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Friday
Jan282011

« The Salty Runback : He Got The Mango Sentinel Edition »

I have seen the future. It wears a curley moustache.

Today, I drove up to San Francisco and met up with Haunts and Rogerdodger to play in GameSpot.com's Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament. Despite having been present at, and doing commentary for, more than one event since Evo where the game was playable, I hadn't gotten any time on the buttons. My exposure to the game was limited to drooling over match videos, then acting offended and claiming a severe mental disability brought on by a recent stroke when my friends mocked me for sitting with my mouth as open as a barn door while salivating down the front of my shirt.

I finished Top Eight.

Let me back up a moment, after conveniently setting the break for the article at the words, "I finished Top Eight," thus robbing anyone skimming the front page of the opportunity to gain any sort of context and leaving them with the self-promoting impression that I own this motherfucker. I finished Top Eight in a sixty-four man single elimination tournament where almost everyone I played had as much practice with the game as I.

However, and this is why I am already willing to allow Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to take me out to dinner at the Outback Steakhouse, feed me a few peach margaritas, and slip my panties down before implanting it's cell-shaded seed in my man-womb : at no point did I ever feel like I was scrubbing out wins. I felt like I knew what I was doing. In a way, I sort of was.

One of the more infamous pieces of social media marketing making the rounds the past few weeks has been Seth Killian's interview quote, "Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the most incredible sandbox ever created for fighting." Haunts recently echoed that sentiment in his 1Up.com preview --  "This is mainly due to the fact that in this game, when you have an idea in your head for a combo or set up and try it out in the game, in most cases, it will actually work. With this sense of freedom, it's really difficult to put the game down because you just keep thinking about what you can do next."

I now understand exactly what they meant.

Yesterday, I prepared for the tournament by doing some homework on the game's engine via the SRK Marvel 3 forums. "Magic Series", check. "Exchange", check. "Advancing Guard", check. Obviously, some of the mechanics were carry-overs from previous Marvel games. Though I never was a tournament player, I had a rough handle on the mechanics of the previous installment. That fleeting knowledge, combined with what I overheard in casual conversation between the few players milling about the lobby pre-match that actually had played the game, allowed me to piece together a shakey comprehension of what lay in front of me on the fly. 

From there, I began to do what I later heard Haunts appropriately refer to as "play freestyle". Never before have I experienced anything like what I did when I started playing the game. With only a rudimentary understanding of the engine, I was able to play like I actually knew what I was doing. I would try something and it would work. So then I'd say to myself, "Okay, so if that worked, let's try... this..." Usually followed by my inner voice muttering a quiet, "Hol-eeeee shit..." That is only the first of the many 2 Live Crew covers Marvel will sing to you with a maddening siren's call.

One of the primary problems some players had with the previous games were the "pixel swaps" and copy slash pastes : some fighters just weren't that different from other fighters. In Marvel 3, there is quite a bit of variety on display. There are a wide variety of archetypes from which to start constructing your teams : Rush Down, Zoning, Mix-Ups, etc. Characters within the same archetype might play very differently; there's a big difference between Deadpool and Dormammu, but both are two of the most effective zoning characters I saw on display today.

Having so many characters that can actually hold their own creates a fighting game with a level of depth I can't even begin to describe, and I don't suck with words. Not only do you have a retail-ready roster of 36 fighters, then you start factoring in various configurations. Which fighter shores up the weaknesses of the characters I really want to play? Who has an assist that complements the rest of my line-up? Who can I use to DHC into Thor? (That's a personal quandry.) You can spend hours churning your underwear into a sticky mess from your wet fanboy daydreams building teams in your head.

I love Super Street Fighter 4. I really do. I hate to pick on it. But.. the game's got issues like a college girl that spent her teen years trying her hardest to earn the affection of her father. I don't consider myself a violent person, but I have to confess that I have on more than one occassion lost a tourny match and then afterwards fought the urge to break someone's teeth swinging my stick like Lance Armstrong swings syringes.

Today, I overheard more than one loser say something to the effect of, "I got beat by this... I had no idea what to do. But I know that there is a way around it, I just gotta' figure it out." How many times have you felt like you were playing a perfect game of counters in a 6/4 match-up only to eat a quick FADC Ultra and still end up losing the thing despite working it like a champ?

Kiss that feeling goodbye. Super Street Fighter 4 is that girl you picked up at the club that's a hard twelve, way too hot to even look in your direction, who makes you feel uncomfortable to take your shirt off without telling her to wait while you slip into the other room to do push-ups for forty-five minutes. Then you finally get around to the deed and find yourself in that middle ground between let down and apathy. You worked so hard... for that? Marvel is that cute girl next door with the smile and the tiny gap in her smile that doesn't care if your six pack is more a four pack of Sutter Home... or a double-pack of Tecate tall boys. She just wants to get down. With you, for some reason!

Not to get off topic when I'm talking about freckles, but let me ask you a quick question. When's the last time you actually enjoyed spending time in training mode? I mean, really enjoyed it? You go to training mode long enough to lock down the combo, and then you get out of there as soon as you can to start planning a time you actually get to use it on someone. Today, Seth Killian said to Team IPlayWinner, "Sometimes, I don't want to play other people. I just want to sit in training mode and figure out new stuff."

This is what looms on the horizon, a stark departure from Super Es Eff Fo's rigid adherence to traditional fundamentals. A game that rewards creativity, rather than kicking you between the legs for thinking outside the box. A game where a giant mutant head in a hover-chair fights a dog that is the corporeal manifestation of a Japanese goddess, some dude in his underwear throwing lances and bottles of holy water as fast as he can grab them from... I'm assuming his cavernous anus, and an invulnerable squid monster that spent a lot of time fighting Conan the Barbarian.

In ten years time, we may have something on our hands where every single person plays some version of the Tron Bonne/MODOK/She-Hulk team, or maybe Haggar just for the assist. Who knows what the end game looks like? But here, at the beginning...

I have seen the future. It wears a curley moustache.

(Top Eight!)

Reader Comments (11)

Please tell us that you really got that tattoo.

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCryoh

Fucking good shit. Maybe now SF4 players playing MVC3 will understand why GG/AH3/etc players feel bored by SF4. Not being able to have fun discovering things in training mode perfectly embodies a ton of that. Hopefully teams, x-factor and the character gameplay design in MVC3 will match the depth of arcana choices, EFC, and character gameplay design in AH3. Certainly a good year for hardcore fighters. :)

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFersh

Youre enthusiasm for this game makes me want to play it even more. Another article that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr. Darry. "I have seen the future. it wears a curley moustache." So godlike. And congrats on getting top 8.

January 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterDrStrange

Odd "video games as girls" analogy.
If that's was the case, Marvel should be tested for the herps, the derps, and something called "the Yipes". Not sure what that is, but I'll check WebMD to make sure it's not contagious.

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiga-Oh

@ FERSH

What about Blazblue?

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterUnban ME

Any chance of getting that footage online?

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermayor of earth

Yay vanilla gorilla! Whats your team looking like?

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermagus12345

@Unban me

What about it? You mean the "discovering things in training mode" thing? I think it's also pretty good or that feeling, I certainly have enjoyed discovering shit in that, though I think the extent is significantly smaller than in GG/AH3, but that's pretty character dependent. Litchi is robust as hell(and still is in CS2, despite what some "chicken little" idiots say), for example, I'd certainly rather play her than, say, Sol, but I think Sol is a hell of a lot better than Ragna.

Or did you mean something else...?

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFersh

Is this it, Sir?

http://www.gamespot.com/ps3/action/marvelvscapcom3/video/6296355

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterUnban ME

when SSF4 gets 10 years old making it to tournaments he will say "hm... good time to get the char selection elipses tattoed on my back... with the footer 'in-des-tructible!' right there"

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPepino

I like reading the ideas of someone who can detach from their favorite fighter to really evaluate its flaws and shortcomings. It's refreshing, especially after back and forth bitching with a fanatic who demands everyone claim MvC2 or SSF4 or (insert your best fighter here) is the greatest game ever and starts pissing shit if you mention anything that could be construed as a negative aspect of the experience. Folks who try to up their game's rep by downing others' really grow nothing in the community but hate.
I also find some humor in recalling all the faulty defending of the game's broken areas of play and now reading praise about how deep the sequel's shaping up to be. I really hope, for the sake of the whole fighting game community (fuck you barriers of title preference), that this game stays hyper-balanced so that ten years from now, matches remain crazily unpredictable.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm wanting more now.

February 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIt's comforting
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