Tag Archives: morrigan

FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes: Part 5

Finally, some gameplayMarvel 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 the final day of our five-part, 100% complete, generally alphabetical look at every fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Now let’s talk about the monkey girl…

SonSon

Go Go MonkeySonSon is one of four original characters in Marvel vs Capcom 2. Amingo, Abyss, and Ruby Heart were all created exclusively for MvC2, and they have not appeared in anything but cameos ever since.

Except SonSon is not an original character. SonSon is based on SonSon from the obscure 1984 Capcom arcade title, SonSon.

Except SonSon is an original character, because she is the granddaughter of that SonSon. She is not the SonSon of SonSon. She is, essentially, SonSon III.

Except SonSon I was not an original character, either. SonSon I was based on Sun Wukong from the 16th century Chinese novel, Journey to the West. SonSon is one of a thousand “adaptations” of this classic tale, with the original premise of Dragon Ball being one of the most prominent illustrations.

So, SonSon III is ultimately an original character that is based on a character that is possibly the least original character in the whole roster.

But, hey, at least she can turn into a giant monkey. That might be better than being a cactus.

Peter “Spider-Man” Parker

Its that guySpider-Man is Sailor Moon.

And, yes, both franchises subsist on several Young Adult fiction tropes, but very specifically for both cases…

1. The central “Marvel” conflict of Spider-Man was always that Peter Parker kind of sucked as Peter Parker, but excelled at being Spider-Man. Iron Man had his potentially deadly shrapnel that “made him” Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk had his man/monster dichotomy, and Spider-Man had the unbearable burden of having to be a good Peter Parker and superhero. He failed. A lot. Nearly everyone in Peter Parker’s life, from his adopted mother to his boss, thinks Peter Parker is a slacker that is never going to achieve anything, and this is primarily because Pete puts too much of an emphasis on saving the world. He was late because he was stopping a mugging. He missed Aunt May’s birthday because he was dealing with Galactus. It’s kind of a “nice guy” fantasy wherein your every failing has a big, important reason that no one would ever understand because it must be a secret for their own good. But, end of the day, Spider-Man is saving the day, even though J.J. would never believe Peter Parker can accomplish anything. In much the same way, Usagi, Sailor Moon’s “secret identity”, is the world’s biggest screw-up, and if you told her parents that she was destined to rule a thousand years of peace after banishing all evil witches from the land, they would likely die laughing. Very similar “secret identity hijinks” on both sides, with a heavy emphasis on simultaneously being super important but extremely poorly regarded by their friends and family.

2. Similarly, Spider-Man is…

FGC #355 Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo & Pocket Fighter

For a time, Street Fighter 2 dominated the arcades. Approximately seven seconds after Guile delivered his first sonic boom, the fighting genre took off like a hadouken, and every producer in the videogame industry cranked out an excuse for super muscular dudes to punch other super muscular dudes. But all good things must come to an end, and, in Japan, Street Fighter 3 wound up losing a number of quarters to… Puyo Puyo Tsu. Huh. Did anybody see that coming? Graduated Tetris beats Street Fighter? What’s next? Some manner of arcade dancing simulator?

The Capcom of the day, still firmly in the market of making videogames, was not going to take this sitting down. No, Capcom decided it would be best to produce a Fighting Puzzle game starring its most popular arcade heavies, and then steal innovate on the puzzle trend just as spectacularly as they had once innovated on the beat ‘em up craze. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo was born, and, for the first time ever, Ryu could beat down Hsien-Ko with magical gems.

And then everybody got bored with puzzle games, so Capcom went back to making fighting games. Or fighting game, as the case may be, as we soon received Pocket Fighter aka Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix. On one hand, Pocket Fighter was a clear case of marrying sprites and assets from a puzzle game to the tried and true (and profitable) gameplay of Street Fighter. That’s pretty cheap! On the other hand, Pocket Fighter became a gorgeous and creative excuse for possibly the first grand Capcom fighting crossover. Sure, the roster was pretty much just the usual Street Fighters and Darkstalkers, but the Pocket Fighters had a tendency to don the costumes and moves of some of their more famous Capcom brethren. It sounds lame now, but years before Marvel vs. Capcom would make it all a glorious reality, Felicia morphing into Mega Man and Jill Valentine as a natural part of a combo was fabulous.

But we’re not here to talk about fanservice, we’re here to compare and contrast two different though thoroughly similar games. And what’s the best way to do that? Take a look at their rosters!

Team Street Fighter (both games)

Priestess?Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li are locks. They are never not going to appear in a Street Fighter or Street Fighter-adjacent game (“What about Vanilla Street Fighter 3?” “Shut-up.”). Ryu is the headliner, Ken is his sycophantic remora of a friend, and Chun-Li is the legally mandated girl. And speaking of girls, we’ve got Sakura, who was really popular at the time, because… I’m sorry, have you met Japan? That country has some… interests. Also hailing from a street full of fighters is Dan, who was included because he slept with the producer (uh, to be clear, it wasn’t a sexual thing, he’s just really good at cuddling). Oh, and we’ve got Akuma, too, because he needed to get some additional training in before his Tekken debut. Across both Puzzle and Pocket fighting, you’ve got to have your basic Street Fighters.

And, sidenote, Chun-Li is the only one of that bunch that doesn’t forward, down, down forward punch.

Team Darkstalkers (both games)

MEOWBack before Capcom had a pile of fighting game franchises (and well before Capcom forgot how to make videogames entirely), Darkstalkers was considered the “mate” to Street Fighter. They were both enjoyable fighting games with random dudes hurling fireballs, but Street Fighter was a very serious game about serious psychic Hitlers and their hockey mask wearing matador ninja, while Darkstalkers was a goofy game where a mummy might turn you into a frog. And it had amazing sprite work with “morphing” fighters that stretch and distort and absolutely preclude their inclusion in any future, polygon-based titles. But they work well for chibi sprite work! So please enjoy the presence of Morrigan, Hsien-Ko, and Felicia! That’s one Darkstalker for every Darkstalker game produced! And at least one of those characters isn’t just weaponized fanservice (though she is mostly weapons)! Yay!

Donovan (appears only in Puzzle Fighter)

Get out of here, nerdDonovan is such a damn weirdo.

Okay, so here’s Donovan’s deal: he’s basically the Angel (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) of the Darkstalkers world. He’s a tortured half-demon that has made it his goal to hunt the wild and wacky Darkstalkers cast (or at least Vampire Savior). And there’s a twist! He’s got a little girl sidekick that is silent, creepy, and likely destined to destroy the world. There’s your hook, ladies and germs! Who doesn’t want to watch the tortured adventures of sullen wolf and cub? All aboard the glowering train! Choo choo!

Except… that isn’t what anybody wants from Darkstalkers. Darkstalkers is a game where you can ram a yeti into a merman at high speeds. This is not a place you want to see brooding, it’s a place you want to see giant bee people, or maybe Little Red Riding Hood with an uzi. Tortured soul with a sword is maybe not the best fit, even if the sword can talk.

So, I guess, with Puzzle Fighter trying to be a “smart” take on fighting games (that’s what a puzzle game is, doncha know), Capcom included its most morose character. However, Donovan did not return for Pocket Fighter, because, geez, what a downer.

Devilotte (appears only in Puzzle Fighter)

Princess Devilotte de Death Satan IX, daughter of Satan, originally appeared in Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness, a 2-D fighting game about giant robots. This title never made it to the west in any capacity, though, because we know what we did. More’s the pity, because we never got to experience Devilotte, a character that was apparently designed as an homage to Dragon Quest’s Princess “Going to Be Punching You Now” Alena. Do… do you need to know anything more about this character? She’s basically a mix between Alena, Team Rocket, that one pirate from Mark of the Wolves, and Alice Liddell. And she communicates primarily through explosions! She’s the perfect character! No wonder she cameos in every other Capcom game.

BWA HA HA HA

… But she kinda didn’t have a moveset outside of her mech, so no Pocket Fighter Devilotte for you.

Zangief (appears only in Pocket Fighter)

Zangief’s invitation to Puzzle Fighter must have been lost in the mail. It’s not like he wasn’t requested for the puzzle game because he still hasn’t been able to figure out pants or something. He could compete in a puzzle game anytime he wants! Gems are not more complicated than bears!

Ibuki (appears only in Pocket Fighter)

A breath of fresh airAh, the requisite “shape of things to come” character. Ibuki was introduced in Street Fighter 3, and one would suppose her inclusion in Pocket Fighter was an attempt to further bolster the popularity of the future/death of the Street Fighter franchise. At the time, she was likely just the Street Fighter 3 character most likely to fit in the Pocket Capcom Universe, and one could bet that the more interesting parts of the SF3 roster would go on to appear in later titles. I mean, ninja school girl is cool an’ all, but how can that compete with stretchy electric albino man? Or the hulking marquee character? Or the unforgettable Captain Banana Hammock? Look, Ibuki just snuck in on a technicality, and that’s all there is to it.

And then she returned in Street Fighter x Tekken.

And was one of the few SF3 characters to sneak into Street Fighter 4.

And then she returned for Street Fighter 5!

God, I just want to fight Q again, but, noooooo, we have to deal with Sakura: The Next Generation over and over again. Bah! Go be stealthy somewhere else, you damn ninja!

Tessa (appears only in Pocket Fighter… like, ever)

Another nerdRed Earth aka Totally Bitchin’ War-Zard: The Battle for the Side of Metal Steve’s Van (insert guitar solo here) was a fighting game contemporary of Street Fighter 3. It was also never ported to a single home console, because Capcom makes awful decisions. This is a game where a lion-man wearing a loincloth can fight a dinosaur. And, no, I don’t mean like some Soulcalibur Lizard Man, I mean a freaking t-rex. And there’s a snail man that is a lot more interesting than the description “snail man” could ever allow. And there was Tessa, too, a witch woman who is “researching magic” by walloping a chimera with a magic staff. As you do.

Tessa snuck into Pocket Fighter likely for the same reason as Ibuki (let’s promote some new games!), but, unlike her Street Fighter buddy, no one recognized her from her origin game. No one. The audience of 1998 was mostly convinced she was an original character made just for this title. And that’s fine! She just kind of fails as a promotion for Red Earth when no one has a damn clue that game even exists. So… good hustle, Tessa?

Then again, did anyone realize Pocket Fighter existed? Super Puzzle Fighter 2 HD and a complete lack of a matching Pocket Fighter HD seems to point to a resounding “no” on that one. Guess Donovan beats Tessa in the grand history of fighting/puzzle games.

Laaaaaame.

FGC #355 Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

  • System: Playstation and Saturn (really!) initially, and a HD rerelease on Playstation 3/Xbox 360. Also, there was a Dreamcast version in Japan, because Capcom loved that lil’ loser.
  • Number of players: Two, which is simultaneously very common for puzzle games, and very unusual. “Head to Head Puzzle Title”.
  • FINISHPort-o-Call: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD is supposedly the superior version, but it cuts out a lot of the little endearing details of the original. Everybody only gets one win quote, for one thing, and the sprite work looks downright fuzzy against otherwise HD gameplay. All that said, I did mostly play the HD version for this review, as it was inevitably going to capture better, even if it did drop the essential musical tempo changes.
  • Favorite Character (SPF2T Exclusive): Devilotte is number one with a bullet (giant robot). On a slightly related note, where did that “anime laugh” thing originate? You know, with the holding your hand below your chin and laughing like Marie Antoinette? Just curious.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: I stole this game from my buddy Sean. He hasn’t noticed yet. Wait, no, he’s noticed, but every time it comes up, I distract him by talking about the president. The system works!
  • Did you know? The console (though not HD) versions of the game include Mei-Ling and Anita as hidden characters… but they were already palling around with Hsien-Ko and Donovan, so they’re more or less just easter eggs. On the other hand, who didn’t enjoy seeing Orange Hulk and Red Venom in Marvel vs. Capcom?
  • Would I play again: Odds are good, as this is one of the few puzzle games that actually has some recognition among the locals. And it’s loaded on the Playstation 3 anyway…

FGC #355 Pocket Fighter

  • System: Playstation is my Pocket Fighter platform of choice, but Saturn, Arcade, and even Wonder Swan are also available. The Wonder Swan version doesn’t look that bad!… for a black and white title, anyway. Also, Pocket Fighter inexplicably popped up on the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology on Playstation 2, too.
  • Number of Players: It’s two. It’s always two.
  • What’s in a name: Wikipedia claims this game is known as Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix in North America, and is Pocket Fighter only in Japan. However, scroll up, see that American title screen, and tell me it says all that gem nonsense. I can still hear the silly “Pocket Fighter!” title announcement echoing in my head.
  • Get out of here, nerdSpeaking of Voice Acting: In Japan, apparently the narrated scenes for the opening and closing had full voice acting, and it just didn’t get translated for the trip across the sea. While this usually bothers me, I am almost certain I don’t need to hear Playstation-era voice acting for my favorite chibi street fighters.
  • Favorite Character (Pocket Fighter exclusive): Tessa seems to play the most like Blanka, and he was always my Street Fighter 2 main, so here we are. And now I can pretend I’m playing as Shining Chariot of Little Witch Academia, so that’s a plus, too.
  • Sexual Dimorphism is a Scourge: In two decades of Capcom fighting games, this is the only Capcom title where the women outnumber the men. Go ahead and figure out the reason for that.
  • Did you know? Dan’s official backstory is that, when he’s in a serious mood, he’s trying to avenge his father’s murder at the hands of Sagat (well, more like manslaughter, but still!). So, naturally, Dan’s default special attack in Pocket Fighter is attacking with the green, rotting corpse of his father like it’s (he’s?) a hammer. This makes Dan more well-adjusted than Batman.
  • Would I play again: I kinda love this game. Of all the Playstation fighting games (including the entire Alpha series and early Vs. titles) I think I’m most likely to play this one first. Strange but true! Then again, I’m also pretty strange…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen another Sonic game, and we’re going to race it up against a Mario game. You gotta go fast, after all. Please look forward to it!

Get out of here, nerd dad

FGC #138 Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000

New Age of No HeroesIf you’ve been reading this site sequentially, first of all, I am so sorry. Secondly, one thing you may have noticed is that I seem to review a lot of fighting games. This is kind of surprising to me, as I didn’t think I owned that many fighting games, but the proof is in the pounding here. If I really think about it, it does make a certain amount of sense, as even just “buy every Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat” is going to lead to a number of games that are revisions, updates, or just plain lazy sequels. And beyond that, I enjoy fighting games in general, so I’m a lot more likely to take a chance on a luchadore skeleton game, than, say, a random FPS. When you consider how many fighting games were released between Street Fighter 2 and now, well, they take up a healthy portion of my library. And since the FGC is based on the games I have at hand, I guess a prodigious usage of the “fighting games” tag is gonna happen. C’est la vie (Sailor V also appeared in a fighting game).

Now, obviously, this means I play a lot of fighting games. I’m not talking about “for the FGC”, I mean that I have owned these games for years, so of course I played a number of them to death when they were first released. Like, alright, Battle Monsters didn’t see much usage, but even “lesser” fighting games like TMNT Tournament Fighters saw a lot of abused gamepads in their heyday. And a lot of fighting game experience means that I have a lot of fighting game preferences, like where my “strong attack” buttons should be located (shoulder buttons suuuuuck), a proper number of rounds (one and done, thank you), and whether or not special moves should be activated by anything other than a quarter circle motion (maybe I’ll allow two charge characters, but that’s it). It’s inevitable that when you’re a fan of a genre, you start demanding particular stipulations, and I know a number of fighting game aficionados that won’t even play a game if it has something seemingly innocuous like “distracting” backgrounds.

But there’s one place where I differ from typical fighting game fans: I don’t like tiers.

For those that haven’t spent their lives on messageboards, “tiers” refer to how certain characters in specific fighting games are supposed to compare to others. As an easy example, you have the Smash Bros series, where, according to data I am checking right now, Zero Suit Samus is supposed to be dramatically better than (last ranked) Jigglypuff. The term “tier” specifically refers to the fact that certain fighters are supposedly on exact echelons that are higher than others, so, say, POWIERosalina and Zero Suit Samus are roughly an equal match, while Ganondorf and Jiggylpuff should stick to the “scrub tier” with their own kind. In theory, tiers make a fighting game better: as long as everyone sticks to their tiers, matches are “even”, and no one has to worry about a great victory being soured by “well, sure, you won, but I was playing as Bowser Jr., so it doesn’t mean anything.” And, of course, tiers are great for players that want to maximize their effectiveness: Little Mac might seem great and powerful, but he’s loser tier, so why “learn” the lil’ lug when you’ll get better results with Rosalina? Tiers make everyone’s lives better!

Except… I kinda hate ‘em.

This may come as a shock to you, gentle reader, but I gave up on competitive sports somewhere around second grade. I want to say it was soccer, but I know it was boring. Since then, any physical activity that I’ve enjoyed has been almost dedicatedly “lonely”. I like to run. I like to swim. I like to surf. At least two of those “sports” require a great deal of being in an environment where hearing a “competitor” is next to impossible, and I use headphones to augment any other options. I’m not big into playing to win, I just like playing. I like to experience the joy of paddling through the waves as equally as I enjoy unleashing a properly timed optic blast, and neither action requires the validation of victory.

OUCHNow, I say I don’t need to “win”, but I do like to see improvement. Fighting games are all about getting better, improving, and fighting up the mountain of combatants until you’re lord of all corpses. I’ve made my peace with being one of those bodies stepped over to reach the top, and I’m perfectly content to be the very average, like many ever were. I might be able to train myself on a top tier character and claw my way to victory every time, but that’s not me, and I’d rather just figure out a few combos with Servbot. He’s adorable! My serv game is only getting better!

So imagine my surprise when I encountered a game with prebuilt “tiers”.

Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 is the Capcom produced fighting game that compliments SvC: Chaos. Right off the bat, CvS feels like a much more refined experience than its SNK brother (and it was released years earlier, too). Yes, we’re looking at a lot of reused Street Fighter Alpha 3 sprites, and, yes, this is less “Capcom vs. SNK” and more “Street Fighter vs. King of Fighters”, but, random Darkstalkers aside, who cares? Street Fighter and King of Fighters are both the kings (heh) of their respective companies, so if you’re going to have a company crossover, I’d rather see this lineup than Cut Man vs. Crystalis (okay, yes, I’d play that game, too). Minor gripes aside, though, CvS is a great fighting game in the Street Fighter (as opposed to Vs.) mold, which was a noble boon as this was released during the eleven year gap between Street Fighter 3 Mean girland Street Fighter 4. If you like tossing hadoukens at green Brazilians, you’ll like shoryukenning some redhead that managed to tie his pants together.

But there’s one big change to the “team” formula in Capcom vs. SNK, and that’s that each character belongs to a hard coded tier. Cammy is in the lowest tier, Orochi Iori is in the highest. This is important, as each team may have a certain number of characters from each tier. You may form a “team” of one tier four (highest) character, or an army of four tier one (lowest) characters. Feel free to mix and match at will, so if one tier three character teaming up with one tier one character is more your speed, go nuts. The possibilities are endless!

… Unless you want to have a team with Vega and Guile. That’s impossible, because those two characters would be just too overpowered if they worked together. May I interest you in a Dhalsim as an alternative? He’s… kinda like Guile, right?

Now, I understand the appeal of this system. Particularly with the generally invincible SNK bosses wandering around, it makes perfect sense to “handicap” any team with Rugal on the roster. But… is that really the best move? One-on-four sounds empowering in theory, but in practice it just means four quick matches where one fighter is forced into conserving health and playing it safe to survive the parade of opponents, and that opponent likely loses fighters as quickly as they can be experienced. Okay, I think I got a good flow going with Yuri here… oh, wait, she’s dead now, time to see how King will fare. On a basic level, “even” teams are always the way to go, else you inevitably run into the same problem you see with beat ‘em up style games that contain leveling (here’s one!). Either you’re too overpowered and it’s over before it’s begun, or you’re too underpowered, and everything becomes an endless slog. On a good match, everybody is even… but why can’t that just be the answer in the first place?

Find your fighter!And balance is already delicate in a fighting game before you start introducing mandated tiers. Sakura is tier 1, Ryu and Ken are tier 2, Sagat is tier 3, and Akuma ‘n Evil Ryu are tier 4. Now, I’m not going to claim all those characters are the same… except Ryu and “Evil Ryu” are the same guy! Yes, Evil Ryu has more power and attacks, but he’s not that different, he’s still Ryu. So when you’ve got characters that are very similar on every tier, what does that mean for a more technical character like Dhalsim? I guess he’s on the suck tier because he’s not very overtly powerful, but a new player would understand Evil Ryu’s fireball/uppercuts a lot easier than the dude who can punch from one end of the screen to the other. Who’s more powerful, now? And a character like Ryuji Yamazaki is powerful and technical, and rightfully on Tier Three… but he’s kinda crap if you don’t know his gimmicks, so good luck winning a match with him out of the gate, “powerful” or no.

Look, I’m not very good at fighting games. I have pretty good odds on understanding a fighting system and scoring a few wins on opening day, but after a game becomes established and everyone has gotten in their practice, I’m still playing around seeing how many fireballs I can toss in 99 seconds. I’ve never won any tournaments, I haven’t bought a “fight pad” since the PS2 days, and the idea of memorizing enormous chain combos makes my head hurt. All that said, I just want to play fighting games how I want to play ‘em, and forcing tiers onto a game is the exact worst way to satisfy that. I want Terry to team up with Akuma, and I want a four man team of all Shadaloo Generals. But I can’t do that, because someone decided that some random dudes are too powerful to work together. How is Vega powerful? Dude hasn’t scored a win since Champion Edition!

Fighting game tiers are fun thought experiments, and likely a great way for fans to gauge how a particular character might work in a certain matchup. Just keep the dang things out of actual games, and we should be fine.

FGC #138 Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000

  • System: Arcade, Dreamcast (used for this article), and… Playstation 1? Wow, that version could not have been good.
  • Number of players: Two is the number counted, and the number counted shall be two.
  • Artsplosion: If there’s one thing that I love about this game, it’s that each character has two character portraits, one in SNK house style, and the other for Capcom. I like “artistic interpretations” of established characters to begin with, but when you’ve got SNK Zangief or Capcom Mai running around, I’m downright elated.
  • Big Boss: Technically, the final boss is using a ratio total of 6, while the player is eternally limited to 4. Somehow, this doesn’t break the game.
  • An End: Officially, this completely noncanon tournament was won by…
    Dammit Dan!

    Dan and Joe! This is kind of weird, as, aside from some terribly homophobic KoF endings, Joe isn’t generally a joke character in the SNK pantheon. Would Mr. Karate taking Joe’s place be a little too… on the nose?
  • Favorite Fighter: Vice, battle secretary to Rugal and Iori, is my favorite random KoF participant. I’ve always liked how she plays, and her sadistic streak makes for an interesting character in battle and out. Sagat is in full “I’m a bad guy!” mode in this game, so he gets second place.
  • Did you know? The Final Fight stage features a song called “Needle”. In the console Japanese versions of the game, this song has lyrics that contain the phrase, “I’m ready to fuckin’ spill.” For some reason, this was cut from Western releases.
  • Would I play again: Let’s see… the only version of this game I own is on the same system as Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Soul Calibur. Hm, I wonder which game is more likely to get played…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man, the original, for the NES! Wow, I guess this turned out to be Capcom week. Let’s join that rockin’ Mega Man on his first adventure. Please look forward to it!

Go Batty