re taking and how many attacks you’ve been doing. When you have a full meter, you gain a Super level, and you can have up to five full Super Meter levels. Filling up your Super Meters is what I would say a secondary objective, because these will allow you to use Super Moves and Hyper Combos.
Super Heroes Got to Have Super Moves
One of the reasons why I was easily drawn to Marvel vs Capcom 2 is because of how easy it is to execute most of the Super Moves. Super Moves are flashy attacks that deal a lot of damage to an opponent. And there are many of them that will do a lot of chip damage even if they are blocked. Knowing how and when to use Super Moves is key to being good in this game.
Usually, a Super Move can be done by doing a quarter circle motion (either forwards or backwards) and pressing the two punch or kick buttons. Even without consulting move lists or guides, I am usually able to guess how to do one of a fighter’s Super Move. If you can get an opposing fighter’s health meter low enough, a Super Move is sure to finish them off.
You can even have your teammates pitch in with their Super Moves. A Hyper Combo is an attack wherein two or more fighters in a team does a Super Move. And these is even a lot easier to pull off – just press both Assist buttons at the same time. This move uses up one Super Meter per fighter though. If you have a full team of three still in the match, a Hyper Combo will use up three Super Meters.
The First Ultimate Roster
I stopped being fond of Capcom’s Marvel crossover fighting games because they kept dropping the Marvel characters that I like, such as when Iron Man and Cyclops were excluded from the Marvel vs Capcom roster. But every single Marvel fighter that were in the previous games all made it back as playable fighters in this game.
Despite all my favorite Marvel fighters returning, I still have a few complaints. Ooh boy, I don’t understand the complaints about needing to unlock fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate because it took me so long to unlock characters for Marvel vs Capcom 2. Sure, you started with 24 fighters already unlocked. You still have to unlock the rest and… let’s go into that later. For now though, I want to talk about the new fighters.
On the Capcom side, I don’t know why they wasted three slots on completely new characters. It would have been nice to see Chris Redfield in this game, as well as Zero from the Mega Man X series. And maybe one of the characters from Rival Schools, which is another fighting game franchise from Capcom. On the Marvel side, this roster had already been X-Men heavy. And yet they used three slots on X-Men characters: Cable, Marrow (does anyone even remember this character today), and – wait for it – bone-claws Wolverine.
Given the heavy X-Men slant, I really wish that they used different characters for at least two of these slots. Bone-claws could have been a secret character like Mech Zangief, and we could have done away with Marrow. They could have used these slots for Thor, Ghost Rider, the Punisher, Doctor Strange, and so on.
Unlocking is a Grind
To unlock fighters in Marvel vs Capcom 2, you’ll need to buy them in the Shop by spending Points. You earn Points by winning matches in Arcade Mode, Score Attack, or spending time in Training Mode. There are two fighter slots, one for a less expensive fighter (cost between 600 points and 2000 points) nd another slot for more expensive fighters (between 3,000 and 4,000 points). Since I’m not good with fighting games, I can only beat Arcade Mode on the lowest difficulty setting and only with my best teams. this nets me around 2,200 points on average. to unlock an expensive fighter, I’d need to beat Arcade Mode at least twice. It can be quite the grind.
The other problem with this is that fighters appear in these slots randomly. There are sets of fighters available depending on the time of day. At least early on, I needed to play a certain time if I wanted to unlock a specific character. If you had managed to purchase all of the available fighters for one timeslot, you’d have nobody available for purchase. Yes, there was a time that I had enough points to unlock Iron Man and War Machine, but I couldn’t.
Somehow, this issue got resolved when I was down to the last three locked characters. I guess the game was able to tell that I was really close to unlocking everyone. This was annoying and really added frustration to the grind. But it got fixed the more I played. Once I had my favorites unlocked, I didn’t mind the grind as much. I just played normally with my favorite characters, and spent whatever points I earned until I was able to unlock everybody.
There is No “I” in Team
In Marvel vs Capcom 2, you can’t just put your three favorite fighters in a team and expect to win. First, you need to think about Assists. When you choose a fighter, you also need to choose from three different Assist moves. Each does a specific function. Some examples are anti-airs, projectiles, capture moves, and even healing. You’ll need to choose the move that will fit the rest of your team. Is one of your favorite fighters lacking in anti-air attacks? Maybe choosing an anti-air assist from a teammate will help that weakness.
Next, you need to build your team with fighters that fulfill three distinct roles. The first role is the Battery who will charge up your Super Meter. The second role is the Point, the main damage dealer of the team. Usually, the Point is a fighter with a really strong Super Move. Your Point will use up all the Super Meter that your Battery is building up. The last role is the Assist. According to my research, top tier MvC2 players use their third characters exclusively for their Assist move.
Of course, you shouldn’t confine yourself with these restrictions. One of my favorite teams consist of X-Men Blue Team members Cyclops, Psylocke, and Gambit. Gambit and Psylocke are as Batteries as I’m not good at using Assists. I use Gambit when I need to keep opponents away; his staff has good attack range and can push opponents away. Psylocke has good combos. Both have projectile attacks too. When I’ve got at least four Super Meter levels, I swap to Cyclops and unleash a Mega Optic Blast or two. Rinse and repeat.
Lack of Additional Modes
My final gripe about Marvel vs Capcom 2 is it’s lack of modes. The Dreamcast port is lauded for replicating an accurate arcade experience, and I like the game a lot for that. But there’s not a lot you can do in the game if you don’t have anyone to play it with. Arcade Mode is your typical fighting game mode, where you go a series of random opponents until you get to the final boss. Score Attack is the same, except you play on the default Options settings.
I know fighting games are limited, but others have done better when it comes to different modes of play. One that I really wanted was a Story Mode that will have you go against teams with fixed members, and a Rival match based on the character that you first select. If that’s too complicated, how about a Marvel vs Capcom mode, where you can only choose characters from one company and only fight teams of fighters from the other company? Or what about a traditional one on one mode where you choose one character only and have to fight in best of three matches? There are simple variations to the fighting game formula that I think could have been added here.
Visuals, Sound, and Presentation
Marvel vs Capcom 2 uses 2D sprites and art which I think has helped this game stand the test of time. Unlike it’s contemporaries that used 3D graphics, this game holds up quite well visually. I know that Capcom has abandoned this art style in favor of 3D models in recent times, which makes this game stand out even more. Characters are animated well and look really good. Capcom added a lot of flashy effects that really makes this game fun to play or watch.
In terms of sound, this game has a lot of memorable sound bytes and catchphrases. Aside from the classic Street Fighter yells that will be a part of pop culture for years to come, Marvel brings a lot to the table as well. Maximum Spider! Proton Cannon! Arctic Attack! Berserker Barrage! These moves are still known to fighting game enthusiasts today. The announcer is also really good, and is easily in the top five of best fighting game announcers of all time. Sound effects are really good too, especially the clanks that happen whenever you hit an armored or metallic character. The music is good, but not as memorable as the Street Fighter classics.
As for presentation, this game does enough in terms of a fighting game. The HUD is very clear and easy to understand. Alerts are easily seen, but don’t obstruct gameplay. The main menu is a little lacking though, like it was done in Flash or MS Powerpoint. And I wish this game did more, like having character profiles or character specific endings.
As I mentioned, I had lost my fondness for Capcom’s Marvel crossover fighting games. But Marvel vs Capcom 2 made me appreciate Capcom’s approach to 2D fighting games again. I’m biased, because this game features both Marvel characters and Street Fighter characters. But even looking past that, the game’s easy to learn concepts and easy to execute moves got me to spend hours playing this game. I had lots of fun, especially after I had unlocked Iron Man.
It does take a while to unlock all the fighters, but that’s only a problem early on. It’s not a long term problem, and with a little time and patience it won’t be a problem anymore. I think a lot of people still play this game, and it is definitely worth revisiting every now and then. Keeping in line with this blog’s theme, this game is a really good way to experience some superhero battles. I highly recommend it if you’re someone who just wants to experience fights between superheroes and supervillains.