The release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for the iOS platform wasn’t a coincidence. Its availability strategically coincided with the premiere of Marvel’s The Avengers and Capcom no doubt benefited from this connection. Just as the blockbuster is a chapter in a series, so, too, is MvC2, the sixth game within a set that includes highlights such as X-Men vs. Street Fighter and the first Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes.
More than a decade after its initial release, MvC2 still boasts tons of praise, but how does one of the more technically complex entries in the series make the transition to iPhone? And after years of availability on consoles and a newer version on the market (Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds), why should anyone care?
Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!
OK, let’s say you’ve taken the bait, and you’re ready to jump in and re-live the days when you were the KO king. Upon downloading MvC2, players can select their team of three fighters from 24 who are instantly accessible. On the Marvel side, there are the likes of Wolverine, Spider-Man and Hulk, while Ryu, Zangief, Strider Hiryu and company represent Capcom. Missing are 32 mainstays such as Chun-Li, Mega Man, Iron Man and Storm. How do you go about completing your collection of the game’s eventually playable roster of 56?
Just like some previous console versions of MvC2, missing spar partners must be bought with points earned through gameplay. At the end of each game ⎯ whether your lineup is defeated or you stop continuing ⎯ you will be told how many points you’ve earned. Keep amassing them to buy War Machine, Dhalsim, Morrigan and Magneto from the Shop found in the game’s Secret Factor menu.
No matter which characters you choose to fight with, getting points can prove frustrating. Most fans have played MvC2 using some form of joystick, and without one, the iOS version provides quite the learning curve as you control movements on the device’s screen. Not only are you trying to remember which buttons execute killer attack combos (though you can get reminders in the Command List section within Option Mode), getting the buttons to actually respond the way you want them to turns out to be very hit-or-miss. Without the finesse provided by a joystick, players may end up mashing buttons and can all but forget the split-second blocking normally needed to conquer these types of games.
Also, the slowness in which a punch is thrown or a kick connects suggests some of the characters are using their hard- and medium-strength attacks. They also rarely dash across the screen and, as such, it can be a challenge to complete a bout before the 99-second countdown clock reaches 0. (The team with the most combined life energy at the end of the match will be declared the winner.) The four core buttons used can be expanded to more punch and kick options, though you’ll lose access to the Special Move button. Depending on your style of play, this may not matter much, but button-mashers will appreciate having it within reach.
A flick option allows you to call up your other team members to assist in combat, but beware: characters can swap at inconvenient times and through accidental button pushing, so it’s important that your roster is solid from 1 to 3.
Sounds Chaotic, But Is It Fun?
Admittedly, the gameplay basics mentioned above would suggest that no, it isn’t. Yes, some elements were lost in console conversion, but that doesn’t mean MvC2 is without its appeal.
First, it has the throwback factor. It’s a good bet that when MvC2 was announced for iOS, one-time fans thought, “I used to love that game!” and were a little curious about purchasing the app for nostalgia’s sake. It’s still the same game, just in a new, not-as-easy-to-navigate incarnation. Fans of MvC2 get a chance to return to the newness of the game that they may not have experienced since its release in 2000. By needing to re-learn how to play, they also get a chance to rediscover everything each character is capable of and new strategies to proceed from stage to stage.
Second, most console and arcade games look a little too real these days with their 3-D effects and 360-degree scopes. MvC2 is a simple 2-D masterpiece, featuring cartoonish-looking characters that were pulled directly from comic books, cartoons or previous video games, and is appropriate for an iPhone or iPad. Some reviews have complained of characters looking blurry, and they’re kind of right, but you likely won’t notice as fighters are in a constant state of motion.
Is It a TKO?
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is not for those short on patience, but welcome fun if you want to reminisce. This iteration has its limitations, specifically how many characters can be played initially, the time it takes to earn new fighters and the “smash all the buttons and hope” approach to movement.
It’s also much more fun on the iPad than iPhone, with the former’s screen size allowing for better absorption of the action instead of the latter’s screen being blocked by your thumbs.
This game can be addicting, as getting beat up by a live person or computer-controlled opponent is an ego-crusher, especially if you claim to be good. But a solo warrior game like Street Fighter IV may be a better get for your iPhone, while Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is better suited for your iPad.