FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes: Part 3

You know this is legitMarvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is an amazing, once in a lifetime game that brings together over 50 characters from wildly disparate worlds and franchises. So, in an effort to pay tribute to one of the games I believe to be the greatest of all time, please enjoy day three of a five-day, 100% complete, generally alphabetical look at every fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Let’s suit up, and look to…

Anthony “Iron Man” Stark

An older crossoverThe basic, most driving force for Marvel comics creations in the Stan Lee era was that everybody had “real world” problems to complement their fantastic superpowers. Sometimes these problems were mundane (Mr. Fantastic had some less-than-fantastic family dynamics to deal with, Spider-Man with great responsibility yada yada yada), and sometimes they were more metaphorical (Hulk was a rage monster, Thing’s literally rocky exterior did not match his big heart). Tony Stark, the Invincible Iron Man, started with a pretty basic problem: if he wasn’t Iron Man, he would die. Thanks to some errant shrapnel from around when the first Iron Man suit was created, businessman Tony Stark had to wear an Iron Man chest plate at all times to keep his heart beating. This served the dual purpose of guaranteeing Tony Stark was always “stuck” being Iron Man, and also granted the “battle” weakness of setting a battery-based timer on all of Iron Man’s supervillain fights. Iron Man is invincible! Except when he has to duck out for a recharge! Sorry, Mandarin, this millionaire has to wrap this up and hit a gas station.

And this “weakness” has existed in various forms throughout the years. At one post-shrapnel point, Iron Man had “extremis” on his side, and he was powered by nanite-based armor and abilities that put his powers firmly in the futuristic category. But he once again had to rely on tech (this time repulsor-based) to keep the whole thing working and not murdering the poor billionaire. Similarly, Tony Stark’s big demon in the bottle, alcoholism, has been a consistent weakness that is a real-world problem that works not unlike his batteries of old. Instead of a stressful battle requiring a battery charge, now he has to charge his mental batteries by calling a sponsor. But by this point in continuity, the likes of extremis has fallen by the wayside, and Iron Mans Anonymous can only fuel so many stories before “nobody wants to watch a dude be sad all the time” sets in. So, now, what is left as Iron Man’s current weakness?

Well, he’s kind of a dick.

This appears to be the one constant in Iron Man’s characterization over the last twenty years. Iron Man is a brilliant futurist, and, implicitly as a direct result of that, he’s a jackass. Iron Man is invincible once again, but, more often than not, he is going to get into trouble thanks to some combination of hubris and vaguely self-serving intentions. Yes, Iron Man is going to save the world. Unfortunately, after doing so, he may have also brought back some interplanetary technology that he is going to study/watch destroy the world in a whole new way. Tony Stark has outright created about half of his rogue’s gallery, and when he was brainwashed (more or less, long story, involves Nazi Onslaught) into being an evil tech billionaire that sold people microtransactions to live, it was kind of hard to tell if this was a result of the whole brainwashing thing, or just his latest bright idea. Couple this with his current origin merging with his movie-based story of being a superpowered version of Lockheed Martin, and we come up with a Tony Stark that might be a hero, but is definitely not going to be invited to anyone’s birthday party.

Iron Man: you may enjoy his unibeam, but don’t make the mistake of talking to the trillionaire. He’s probably going to try to sell you on Starkcoin, and then tank the stock just in time to get a new paintjob on his armor. Do not engage this dick.

Jill Valentine

Hiya!The Resident Evil franchise started with a basic story about a handful of mundane cops investigating a mysterious mansion. This is an extremely well-trodden premise, and, give or take the threats being supernatural or superscientific, this is literally just the same concept as a haunted house. Or a generic horror movie! And Resident Evil, at its core, plays out like a horror story. There are characters that are not going to get out alive, a betrayer, and a pair of protagonists that will survive not only through brute force, but also the ingenuity of employing unusual skills (like lock picking, jewel sorting, or sandwich aversion). Jill Valentine was one of those survivors, and her second starring role, Resident Evil 3, ultimately cast her in the familiar “final girl” role as she made her exit stage left while pursued by a bear(-sized zombie).

And then the Resident Evil franchise got weird…

FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes: Part 2

Taking you for more of a rideMarvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is an amazing, once in a lifetime game that brings together over 50 characters from wildly disparate worlds and franchises. So, in an effort to pay tribute to one of the games I believe to be the greatest of all time, please enjoy day two of a five-day, 100% complete, generally alphabetical look at every fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Let’s start today with…

Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin

RAWR!Now here’s some characterization! Colossus is Russian and a pedophile! Kick ass!

Okay, wait, no, start again.

Piotr “Peter” Rasputin is Russian. And that was huge at his introduction in 1975! This was when America had that whole Cold War thing going on, and, while X-Men was deliberately drawing from a global-based cast of new characters, it was just kind of assumed that the USSR was not on the menu. And if they should actually contain a Slavic character, they were going to have a traitor on the team inside of a dozen issues. But Piotr was invariably good! Like, okay, he may have had a brief flirtation with the Brotherhood of Generally Not Friendly Mutants, but he was grieving his (apparently temporarily) dead sister at the time. Perfectly understandable! Other than that dalliance with the forces of evil, Пётр Николаевич Распутин has been unwaveringly kind, reliable, and virtuous. He is the very pinnacle of the “sensitive strong guy” archetype, and that is significant when he likely would have been cast as the villain in nearly any other media of the time. Just because you were from Potato Europe in the 70s did not mean you were a bad guy, and Colossus affirmed this fact in his every appearance.

But he also started a relationship with a 14-year-old Kitty Pryde when he was, like, probably in his late 40s (it’s hard to judge with some guys). That was gross. But he did eventually dump the squirt for an alien woman on another planet, which was probably morally a better move. Other than, he’s a pretty reliable dude!

If you need some more dossier information, Colossus has the ability to transform his skin into metal/explode his pants into bikini briefs. It is an oddly specific power. This metal transformation also increases his strength (presumably because his fleshy muscles would snap under metal skin without super strength… crap, that was an Ultimate plotline, wasn’t it?), so if you need somebody to help move furniture around the X-Mansion, he is good to go. Unfortunately “super strong” doesn’t always translate well to videogames where everybody down to Two P is already throwing knockout punches, so please enjoy a Colossus that occasionally has the power to generate some kind of transformation-energy-blast thing. Or maybe he can just toss a car around. Whatever works.

Oh, and Colossus also has a brother that is a secret space villain. That brings us neatly to our next featured character…

Scott “Cyclops” Summers

There are often claims that X-Men’s Wolverine has multiple clones, duplicates, or something, because he can appear in a different comic storyline every week. Logically, there must be more Wolverines to accommodate his presence in multiple superhero events across the globe. This is, obviously, foolishness, as Wolverine is one of the most consistently characterized personalities in all of X-Men. He’s the best at what he does, bub, what more does he need to be?

Cyclops, though? Nobody knows what this guy is supposed to be…

FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes: Part 1

This is Marvel vs. Capcom 2Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is an amazing, once in a lifetime game that brings together over 50 characters from wildly disparate worlds and franchises. So, in an effort to pay tribute to one of the games I believe to be the greatest of all time, please enjoy a five-day, 100% complete, generally alphabetical look at every fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

Akuma

Sorry, Final FantasyWhat a great place to start! Akuma was the first Capcom fighting game character to “crossover” with another franchise, as he appeared in X-Men: Children of the Atom as a hidden fighter. And this was apropos for this Atropos, as Akuma started his career as a secret character in the original Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo while parodying/referencing a fake secret character that was canonically a dude he killed before the game ever started. Or… as of Street Fighter 4, never killed at all. Whatever! What you need to know is that Akuma is a (literally) killer martial artist that has murdered multiple Street Fighters. Mind you, every one of his confirmed kills has returned as only “mostly dead” in later titles, though, so Akuma is just terrible at assassinating with that assassin’s fist.

Note that Akuma has appeared with a couple of different variants over the years. Shin Akuma is meant to represent Akuma in the full flush of his powers (and evoke memories of his initial, nigh-invincible incarnation). Meanwhile, Oni is meant to represent an Akuma where the designers of Street Fighter 4 completely ran out of ideas. More relevant to this article, though, is Cyber Akuma, a “weaponized” version of Akuma created by Apocalypse during crossover shenanigans. Cyber Akuma does not appear in MvC2, but he does live on, shooting a variety of missiles in/at our hearts.

Amingo

Go go cactus manCaptain Planet and the Planeteers was the story of a blue/green fellow that was created exclusively for the purpose of saving our precious Earth. Captain Planet’s purpose was to prove to children that lootin’ ‘n pollutin’ was not the way, and our world must be defended from malcontents that wish to exploit our natural resources for their own gains. Captain Planet thus starred in 113 episodes of a popular television series that premiered new episodes from 1990-1996. Whether Captain Planet successfully saved the world or not, he did make an indelible impression on a generation, and his persistent echoes in various Adult Swim programs confirms this apparent fact. And the (real life) Captain Planet Foundation maintains his message to this very day.

Amingo is absolutely everything Captain Planet ever was, plus he’s a shapeshifting, asexually reproducing cactus wearing a sombrero. And he plays guitar! Captain Planet’s music skills are suspect at best. Unfortunately, though, Amingo did not obtain a lucrative contract with Ted Turner, and only ever starred in one videogame.

Maybe this world isn’t worth saving.

And now for Anakaris and others…

FGC #599.2 SaGa Frontier (Remastered)

This post contains a detailed look at one scenario in SaGa Frontier. As such, it contains a lot of spoilers. Given SaGa Frontier Remastered just came out this year, and you may have missed it the first time, just giving you a head’s up.

Technically a different title screenThis is important: how gay is Asellus?

I admit that, in my teen years, I was frustratingly heteronormative. Or, put another way, I watched the entirety of Revolutionary Girl Utena, and picked up on exactly zero subtext. This was true for nearly all media consumed, and, until roughly the release of Final Fantasy 13 in 2009, I consistently assumed gay characters did not exist unless they were starring in a “very special episode” of Friends. And, to blame my environment and not my own ignorance, outright homosexual (or, heavens forbid, trans) representation primarily only existed at the time as jokes or characters that were designated as “the token gay”. It may be hard to understand now, but it took us a long time (and many awful Futurama episodes) to get to the point where a character could just “casually” be gay, and it not be the entire focus of their existence. Is it any wonder that, in such an environment, an oblivious Goggle Bob would fail to pick up on context clues?

But, dang, even my dumbass younger self noticed that Asellus is gay as hell.

So how did such a thing happen? Let’s take a detailed look at Asellus in the context of SaGa Frontier and 1997 in general.

How was this allowed?

GET IT!?Let us consider a few things of note. Japan did have some significant, deliberately queer JRPGs in its past (Eternal Filena comes immediately to mind). America, however, did not. If something was remotely “gay”, it did not make it across the Pacific. In fact, any and all queerness was ironed out of any Japanese imports across media, so Japan appeared to be some kind of shining bastion of acceptance thanks to gay Sailor Moon characters being forcefully transformed into women and/or cousins upon localization. The idea of Japan being a gay utopia was eventually disproven by reality, but, when looking at all the imports that had to be “de-gayed” for American audiences, it is easy to see how the West looked so much more homophobic by comparison.

But SaGa Frontier had a rare opportunity to break through in 1997. Asellus is a gay main character, but she is not the main character. Asellus stars in her own story, but she is one of seven stories available. Additionally, Asellus is not required in any other story but Emelia’s adventure, so that means Asellus may not even exist for a healthy 71.4% of the game (completely missing for most characters, but at least optional for Red). There are really good odds you could play through a significant portion of SaGa Frontier and never see Asellus. And it is not like Asellus is out and proud on the title screen here. Her story starts gay and only escalates from there, but her appearances literally everywhere else do not trip any heteronormative alarms. She is a woman with green hair in a JRPG! Happens all the time!

I do not care for this guyBut even beyond her “stealth”, the most obvious reason other games did not make it while Asellus was able to be imported was simple… and it is the same color as Asellus’s hair. Squaresoft had a gigantic, once in a company’s lifetime hit on its hands with Final Fantasy 7. Final Fantasy 7 had been promoted from here to the Earth’s core, and that gambit paid off, as Final Fantasy became a household name that sold more Playstations than Lara Croft. SaGa Frontier did not receive the same marketing push, but it seemed obvious that, with its stark-white CD case and “40 hours of gameplay” bullet point, it was trying to ride the Final Fantasy 7 tide. And, let’s be real here: it worked. I do not personally know anyone that was playing PSX games at that time that did not at least rent SaGa Frontier. It is only the turbo nerds that ever tried Final Fantasy Legend on the Gameboy, but I know quite a few people that bumbled around with Lute on their way to Metal Gear Solid.

And, like any trend, Square did not want to see SaGa Frontier delayed and missing that surge of Final Fantasy 7 love. So Asellus had to make her way over to America, and she had to be as intact as she was in her original, Japanese release (we will get into the details of that shortly). The usual Western censors were ignored (probably did not hurt that this was not on a Nintendo system), and we got SaGa Frontier at its SaGa Frontieriest.

Is Asellus Gay?

Wait, we may have skipped a step here. We have been operating on the hypothesis that Asellus is gay because… what? 1997 Goggle Bob thought she was different? No, we can do better than that. Let’s begin by looking at the end.

Asellus has three endings…