These days, what gets me excited about a new Marvel Vs. Capcom game is seeing what Marvel heroes and villains that will make an appearance, but once upon a time, that wasn’t the case. Around the time the series was being ported to the original PlayStation and the Sega Dreamcast, I was far more interested in the Capcom side of things. As someone whose first console was an NES, Capcom games have constantly remind me why I love video games with franchises like Mega Man and Resident Evil being among my favorite series. People can be hard on Capcom sometimes as they sometimes seem more keen on rereleasing games, I admittedly got a little biased earlier this year when they announced a physical PS4 release for Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, while series like Dino Crisis, Power Stone, Onimusha and Mega Man Legends go untouched. I don’t think these passionate feelings come out of a place of hate, but rather out of love because as fans of Capcom, we want all of these to come back and become AAA hits.
No game has reminded me of this passion more than the recently released Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite. There hasn’t been a proper Mega Man X game released since the release of Mega Man Maverick Hunter X on the PSP, but in Infinite, I’m able to take a team of X and Zero into battle against what amounts to a final form Sigma boss and it’s a wonderful feeling; the same goes for seeing characters like Nathan “Rad” Spencer and Mike Haggar play a major part in a video game thanks to Infinite’s story mode. I’m really enjoying playing Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite (read my full review HERE) but I’m also oddly being pulled away from it because I want to go back and replay some classic Capcom games. Here’s a few of the games that Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite’s cast of characters has made me want to dive back into and some personal stories as to why they’re so special to me.
CHARACTER: NATHAN “RAD” SPENCER
GAME: BIONIC COMMANDO REARMED
In 2007, Capcom got a lot of people excited when they announced that they were making a new, next-generation, 3-D Bionic Commando game. The results were…less than spectacular, but Bionic Command (2009) is still a game that I will defend today, laughably terrible plot twist and all. What also accompanied the reveal of the 3-D Bionic Commando was something worth getting more excited over: a remake of the original NES game, titled Bionic Commando Rearrmed. Rearmed is essentially the same game as what appears on the NES with a few upgrades like being able to cycle between weapons and more creative uses of your bionic appendage such as being able to grab barrels as shields or throw them as projectiles. What’s most memorable about Rearmed is its soundtrack. Bionic Commando already had an amazing soundtrack, and developer Grin’s take on the material is somehow even better:
Buying Bionic Commando Rearmed was actually pretty tough for me when it was released in 2008. I was about one year divorced from university and didn’t have a credit card. PlayStation Network cards weren’t made available in Canada until 2009 so I had to buy a pre-pard credit card from a drug store in order to buy it. It was well worth the fuss though, as Bionic Commando Rearmed is a terrific game that I hope doesn’t get forgotten. Here’s hoping that Capcom reissues it for the latest generation of consoles, or at the very least makes it backwards compatible on the Xbox One.
CHARACTER: MEGA MAN X
GAME: MEGA MAN X2
Mega Man has always been one of my favorite series and Capcom hooked me early with the phenomenal NES games, helped by a little blatant product placement on the Captain N: The Game Master show that used to air on NBC. The X series of games aren’t quite as universally great as the original series, but the trilogy of titles on the SNES were worthy successors to the six-chapter NES series. I recognize that of the trio of games on the SNES, the original is the best for more reasons than I can count, and if you want to watch something that will convince you, check out this video from Game Grump Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson:
It’s Mega Man X2 that will always hold a special place in my heart though, because it’s a more personal game for me that I feel a sense of ownership over. In my hometown, local stores that rented SNES games got Mega Man X and Mega Man X3, but for some reason no one got X2. Periodically as a reward my parents would take me to a town about thirty minutes away to rent games as they had a far greater selection than what was available locally, and one of those games was Mega Man X2. If you’ve played a Mega Man game, or the original Mega Man X, X2 is nothing new: It’s a tight, superbly controlling action game where you as Mega Man X have to defeat eight Mavericks in the order of your choosing, collecting their weapons along the way and adding them to your arsenal.
Because of how inaccessible it was in my town, it made me feel like I was part of some elite club when I popped the cart into my SNES to play it. I played it a few years after it came out, and I didn’t have any magazines lying around to help me with the boss order or find the hidden armor pieces, sub tanks and heart pieces, nor did I have any friends to call for assistance. I had Nintendo power to help me with Mega Man X3, the school yard to call upon for Mega Man X, but with Mega Man X2, I was on my own, and it was one of my crowning gaming achievements finding all its secrets, save the Street Fighter upgrade in the final stages, all by my lonesome.
GAME: MEGA MAN X4
The Mega Man X mainline series went all the way up to an eight chapter not counting RPG spin-offs and Game Boy Color games, but it was Mega Man X4 that was the last great entry. Structure wise it’s nothing new from the games that came before it on the SNES, but the added power of the PlayStation allowed Capcom to create a few unique effects in stages like travelling up a winding stair case in Spit Mushroom’s (yes, that is a real boss) level and include slick anime cut-scenes that are at their best when no one’s talking. What made Mega Man X4 stand out above its cousins on the SNES though was the inclusion of a second playable character: Zero.
Zero was a major character in the SNES Mega Man X games since the first game, but it wasn’t until the third game where you could actual play as him; a big selling point for that game. The capacity in which Zero was controllable in X3 was extremely limited however: you couldn’t fight stage bosses with Zero and if you happened to die while you were playing as him, he was more or less gone. Due to these limitations, the best thing to really do with Zero was to save using him until the final stages where you can sacrifice him to get a somewhat different ending and get his super powerful beam saber weapon transferred to X.
In Mega Man X4, you could choose to play through the entire game as either X or Zero, and choosing Zero shook up the Mega Man formula in a clever way. In Mega Man X3, Zero controlled more or less exactly the same as X with a regular shot and a chargeable buster, but in X4, he only had his beam saber, which made going through the game something like more of a Ninja Gaiden game than a Mega Man game. When you defeated bosses, Zero didn’t get weapons you could cycle through, but rather a series of moves that somewhat mimicked what X got in his campaign. When you defeated Magma Dragoon for example, X obtained a weapon that allowed him to shoot fire upwards, but with Zero, he received a move where he did an uppercut style move with his sabre on fire activated by simply hitting up plus the triangle button.
As a Mega Man fan who only owned a Nintendo 64, I always wanted to play all of the PlayStation exclusive Mega Man titles and they were of the first games I tried to rent and then own when the first PlayStation console was brought into our house in late 1999. Zero became a regular playable character in all future X game and eventually starred in his own series of games on the Game Boy Advance, but Mega Man X4 still even today feels like the best representation of that character in a Mega Man X game and it’s also far more forgiving than the brutal Mega Man Zero games.
GAME: STRIDER 2
I didn’t own a Sega Genesis growing up, so my only experience with Strider Hiryu was in the NES Strider game that I could never figure out or get very far in. I was reintroduced to him as a playable character in the original Marvel Vs. Capcom on the PSOne where I was never very good using him, but I couldn’t help how cool he looked and moved. Reading an issue of Game Pro magazine, I saw that Capcom was releasing a game called Strider 2 on the original PlayStation which looked like a slick, 2-D action game. I rented Strider 2, and recognized how great it looked and how good it felt to play, but it was also a little disappointing. It was clearly a product of the arcade, and thus it was impossible to really lose and you just had to keep hitting a button to continue. In one rental I managed to finish it in a little over an hour on the hardest difficulty.
I guess Capcom recognized that people may have been dissatisfied with how short Strider 2 was an as an added perk, threw in the original arcade game on a separate disc. It was pretty great getting to play Strider as someone who never played either the original arcade game or its Sega Genesis port. What was confusing to me renting out Strider 2 was that it was a two disc game, and wanting to play the second title, I put that disc into the PlayStation only to be met by the title for the first game. It was years later that I found out due to a printing error that for whatever reason, Strider 2 was printed on the disc for the first game and part one was printed on the disc for part two. This was something I had to bring to the attention of a local used game store in my city as they had someone trade in a copy of Strider 2 with only the Strider 2 disc.
GAME: RESIDENT EVIL 3: NEMESIS
Someone asked me the other day “do you remember where you were doing Y2K?” and my answer was “yes, I was at home playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.”
On New Years Eve 1999, my brother went out with his friends so I seized the opportunity to have the PlayStation that he got for Christmas that year all to myself. Having got a taste of the Resident Evil franchise with the N64 port of Resident Evil 2, I wanted more and rented out Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. When people give the reason as to why they’ve never played a classic Resident Evil title, the usual answer is their distaste for the turn/pivot tank controls. In the port of Resident Evil 2 on the N64, there was an exclusive option in that game to turn off the tank controls, advice I had taken to heart in the Nintendo Power review of the game. When I booted up Resident Evil 3, I searched for that option thinking it was standard, but couldn’t find it.
I don’t know if anyone recalls the opening for Resident Evil 3, but it really is a sink or swim moment. As protagonist Jill Valentine, you dive away from an explosion and must run down a zombie filled alley way to safety, so for me playing this for the first time, it was a case of acclimate to these controls or die. Like a lot of people playing the third Resident Evil for the first time, I couldn’t help but be terrified of the giant, hulking title monster and immediately panicked when I saw him around the corner ominously uttering the only word he can: “ssssttttarrrrssss”. Despite the uniqueness that the Nemesis brings to the Resident Evil series however, it is one of my least favorite entries in the series but I also owe it so much because it forced me to learn, and even love, the unorthodox Resident Evil control scheme that everyone despises so much.
GAME: MARVEL VS. CAPCOM (PSOne)
Coming late to the PlayStation as a did, I never played a Darkstalkers game and as a casual fighting game fan at best, I haven’t really dove into the franchise either. One of the main characters from the series, the succubus Morrigan, I did learn to love, but it was through playing as her in the original Marvel Vs. Capcom. Without wanting to sound too creepy, Morrigan is a character who is going to catch your eye in a character select screen and her flashy hyper combos in the first MvC similarly make an impression as well. I’m glad that even with the Darkstalkers franchise on hiatus like a lot of other PSOne era Capcom series that there’s still place for her in Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite.
CHARACTER: CHRIS REDFIELD
GAME: RESIDENT EVIL CODE: VERONICA
I played the first few Resident Evil games in an odd order: I started with 2 and then 3 before finally playing the one that started it all. I’ve since come to adore the original Resident Evil, especially its remake and subsequent HD remaster, but it didn’t grab me in the same way the other two games did. This is maybe because the cut-scenes, presentation and voice acting had evolved a lot, so I was more of a Leon guy than a Chris guy. Before he became a boulder bashing parody of himself in Resident Evil 5, Chris did star in one of my favorite Resident Evil games: Resident Evil CODE: Veronica.
If you want to really learn about why I love CODE: Veronica so much, I suggest you read this piece I wrote on the Sega Dreamcast’s anniversary, but more than being a great game, it also features my favorite version of Chris Redfield. Unlike the PlayStation Resident Evil games where you could pick who you wanted to be from the start, in CODE: Veronica you had to earn being Chris by playing the game, and it takes a while before you got him. The payoff is well worth it though, as the cat-and-mouse game that’s being played between him and series villain Albert Wesker once both make an appearance is my favorite in the entire series, especially the brawl between the two in the CODE: Veronica X directors cut. Chris as he appears in this game is also the right level of informed, having already survived the events of the first game, and less world-weary as he has been portrayed in every other Resident Evil game and direct-to-video film ever since.
CHARACTERS: CHUN-LI AND RYU
GAMES: STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 3; STREET FIGHTER III: THIRD STRIKE
In the 16-bit days, I was more of a Mortal Kombat fan because I loved the crazy universe those games created and didn’t really understand at a young age why Street Fighter was just iterating on one game instead of releasing actual sequels. My appreciation of the Street Fighter series really came after Street Fighter II as I played countless rounds of Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the original PlayStation in high school and Street Fighter III: Third Strike on the PS2 while living in residence during my university years. I’ve never been particularly great at Street Fighter, merely good enough, so the two characters they choose to be in Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite: Ryu and Chun-Li, are always immediate go to’s for me, whether that’s in technical games like Third Strike or the weird Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha.
On top of making me nostalgic for the Capcom games I’ve played, Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite has also made me want to play the games I haven’t, things like Demon Crest that I missed out on but it now thankfully on the Wii U’s virtual console and I’ve never really ever tried Dead Rising either. Marvel Vs. Capcom has endured because of its tight fighting mechanics that have made it a game regular featured in tournaments, but also because of the cherished characters created by both Marvel and Capcom. The problem with a game like Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite is that you have to think, do I play one more round, or do I want to go back and play or experience for the first time the games in which this characters wasmade famous in the first place in?
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Pretty impressive work