|Incredibly manic 3-on-3 fighting game with huge low-res sprites and sprite effects over 3D backgrounds. Unlike Capcom's "Street Fighter" series, you've only got two punch and two kick buttons here, instead of three; that's because the other two buttons are reserved for calling in assist attacks or group super moves from your two other characters who are waiting offscreen while your active character takes punishment. So, if you're good at the game (I know this because I've seen others do it, and the CPU does it), you'll have your three characters whizzing back and forth faster than the eye can follow, launching massive attacks that literally overflow the screen with flashing colors and, hopefully, wear down the opposing three characters while yours are still standing.|
There are a total of 56 characters, something of a record for a fighting game, I think. Each has three types of assist modes, selected at the start of the game, at least one super, and various special moves, in addition to the standard kicks and punches. Each team of three has three levels of super moves, or something like that. Supers are all powered by a single meter, which charges as you fight, so you can fight with one character, build up multiple meter charges, then switch to another character and burn them on that character's super multiple times, or mash the two assist buttons to blast off three super meter charges in a single eye-dazzling group display.
The 56 characters are split about evenly between the Capcom and Marvel stables, and there are some pretty odd ones in the lineup, like a dinky sort of Lego-ish robot from Capcom (eh Serve-Bot or something from Megaman, I think), and a tentacled green blob alien from Marvel. A few of the Capcom sprites, such as Morrigan, are from older games, and look a little lumpy, but most of them are drawn in a fresh, crisp sort of anime style that looks good even in fairly low resolution, and gives each character a great deal of personality. The premise of the game is itself goofy, so Capcom did the whole thing up in a very colorful, very animated, very over-the-top style that's just infectiously fun.
They didn't waste time on story, which is just as well; you pick your team of three and there assist types, and off you go against other groups of three. There's a massive final boss of some sort in single-player mode, but the real fun is watching and maybe trying to manage the bajillions of combinations of character matchups. It seems that some characters are generally more effective than others--a balance issue or three in a game with 56 characters is hardly surprising--and to play as an amateur against someone good at the game will inevitably lead to a very un-fun, very rapid death in many colors. Also, because you can see most of the supers coming a long way off, and because they do decent "tick" damage even when blocked, matches I've seen between people who are decent at the game often come down to alternating sprays of blocked super blasts, gradually wearing down the six characters. However, if you're just in there to goof around with spritey fighting action, the game has a lot to offer--more than any other game, in that respect.
Many of the 56 characters are "locked" at the start of the DC version, and you have to "buy" the in a sort of shop thing with "points" you gain while playing. This is kind of lame, but fortunately you can sort of get around it by leaving the game running overnight in training mode, which earns you points automatically; I think I did that for three nights or so, which got me enough points to get everything.
If you don't have any similarly scrubby players around to bash away with, and you've grown tired of struggling against the CPU in 3-on-3 battles of escalating difficulty, you'll probably put the game back on the shelf for a while. There's a "Score Attack" mode, which seems a little odd; you play a three-on-three match for score, I guess, and try to get more score the next time. I suppose it's different than Arcade mode, which also tracks your score, because in Arcade mode you can continue and keep the same score. Anyway it isn't a very interesting extra mode as far as I could tell. It would've been nifty to see them go nuts with single-player modes in this port, like oh say a 1-on-5 mode, or a 1-on-1 elimination mode where you have to beat all of the other 55 characters one at a time.
MvC2 isn't a great game if you want to sit down and learn a single character really well, because you've always got all these other characters along for the ride; besides, individual characters here aren't quite as in-depth as they are in other rather more standard fighting games. On the other hand, if you want the maximum action you can possibly get all at once in a fighting game, I don't think there's any doubt that this game is still the reigning champ.