luke kalamar is ready for a fight …
This past weekend, a little movie called Iron Man 3 took over the box office and received critical acclaim. As of this writing, it made a modest $700+ million and is currently the highest grossing film of 2013. Definitely not a big deal!
Just kidding, it’s a huge deal. Iron Man 3 was a spectacular movie and its massive success in such a short amount of time is no surprise. It easily succeeded in accomplishing the impossible task of following up The Avengers, the current 3rd highest grossing move of all time. Why am I bringing this up in a video game article? Well, the character Iron Man has appeared in a whole plethora of games during his long run as one of Marvel’s flagship heroes. He was even an unlockable character in Tony Hawk’s Underground (2003). A lot of games naturally featured the Armored Avenger in a starring role, though some of these were based on the movies and were pretty terrible. As a big Iron Man (and Marvel in general) fan, checking out any game that features him kicking ass is an obvious must. It is for this reason I would like to talk about one of my favorite games to ever feature Iron Man in all of his glory, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes.
MvC2 first came out in arcades in early 2000 and shortly came to the Sega Dreamcast later that year. For a solid two years, MvC2 was a Dreamcast only title and most likely contributed to a lot of the short-lived system’s early success. As you can clearly see from the title, MvC2 pits characters from the Marvel and Capcom libraries against each other in frantic 3v3 battles. There were a staggering total of 56 playable characters, 28 from each franchise. The characters ranged from well known Marvel characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man and popular Capcom characters like Ryu and Mega Man, to lesser known characters like Marvel’s Spiral and Capcom’s Jin Saotome. Later releases of this frantic fighter on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (to prepare everyone from the upcoming release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds) also featured online play.
MvC2 came out when I was very young, no more than 11 years old, which meant that I was at the perfect age to view this game with pure amazement. I had never even heard of the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, but I was old enough to already be familiar with Marvel and Capcom properties. I had Wolverine action figures and already played several Mega Man and Street Fighter games. Having the two franchises mashed up into one title was completely unimaginable for me, so that made my discovery of it one fateful day in after school care that much more memorable. I don’t remember much about what happened, but I’m pretty sure I screamed “THIS EXISTS?!” when my friends first showed it to me. This was all thanks to the awesome guy who ran our after school care who would bring various video games in for everyone to play.
As you can clearly see, my experience with MvC2 has only been positive throughout my life. The game is endless fun that never really gets tiring. Sure, the brutal online play sometimes got exhausting (some people out there are absurdly good at the game), but it’s still fun to play with friends more than a decade down the line. I still remember my tried and true team of Iron Man, War Machine, and Cyclops with fondness (my friends called it being cheap but they were just jealous). I quickly became a huge fan of the game and every aspect about it, which made the discovery that a third title was to come out in 2011 that much more exciting. Yep, 11 years later and I still loved it. Thankfully I lucked out and never bought the original MvC3 release, so when Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 came out in late 2011 with more characters and stages, I didn’t lose any extra money. It was also the perfect birthday present too and I still occasionally play it with my girlfriend.
Aside from how much fun MvC2 is to play, the massive roster is both a strength and a weakness. I really do enjoy having a wide variety of characters to choose from as it keeps the game exciting and you have to continuously update your strategy. However, this also meant that the characters didn’t get the full attention a lot of them deserved, and we even had some excess characters thrown in that the game could have done without. Do we really need two Wolverines, one with bone claws and the other with adamantium? No. Aren’t Iron Man and War Machine really similar and it’s a bit moot to have both? Yep. Are joke characters like Dan pointless? Absolutely. I get that both franchises wanted to flex their impressive libraries of characters, but it’s glaringly obvious that a lot of characters got very little attention or even really mattered. I guess that’s what happens when you make a game entirely out of sprites that were already used before. MvC3 and UMvC3 did a much better job with a smaller roster and a lot more focus that made each character unique.
13 years after it’s widely praised release, I still consider MvC2 one of my favorite games of all time along with being my favorite game to ever feature The Invincible Iron Man. It’s definitely my favorite two player fighter and I’d take it over any Street Fighter or Tekken game any day. I also can’t see a Marvel movie without at least thinking about this amazing title. If you’ve never checked out this game, you really missed out on one of the finest titles the fighting genre has ever seen. Here’s to hoping Marvel vs. Capcom 4 is somewhere on the horizon!