Wow Im very excited… I have been devoted to mvc2 competitively for about 8 years and now theyre making a new one. I think almost everyone is excited. This excitement is not without apprehension though. Marvel is the competitive game it is today mostly due to accidents and oversights by developers. Can we really expect the developers to make a similar mistake again and give us another game that can last 10 years? Hopefully, enough of us will voice our desires and the developers will hear, consider and implement them.
To elucidate what I mean by mistake: Out of a 56-character cast, we have 13 playable characters. They are playable because of their exceptions to the rules that were intended to balance the gameplay. Sentinel, Storm, Magneto, and Cable (also known as the Big 4) break rules that make them dominate the way they do. Without their exploitation, they wouldnt be any more viable than the rest of the cast. If their advantages had been realized early enough it would have been nerfed to facilitate balance. Doing so would most likely have cut the life of the game by about 8 years.
Sentinels fast fly was unintentional. 8 of the 56 characters have flight mode, but Sentinel is the only person who can cancel his flight animation. Hes not the only one who can solo combo utilizing flight mode, but the others who can do this just so happen to have shorter flight animations than sentinel. This allows sentinel to dominate mid air confrontation and zone really well due to canceling recovery time on attacks via fly, unfly and refly. This makes a perfect battle with sentinel and magneto, as magnetos exploitations allow him to close space effectively, while sentinels exploitations allow him to box Magneto out, and space out very effectively, a perfect tug of war. This wasnt insight on the part of the developers but more happenstance. These things were never discovered and made it into the final build of the game and much to the developers surprise it was exactly what the game needed.
Sentinel also avoids most damage buffer. The marvel engine works so that after a delayed hyper combo (dhc) damage buffer is reset completely except all damage done by the hyper move is cut by 30%. Sentinel has the strongest pragmatic combos in the game, and a super that upon dhc hits only about 4-5 times and allows him to combo afterwards with minimal buffered damage. This is how Storm and Sentinel delayed hyper combos can do 100% life. Of course this wasnt intentional. Everything was put in place in the engine to prevent one touch kills. The damage buffers, super buffers on dhcs, the complete recovery dizziness, it is all for the sake of preventing one touch kills.
Characters can extend airtime via double jumps triple jumps, air dashes, flight and special moves. Storm however is the exception to this. She has air control allowing her to hold up which very noticeably decreases her decent, allowing her to run and spam attacks to build meter, but also to dominate many air confrontations. This creates a nice air confrontation between sentinel and storm. Sentinel dominates air, but whoever has the higher ground is typically victorious in most situations. Storm can stay in the air longer than sent (unless Sent is in flight) which means he must super jump from below her to try to reach a mid-air confrontation giving her the upper hand. He can avoid this by going in to fly rather than super jumping, but he cant block in this situation, which creates a slightly different confrontation than the traditional air-to-air, super jump vs. super jump confrontation that would occur otherwise. Also she and magneto are the only characters to have completely unrestricted 8 way free dashes in the game. Meaning shes second only to magneto in rushdown.
Cables main exploitation comes from hop canceling. Im not going to get into how this is done, but it is important because the startup and recovery on cables Air hyper viper beam (AHVB) are very low as opposed to the extremely slow and laggy ground version. He can therefore do back to back AHVBs incontrovertibly allowing him to kill multiple characters at once. Obviously, developers typically avoid that kind of destructive potential and if they were aware, it would have definitely been nerfed but alas it was not caught. This creates a highly stressful battle against cable as all of his moves are very zoning friendly and his chip game is very good so staying away is not an option. Cable controls the air from afar meaning all characters have to get to him to prevail but his almost instant full screen reaching Fierce punch, his controllable grenades and safe multi chipping airborne viper beam (and assists to cover the holes) make an excellent obstacle course. Combined with the stress from knowing that any mistake can result in death to your current character (via AHVB) and severe damage to your next character (via guard-break followed by AHVB) causes many people to make mistakes. Cable can punish these mistakes from completely across the screen.
Pretty much the face of mvc2, His main exploitation comes from his dash. He has an 8 way free-dash, which just so happens to be the fastest dash out of any character in the game. A free dash is a dash that allows one to maintain momentum despite attacking (Iron man immediately loses all momentum the second he attacks which makes his rush down slower). Then he has corner hypergrav cancel to tempest, which is pretty much unmashable. His resets make him a one-touch kill character, and his dash allows him to go between all three planes (Ground, Mid level, and Super jump height) fluently. I know this doesnt sound like a crazy exploitation but watch a magneto match and watch him run circles (yes sometimes we literally completely circle) his opponent. His triangle dash is only possible because of free dash. Of course one couldnt talk about Magneto without mentioning his infinite as well. He has the most popular infinite in the game yet it has a lot of room for error which causes people to continue concentrating, hoping he will make a mistake allowing them to expiate their lapse in defense and regroup. And then there is his combo ability. Magneto uses a dash on pretty much every infinite he does
Those 4 characters are called the big 4 because they are hands down the 4 best characters in the game. As a competitive game it is obvious why people would use them. As a casual game the other characters are still there and able to be used, however the pace of the game slows down quite a bit. Often onlookers complain I wish I could see matches without Magneto Storm Sentinel and it is a grounded complaint. To play MVC2 without those characters would, as stated before, slow down the pace of the game tremendously. Its not that people just want to use the big 4 because theyve been explored, but because they have options that transcend the options of every other character in the game in their respective fields bolstered by copious advantages in other fields.
Weve forced people to watch tournaments with only 14 characters used notwithstanding the 56 characters possible. The list is: Magneto, Storm, Sentinel, Cable, Strider, Ironman, Spiral, War machine, and the assist characters, which are integral to most of the teams. Psylocke, Captain Commando (Capcom), Cyclops, Dr. Doom, Tron Bonne and Cammy. Occasionally someone will throw in a low-tier character like Colossus or Megaman, MegamanDS even did this in the finals at Evolution 2008! Its very rare.
This causes a common complaint from both non-player spectators and non-competitive spectators. To quote a few: BORING! I love you sanford, but boring teams! We need to see some new stuff now!, the only thing stopping me from getting it[marvel] is seeing the fact that theres some overpowered team choices that most of the population will use. Which will take the fun out of playing the exact same characters every other or single match, its soo gay how people online just use the same characters like storm magneto cable or cyclopse and do the same cheesy move over and over again with the same assist its disgusting how people can mess up a really good game. The complaint here is that the same characters are always involved. The problem is balance.
With a 56 character roster it would be absurd to think there would be complete balance. Some semblance of balance can be reached without compromising the essence of the game that kept players devoted for 10 years. The solution can be reached two ways. To completely nerf all top players thus achieving balance is one solution; To buff all subservient players and achieve balance is another option. The gameplay wasnt the recurring theme, it was the limited characters to choose from competitively. The infinites, instant over heads, guard breaks, full life assist punishes, unblockables, 70% non infinite 7 hit juggles are what made the game what it is. Most people dont have a problem with the existence of these things, they have a problem that the existence is limited to the small 8 listed above. Restrictions on the rest of the cast prevent them from standing a chance against the 8 people listed. Morrigan has an air dash but it isnt an 8 way and she cant attack for a set ammount of time after she dashes, making the action itself too slow to be viable. Rogue has the same problem. Dhalsim has an 8 way free dash, but pressing down and attack cause him to do a very slow drill move. To successfully attack after dashing with Dhalsim requires one to put the stick into neutral before attacking which adds time and execution on a move that is supposed to be only 5 frames; It simply isnt practical. Removing the restrictions on the others would allow people to retain the same brain boggling, eye popping, flashy, over the top combos and action that somewhat define marvel while still maintaining the integrity of the title Marvel Vs. Capcom.
Rumors have surfaced claiming marvel vs. capcom 3 will be similar to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom(tvc). Most of those in the fighting game community dont want this. TvC was released and didnt appeal to the audience it sought. First, US gamers have always loved tag battle. Tekken Tag Tournament did well and was still played consistently even after Tekken 4 was released. Marvel VS. Capcom 2 was one of the highest selling games on playstation network and xbox live. It had one of the highest price tags out of any fighting game on ebay only 2 years ago even though it was 8 years old at the time. It is the most successful endeavor Capcom has ever done in terms of fighting games. One would think TVC was destined for the same success. This was not the case. The results: It sold only around 158,000 copies in the US and very poor everywhere else bringing the total to 226,000 copies…IN THE WORLD??? This was the game that anyone can get into.it wasnt developed for the hardcore gamer.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: Top selling fighting game on PSN for 2009. 321,000 copies sold in the US alone on PS2 and Xbox this doesnt take into consideration the game was already 2 years old and had already been released and bought for the DC by many consumers by the time it was released on ps2 and 360, nor does it take into consideration that the game stopped being produced 6 months after release due to licensing issues. There are no sales figures or projection diagrams that indicate that the sales were going to slow down any time shortly before that. This game could have sold over 1 million copies. Like Tekken Tag. It did if you consider all sales on all systems (DC, Ps2, xbox, xbox 360nd ps3)
The obvious appeal of the game both past and present, needs to exist in the next game. There has been lots of talk about balancing MVC3, and this typically strikes a nerve with the devoted competitive scene. Previously, when balance was mentioned it was usually implied that the big 4 and possibly the other 8 characters mentioned, needed to be nerfed. As stated before, the mechanics and gameplay derived from these characters was the heart and soul of competitive mvc2, and there is nowhere else to get it. As stated before, balance can be achieved in another way. Buffing the other cast to have some of the same mechanics which will still allow for traps, semi-infinites, 6 frame high/low mixups with high payouts, and 50 hit combos will allow for the extremely intense pressure, and unquenchable tension associated with this game.
Trying to make a game that everybody can get into through extremely simple mechanics, sometimes leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the hardcore gamers. Making a game designed for the hardcore gamers doesnt prevent everyone else from getting into the game. The existence of a competitve scene for a game, highly contributes to the sales of the game. It is free advertisement. When one shows up to world tournaments such as Evolution, while waiting for the finals of ones favorite games that they love to compete in, spectate, or wager on, they are exposed to the other games that may grasp their attention. Mvc2 having such a strong following for 10 years is a result of the constant tournament play the game has had, keeping new generation after new generation playing the game. Some of the pioneers of the competitive scene for marvel are now over 30 years old, yet some of the new comers to the game, people that have only been playing for a year are only 15. If the hardcore had stopped playing the game years ago, it would have eventually died, sales would come to a sreeching halt and interest would be completely eradicated. Consider games like Capcom Fighting Evolution (or Capcom Fighting Jam), the game didnt generate interest from the hardcore, which caused minial exposure at tournaments which resulted in the games very short competitive life span and relatively small sales. The same can be said for rumble fish, or Star Gladiator. The games were simple enough for the casual gamers, but not appealing to the hardcore gamers. As a result the games were relatively unsuccessful endeavors.
The controls: The controls that us fighting game players have come to enjoy have rarely been tampered with. They were in the case of MVC2 and that was a gamble, that just so happened to pay off. The thing that has stopped a lot of Capcom game players from transferring over to games like Guilty Gear is simply controls. We are just simply too comfortable with the genius layout that capcom created for fighting games. When I look forward to a huge title like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, considering the potential this game has, I hope as most others do, that the controls will be simple and easy enough to identify with. Just as mvc2s 4 buttons 2 assists was easy to grasp and conceptualize, the 6 button standard layout is just as easy. 4 button layout for capcom games are uncomfortable in the cases of TVC and Cvs1, which has definitely inhibited the success of those games. Im not going to say that something brand new will definitely be a failure, because innovation is what has gotten us this far. Im hoping that the previous gambles and the inhibited success that resulted from them, will influence the decision of the developers of MvC 3.
Looking at the music game platform, at a title called Beatmania IIDX, which is now on its 18th iteration developed by the Japanese developing company Konami. The game itself is considered to be the most difficult of the highly successful music game genre. This does not in any way stunt the popularity of the game. Variations of the beatmania series have existed since 1998. As player skill level progressed, so did the difficulty. What ensued was a never ending series that has increased in popularity as the game has aged. Because the difficulty increases for the Hardcore players the Tatsujins if you will, doesnt mean that the simple songs cease to exist. It is a game, that you can play casually if you desire, and there are plenty of easier songs that allow you to do so, but it is also a game to which you can really dedicate time and effort in the spirit of progression. The game is pleasing to the whole. If the developers would have exercised a despotic mentality concerning that game, sales and following would have been greatly impacted in a negative way.
It has been rumored that the game will have elements of both vs. series games and games like SF4 to try to appeal to the masses. This is alarming to many of the eager fans anticipating the game because two different types of gamers which will only be satisfied by two different endeavors are trying to be pleased with one game. Ill give a quick allegory for this situation: A host invited 8 guests over for dinner. Eager to please everyone, the host sent out a letter informing them all that she would be serving fish and rice and asked that everyone gave a suggestion of what type of rice they preferred. As it turned out, 4 of the guests demanded sweet rice (sugar and milk), while the other 4 insisted on seasoned rice (fried rice if you will). As the host was cut right down the middle she tried to satisfy the aggregate even though it was divided symmetrically. The dichotomy held very staunch opposing points of view. She made both types of rice, and combined the two, as she thought to herself Indeed, Im very clever and an excellent host at that. To her surprise, when the guests began to eat the rice both sides were completely repulsed by the mixture they consumed unexpectedly. So as not to appear rude they consumed the entire meal, but to themselves they secretly vowed privately never to eat anything else the host cooked because of their immense disappointment. In her attempts to satisfy both she disgusted both as the two whom could not have possibly been satisfied with a single project. Using the same principles those more in favor of slower paced, yet more methodical type of play, are happy with Street Fighter 4 and they have SSF4 and possible DLC to continue to satisfy them. But those in favor of hyper-speed, non-stop aggression were very happy with the gameplay of Mvc2. To try to mix the two into one project is almost impossible and unless perfect precision is accomplished, it will fail.
It is my desire, and the desire of the millions eagerly awaiting this game, that it is balanced, yet it still maintains a lot of the functions associated with the series. Most of all I want a fun game, and the more complex and deep the gameplay, the more appealing it is for me and everyone else. Simplifying the game, will detract from its appeal. The more complex the game is, the deeper one can delve into the engine and mechanics. The deeper the mechanics and engine, the easier it is for one player to dominate others via skill. The easier it is for one to emply skill to dominate, the more consistent and appealing it is for tournament play. Again, this doesnt prevent the casual gamer from appreciating the game and playing it with other casual gamers. It provides something that addressess and satisfies the concerns and desires of all players. Ultimately well all just have to trust that cacom will not disappoint us. They are, in my opinion, hands down, the best fighting game developer of all time. They have had many more successful endeavors than flops, so Im hoping this game will be as successful as Mvc2, 3rd Strike, Cvs2, SF4 and all of the others. In the end, Im sure Ill be one of the first people in line, waiting to get my copy of Mvc3 and hopefully there is a line wrapping around the store, waiting behind me.