Capcom has been on a roll lately. In the past several months alone, three titles have been released. First of all, we have the impressive anime mech-style Tech Romancer, the long awaited Street Fighter 3, and the much anticipated sequel to Marvel Vs. Capcom. I had a chance to try out all these titles, but for the time being I wanted to review SF3 and MVC2 because over the last few years, since the days of X-Men back in 1994, there has been a heated debate.
On one side of the argument, you have the Street Fighter series that has been around since 1987. Here, we have simplistic one-on-one fighting. No flashy effects or high-hit combos, but a very deep fighting system that has spawned who knows how many sequels. Street Fighter 3, and its successors, 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike, are no exception.
The other side, known simply as the Vs. Series, originally started when X-Men: Children of the Atom was released in 1994. Gameplay consisted of the usual Street Fighter system, but now we are treated to high-flying, multi-hit combos which rivaled Nintendo’s Killer Instinct series at the time. In 1996, X-Men Vs. Street Fighter took the X-Men engine to a new level, adding a tag-team feature. It’s successors, Marvel Super Heroes Vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Vs. Capcom 1 added different fighters, and more ways to double team your foes. The combo system also became more and more insane as the series went on. Nothing could prepare Vs. fans for the fourth installment however. Simply called Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, the Vs. series has been taken to a whole new level.
Street Fighter 3 continues on the simplistic nature of the Street Fighter 2 phenomenon. However, the Dreamcast version consists of two different games from the series: Street Fighter 3: New Generation (known by me simply as "Three" because of its arcade marquee), and Street Fighter 3: 2nd Impact. Up to 12 characters (10 in Three, 12 in 2nd Impact) go against each other in order to fight the new final boss, a near-impossible deity named Gill. For those of you who wanted all your original SF2 favorites to come back, you are out of luck. Only Ryu and Ken are available. Everyone else was later added on SF3: 3rd Strike which, go figure, is not included. However, some of the newer characters act like the SF2 kind. Alex and Hugo (only on 2nd Impact) fight like Zangief, and Necro fights similarly to Dhalsim. Still it would be nice to have the original crew back in the fold.
Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, on the other hand, is pure insanity. No longer are we stuck with 2-on-2 tag team action. How about 3-on-3? Even better, how would you like to execute a triple team on an unsuspecting opponent? It now can be done. And surely, what was considered insane in terms of hit counts is now blown out of the water. One time, I got a triple team earning up to a one-unheard of 156 hits!
And what about characters? How many do you want to be content? 10? 15? 24? How about 56? That’s right, 56 characters can be selected from. Originally you start off with 24 characters, but as you earn points through training, score ranking, and arcade modes, you can buy newer characters. They can even be bought off the VMU without even turning MVC2 on. That’s not to say the original characters are bad at all, because some of the best characters (especially their newest addition, Cable) can be selected right off the bat!
Street Fighter 3, running off Capcom’s CPS3 board, has always been known for its exceptional animation, and even with the perfect CPS2 ports on Saturn (Alpha 2, X-Men Vs. Street Fighter w/4 Meg Cart), there still would not be enough memory to handle Three’s Disney-like animation. The Dreamcast, however, executes every animation perfectly, with no visible sight of frame loss at all. However, compared to most 3-D backgrounds, the 2-d backdrops lose a lot of flair since its 1997 release.
MVC2 takes a different step from the usual Capcom hardware and is run off the Naomi board (previously used on Power Stone). The 3-D capabilities of the Naomi board allow backgrounds to be in true 3-D. In stills, it still looks like it’s running on a 2-D board, but when you see them in motion; you can be thanking Capcom for the board change. Characters are still in 2D, but they move as well as ever.
This might be a low for both series. Street Fighter 3 doesn’t have the memorable tracks that SF2 and Alpha had in its prime, and the voices are muffled, just like they were in the arcade.
MVC2’s sound shouldn’t really considered a low, just different. The characters might sound good, even the new ones, but the announcer can get weird at times. Not only that, but what was with the change of music? It now sounds like it is being played at a jazz lounge. It’s not bad, but it definitely is an acquired taste.
When it comes to any good Street Fighter game, control is the most important factor. When playing SF3 (and previously Alpha 3) I had a lot of trouble getting special moves to work. No matter how many times I tried, they would not work at all. It was frustrating beyond belief. And when you are playing against an unfair CPU opponent such as Gill, you don’t need any more frustration than this.
MVC2, however, was designed for the Dreamcast pad. First of all, the middle punch and kick buttons have been replaced with Assist buttons to supply a sneak partner attack. Pressing both Assist buttons activates the Double or Triple team, depending on the power meter’s setting. Fireball motions and the like are still present, but no more double motions make it a lot easier. In addition, MVCs’ opponents, even the final boss Abyss and his three forms, provide a decent challenge without being unfair.
I didn’t know where else to put this, but I wanted to mention one thing about Street Fighter 3: Double Impact I had a serious pain about. The CPU is too cheap, especially with the last boss, Gill. Every time I kicked him in the face, it looked as though it didn’t have any effect on him, blocked or not. Does the words "Collision detection" mean anything here? It just makes a frustrating experience all the worse.
Never before have I seen a company such as Capcom reach both ends of the spectrum. One side has frustrating gameplay, archaic backdrops, and poor collision detection and control, while the other side has gorgeous backdrops, smooth Dreamcast-optimized control, a vast assortment of characters, and pure over-the-top action. SF3 definitely deserves its weak 2 GiN Gem rating, just as MVC2 is worthy of 4 1/2 GiN Gems. If only it weren’t for that strange jazz soundtrack, it might have even been perfect.