Dude! Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in Los Angeles

If ridiculousness is a virtue, the designers behind “Marvel vs. Capcom 3″ are video game saints.

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The game, its full title is “Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds” appears to be based on the belief that wackier is better. Capcom’s “Super Street Fighter IV” wasn’t exactly an exercise in subtlety, but to play MvC3 is to play an electronic equivalent of a caffeine rush.

Remember Jolt Cola? This game is like a six-pack of the stuff, so this writer is going to crack open an imaginary bottle and get to work.

Details after the jump:


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I had a chance to play a single match of MvC 3 and watch a bunch of fans try the game at Capcom’s “Fight Club” event held Feb. 3 in downtown Los Angeles. The event also provided a chance to check out Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition for the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS.

Fans of previous Marvel vs. Capcom titles will likely welcome the hyperactivity at play in the MvC3. Basic moves with control schemes like the classic hadouken will allow players to unleash frenetic multi-hit attacks and the game congratulates players for their prowess with animated exclamations like “Yes!,” “Wonderful!” and “Dude!”

The game’s take on the comic universe revels in the four-color frenzy of the Silver Age with a strong dose of nostalgia for the arcade games of the early 1990s.

(Time to pop open another bottle of Jolt Cola.)

Players get to choose three characters. I played with Magneto, Hulk and Viewtiful Joe on my team and no idea of what any of their move sets were. I managed to let the Master of Magnetism let loose with some powerful blasts by remembering how to throw a hadouken, but ultimately ended up vanquished by Iron Man, Amerterasu from Okami and someone else.

Even in a loss, the game left a positive first impression. I’ll be curious to find out after additional play whether its ADHD sensibilities will hold up to marathon sessions or be better suited to short bursts of play. The relative ease of picking up a controller and unleashing some madness may make the game ideal for college dorms and give gamers and non-gamers a chance to share a laugh while putting off their reading.

This is as good a place as any for me to confess that even though I enjoy fighting games, I kind of stink at them. The game’s simple command feature, which reduces some special moves to single button-press, may at first glance seem like an ideal option for players like me (or babies) except I have some pride.

(Another Jolt Cola. Yes!)

The simple command option seems like the kind of thing that could send a longtime fighting game fan on a rant about casual gamers, but casual players’ money is green as the hardcore crowd’s currency. And besides, there’s nothing wrong with being a casual player.

“I’ve attended tournaments for years, and of all the games, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has the widest range of players and fans,” MvC3 producer Rey Jimenez said during an interview at the “Fight Club” event.

That range, Jimenez said, extends from “Asian nerds like me” to “trendy hipsters.”

(Time to switch to Pabst Blue Ribbon. On second thought, no.)

But a different fan base means a different game. Even though the Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom franchises share a basic look and some characters, to Jimenez, the titles are as different as the stealth-oriented “Splinter Cell” series and the bullet-riddled “Gears of War” franchise.

Nonetheless, skilled MvC players will have to do more than mash buttons, he said.

“Don’t let the low barrier confuse you,” Jimenez said. “When you get two guys who are good at the game, it’s like a game of chess. It’s like a mind game.”

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MvC3 is scheduled for a Feb. 15 release, and Jimenez noted that fans have already had a chance to influence the title’s development. In earlier builds, it the method of switching characters required characters to press the control stick back and hit the “tag” button. That resulted in players accidentally switching characters while blocking, so the designers switched to a mechanism that requires players to simply hold the tag button for 15 frames.

Capcom also gathered opinions from fans on the Internet to design the character list, Jimenez said, acknowledging that just about every Marvel or Capcom fan has a favorite character that won’t show up in the game.

Characters who still have a groundswell of support after release may end up added to the game as DLC, Jimenez said.

“Beyond that I can’t tell you much,” he said.

But he did say Marvel’s Modok (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) may prove to be the surprise character of the game. Visually, the villain is a big head in a flying chair. I didn’t get to see him in action, but Jimenez warned Modok is dangerous in the hands of a player employing keep-away tactics.

(Another Jolt!!!)

Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition

Capcom set aside most of the space at the Los Angeles “Fight Club” for MvC3, but players could also stand in packed lines to try Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. The game, made for the upcoming portable Nintendo 3DS, is simpler to play than the console or arcade version and boasts an over-the-shoulder perspective that takes advantage of the new system’s 3D capabilities.

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The simplicity games from the fact that super and ultra combos, tricky in SSFIV’s console versions, can be accomplished simply by touching the 3DS’ touch screen. How easy is that? Very easy. Possibly too easy for some players’ tastes, but the simplified controls will give more players a chance to see the game’s more spectacular aspects in 3D.

(I’ll just double fist these last two Jolts and wrap up.)

The event was also my first chance to see a 3DS play any game. The 3D effects don’t make images seem to pop from the screen (remember Sega’s “Hologram Time Traveler?”) but the portable is capable of showing games with such a tremendous depth of field that it’s like looking into a diorama. The over-the-shoulder perspective is an ideal way to play a 3D version of Street Fighter IV and the 3DS will hopefully give other developers a new way to think about making games.

Nintendo plans to release the 3DS on March 27 in North America.