Everyone! Grab your nostalgia goggles, quickly! In celebration of the upcoming cinematic crossover phenomenon, The Avengers, the original epic pop culture crossover Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has been ported to the iPhone! Unfortunately, this fighting game classic did not make the transition to a touchscreen without hitting a few bumps in the road. Reduced graphical and audio quality, difficult controls, a slow frame rate, lack of online multiplayer, and a locked character roster turned this exciting release into a massive disappointment in its current form.
I haven’t really played this game since I was a kid with a functional Dreamcast and a nearby arcade, but I booted up my Xbox LIVE Arcade edition for the sake of comparison. With this title, Capcom gives us a straight port of the original Dreamcast version. The newer versions should have been their aim, in my opinion. Maybe some purists will prefer it this way, though. All the main modes are present, from Arcade and Score Attack to Training and even a Bluetooth VS Mode. You have to earn arbitrary points for playing and doing well to unlock the art gallery and alternate characters. It’s a shame, because while that gives players something to aim for without online multiplayer, less than half of the total characters are initially available, and the clunky touch controls make unlocking everything a herculean effort.
There are two basic control modes. One six-button mode that comes closer to the classic and a new simplified mode for touchscreens. The latter includes a single punch and kick button, as well as the interesting flick sticks for special attacks and assists. It is impossible to pull off certain combos in this mode, but the lack of tactile feedback actual buttons would give makes that difficult anyway. Controls in these touchscreen ports are always a bit challenging to use, anyway. You can somewhat customize the controls by adjusting positioning and transparency. The swipe stick buttons are an innovative solution to the touchscreen problem, though they don’t work quite as well as you’d want.
The lack of online multiplayer is also a major turn-off, and there isn’t even any basic Game Center achievement or leaderboard support. Again, for comaprison's sake, Street Fighter IV Volt is much more complex with high fidelity visuals, and is smoother and more functional than this port of a 12 year-old title
I love the classic sprites and retro graphics of the game myself, but they seem a bit choppy. Despite compressed graphics and sound, the game is quite slow on my iPhone 4, even on the Turbo 2 speed setting. Gamers with an iPhone 4S or an iPad 2 should be better off, but third generation iDevice users will have to deal with some serious lag. Watching that old intro video and hearing the incredibly memorable character select screen song again will really get nostalgic fans exited for the game, but it’s ultimately disappointing. It’s a very bare bones and lazy port that doesn’t really take the new mobile platform into consideration. If you have never played this game, find it elsewhere if possible, such as the Xbox LIVE Arcade or PlayStation Network.
This iOS Universal release Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is currently on sale for only three dollars, from now through the end of The Avengers’ opening weekend. At such a low price point, this game is just barely worth it. If you’re interested, definitely get it before it goes up to five dollars. It’s just sad that they seem to have relegated this iconic title to a simple cash grab as part of the hype machine of a film. Hopefully Capcom will add new features in future updates. Really though, if you don’t care about any of that nonsense I mentioned and just want to have Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in your pocket, you’ll love this game anyway and should probably download it immediately.