At a Comic-Con panel on July 23, Amaterasu, the spirit dog main character from the video game "Okami," was announced as the latest playable fighter in Capcom's highly anticipated "Marvel vs. Capcom 3." Fans of the venerable fighting game series erupted in cheers in response to the news, as they did with every other piece of information given about the game.
Amaterasu is a different kind of fighter than most of the "Marvel vs. Capcom" characters in that she doesn't have arms. Instead, Amaterasu has a series of rolling and spirit attacks, some of which were combined in her introduction video with devastating effects.
"If you're familiar with the 'Okami' game, you might notice the art style is a little different from this game," said the game's Producer, Ryota Niitsuma, speaking through a translator. "I know this might make some fans of 'Okami' disappointed, but the art team has made it as close as possible with little artistic flourishes."
The panel was packed to capacity, forcing some to be turned away at the door, and was moderated by "Street Fighter" expert and "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" consultant Seth Killian. Other panel members included TQ Johnson, Marvel's director of video games and Frank Tieri, the game's writer and comic scribe, whom Johnson introduced as "a writer with a known penchant for violence."
"There's one thing that I've been waiting to say since I've become involved with this project - this will be the greatest fighting game of all time!" Tieri said. "What's particularly a privilege for me is one of my all-time favorite games is 'Marvel Super-Heroes.' Me and my friends played that game for days and days and days at a time. Trash-talking and hurt thumbs and hurt feelings - some people never talked to each other again! These things happen - video games are more important than friends."
Tieri saw his role in the game as making sure Capcom got all the little things right. "I'm the Marvel Cop," he said. "I've written practically all the Marvel characters in this game in one way or another."
The writer admitted his knowledge of some of the various Capcom franchises was not as strong. "It's 'Marvel vs. Capcom,' not 'Marvel vs. Marvel," he said. "If it wasn't 'Street Fighter' or 'Resident Evil,' I needed some help. If I didn't know the franchise, I did my homework... playing video games!"
Although only certain characters will be playable, Marvel and Capcom allowed their entire catalogues of characters to be used in various in-game moments and sequences. "All the Man-Thing you can take," added Johnson, after several obligatory "Giant-Size Man-Thing" jokes.
Niitsuma discussed the gameplay of the product. "The basic design on the game is based on 'Marvel vs. Capcom 2,'" he said. "I'm sure all of you are big fans of 'Marvel vs. Capcom 2,' so you won't be feeling anything strange or unnatural; it's like putting on an old pair of shoes."
While the game has been designed to appeal to old-school players, Niitstuma believes that there is plenty for newcomers to the series as well. "We're not going to ignore the newcomers to the series - there are lots of new characters, new to everyone, so no one has an advantage," he said. "Moves are simplistic, easy to pull off, so you can have fun as soon as you start playing."
He also addressed perhaps the biggest problem with the series' gameplay. "If you' know the previous games, we have something that we like to call 'balance issues?'" said Niitstuma, to which the crowd erupted with a combination of laughter and sounds of exasperation. "We're working to make sure that balance issues aren't a problem in 'Marvel vs. Capcom 3.'"
Niitsuma also showed off some of the new characters that had been announced earlier in the convention, with a video featuring Dr. Doom and Super Skrull for Marvel and "Street Fighter's" Chun-Li and "Devil May Cry's" Trish. "Dr. Doom was in the last game, and we knew we wanted him in 'Marvel vs. Capcom 3,' Niitsuma said. "What's great about Super Skrull is he brings a lot of new flavor to the game. Having all of the Fantastic Four's abilities in one character makes for powerful fighting in this game. Unfortunately, and I can put all rumors to rest, none of the Fantastic Four will be available."
Niitsuma did not bother describing Chun-Li, saying anyone playing a video game in the last 20 years knows of the first lady of "Street Fighter II." He said Trish was added to give the game a character with a bit more sex appeal.
"She's also super cheap," added Killian.
Afterwards, Niitsuma showed a video featuring the Mighty Thor wearing a variation of his most recent costume. Thor's finisher, a radial lightning storm generated as he grips his hammer in both hands in a dramatic fashion, especially impressed the crowd. "Mighty Thor has never officially been in a MVC game," Niitsuma said. "He's been available as an assist character but never as a playable character, so we're very happy to have him in 'Marvel vs. Capcom 3.'"
The panel also showed off the new music for the game, playing remixed versions of the themes for Captain America, Iron Man, Chun-Li and Ryu, with older versions for comparison. The new music definitely recalls the original themes, but with fuller, more organic-sounding music. The much maligned character select music to "Marvel vs. Capcom 2," with the lyrics, "I wanna take you for a ride," was also played as a joke, with the crowd responding with derisive laughter.
A tournament was held during the panel, pitting fans representing Marvel versus fans representing Capcom, with winners receiving "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" joysticks autographed by Niitsuma. There were some technical difficulties, like the game being in black and white, but nothing to stop rabid video game fans from virtually beating the snot out of each other. Team Capcom easily won the first round, but Team Marvel managed to hang on to an end-of-time victory in the second match, despite the partisan Capcom crowd.