Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins is a PSN title that is a bundle of two classic fighting games rolled together in a very neat package. It is easy to see from the outset that Capcom is releasing this package as a way for fans to relive the feeling they once had in the arcades, when Capcom was dominating the fighting scene with Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. Yet as time has passed, do these titles show just why the arcade scene died out, or are they able help us revisit the golden days in a modern way?
Starting at the beginning of it all, Marvel Super Heroes released into arcades back in 1995. A title that brought with it 12 playable fighters, all from the Marvel Universe – from the highly regarded Infinity Gauntlet storyline – MSH was arguably the best use of the Marvel license for its time. Using a unique gem system, players were able to earn rewards that could both assist them in battle or be stolen and used against them to turn the tide. This balance of timing and item management had become one of the defining factors for its unique play style, besides the interesting ways each of the fighters were constructed.
Playing through Marvel Super Heroes now feels like watching an old TV show that you once loved, only to realize some memories need to stay as memories. MSH is in no way a bad game, but as it has been over 17 years since its original release, some of its wrinkles just can’t be ignored. The small amount of fighters and their limited move sets, while seemingly innocuous, become glaring examples of how dated the title really is. Something that is only amplified as the screen is forced to mimic the resolution and screening effect of old CRT televisions. This throwback is a nice touch, but does hurt a title that could have actually held up better with some TLC – as the sprites and fighting mechanics are still strong for an older title.
Just hitting the select button during the main menu instantly switches your game over to Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. The original game in the MvC franchise, released in 1998, brought with it the biggest roster of its time with 22 playable fighters. Players were able to choose two competitors to face off in 2v2 brawl, using the, now staple, tag system that has been the crux of the series since. Even though it removed the gem system from MSH, MvC had a much bigger roster, movelist and a deeper fighting mechanic.
As the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise has already seem multiple sequels to the franchise, the ability to go back to the beginning might seem futile, but it holds a few things longtime fans are sure to want to revisit. While some of the available characters have made it through the years to be mainstays, there are a few characters that have not been so lucky even though fans have been requesting them. Characters like Mega Man, Gambit, and Venom (and more) are not available in the most recent iteration of the franchise, so it is nice to be able to revisit them once again.
Although it may be nice to reuse some of our beloved fighters, the balancing for the system shows that the game was designed before it was taken seriously as a tournament worthy title. This is where MvC starts to fall apart completely, as some characters are completely overpowered to the rest – the barrier of entry for new contenders falls more on knowledge of which character to choose than to know how to actually fight.
While most games are the sum of its pieces, Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins is two whole games put together to let players revisit a part of gaming history. Both are stitched together with a shell that incorporates an online mode, and a meta ranking system that overlays the border of the screen at almost every turn. This shell that contains both games, while interesting in concept, seems to actually be more of a vehicle for its own demise.
The online component, while nice to have, was completely useless for this review. As having tried to enter a quick match, or set up a lobby – there were no challengers to be found. A fighting game really is only as good as its community, and MvC: Origins does not seem to have much of one. So unless you know someone who is also picking up the game, or you are doing couch play, this is going to be mostly a single player experience. Given that the game has the meta leveling system built into it, it could be a nice distraction for some, but it seems to remind me more that about half of my screen is wasted on a border with poorly designed “challenges”.
While the wasted screen real estate is hard to ignore, it is not simply just there to account for the old standard screen aspect ratio, it contains the only reason to give this title a shot. Using the levels you earn by completing challenges, you are able to unlock multiple items like concept art as a reward for continuously playing. While completely unnecessary for most players, the addition is a nice touch to give players reason to play, especially since it’s community is far from optimal.
So, in closing, if you are a die-hard Marvel vs. Capcom fan, then you probably do not need to read this as you should know what to expect. But for those of us who were late to the show, MvC: Origins is an interesting product with a price tag of $14.99, and you get a game that does provide a great deal of quality (just aged a bit) and fun. But as copies of the modern versions can be picked up for a comparably low cost, with a still existent online community, I cannot recommend this to anyone but an old school fan looking to revisit some memories.