Strip Talk #33: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 still irritating after 22 years

Y’all, I swear that I love Marvel. If I could spend the rest of my life researching Marvel, I would do it. If they offered a doctoral program, I would be the first to sign up and spend hard-earned money on the mere suggestion of obtaining a degree in Marvel science and lore.

With that said, my love for Capcom is not so great. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of different Capcom fighting game series. But there is a certain element to how Capcom does things that doesn’t sit right with me on several different levels. And Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a shining example of the disdain I feel for the home of Mega Man and Ryu.

The premise of the series is cool: Take a large roster of who’s who from Marvel and Capcom and mash them together in teams of 3-on-3 fighting. With at least 90 percent of the roster appearing in a previous Versus title, you’ve got name recognition from the previous games. You’d think this would make an excellent experience considering if you’re playing this, more than likely you’re already familiar with some of the characters. No, you’d be wrong, because somehow out of 56, maybe 10 are viable, decent characters. Considering long-established tiers, the S tier includes five surefire, tournament-winning characters and then characters used for the assists. Five though?

And imagine what the learning process was like when the game was first released. Chaos, pure and simple. I was around for that, and it was beyond frustrating. The general atmosphere of the fighting game community was trash, but then add the fact that some folks hated on others simply for their choice of characters and you have a toxic mix of arrogance and stupidity behind a fighting game based on superheroes, mutants and dudes who throw their burning fist energy at each other internationally.

Beyond the garbage tier list establishment and the toxic community surrounding Marvel as it were, let’s get into the game itself. The mechanics were kind of trash and could have stood to receive a patch or 10. Guard breaks, while useful, happened way too much in the meta of the play scene. Yes, it’s about matchups and knowing how to counter at the right time and execute. But one character dominating teams shouldn’t have been normal. For awhile there, before the top echelon of fighting game competitors like Justin Wong and Sanford Kelly proved you didn’t need Cable to be viable, you could get a random assortment of characters played in competition and maybe a Cable thrown in every so often. But, once everyone learned about five bars of meter with Cable on point meant punishing assists with Tiger Knee Air Hyper Viper Beam, well, you were in for teams featuring Cable 1,000 percent of the time. Casual play went out of the window quickly, which quite frankly, got old fast.

As much as I enjoyed the series in the early days and Marvel in general, I never could quite move past Marvel vs. Capcom 2. After some years of reflection, I realized it just wasn’t the game for me. I was among what I believe is the minority that wasn’t sad to see Capcom lose the Marvel license for 10 years, and I wasn’t particularly invested or interested in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, either. Come to think of it, it really was Marvel vs. Capcom 2 that doused the flame of my love for fighting games for a good 15 years. It’s 2022 and I’m just getting back into enjoying Street Fighter and other fighting game series after a long hiatus. I blame MvC2 for that. Despite loving Marvel, this is a direct product that I have learned to do without.

Lyndsey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book games edition

1. Marvel vs. Capcom series

If there were ever a polarizing yet fun fighting game, it’s probably Marvel vs. Capcom. The first few Versus games are fun yet broken, but you don’t know broken until you get to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Spending 18 hours at a tournament to watch the same 10 characters fight in teams of three makes you dislike and love a game at the same time.

2. Batman Arkham series

Batman’s run of action-adventure games has quite a few standouts. Rocksteady outdid themselves in letting you become the Dark Knight and immerse yourself in the world of Gotham and the insane asylum that is Arkham. Any entries are classics that shouldn’t be missed.

3. X-Men arcade game

“Welcome to die!” is a pleasant yet infamous greeting waiting for you at the end of the X-Men quarter muncher. Gold and Blue ’90s-era X-Men join and fight in a team of four to take on the Brotherhood of Mutants. It’s a fun romp that reminds you of how powerful the original animated series was in terms of impact on gamers and comic book nerds alike.

4. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game

If there is ever a game on this list that personifies GI and its life in the ’90s, it’s this sequel. Easily one of the best quarter stealers of all time, TMNT2 took everything from the comics, the original animated TV show and the movies and turned it into an ultra-fun excursion in the world of the lean mean green fighting machine.

5. Marvel Ultimate Alliance

An insanely fun brawler that’s chock full of Marvel awesomeness, the first Ultimate Alliance game is fun and full of depth. It’s also co-op and introduced you to the then-obscure Marvel characters that are now household names. I didn’t know the Winter Soldier then or Fing Fang Foom but I bet I do now. This is the Marvel encyclopedia.

Marvel character highlight #18: Jean Grey/Phoenix

Name: Jean Grey-SummersPhoenix

Affiliation: X-Men, X-Factor, The Twelve, X-Terminators, Phoenix Corps

Special abilities: Omega-level telepathy; telekinesis; Phoenix Force, which grants the ability to travel unaided through space; psionically manipulate matter and any form of energy; create powerful “cosmic” fire; resurrect from death and manipulate life energy in others; and manipulate timelines.

Background: Jean Grey had an ordinary home life with her parents and older sister in upstate New York. That changed when Jean’s friend Annie Richardson died after being hit by a car. Jean telepathically linked with her dying friend, manifesting her powers for the first time. To save Jean, her parents sought the help of Charles Xavier, who connected with Jean and brought her out of her coma. Jean then went to live with Charles at the newly formed Xavier Institute, learning to use her powers. While there, she fell in love with fellow teammate Scott Summers and continued to go on missions. During one mission in space, Jean was exposed to a mortally lethal dose of radiation poisoning. As she was dying, Jean cried out telepathically and the Phoenix Force answered her. The Phoenix Force created a duplicate body — which it resided in with Jean’s essence — and placed Jean in a healing cocoon that sunk in Jamaica Bay. The Phoenix Force posed as her for years, while a clone of Jean (Madelyne Pryor) married Scott and had a child with him. Jean was resurrected from the cocoon and rejoined her teammates. Later, Jean and Scott’s marriage fell apart and Jean was killed again. She then resurrected herself using the Phoenix Force and ascended to a higher plane of existence, the White Hot Room.

Relationships: John Grey (father), Elaine Grey (mother), Sara Grey-Bailey (sister), Scott Summers (former husband), Nathan Christopher Charles Summers (Cable; genetic son), Stryfe (clone of Cable; genetic son), Rachel Summers (genetic daughter), Hope Summers (step-granddaughter), Nathaniel Grey (X-Man, genetic son), Madelyne Pryor (Goblin Queen, genetic clone), Corsair (Christopher Summers, father-in-law), Vulcan (Gabriel Summers, brother-in-law), Havok (Alex Summers, brother-in-law and lover)

First Versus game appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

Appearances in other media: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (television), The Marvel Super Heroes (television), X-Men animated television series (television), X-Men: Evolution (television), Wolverine and the X-Men (television), The Super Hero Squad Show (television), X-Men (anime), Iron Man: Armored Adventures (television), Astonishing X-Men (motion comics), X-Men (film), X2: X-Men United (film), X-Men: The Last Stand (film), The Wolverine (film), X-Men: Days of Future Past (film), X-Men: Apocalypse (film), X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants (video game), X-Men (video game), X-Men: Gamemaster’s Legacy (video game), X-Men: Mutant Academy (video game), X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 (video game), X-Men: Next Dimension (video game), X-Men Legends (video game), X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (video game), X-Men: The Official Game (video game), X-Men: Destiny (video game), Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (video game), Marvel: Avengers Alliance (video game), Marvel Ultimate Alliance (video game), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (video game), Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth (video game), Marvel Heroes (video game), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (video game), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (video game), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (video game)