I want to start out this letter by saying, first & foremost, "I'm sorry". Traditionally, we have never seen eye to eye, but I've experienced a great many things over the last few weeks that have softened my once unforgiving stance towards you. If I may, I'd like to explain my sudden change of heart...
The very best place to start is at the beginning. When I was a younger man, I was introduced to your first installment, Marvel VS Capcom, and I grew to thoroughly enjoy your gameplay once I finally figured out how to play. It was a rough start at first, but we grew to understand each other over time. Hell, you gave me my first experience with viable air combos. I was finally able to appreciate the simple fact that not every character approaches combat the same way. All those afternoons cycling through matches with Captain Commando, Jin & Strider Hiryu opened up a whole new world in terms of competitive play for me. I was no longer just some kid wasting money at my local Chinese restaurant. I was actually beginning to pick up a few winstreaks here & there. All in all, I came to thoroughly enjoy whatever time I was able to spend with you.
A few years later, Marvel VS Capcom 2 was released and I was thrilled at the news. You were promising more characters, 3-v-3 combat & a new Assist System. As someone who enjoyed one of you competitors -- the long-running King of Fighters series -- that 3-v-3 addition really caught my attention. Once I had the freedom to find you, I made my way over & happily dropped in my first couple of quarters. There was a lot to take in, at first. You brought in new characters like Cable and Hayato, while bringing back favorites of mine like Omega Red and Sabertooth. Not to mention all the other who came back from the first installment. Further adding to my excitement was the fact that I now had experience with playing the game the right way as opposed to simply button mashing. Once that Character Select screen popped up, though, things had obviously changed. You were working on a time release mechanic to unlock the full roster. It struck me as odd, but my time playing Tekken made me realize that this could be a good thing, so I decided to be patient. Then, however, I started playing...
Understand something, Marvel: Up until this point, I had grown fairly accustomed to Capcom's traditional six button setup. It worked well for me in Street Fighter and DarkStalkers/Vampire Savior, so imagine my surprise when I ran headfirst into this new, condensed configuration. It took some adjustment, but I eventually got used to it. Apparently, so did a LOT of other people. If memory serves correctly, MVC2 was one of the first really big boons to the then-blossoming FGC, which helped it become the entity that it is today. (Not sure if I ever thanked you for that.) Soon, as to be expected, people flocked to you. The other characters slowly & surely started popping up, too... and that's where my problem started.
Overlooking additions like Amingo & Servbot, I genuinely drew a blind eye to the new characters that I didn't necessarily like. As the old expression goes: "If you don't like it, don't (fill in the blank)". That all changed when I saw a second Wolverine pop up. I would ultimately learn that they played rather different from each other, but I could not rationalize this decision. It was beyond my capacities at the time to wrap my head around the idea of (quite literally) the same character being put in a game twice with only a single, marginal design change. Keep in mind, I made peace with the palette swap practice earlier on. However, as ridiculous as it will sound, this took me out of the game.
The years passed, other games came & went and I eventually learned that you were coming back in the form of Marvel VS Capcom 3. Given my experience with MVC2, I was cautious... but also (somewhat naïvely) optimistic. I watched that cinematic trailer & saw all the character choices. My curiosity was admittedly piqued. However, I had grown as a player through the advent of a few console generations. My ability to access different titles had noticeably increased. I bring this up because, before giving your third installment any attention, I played your stylistic predecessor, Tatsunoku VS Capcom. It was fun, but I couldn't help but notice that the configuration had once again been simplified. Given that it was on the Nintendo Wii, I didn't really pay this change too much mind since it fit -that- controller's layout. No big deal, right? I'm sure you can see where this is going already.
Now, as uncomfortable as the new configuration was for me, it wasn't the dealbreaker. That distinction belonged to your new gameplay mechanic, X-Factor. I know it brings the hype at all the events & gets people up out of their seats, but I just couldn't stomach seeing it in application. It made the impossible possible, which would be amazing in almost any other situation, but it just struck me as hopelessly & hilariously broken. That isn't to say you weren't without your merits: the updated character designs were gorgeous, I applauded most of your choices for the roster & the inclusion of Galactus was just downright impressive. Unfortunately, you fell victim to the new genrewide practice of bilking your customers through DLC & updates. I know you weren't the first & you damn sure won't be the last... but a part of me expected better from you, I guess.
I've said all of that to say this: I finally get it. Took me a few years, but June 2015 was a very busy month for me regarding the FGC. More than anything, I came to realize that my experience with you was somewhat tainted by the fact that I never ventured outside of my region. Flying out to Combo Breaker, I noticed that you weren't getting the same level of attention that I was used to seeing on the East coast. You were there, of course, but you weren't the star. Suddenly, it dawned on me that my location has caused me to grow jaded towards you. Over the span of a holiday weekend, my heart had softened a little. After coming back home, my perspective changed. I had begun to see the error of my ways.
Finally, the last bit of this transition came not from traveling or anything, but from the influence of my own team. I got the chance to hear from my new brother-in-arms, KPB|Parappa, and he made an empassioned speech on your behalf. It was the first instance that anyone had ever taken the time & effort to articulate your intrinsic value. Suffice it to say, his words moved me. On the other side of the proverbial screen, there's our resident livewire, KPB|Scamby. Even though he may not have walked away with a championship, Scamby was the star of ECT 2015. With impressive showings in both pools & his primetime exhibition, he reminded me that it's not the quote unquote "gods" or tier masters that make the game worthwhile, but the players who compete with that undeniable hunger in every single match. Seeing him go to work like he did with Team Biohazard (Nemesis, Wesker & Chris), despite their collective dismissal from some of your community, brought me right back to those nigh forgotten days back when I was dropping quarters at Chow Chow's Chinese Kitchen.
So, Marvel, with all that being said, I apologize wholeheartedly. You are worthwhile and even if the sun might be setting on your time in the spotlight, know that I finally understand the real truth behind the phrase "Marvel is dead": On a purely functional level, yes... the fact that you have no foreseeable support from Capcom coming down the line signals that your shelf life has run its course, but the scene itself & your connection to the people, will never die. In that aspect, you are immortal. Wherever your legend takes you from here on out, know that I will be cheering you on from the crowd.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friend.