With a decade of hype and nostalgia between Marvel vs Capcom 2 and its successor, Marvel vs Capcom 3, it’s understandable that the droves of enthusiasts lined up, money ready, pre-orders in place. How could anyone not love the game that brought us Mango Sentinel, curly mustaches, and smooth jazz? Anyone born in the last 30 years is also bound to have a great affinity for both franchises, whether raised on Saturday morning cartoons or Saturday afternoon Megaman marathons.
A lot of series have dealt with the pressure of a decade-in-the-making sequel: Team Fortress, Starcraft, Duke Nukem (to say the least). And when the fanbase has waited half their existing life for a game, it means two things: the developer has a lot to live up to, but they also have a guaranteed hit.
As far as shareholders go, a guaranteed hit is a great thing. As far as gamers go, it’s usually not. Developers will more than likely fall short of expectations, especially when they know they can cut corners, squeeze in profit-generating schemes, and rely on happy memories to whitewash the kinks in the experience. Of course, it all depends on the developer.
Luckily, we all know Capcom would never exploit nostalgia…
Let’s not spend a lot of time reviewing Capcom’s previous trespasses into bullshit DLC-based milking schemes. They are far too many and far too egregious to name; suffice it to say, Capcom’s PR people aren’t the only employees tasked with trolling the company’s legions of fans. Instead, let’s look at some troubling signs of a game that, while no doubt fun, has been designed from the ground up to exploit its customers’ enthusiasm for the latest iteration.
DLC characters on disc at launch
When Capcom released Street Fighter 4 and Super Street Fighter 4, it also commented on how DLC characters can negatively affect a game’s balance and split its player base. Whether this was a cheap shot at Namco and Arc Systems (probably), the case is now moot. Capcom launched Marvel vs Capcom 3 with two DLC characters, Shuma Gorath and Jill Valentine. Wait, no, they announced said characters, but also said they wouldn’t be available until a month after release.
Too bad that was a lie, since both characters are already on the disc, complete.
Why not just include them in the game, if they’re already finished? It doesn’t take a financial analyst someone actually useful to figure it out: money. Lots of money, namely $5 per character on Xbox Live or PSN. We’ve seen companies do this before, but it’s no surprise Capcom, of all developers, was chewing at the bit to bilk its followers.
Frank West and Doc Ock also lingering
Capcom recently held a poll, asking players which Marvel or Capcom character they’d want to see released as the next DLC character. Unfortunately, the voices of the people may not matter, because the hackers have also determined that Frank West and Doc Ock will be the next DLC, democracy be damned.
A concession must be made: it’s possible these characters aren’t coming up, but were instead scrapped from a previous version of the game. But even that scenario begs the question: would Capcom rather paste in existing characters they’ve already created, or code and balance Dr. Wily into the game because everyone on Reddit votes for him?
No voyeurism of any kind
In a move that baffled billions, Capcom chose not to include neither Spectator Mode nor Replay Mode into Marvel vs Capcom 3. If you’re thinking, “WiNG, I don’t know what spectator mode is, but it sounds utterly retarded,” you’re wrong. Spectator Mode is the mechanism that allows players in a more-than-two-person lobby to watch the match that’s going on when they’re not playing. In Super Street Fighter 4, it’s what makes Endless Mode fun: even when you’ve been beaten to a pulp, you can watch the next duo battle it out and either trash talk or shut up and learn something.
Got eight friends playing Marvel 3 together? Six of them will be staring at a blank lobby screen 75% of the time.
This omission, when paired with the omission of Replay Mode, is even more absurd when you consider all Capcom had to do was copy and past these modes into Marvel from their existing games. Sure, there would be tweaking, but they had about ten fucking years to tweak this game. While Capcom has said it is considering releasing these modes as optional DLC, that’s basically tantamount to Top Tier Tactics saying it is considering releasing software that will revert the hard drive damage caused by the trojans hosted on this site as optional DLC. Whether this happens or not is almost irrelevant; it’s simply more evidence Capcom shortchanged consumers because they knew they could.
Who needs balance? We’ve got memes!
Gamers everywhere are delighting in the fact that many characters, especially Deadpool, are full of allusions to Marvel-based memes and self-referential continuity jokes. Meanwhile, in the part of reality where the actual gameplay matters, things are broken. Many characters have infinite combos, 100% combos, game-stuttering bugs and X-Factor setups that make blocking as useless as wearing a condom to a planet where it rains AIDS all day.
Obviously, a game’s long term balance can’t really be determined until… the long term, but it usually takes more than three days for most fighting games to reveal that some characters’ only weakness is that you can’t pick them three times on the same team.
Marvel vs Capcom 3 is a fun game, sure. But is it everything series fans had hoped for? Not really. It’s obvious that Capcom has placed profit over perfection on many levels, leaving consumers with a sub-standard game. Personally, I’m holding out on purchasing this game for a month or so. By then, perhaps this mythical spectator DLC will exist, and maybe enough people will have given up on the title to cause pre-owned prices to drop into the $40 range.
Of course, after salivating over the potential for a sequel for nearly a decade, most players were all-too-ready to throw down their money and leave scrutiny at the door, playing the precise role Capcom was hoping for. Meanwhile, the game may prove just as unbalanced as its predecessor, leaving competitive players and casuals alike to wonder….
Have we been taken for a ride?