Marvel vs. Capcom Review: The Arcade Classic Enters a New Era

The latest titles from Arcade1Up has been long requested by fans of the fighting genre, finally packing many iconic titles in one cabinet with the Marvel Vs. Capcom and X-Men vs. Street Fighter releases. With two cabinets with their own unique designs for each release as well as its own exclusive titles, fans can choose which cabinet they'd prefer while still enjoying the best options from each. Tastemakers LLC provided us with the Marvel Vs. Capcom release to review, and gamers nostalgic for that classic arcade experience are likely interested to know about the new matchmaking capabilities for online bouts.

Marvel Vs. Capcom is often referred to as the peak of the Marvel fighting game series, though X-Men Vs. Street Fighter is also mentioned in similar discussions. Both games come packed in each cabinet, though there are some differences after that. Marvel Vs. Capcom also includes X-Men Vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Vs. Street Fighter, the fighting game Marvel Super Heroes, and the side-scrolling Beat 'Em Up title War of the Gems, which was originally released as a Super Nintendo title.

X-Men Vs. Street Fighter swaps out Marvel Super Heroes for X-Men: Children of the Atom, the original Capcom/Marvel fighting game. It also replaces War of the Gems with a similar Beat 'Em Up, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. Unfortunately it does not include X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, as that is exclusive to the Marvel Vs. Capcom release. That said, it should be noted that the Marvel Vs. Capcom cabinet includes one more game, and that two of these titles were previously offered in the original Marvel cabinet from Arcade1up.

But the main offering here is Marvel Vs. Capcom and the other crossover fighting titles. So how does it play? You'll be pleased to know that it is a meticulous recreation of the original experience, each frenetic frame in every attack animation as accurate as previous ports. Each character, combo, special, and support role is the same as what fans should expect.

Controls are tight, but due to the nature of the Arcade1Up design it feels like players with more precision would have an advantage. The fun nature of the simple specials and combos of the Street Fighter games make it so anyone can pick up the sticks and be a competitor, though jerky movements are less forgiving on this console. Players who are able to be more careful and precise when controlling the joystick won't have an issue.

There is also an issue with the input recognition when it comes to rapid button presses. This has only been a problem when trying Chun-Li's Hyakuretsukyaku AKA the "Lightning Kick." While not a consistent issue, sometimes I mash the kick button too fast for it to register in the game; again, precision is key here. Minor issues that can be worked with.

War of the Gems was a pleasant surprise, though the Marvel cabinet includes the classic Final Fight-inspired Beat 'Em Up The Punisher. That game is wonderful, and while War of the Gems is a difficult and fun challenge, this Super Nintendo port lacks the two-player function and the improved arcade graphics. That said, it's still very fun to play as Wolverine or Iron Man and take on a bunch of evil Avengers clones in a platforming title that's a lot harder than you might remember.

Now, you're probably wondering about the online matchmaking function, which allows people to join in matchups over Wi-Fi much like Arcade1Up's NBA Jam release earlier this year. There is a slight difference, as matchmaking is chosen when launching one of the titles from the home menu; this differs from NBA Jam in which you could toggle matchmaking while running the game. Instead, you choose at startup if you want to play locally on the machine or online.

The online play itself is strong with unnoticeable delay. This is evidenced in the strong community that's already been established in the cabinet's early adopters and the leaderboard stats on the home screen. Marvel Vs. Capcom is the dominant title, though there's still a lot of love for X-Men Vs. Street Fighter.

Assembling the cabinet itself is particularly easy. Anyone who has put together an Arcade1Up cabinet before knows what to expect, but first-timers should know the process is similar to building a piece of furniture purchased at IKEA. The directions are clear, the pieces are easily identifiable, another is some leeway for mistakes. Just be careful when over-tightening the screws and/or using a power drill. The unpacking and assembly process can be completed between 1-3 hours, depending on your familiarity with the process and luck in fighting all the pegs in their right spots; that part can be tricky.

All in all, this cabinet is one of the most anticipated by fighting game fans and the final package lives up to the expectations. Marvel Vs. Capcom has always had a fervent fanbase, and this new release from Arcade1Up has the potential to reignite a passionate community of the crossover fighting games.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Marvel Vs. Capcom and X-Men Vs. Street Fighter Arcade1Up cabinets are available now at Best Buy (Exclusive - $499.99) and Walmart (Exclusive - $399.99) respectively.

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