Sitting Centerstage: Soothsaying Mahvel

Stop & think! Where were you the first time you came across a Marvel game published by Capcom? Was it at the arcade? Or was it some random cabinet at a fast food spot or bodega? Maybe even your friend’s house on a home console? Next question, where were you last month when Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite was announced? Now, give this one a minute… did you get the same feeling?

No matter where you stand in regards to the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, the PlayStation Experience was a lot to take in. Not just the MVCI game itself, but whatever future repercussions it’ll have on the series, Capcom & the FGC. For starters, I am glad to see another Marvel game just from the standpoint of more fighters for us to play. Also, deep down, it makes me happy that it has shut the naysayers up. Not for the sake of being spiteful, but to put to rest the nonsense of antagonizing hopeful (and in some cases, delusional) fans. It’s meaningless at this point since the game is real and there’s so much to unpack in the past month.

Let’s get down to the few details we know about this game. 2 versus 2 fights with a choice of an Infinity Stone to use pre-match and no assists! At first, there was a scare of no X-Men or Fantastic Four representation in this game, but now it is highly rumored & all but confirmed that we will see such characters as DLC. As for the main roster, there’s plenty of leak lists speculating who is coming; as for who is in so far, it’s a very small bunch, but hey... at least Megaman X is back. The gameplay and tag system bares similarity to Street Fighter X Tekken, while the general feel of the game is reminiscent to Taksunoko vs. Capcom. Of course, all this is subject to change, but it is nonetheless our only information thus far. I won’t sit here like a cranky sourpuss and act like I didn’t enjoy what I saw because, despite my friction with the Marvel series along with Capcom lately, 2v2 fights with restricted assists was when Marvel had my heart. My opinion, however, is minuscule in importance compared to the views of the MvC community. Has Infinite captured the hearts of Mahvel heads?

From the feedback & people I have talked with on the matter, the reception is more so positive and met with anticipation for MVCI. There is definitely an air of curiosity surrounding the whole thing because we know and have seen so little. To the ecstatic MvC fans, all the power & happiness to you for another entry into the franchise… I’m rooting for this game. I have to be real though, are you all aware of the track record of this franchise and the company working on it? Or rather, in the case of the character selection process, how Marvel goes about hand picking their characters?

I thought it was too outlandish that there would be a Marvel fighter with no X-Men just to deny advertising whatever Marvel properties that FOX owns the rights to, and yet… it’s somewhat true. Remember that new characters like X-23, Rocket Raccoon & Hawkeye were put in to help push their respective comics and/or movies at the time. I personally put a lot of emphasis on veteran characters from the first/original games in a storied franchise because they are the foundation for your fighting game. Street Fighter 3’s chief, if only, complaint was its alienating roster and that’s after the fans went up in arms to make sure Ryu & Ken made it back. Returning characters stabilize your game’s core. Without them, you have to depend on other features to wow your players just as 3rd Strike did.

There is no concrete word yet on how huge this roster will be, so here’s to hoping for a size that can do both the new & the old justice. What about the mechanics, features and support? Historically, Marvel is terribly unbalanced to the point of being considered flat out broken in many of its past games. To be technical, this isn’t the first time Marvel has had Infinity Gems in their game and it does concern me a bit. Yes, a majority of the Marvel games were in the 90s when online patching didn’t exist, but for that, we have look at what happened to UMVC3. For continued support, Marvel and Capcom will have to hash out the details of licensing for this game to avoid the problem 2 & 3 ran into. I may have a clue of how it can benefit Marvel (which I will expand on shortly). Without taking a shot at a certain game… Capcom has assured us that MVCI will be content rich. That begs the question of exactly what will they put in to make this game robust? Also, how will the netcode be to play online? The track record for all these components has been sketchy to say the least. How sketchy exactly? I'll let Angry Joe explain.

Every generation loses a few players because of the changes from sequel to sequel. This was the case for Marvel going from 2 to 3. Although not in the majority, there were some sighs of indifference & groans towards Infinite’s announcement. Some had more interest in the PS4 & PC announcement for UMVC3. This brings some suspicions to light about the present day Marvel community since what some people really want isn’t actually a sequel, but a patch or successor to UMVC3. Once the PC port is available, this can very much become a reality. All it takes is the community fervor and some computer savvy to make something beautiful & fine tuned. We have seen the ripple effect this had on Super Smash Bros. even to this day. It’s very well possible the Marvel community can schism the way that ‘Mini-Marvel’ subsections Smash games.

Back to the potential Infinite has that can affect all parties involved. The crux of the ‘Marvel is dead’ argument was that Marvel (and by extension Disney) had very little to gain for releasing a fighting game. Perhaps, perhaps not. Whatever there was to be won at the bottom line, I figured that Marvel will show up for pride. Netherrealm Studios ‘dipped their toe in the eSports pool’ with the ESL, big time pot bonuses for sponsored majors and the like. If anything, it will only be grander with Injustice 2 since it’s DC/Warner Bros.’ baby. I can’t help but feel that the DC vs. Marvel rivalry has been underestimated. I realize (just as I write this) that this is now a Warner Bros. vs. Disney contest! We’re factoring in competition going back to Looney Tunes and Mickey Mouse. My point is that when it comes to DC & Marvel coexisting on any plane, they have to butt heads.

Last year, we witnessed a major step for the FGC with EVO & Capcom Cup getting airtime on ESPN. At the moment, it feels like a trial run to gauge the ratings. If the higher ups so please, though – remember, that would be Disney – they can force any particular programming on their station. Coupled with the pop culture familiarity of Marvel and the networking resources, Infinite can be elevated to unseen levels for a fighter. A great stage to perform on with big time money, recognition, huge spotlight & legitimization to the whole operation… and all that’s pretty much the total contrast to the roots of Mahvel. At NEC XVII, I was reminded of just how much of a throwback Marvel 2 is to the FGC. Up until Top 8, it was huddled in an easy to miss corner with a small crowd observing and the old vets gathered around just having a good time. This was complete with Dreamcast consoles, sticks & CRT TVs. Are we ready for such a jump and if so what are we willing to sacrifice or what will be sacrificed along the way?

A community divided isn’t much of a community. Sure, it’s about taking the good with the bad, but steps can be taken to minimize the losses. On a lighter note, I’ll go on record now to say that if Capcom plays their cards right with MVCI… they’ll make a sucker out of me & I’ll get the game Day One.

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