Yesterday, well known fighting game content creator, Maximilian Dood, got the hashtag #FREEMVC2 trending as high as 5th place on Twitter in the US. This was due to a video Max produced wherein he pleads his case about why Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is in desperate need of a comeback. As of this writing, the video has been viewed close to 115,000 times.
Max brings up many good points, among them that Marvel vs. Capcom 2‘s popularity goes way beyond that of just the fighting game community. When Sony began promoting the PlayStation 5 late last year, they partnered with actor Michael B. Jordan who proclaimed his love for the game, even going as far to say that someone needs to find a way to bring it back. Early in 2020 and prior to the pandemic shutting down the world, MvC2 was set to make a return to the EVO stage for its 20th anniversary, robbing the multi-million selling Mortal Kombat 11 of a slot just a year past its release. Years prior, spectators could be seen at the event with signs in the stands saying “When’s Mahvel.”
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is unique among fighting games in that it truly has something for players of all skill levels. For the competitive type, MvC2 lends itself to white-knuckle matches complete with dazzling feats of skills, but it’s also friendly for those who wish to simply see superheroes fill the screen with giant beams and other projectiles. This is accomplished by using the familiar language of many Capcom fighters, including Street Fighter and previous versus games, but somewhat simplified, removing medium hits for four attacks instead of six. This is all wrapped in a package that is filled with gorgeous character art and an unforgettable soundtrack, including the earworm “I wanna take you for a ride” character select screen music.
Like the immediately recognizable cast of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. franchise, Marvel vs. Capcom 2′s packed roster of of over 50 characters features some of the biggest names from both camps. Though the game is now over 20 years old, characters with enduring popularity like Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Iron Man, Hulk as well as Doctor Doom among countless others are here, and that’s just from the Marvel side. If comics aren’t your thing, Capcom’s biggest stars from Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, and Mega Man are present. MvC2 would also mark the series debut of Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, a property that at the time of release was in its relative infancy having only debuted in 1996.
As someone who didn’t live close to an arcade, nor had access to a Dreamcast at the height of its popularity, even I couldn’t help but feel endeared to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. We were latecomers to the PlayStation ecosystem in our household, but a big part of playing catch up for myself and my older sibling was playing countless hours of games like X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes on the original PlayStation. Though far from arcade perfect as they were one-on-one affairs with limited tag options, they helped me build awareness of the series where before there was none.
When I bought an issue of GamePro magazine featuring a poster of MvC2′s massive cast, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the game, even if I couldn’t play it. After all, how could a game featuring the likes of Mega Man, Jill, and Tron Bonne, the latter of which I had spent hours with after getting The Misadventures of Tron Bonne for my birthday in 2000, be bad? I still have that very poster on my wall.
For those who missed the physical release of MvC2 on platforms like Dreamcast, PS2 and the original Xbox, it made a surprise comeback as a downloadable only title for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. A few years later in 2012, what was once housed in an arcade unit was shrunken down further when it came to iOS enabled devices. These ports featured a terrific high-definition makeover for the beloved fighter and came with every character unlocked – you had to grind out the full roster in the other home versions. You could even test your skills with players all over the world thanks to the implementation of solidly performing online play.
About all that was missing from this version was the ability to map functions to the extra triggers for easier play with a standard controller. To either tag in a member of your team or perform a Hyper combo in this game, you need to hit two buttons simultaneously which is manageable on an arcade machine or stick, but clumsy with a controller. When Marvel vs. Capcom 2 came to platforms like the PS2 and Xbox, you could map these functions to buttons. It’s difficult to say why this feature was omitted for the rerelease, but it’s unfortunate that it’s missing.
For those who bought Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on either the PS3 or the 360, they can still enjoy them today, even online. However, for anyone who didn’t purchase it within this window, they’re out of luck as it has been delisted since late 2013. This is a fate that befalls many digital titles that use the intellectual properties of others as rights expirations often require them to be removed unless a license is renewed. Physically released copies of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 can be bought on the secondary market, but they’re not cheap. In 2020, I secured a manual less copy for the PlayStation 2 with an $150 price tag.
It’s approaching 8 years now since Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has been unavailable on digital stores and with the March 2003 release of the Xbox original port, over 18 years since a physical edition was issued. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is long overdue for a comeback not just for nostalgic fans, but also for a new generation of players that have been unable to conveniently, not to mention inexpensively, buy it.
In his video, Max mentions that Digital Eclipse, the company who absorbed the studio responsible for the 2009 rerelease, would be a great fit to help resurrect Marvel vs. Capcom 2. The studio has become renowned not only for crafting faithful recreations of classic titles, but also coupling them with almost museum-like extras. They’ve even worked with Capcom on projects like the Mega Man Legacy Collection, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection. Since #FREEMVC2 started trending, Mike Mika, the studio head at Digital Eclipse, expressed interest in bringing back Marvel vs. Capcom 2, provided the rights holders are willing to work with them of course.
A potential rerelease of Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes has the potential to be the best the game has ever been. With a talented studio working to preserve the game in its original form on new hardware, coupled with user experience enhancements like top-of-the-line netcode and considerations for controller players, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 could perhaps become even bigger than when it was new. A physical edition couldn’t hurt either, whether from Capcom or a boutique outfit like Limited Run Games.
Until an official announcement is made though, all we can do is keep asking “When’s Mahvel?” while we patiently await to be taken for that ride all over again.