Veteran fighting series Samurai Shodown returns with few flaws
SNK has done it again. Gorgeous graphics, fun play mechanics and a solid fighting game engine make up the core of one of its flagship fighting franchises featuring samurai. If you’re in the mode for beautiful fighting in the Japanese feudal era, you’ve come to the right place in the 2019 revival of Samurai Shodown.
Getting back to the root of what makes Samurai Shodown fun and unique, the 2019 reboot is basic in every way. The barebones options mean there isn’t much to do, but if you’re looking to just pick a fighter and jump in, it’s clearly there for that. You choose from 18 base roster fighters and duke it out in feudal Japan with various motivations. All are investigating a coming catastrophe, but their intention in the face of a sinister environment is unique. Timeline-wise, the game is set between the prequel Samurai Shodown V and the original Samurai Shodown. So, you’re getting a taste of the story before the main series even kicks off.
The characters, as well as the backgrounds, are stunning. SNK has always been known for its impressive attention to detail when it comes to graphics with Samurai Shodown, and this entry is no different. The colors pop with an emphasis on non-realistic graphics that resemble what we know in the West as ukiyo‑e and woodblock paintings; everything is utterly gorgeous, beginning with the menu and options screens.
As a title set in feudal Japan, the music must reflect the environment — and it’s well done as well. The use of traditional Japanese instruments has always been present in Samurai Shodown and it’s used liberally and to great effect. Also, the voice work is excellent. We appreciate the Japanese language, and it sounds beautiful and clear here.
We do have an obvious issue with the reboot, despite its beauty. There is a noticeable lack of things to do once you stop marveling at the graphics. Where are the modes beyond the standard offerings? So much more could have been added, especially with the series’ history at hand. It’s a pretty package but it’s missing a lot.
Samurai Shodown has been around for a long time, and this revival is just that: A return to the roots of a fantastic fighting game series. This entry is stunning and graceful yet just enough to whet the appetite of a fighting game newcomer or a seasoned veteran. With this success, SNK now knows what it needs to do to show up and show out with the renewed interest in the showstopper that is Samurai Shodown.
Beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking. The Japanese countryside of Tsushima can only be described this way, and this is being modest. Immersion in the struggle and burden of a samurai lord in 13th century Japan against invading Mongols is stupefying once you realize that it’s intricately crafted in a video game. You are the ghost, the Ghost of Tsushima.
Wandering around the real island of Tsushima, Japan, in 1274 is a fairytale. Every location and nearly every blade of grass or tree tells a story. That story is of samurai lord Jin Sakai, a man desperate to save his home from an invading Mongolian force led by the grandson of Genghis Khan. Jin gathers a counterforce, only to be defeated and nearly killed. In the process of healing, Jin finds allies to rally to the cause and petitions for help from the shogunate to defeat the Mongols. You become Jin in your quest to save his home and gather weapons and supplies, learn skills, acquire alliances, and fight to repeal the invaders. There is much to learn and see in the open world presented to you even if you aren’t a history buff or care about the politics, economy, or goings on of feudal Japan. There are no time limits for tackling missions, and you are encouraged to free roam and explore the land.
Much like any other open world game I’ve ever played, what I like to call the “Metroid instinct” kicks in and I find myself searching every nook and cranny to find hidden supplies and other goodies. During my exploration, of course, I come across people who don’t like Jin. I note the presence of bonfires, which generally indicates who I like to refer to as “dudes.” Dudes are the type that are generally hostile to me and my interests. Those interests involve investigation and saving people in the general populace who require the services of a skilled samurai and contract killer. This is usually how the fight starts: Dudes notice me in my finery and my magical horse frolicking in the countryside and now they want to get reckless about things.
In an absolutely fun mechanic, I tend to get into standoffs with bandits. Now, my fighting skills here with a katana and tantō are not the best, but I have been known to make dudes meet their maker quickly. Similarly, I’m not great with archery, but I make the best of a bad situation and stealth kill my way through the countryside cleanly and quickly. My grasp of the controls is tenuous at best, but that’s on me and my lack of skill and “older folks’ reflexes™”. Ghost’s control mechanics are sound and easy to pick up with a little practice.
As I explore after my fights, looting what I need, I take in the scenery. Ghost of Tsushima is quite possibly the most beautiful video game I have ever seen. I’ve been playing games a long time, and I can’t say until now that I’ve ever been just wowed by a game where I specifically take in-game photography to use as a background. This is what you buy the latest console for and the best TV for: marveling at the graphics. I’m not even on the latest PlayStation model (I’m playing with a PS4 Pro), and Ghost makes almost everything else look like stick figures from the Atari 2600 era.
With a masterful audio experience, Ghost has the sound and feel of a Kurosawa masterpiece. You want to feel like the epic Seven Samurai? Turn on the Japanese dialogue and English subtitles. It’s that type of experience. The natural ambiance is also nice. It’s comforting to know that paying attention to sounds in the environment can save Jin’s life when I’m exploring. I’ve lost count of the number of times listening for audio cues linked to bears or dudes has helped me avoid an ambush.
While it’s a great experience, Ghost is not without its problems. The camera work doesn’t always help when it’s time to fight. Often, I’m fighting the camera to see my enemies and avoid taking massive damage. The camera could use some refinement in later updates. And my other issue is the Legends mode, added after the game’s initial release. I was all geared up to play with my partner and then realized that this long-awaited co-op mode does not support local play. We were hotly anticipating being able to roam around Tsushima together as we’re gamers, engrossed in the tale of Jin who absolutely love samurai. But we were highly disappointed to learn that the only co-op supported is online. Though the mode is free, it was a massive letdown to realize that we weren’t going to be playing this epic together.
Despite some minor technical issues, Ghost of Tsushima hits the mark in a lot of areas. A competent narrative, open world exploration, stunning visuals and an easy-to-grasp system are just some of the goodies awaiting engrossment in Jin’s tale of revenge and revolution in 1274 feudal Japan. Ghost of Tsushima scares up a great adventure worthy of all the praise one can muster.
Previously, I reviewed Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3, which set the stage for me to try the others in the series. Little did I know, I would be learning a valuable lesson: Not every popular franchise will always have best-sellers. An excellent example would be Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2.
Gundam 2 follows the same roster of characters in various entries in the Gundam universe, including some characters and mobile suits that were only featured in Gundam movies. To compensate for a lack of a storyline, DWG2 has two modes: Story, where you can play as one of a select group of characters from their respective Gundam series; and, Mission, where you choose a character with various missions set in the universal century timeline and you can interact with various characters from other series. As you move along, you gain experience points to increase your level and collect various mobile suit parts. There is also a chance to earn new skills just like DWG3 as you advance to higher levels.
Gundam 2 also special missions where you can fight against other opponents to earn licenses to pilot different suits, earn the trust of other characters to fight beside you and acquire higher-level parts for mobile suits. The mobile suit lab and terminal features help you to keep up with changing events and current developments with different mobile suits.
What I like about Gundam 2 is that every character is legit in the Gundam universe, which made me wonder if I saw the actual Gundam series with that character. Also, the opening cinema was high quality, showing off the minor suits such as GMs and Zakus, who were observing the OGRX-78, Strike Freedom and Nu Gundam suits doing battle while the Sazabi and Psycho Gundam lurked in the shadows. Additionally, I also appreciated Namco Bandai, Sunrise and Koei retaining the original English voice actors to reprise their respective characters; this gives DWG2 the needed credibility as an official Gundam video game.
However, despite the good, the bad parts stick out like sore thumbs. When I try to fight in other battlefields, I’m restricted in moving, which weakens my attacks, and leaves me vulnerable. Also, the in-game camera was VERY unhelpful, especially in boss fights with giant enemies where I was piloting my mobile suit on low energy while running and avoiding attacks by giant enemies like Psycho Gundam, Big Zam, and Queen Mansa. I also found certain parts of the game have unrealistic time limits to fight enemies to achieve certain objectives. Finally, I found the biggest insult to me as a Gundam fan was the graphics; these feel like cheap knock-off paint jobs of Gundam and lower-rank mobile suits alike. To be fair, the associated pilots look like their anime counterparts, but the suits were not given the same treatment. Unfortunately, I would also be remiss if I did not include the LONG wait to obtain skills, unlike in DWG3. I could unlock and purchase new skills in addition to leveling up characters more efficiently via training sessions in the latter game’s shop.
There are hits and misses that the quality assurance teams should have noticed, but there are bright spots such as music and voice acting being excellent. I would still play Gundam 2 when I have free time, but Bandai Namco did such a rush job on it that I feel justified almost not recommending it. I’m just glad that DWG3 is a far superior product and sticks to the essentials that make Gundam, well, Gundam. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is on the way but not quite there.
I’m apparently no battlefield general. I learned this fascinating tidbit about myself within a rather rough short season of my gaming life through disastrous decisions and lack of preparation. My troops weren’t ready, I didn’t have enough horses and my crops failed to sustain my garrison. Even my samurai and ninja were taken out quickly. I was outmanned, outmatched and decimated before I knew what hit me. Suffice to say, if I had been Oda Nobunaga, feudal Japan would have been in shambles like my mentions on Twitter these days. That is the way in Nobunaga’s Ambition.
Ambition is not for the faint of heart. It requires serious planning, thoughtful tactical strikes, and good resource management. At its core, Nobunaga’s Ambition is a war simulation that takes you through feudal Japan’s revolutionary period, where unification was the goal and Nobunaga was the man to do it — possibly. While you can choose to be Nobunaga, you can be any other number of generals from different regions of Japan at the time. You’re tasked with raising an army, gathering and maintaining supplies, and defending your region while conquering others in a bid to unify all of Japan under your shogunate.
You roam around the Japanese countryside with your troops and challenge the other generals in a turn-based battle sometimes to the death. If successful, your name will be mentioned in history as a great general and the unifier, much as history played out with Nobunaga’s victory over Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki in 1582 and his successors’ battles after his death.
The premise is unique, though to fully appreciate what it is you’re doing and why, you probably will have to be a history geek or interested in Asian history. It’s niche but fun with a lot of historical education thrown in.
Its niche context aside, the game is fun to play once you fully get into the simulation. It’s a very 1993 presentation. The graphics are small for the maps, but they’re reminiscent of the graphics of the time for the SNES and Windows games. The standout among the graphics, though, are the general portraits. They’re colorful — as are the other graphic elements — but are also beautifully detailed. For a SNES game, the graphics are top notch and still can compete with the big titles of the era.
The music can be a little grating but it’s not overly terrible. There are a few different songs for the menus and battle, and while slightly tinny, they are OK in a short-term play setting.
If you’re into strategy simulations and Japanese history, let curiosity strike and settle in for a rousing battle. Nobunaga’s Ambition is enough to get you started in the genre and is destined to lead to greater things.
In my vast inventory of interests, mafia movies are one that would make me curl up on a weekend afternoon with popcorn, drinks and other treats in hand. While I know that some famous mafia movies and television series are being developed into video games, Sega’s Yakuza series is already a perfect combination of action, adventure, and the mafia. I was thrilled to combine my love for the series with zombie elements in Yakuza: Dead Souls.
Set a year after the events in Yakuza 4, an unknown disease outbreak in the district of Kamurochō has affected its residents, turning them into zombies through bites. As a result, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force has been called in to assist with the slow and expanding quarantine. During this chaotic time, certain enemies of the Tojo clan have arisen to take advantage of Kamurochō’s suffering. The fate of Kamurochō and Japan rests in the hands of four men: Shun Akiyama, a loan shark trying to save his sick receptionist; Goro Majima, a feared yakuza and construction company owner who is fighting his own infection; Ryuji Goda, a disgraced yakuza and takoyaki chef whose clan has a tie to the outbreak; and, series protagonist Kiryu Kazuma, who runs a children’s orphanage and returns to Kamurochō when his adoptive daughter is kidnapped.
Dead Souls is an open-world game that combines action, adventure, and survival horror elements. The plot is one akin to samurai movies where there are four chapters with four parts for each character with the final chapter reserved for Kiryu. Controls for movement and the game camera are simple with the analog sticks. You will also be given “memos,” a list with special sections to teach you basics such as using weapons, evasion, and close quarter combat, which help when facing off against the legion of zombies. I appreciated the ability to level up each character’s attributes through use of soul points that upgrades abilities to carry more items, improve knowledge of zombies, weapons modifications and protective gear, and master advanced close quarter combat techniques.
As the game progresses, your current character will be assisted by three NPCs: Reiko Hasekawa, a researcher who offers information and rewards for completed tasks; Gary “Buster” Holmes, a firearms expert who helps the protagonists and their temporary companions with gun training; and, Renji Kamiyama, weapons seller and modifier of weapons and protective gear who can also be used as a pawnbroker to buy rare items.
I also appreciate the classification of various zombie enemies; that organization method can help you plan the appropriate strategy or simply avoid contact with them. While you’re running around Kamurochō, pay attention to the music. It’s one of Sega’s best soundtracks in the modern era and puts the Yakuza series among Sega’s go-to roster of great soundtracks.
The graphics are OK for the time when it released. It’s good for an open world game, though there’s room for improvement. Though, compared to other games at the time, Yakuza: Dead Souls doesn’t necessarily outshine the competition; it just merely competes. The only real problem I have with Dead Souls is the inclusion of scenarios where you must chase down people while fending off zombies. I know a yakuza got to make his money, but Sega was putting these characters in dangerous conditions without any protective gear, which is slightly unrealistic.
Dead Souls is great to play on a day off or slow weekend, though I would offer two pieces of advice: Do not play late at night, and do not play while COVID-19 is still around. It’s a nice attempt to mix multiple genres. I can say this with no doubt: Sega’s got a smash hit ready to secure all bags and show its competition why it does not pay to underestimate the Yakuza.
* Yakuza is the term given to transnational crime organizations based in Japan. They are also known as” boryokudan,” which the Japanese police advise for public media to use when covering yakuza-related stories. The yakuza also call themselves “ninkyo dantai,” or chivalrous groups.
* According to Japan’s National Police Agency as of 2020, there are at least 25,900 active yakuza members, despite rigid legislation aimed to combat yakuza involvement with the Japanese public. These members are accounted among the three major yakuza families: Yamaguchi-gumi, Somiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai.
* Yakuza groups have been known to operate in major U.S. cities and use Hawaii as a hub to conduct various legal and illegal enterprises.
I’m a HUGE Gundam fan. Next to my love of Mega Man, Gundam is my second greatest obsession. Because of limited space, I’ll have to be content with the limited Gundam merch that I have amassed. The latest addition was given to me for my recent birthday; it made me recall playing a Gundam arcade fighting game at Nashicon 2016. Would it serve to satisfy my hunger for giant robots causing massive damage and beating themselves to oblivion? “Gundam Versus” for PlayStation 4 gave me my answer.
Gundam Versus has some unique advantages going for it as a fighting game. Its source material is based on a universally recognized anime series. Unlike other fighting games, it does not have a storyline, allowing you to jump straight to the action without knowing background story. That sold me as someone who knows a series’ background, not needing knowledge about specific characters’ background.
The ability to choose a series favorite from a roster of more than 90 mobile suits from various Gundam works ensures that you are not limited to characters in Gundam series only aired in the U.S. Each stage is open area, allowing you to plan offense or defense with the benefit of hiding or running from your opponents while recovering from attacks. Also, you can have two additional characters to back you with one serving as a striking partner to tag team opposing forces with the perfect timing. They are available to have a training session to get you familiar with your chosen suit.
Those who are not accustomed to run-and-gun gaming will get frustrated and want to quit playing. The open battlefield requires a 360-degree view, which the PS4 controls are decent enough to help handle the action. While Gundam Versus made an honorable attempt to include all Gundam elements, some opening themes were played on repeat way too much and that took away the focus from gameplay and placed it on the music. Music for the game is top notch, which is to be expected from the Bandai Namco sound team. This was the first time the team did an international collaboration with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for the opening visual. That adds some flavor and extras to the presentation. While I was disappointed that the game didn’t offer an English dub track, the original Japanese audio for the Gundam franchise ensured that Versus has the appropriate Gundam feel.
A downside is that certain series I liked and wanted to use suits from are stuck as paid content, which left Gundam fans like me at Bandai Namco’s mercy regarding affordable pricing.
Gundam Versus is a testimony of how anime, sci-fi and fighting games have merged to create a product that is playable for everyone, regardless of fandom knowledge. As a Gundam aficionado, Versus is well worth the time spent playing and is the next best thing to owning a Gundam or mobile suit. I welcome this new addition to my Gundam collection as I continue my quest to build a masterpiece collection of all things Gundam.
Tekken is about a certain substance and style. The fighting engine is so deep in Tekken that if you’re just starting with the seventh game, you’re at an immediate disadvantage because you’re behind. Way behind. Story-wise, you’re behind, too. There’s so much going on with the Mishima clan that you’re bound to be asking the question: Why now? Tekken isn’t just answering that; it’s posing the question of what’s next?
For the Mishima clan — and Tekken’s roster at large — the future is the question on everyone’s mind, but to get there, Tekken 7 stakes its ambitions on looking back to tell the story of the future. Spoiler alert: With Heihachi gone, there’s only Kazuya and Jin left to carry on the blood feud of the clan. The surrounding entities are on either side of the conflict between father and son, and there will be casualties. But that isn’t Tekken 7’s main story to tell. Really, it’s two questions: How did Kazuya become enmeshed in the devil gene foolishness, and how is Heihachi entangled in that as well? The answers lay with new character Kazumi Mishima, Kazuya’s mother and Heihachi’s wife. She plays a central role in unraveling the mystery of Kazuya’s transformation using the devil gene and why Heihachi threw his child off a cliff more than 40 years before.
While Bandai Namco is setting up the payoff, look around. You’re in a Tekken game and many things will be true at once: The sound will be phenomenal, and the graphics will be stunning. After all, this is a Tekken title; the King of the Iron Fist tournament does not slouch. What’s striking is, this is a four-year-old game and it still looks decent. Tekken has never been one to hold back when it comes to looks, and even with the upgraded PlayStation 4 Pro, it’s still a good-looking game. Tekken 7 could look worse with the benefit of more processing power, and some sections do show the age of the game. However, it’s minimal as far as Tekken is concerned, and Tekken 7 is still a powerhouse when compared to everything else on the market.
The soundtrack is excellent, though I wanted a little more from it. I realize that not every Tekken soundtrack is going to be the first Tag, where every track was a banger. However, this is Tekken, and a certain bar has been set by past games that current games must live up to. There are some bangers here, but not nearly enough. For reference, I have every Tekken soundtrack ever released, arcade and home versions. For the first four games, I have the entire soundtrack saved on my iPod. As the series progressed, I had fewer songs from each soundtrack. As of Tekken 7, I have two tracks. It’s a good soundtrack, but it just isn’t anything I haven’t heard before in a Tekken game. Tekken 8, or whatever it will be called, will have to step things up in the sound department.
As far as Tekken’s playability, I can’t really attest to it on a hands-on level. Full disclosure: I’m not a good Tekken player. That said, however, I find it a little easier to pick up Tekken and play with the new features added in the arcade mode. I really like that there’s an easy combo assist feature. It makes it far less frustrating to learn the combo system, and it makes it much easier for beginners to understand how moves flow together.
Tekken, despite having only four attack buttons, has always been about depth, and that’s scary for the uninitiated like myself. With the assist feature, I’m more inclined to take the time to learn and dig just a little deeper with the series. It’s a fantastic addition that needs to stick around in future entries.
The character customization mode also deserves some praise as it’s coming along nicely. It’s been around now for at least three games, and it’s gotten better each iteration. This is part of the depth of Tekken — along with its engine and combo system — that makes it such a great series. Tekken 7 takes care of the details, and the obvious love and care put into the customization system gives the game continued life, even as it gets a little long in the tooth. The fact that new characters and upgrades are still being released is fantastic considering the game’s age.
With the storyline dictating growth and the graphics engine needing to catch up to other fighting game darlings, Tekken has its work cut out in keeping up with the surrounding competition. Tekken 7 does an admirable job demonstrating its stability and ability to lead the pack as the King of the Iron Fist, and its longevity and intuitive features continue to make it an attractive option for those needing a fix from Mishima and Co. Tekken 7 is good enough to keep its crown and can probably shrug off new challenges for the throne until its time for the eighth go-round. Long live the king.
The intricacies of determining the winner of the storied fight between Batman and the Joker all depend on prep time for Batman and the Joker’s maniacal state at the time of the battle. We’ve thought this through and determined that even with minimal prep time, Batman could win this fight considering his previous experience with the Joker. To simulate it, we would need only one thing: the Injustice series of games. And considering Injustice 2 has more chances for this to happen with proper simulation, you can best believe we’re diving deep into the solid sequel DC comic book fighting game.
Injustice 2 is a competent storyteller in its quest to be a DC comic book simulator. Set after the fall of Superman’s tyrannical regime, Injustice 2 places Batman at the forefront again to take on the task of rebuilding society and combating a new threat in the form of The Society. Mixing in longtime Superman foe Braniac only adds to the chaos. What it boils down to is that these are characters you know from the DC universe — even if you’re passingly familiar with them — fighting it out to stop Superman from continuing his reign of tyranny established in the previous game.
Where Injustice 2 shines is its presentation and its characters. Everything that looked good in the first Injustice is much-better looking the second time around. The user interface got a newer, sleeker coat of paint, and all the character models and backgrounds look better and cleaner, too. The character select screen even looks better and more fluid. NetherRealm’s fighting game visuals get better with each game, so this is just a testament to their growing prowess. The music isn’t standout, but it’s serviceable.
Despite its shiny upgraded presentation, I’m still not a fan of how it plays. The combat doesn’t feel natural, like say, how Mortal Kombat feels. It still feels like it’s a step or two behind MK and like it’s trying too hard to differentiate itself from that series by throwing a wrench into the basic combo setups. I’m also not a fan of the unlock system. It’s a lot of gear to unlock for a lot of characters, but I don’t really have the time or the inclination to sit and work on it. I’m not saying have it unlocked immediately when I first start the game, but I am saying it needs to be easier. The experience is not the most enjoyable.
Injustice 2 is a nice upgrade from the first game. It’s got the name factor, characters you probably know and slick presentation that will catch most anyone’s eye who is into fighting games. Whether you’re a comic book fan or a casual fighting game connoisseur, Injustice 2 is worth a look to see if it’s worth its weight in kryptonite.
Marvel vs. Capcom now infinitely frustrating series
The Marvel fighting game scene is well known by now and well worn. Pretty much, anyone who’s anyone in the Marvel comic universe and movies has been in a Marvel Versus game. This is nothing new by now. You’ve seen these people before and, if you’re a Capcom fan, you have seen their side of the roster in other games before you got here. So, what exactly are you getting out of playing the latest iteration in the long-running Marvel Versus Capcom series? Not much, but Capcom already knew that. They just hoped you wouldn’t notice.
If you’re invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but don’t know anything about the comics, MvC: Infinite serves as a starting point for understanding the comics side of things in preparation for Avengers Endgame. Oh, yeah, there’s some Capcom story set up, too, as an afterthought. Really, this is several stories mashed together: From Marvel, you get the Infinity Saga and Age of Ultron story; from Capcom comes Sigma and Mega Man X’s story and some of Vampire Savior/Darkstalker’s 3 arc dealing with Jedah Dohma. The story kind of makes sense in a mashed-up way. It’s not half bad, given that the previous efforts of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to give a cinematic team up was decent and miles ahead of any other title in the series to date. Mostly, the Marvel Versus series has followed an established comic book arc — Marvel vs. Street Fighter was mostly Apocalypse and the first Marvel vs. Capcom focused on Onslaught — and this is no different. Where it falters is oversimplification.
The Infinity Saga is never truly finished in the comics because Marvel constantly returns to it over the years to explain a lot of things. Also, thinking critically about what this is really based on, the story of the Infinity Saga really took about 18 of the 22 MCU movies to tell its story. You cannot tell this story in two games — Marvel Super Heroes being the first to tell this arc. Infinite tries to and winds up half accomplishing it with some weird, forced Capcom story side foolishness thrown in for good measure, because hey, Capcom is also in the name.
You get the sense that if Capcom’s angle of things was removed, this would be just fine, and Infinite would be OK without it. That does not help Capcom at all here. Immediately, it destroys the need for a new team-up game and renders Capcom’s side of the roster unnecessary. I do not feel Ryu or Chun Li are useful in any of the situations presented in the story mode.
The roster is actually not bad, but with the few new additions locked behind a DLC paywall, you’re kind of left to wonder would Infinite be just a tad bit better if the more noteworthy characters were available from the start. The base group is basically a retread roster from MvC3, and the new additions should have been in the series; the fact that we’re just now getting Black Widow, Black Panther, Jedah and the Winter Soldier is a crime that only Capcom seems to like committing.
In addition to the generic oversimplification of the story, the presentation is just as generic and bland. The Marvel Versus series has always had strong presentation, and to be frank, this ain’t it, as the kids say these days. The backgrounds are good, but some of the character designs have an oof level the size of Ultron Sigma’s final form. They are, quite frankly, terrible a lot of the time. There seems to be an attempt at realism but not, at the same time, because some of the Marvel characters look like their MCU counterparts, but then when you look closer, there’s a detail that keeps them from looking exactly like the actor or actress that plays the character.
For example, look at Captain America and Captain Marvel. Captain America, from far away, looks exactly like MCU Winter Soldier-era Captain America as portrayed by real-world Captain America stalwart Chris Evans. Up close, however, Cap looks just enough different for you to realize that Evans probably didn’t consent to his likeness for the game. Same for Captain Marvel and actress Brie Larson. It’s a small but noticeable quibble I have here. And, some of these Capcom characters look atrocious. Ryu’s face on the title screen is horrific. The sprites look terrible here but in game, he looks fine. It’s a shame because every other game in the series has been OK in terms of the graphics. Sure, they weren’t award-winning, but they reflected the series’ growth. Infinite looks like it took about 10 steps back in a lot of respects.
The music is just as bland. Each iteration of the Versus series has had some bangers on the soundtrack — even the much-maligned Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s soundtrack was memorable if not catchy. Here, there is absolutely nothing noteworthy. It’s the first Versus game where I don’t have something from the soundtrack saved, which is not good at all. As I played through the story mode, I kept waiting for something to jump out at me, and I got nothing. I was not impressed.
The controls didn’t impress, either. There has been a noted trend, since MvC3 was released, to simplify the game system for the Versus games to make them more accessible.
While I’m always a fan of drawing in the casual fan for these types of games, I’m not a fan of ruining a good thing. MvC2 was still accessible to even the most casual fighting game player, and this is even worse than the toning down of the controls between MvC2 and MvC3. There is no depth to the combo system now, and that doesn’t help Infinite in any way.
I’m underwhelmed when it comes to Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Nothing plays in its favor, nothing makes any sense, and the team-up crossover event is showing its age in every facet of the game. There’s nothing new here to make me say wow or push me to play as I did the other games in the series. If Capcom were to lose the Marvel license again, it wouldn’t be a shocker or unwarranted.
It’s time to admit that the series is not an infinite source of amusement. Unfortunately, at this point, it’s merely a finite source of fighting game goodness.
As a child of the early ’90s, Final Fight not only increased my addiction to arcade games, but also introduced me further to Capcom’s skyrocketing rise as a game developer. I dived into Final Fight 2 to relive my arcade glory days.
In Final Fight 2, time has passed since Mike Haggar, Cody Travers and Cody’s friend Guy defeated the Mad Gear gang, restored peace to the streets of Metro City and rescued Haggar’s daughter Jessica from the Mad Gear’s leader, Belger. That peace is short-lived when the remnants of Mad Gear return under a new leader and kidnap Guy’s fiancée, Rena, and Guy’s sensei, Genryusai.
With Cody away on a trip with Jessica and Guy away on secret training, Haggar is joined by Rena’s sister, Maki, and Haggar’s friend Carlos Miyamoto on a worldwide quest to crush the Mad Gear and rescue Rena and Genryusai. FF2 has a lot going for it; it’s a direct sequel never released in arcades with a lot of new material despite no new general mechanics.
FF2 has an expanded battlefield with Haggar, Maki and Carlos starting their journey in Hong Kong and ending that journey in Japan. The main protagonists make their way through several locales in Europe in their search for Rena, all the while surrounded by improved graphics over the first game. The backgrounds are high quality, and the sprites are well-drawn and crisp for each character with a lot of attention to detail.
The attention to detail also shows up in the controls. Overall, control is simple even though each character has a unique fighting style. Haggar still has his pro wrestling moves, Maki makes use of Ninjitsu and Carlos practices martial arts and sword skills. Though they are generic in execution, it’s fun to see how each character operates during the fight.
Power-ups are still obtained via smashing various objects and range from steamed Chinese buns to a pair of shoes that can increase health or score points. Finding either a Genryusai or Guy doll will give an extra life or invincibility. As for the music, it is arcade perfect just like its predecessor. It’s a nice soundtrack of early Capcom brawler, and it fits the action perfectly in each of the game’s locations.
As much as I enjoyed FF2, the game does have some flaws. While each character has their own awesome special moves, using them does cost health. That’s annoying when you’re trying to use more powerful moves to defeat bosses and trying not to die at the same time. Also, during the timed bonus stages, control is hit or miss when striking objects; if it’s not done perfectly, you lose the bonus points. I also got frustrated when I couldn’t take the weapons I found into other areas. That cheapens the use of the weapon and makes it useless shortly after picking it up. And, the challenge level is ridiculous. I needed a cheat code just to get to the real ending in expert mode. It’s too easy to die and taking hits from off-screen enemies is terrible.
Final Fight 2 placed the series in the ranks of Capcom’s top-tier franchises. While it hasn’t seen the level of push of say, Street Fighter or Resident Evil, the beat-’em-up is fondly remembered as one of Capcom’s crowning achievements.