CCI: Hands-On With "Marvel vs. Capcom Origins"

Marvel and Capcom have had a strong relationship over the years, collaborating on several hit arcade brawlers. It started in 1994 with the release of "X-Men: Children of the Atom" and has progressed to the modern era, with the release of 2011's "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" and its "Ultimate" follow-up a few months later. However, the real turning point came when the developers at Capcom introduced "X-Men Vs. Street Fighter" in 1996, crossing characters from its own hit fighting franchise with those from the popular Marvel Comics brand. The game became a colossal arcade hit and inspired several crossover sequels, including the wildly popular "Marvel vs. Capcom" series. This September, Capcom celebrates this legacy once more with "Marvel vs. Capcom Origins," a new digital downloadable release for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.

As it's done in the past with "Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes," "Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike" and "Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix," "Marvel vs. Capcom Origins" will undergo a high-definition transfer, keeping the original visuals from the older games while giving them a polish ideal for high definition. It's a strenuous but rewarding process, especially when you see it in action. Characters spring to life better than ever before and the backgrounds really pop with vitality.

However, the visual facelift is only part of "Marvel vs. Capcom's" rejuvenation. The team is hard at work to craft a smooth online experience by creating the right online code. In an online fighting game, connection issues and performance lag can easily prove disastrous in the middle of a battle. With "Origins," the team plans to re-introduce GGPO-enhanced online play. GGPO (Short for "Good Game, Peace Out) technology assists with cutting down latency and lag issues in fighting games, allowing players to keep up on their performance levels while fighting. It sounds rather technical, but has worked wonders in previous Capcom fighting games.

In addition to keeping online performance at a satisfactory level, "Marvel vs. Capcom Origins" will also come with a number of features to keep fans competitive. Up to eight players can join a lobby at once, with the host having the option to set up a tournament-style setting right then and there, so players can battle to see who's the best. Spectator Mode also allows the option for the six remaining fighters to watch the two primary fighters, giving them the opportunity to study for strategies and see what moves they'll make during their bout.

The collection features remastered graphics and online play.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about "Marvel vs. Capcom Origins," however, is it contains two fighting classic for players to choose from. The first is "Marvel Super Heroes," a game first released in arcades in 1995 before being released for PlayStation and Sega Saturn months later. The game features a variety of Marvel heroes and villains to choose from, including fan favorites like The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man, as well as obscure characters like Blackheart, Shuma-Gorath and Juggernaut. In fitting fashion, Thanos is the final boss in the game and he's a tough mother to beat.

One fascinating aspect about "Marvel Super Heroes" is the ability to use Infinity Gems -- Power, Time, Space, Reality, Soul and Mind -- over the course of each bout, ripped straight from the "Infinity Gauntlet" storyline. Each Gem has a particular effect over each fight and can be obtained either by meeting conditions during a battle (like hitting with a super combo) or defeating an opponent outright. Some characters, like Spider-Man, have special abilities with certain gems. Using the Power Gem enables him to launch a life-like doppelganger to strike his opponent from the opposite side while he continues to face them.

"Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes," the other game included in "Origins," brings the crossover aspect to the collection. First introduced in 1998, the game features 22 playable characters -- 11 taken from Marvel and Capcom respectively. On the Marvel side, Gambit, Captain America, Wolverine and War Machine (in both original and gold colors) and more knuckle down for a brawl, while Capcom features choices like Morrigan (from the "Darkstalkers" series), Mega Man, Chun-Li and Captain Commando.

In addition, the game also includes several bonus partners from each universe. With the right amount of energy, players can call upon these characters to strike enemies quickly before disappearing again. On the Marvel side, characters like Jubilee, Storm and U.S. Agent are randomly selected, while picking a Capcom team will give you access to the likes of Arthur (from the "Ghouls n' Ghosts" series), Michelle Heart and the Unknown Soldier (from the classic "Forgotten Worlds" shooter).

Capcom has managed to faithfully retain all the fighting action that made these classics such hits. In "Marvel Super Heroes," picking up random gems and changing the tone of the fight in a matter of strikes is a blast, while executing trademark webbing attacks with Spider-Man and doing some damage with Wolverine and his Adamantium claws feels flawless. However, due to the crossover factor, "Marvel vs. Capcom" features more unpredictable fighting action, as players call in partners with ease and strike up a number of multi-hit combos before launching a super attack where all four players -- two partners from each side -- jump in and engage in a super-brawl for several seconds. Fighting fans will definitely get their fix from both of these games.

Capcom treated Comic-Con International attendees quite well with its booth on the show floor, and "Marvel vs. Capcom Origins" certainly entertained fans that grew up with the games long ago in arcades and on home consoles. Come September, "Marvel vs. Capcom Origins" definitely gets the star treatment with better graphics, stunning online options and plenty of rock-em-sock-em gameplay to go around. Now if only we could get "X-Men vs. Street Fighter" back onto the fighting grid.

"Marvel vs. Capcom Origins" hits September on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network for $15/1200 Microsoft Points.

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Tags: marvel, capcom, marvel super heroes, cci2012, marvel vs capcom origins, marvel vs capcom

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