Cyclops, Ryu and Jill Valentine throw down in this dated but fun port of the 2000 arcade hit.
It is tough to resist playing a few rounds of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Capcom's celebrated brawler received universal acclaim for its fast-paced, brutal and clearly over the top three-on-three tag matches, a roster comprised of 56 characters (28 warriors from each camp) and beautiful combo moves that engulf the screen in a marvelous display of special effects that more often than not result in someone erupting with joy while his or her opponent languishes in defeat. We can argue whether it's the most balanced and even fair video game, but there's no denying the title's addictive pull 12-years later.
Now it's on both iPhone and iPad, and while this version doesn't surpass the Xbox Live Arcade or even Sega Dreamcast edition, Capcom did a good job shoehorning the 2000 arcade experience onto the smart phone and tablet, giving players the chance to take their fighting addiction on the go.
To that end, the cast is fully intact, with Capcom mainstays Ryu, Felicia, Cammy and Jill Valentine squaring off against Marvel's best, a list that includes Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man and Captain America, each of which has a unique command list of dangerous maneuvers that you're free to view during matches. You only have 24 characters to start, and must unlock the rest through spending acquired points in the shop and playing different modes, not exactly ideal for longtime fans. Besides, other ports have everyone available from the start.
That said, the game plays about as well as we expected. The action remains speedy throughout, as the very pixelated 2D sprites battle against animated 3D backgrounds. The eight-way directional joystick gets the job done, and Capcom lets you place it wherever you want along the left side of the screen. That's cool, but we wish it were a floating stick, as it's a bit easy to lose track of where it is during a fight, ultimately costing us some health as a result.
As for the buttons, tapping the on-screen Assist results in a teammate swooping in to give you a hand, and swiping this icon left or right tags in someone fresh. In addition, the Special Move button lets you pull off a character's more effective moves with ease (simply tap up, down, left or right), and while the default scheme uses four buttons, Capcom lets you switch to six to better mimic that arcade feel; light punch/high punch, light kick/high kick, Assist A, Assist B.
Of course, some things bother us. For starters, the screen doesn't change orientation on its own. You must do this from the options menu. What's more, there's no online multiplayer. It's Bluetooth only. Finally, those 2D sprites look dreadful, and could have used a well-needed touch up. Not sure if this would've affected performance, or if Capcom simply chose to leave them be.
Thankfully, none of these issues break Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, which manages to rise above most iOS fighting games to deliver a mostly entertaining and combo-filled experience. If you love this title and wish you could play it away from home, this is a recommended purchase. On the flip side, if you detest fighters with virtual controls, nothing about this game will change your mind.
Review code provided by Capcom.
What's Hot: All 56 characters, customizable and user-friendly controls, runs beautifully, slick animated backgrounds, cheesy elevator music, Wi-Fi multiplayer.
What's Not: Screen does not rotate automatically, semi-transparent virtual buttons obscure the action, no online multiplayer, having to unlock characters.