Since the dawn of Capcom’s STREET FIGHTER II, fighting games have been constantly expanding as a genre. There is no shortage to the fun of learning new characters and intriguing mechanics when it comes to such games. Fun as they may be, the learning curve to fighting games is pretty steep. This has prompted fighting game developers to include tutorial modes for newer players. However, online resources, such as former SHORYUKEN writer Patrick Miller’s free eBook, can assist players with these games.

It comes as no surprise that fighting games can also be revolutionary, especially for those in the fighting game community (FGC). Through my experiences, I have found the FGC to be very welcoming as it is pretty inclusive. It’s also amazing to see the same community that had an obtrusive history make a huge impact in the world of esports. It is because of this that I want to travel back in time and examine two of Capcom’s biggest fighting games of the last decade that revolutionized the fighting game industry, but also helped the FGC grow into what it is today.

STREET FIGHTER IV

With the rise of STREET FIGHTER V in 2016 and the recent return of everyone’s favorite SUPER STREET FIGHTER II TURBO’s hidden boss and secret character, it’s unsurprising to see Capcom’s main classic fighting game series to be nothing short of revolutionary. Did I mention how revolutionary the second title was? Let’s face it, without STREET FIGHTER II, we wouldn’t have amazing fighting games today.

Fast forward seventeen years from SFII’s 1991 release to 2008, when Capcom’s very own Yoshinori Ono made STREET FIGHTER IV possible. Initially, Capcom refused the idea, but without Ono’s persistence and demand by fans, there certainly would not have been another STREET FIGHTER. It became the series’ saving grace.

READ: Want to know how VANQUISH and DOOM pushed limits beyond shooting games? Find out in Carlos’ piece here!

An Ode to STREET FIGHTER II – Blending Old and New

If STREET FIGHTER II set the parameter for future fighting games, then STREET FIGHTER IV also did so by revitalizing the series and setting the foundation for other titles. It brought back the classic feel of the second game and retained the traditional six-button layout, but with much more simplicity. When I mean simplicity, I mean it borrowed elements from STREET FIGHTER III: 3RD STRIKE with its two-button grabs and taunts, as well as selectable super arts.

New features like the Focus Attack mechanic, also part of the two-button simplicity, replaced the complex parrying system from 3RD STRIKE. The new mechanic would remain a core staple in SFIV’s gameplay for future editions, including an upgraded version in the ULTRA final edition. Also returning in the console version was the classic car smashing stage.

Don’t jump!

It’s no doubt that this game did well. Mixing the old with the new was part of the game’s presentation after all. In conjunction with the already established Super Combo Gauge, the game presented a second gauge for its new Ultra Combos. They can be performed when the Revenge Gauge is at least half full. Once unleashed, characters will go into a cinematic and perform a devastating super attack. How much damage inflicted will depend on the amount of “revenge” meter stocked up. This new feature allowed players, especially newcomers, to change the flow of battle in their favor. Later on, a selectable second Ultra Combo (just like selecting 3RD STRIKE supers) would be added for characters in the SUPER edition. Additionally, the final edition would feature Ultra Combo Double, which allowed access to both Ultras in any match.

Not only did STREET FIGHTER IV bridge the gap between old and new, it featured the largest roster in the series history at 44 characters by its final edition. Classic characters like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li returned, but favorites from previous title series (ALPHA and 3RD STRIKE) were also made playable. Although the game used 3D-rendered models and stages, it still played like a 2D fighter. While character models didn’t look realistically defined, the grounded combat, along with new simplified mechanics, made the game feel genuinely fluid and dynamic. It definitely feels and plays like STREET FIGHTER II in a way.

The World Warrior’s Path to Esports

IT’S TIME TO RISE UP!

Fancy yourself as Ryu? Do you want to travel from one destination to another in hopes of getting stronger? Or perhaps you’re already experienced enough that you give in to the Satsui no Hado and crush your opponents like Akuma? Well, you can be either of them as STREET FIGHTER IV not only revitalized the series but created a thriving community that has been growing over the years.

CLICK: You can also fancy yourself like Donnie Yen too and grow stronger! Find out how in this analysis of the IP MAN trilogy.

Once again, if it weren’t for fans and Yoshinori Ono’s efforts to bring the game into the world, there would be no competitive scene. There certainly wouldn’t be a STREET FIGHTER V nor would the game be broadcasted on ESPN. As such newer players wouldn’t have felt welcomed and older veterans wouldn’t have come into the limelight as much. Exhilarating matches between American and foreign players, as well as tournaments like Capcom Cup, wouldn’t have happened.

Honestly, I can’t imagine a world without STREET FIGHTER. I personally feel that no other fighting game, despite how great they are, would have been possible if it weren’t for STREET FIGHTER IV. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were influenced by SFIV’s success in the first place. So kudos to Yoshinori Ono for making this title possible, as well as the fans and players that demanded it. In the end, I’m glad it grew into something big. It’s time to RISE UP!

MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3

The phrase “Marvel never dies” has never rung any truer than with the MARVEL VS CAPCOM crossover series. Just like comic book superheroes, MVC will always find a way to revive itself. It’s a timeless classic that never ceases to amaze with its plethora of iconic and popular characters from Marvel and Capcom. The series also lends itself to some of the most oppressive gameplay for a fighting game. Get hit once and you’ll either lose a lot of life or die from an infinite combo. Nonetheless, it’s still enjoyable to watch the creativity and effort that players go to lengths to create unique teams and combos.

It’s Mahvel, Baby!

MARVEL VS CAPCOM 2, considered the greatest tag-team fighting game in its generation, was released in 2000 and featured the largest ensemble of characters ever to grace Capcom’s VS series. There is a total of 56 characters all evenly distributed (28 each) on both Marvel and Capcom sides. While MVC2’s success can be attributed to its roster size, praise was also lauded to its refined battle system and detailed visuals.

This was the first ever MVC crossover game to feature three playable characters in a tag-team based battle. New additions also included the new button scheme (four attacks and two assists), a refined “variable assist” system (each character has three types of assists), and the new “snapback” mechanic that allowed players to snap in pesky assist characters.

MVC2 no doubt catered to the die-hard comic book and Capcom fans, but it also catered to the competitors. The game brought legends like Michael “IFC Yipes” Mendoza, with his colorful commentary (see video above) on the game, and Justin Wong, who has a knack for comebacks. It created a scene that took the game beyond its limits. Remember I mentioned that the MVC series presents some of the most oppressive gameplay?

READ: ComicsVerse’s top 5 picks for best 2016 Marvel Comics!

Well, you shouldn’t be shocked at all because MVC2, or “Mahvel” as Yipes would call the series, is known for its unbalanced gameplay (glitches and infinites). This “unbalance” has and will always remain part of the series’ charm. The sheer unbalanced gameplay of MVC2 further accentuated the hyperactive tone of matches. This, coupled with a huge roster and new features, is what set the game apart from other fighters. It still remains as a timeless classic to this day.

10 More Years …

After the success of MVC2, it took Capcom roughly ten more years to release MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3 in February 2011. This was much longer than the release time for STREET FIGHTER IV from its previous title (see SFIV section above). The reason for the long hiatus was that Capcom had legal issues with Marvel regarding their contract for the series. It wasn’t renewed until 2008 when development began.

I’m going to take you for a ride!

This time around MVC3 saw a total of 36 characters with two characters being downloadable content. Then, in less than a year, ULTIMATE MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3 was released in November 2011 thanks to fan demand for more characters and company cross-promotional interests. The roster was brought up to 50 characters (including DLC), which is normal considering MVC2 was quite similar in size.

Also, characters, featured in 3D models, were designed to look current with their most recent video game or comic book counterparts. For example, Albert Wesker from the RESIDENT EVIL series sported his edgy trench coat look from the fifth game while Iron Man was updated to wear his Extremis armor (previous titles featured him in his Modular armor). Common in any fighting game update, UMVC3 featured character changes (nerfs and buffs) and tweaked gameplay mechanics.

Just like STREET FIGHTER IV, MVC3’s producer Ryota Niitsuma wanted the game to appeal to newcomers and longtime fans, especially with Marvel’s success in the film industry. Due to this, the six-button control scheme for MVC3 was simplified into three attack buttons (modeled after TATSUNOKO VS CAPCOM), an “Exchange” button for launching opponents and aerial knockdowns, and the returning assist buttons.

New additions to the game also included Simple Mode (for all you button mashers out there), Team Aerial Combos (TACs), Advancing Guard and X-Factor. TACs saw more use in UMVC3 because players could gain or steal one Hyper meter bar (MVC utilizes 5-meter bars) from their opponents. Later on, players would discover TAC Infinite combos. Oh Mahvel, never change. Advancing Guard, or push-block, is a defensive mechanic that allows you to push away enemy attacks while blocking. This gives you space to recuperate from ongoing enemy pressure.

The biggest addition to the third title in the series is X-Factor. This mechanic is the Ultra of MVC3, as in it’s the game’s comeback mechanic, but more on the dumb side (watch video above). If you expected more infinites, then yes X-Factor allows for those too. The catch is that this mechanic has three levels depending on the number of characters left on your team.

CLICK: Speaking of Mahvel, check out 10 characters we want to see in MARVEL VS CAPCOM INIFINITE!

If you have all three characters, you’ll be in Level 1 X-Factor. If you’re reduced to one remaining character, then you’ll be in Level 3. When activated (only once per match), your character glows red and will receive a speed and damage boost. The higher the level, the higher the benefits. Scary right? Niitsuma wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to cater to newcomers.

With this said, X-Factor merely added to the craziness that was MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3. It did make the game easier aside from the simplified controls, but after many years, the game was broken into and offered the same unbalanced gameplay seen from MVC2. The oppressive style of gameplay was still abundant as you would have top tier characters like Zero, from the MEGA MAN series, killing opponents with lightning loops. Nonetheless, just like STREET FIGHTER IV, MVC3 revitalized the series and has been a staple contender as a Capcom game at the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) since its release.

Dead No More (Not a Spidey Joke) and MVC INFINITE

It’s funny and ironic that I actually believed that UMVC3 was truly “dead” just a couple months ago. There has been a stagnant decrease of EVO entrants in the last few years, compared to the number of entrants for 2014, 2015, and 2016. You’ll notice a significant drop of around 200 entrants between 2014 and 2015. Additionally, the game also dropped out of second place in terms of highest number of entrants by 2015. This said a lot about the game as it seems it was clearly “dying.” Perhaps people got tired of seeing the same top-tiered teams or the Morrigan bullet hell zoning.

With the release of STREET FIGHTER V, popularity could’ve been a factor in UMVC3’s “death.” Whatever it was, the game just did not have the same spark it once had. No way it was popularity because people still played it and was featured in tournaments. So what was it?

Then it happened. A new sequel to the game was announced at PlayStation Experience 2016 titled MARVEL VS CAPCOM INFINITE. In addition to this announcement, Capcom re-released UMVC3 digitally for PlayStation 4. Not only this, it will make its way to PC and Xbox One on March 7, accompanied by a limited physical release for XBox One and PS4. Talk about promoting the game once again. There is no way that this doesn’t coincide with MVC INFINITE’s announcement a month ago. Since SFV is now in the realm of esports, there’s no doubt MVC INFINITE will possibly follow suit.

Both STREET FIGHTER IV and MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3 were revolutionary Capcom fighting game titles that revitalized the competitive scene that brought legends and newcomers out. This is thanks to both games’ newer mechanics and simplified control schemes that granted newcomers accessibility while retaining the classic tone of its popular earlier predecessors.

Both offered comeback mechanics that allowed newer people to stand a fighting chance. Both games also catered to hardcore professional players at the same time—a feat accomplished by some clever producers. In the end, I’m glad there was a world of STREET FIGHTER IV and that the question to “when’s Mahvel?” has been answered. See you later!

Show ComicsVerse some Love! Leave a Reply!

Check Also

A Bittersweet Serendipity: The Tragedy of METAL GEAR SOLID V

Metal Gear Solid V did not live up to its potential as a finale to a great franchise. This…