Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One More Ride

Super Street Fighter IV was not the only game to be fought at Evo 2010.  I thought I'd highlight some play from two titles that will most likely be replaced at next year's Evo by the upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

First up is the grand finals between Justin Wong and Sanford Kelly in Marvel vs. Capcom 2:

There's not a lot to say about the match itself.  Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a ten-year-old game at this point.  It's been a fixture at Evo since before Evo was Evo, and this is how it has looked for the last several years--Storm, Sentinel, sometimes Magneto on acid on the front lines, while Cyclops and Captain Commando jump in constantly with anti-air assists off the bench in near mirror matches.

It was probably the most popular fighting game to come out between Street Fighter II and Street Fighter IV.  For many years the marquee event at Evo, it was the game that Justin Wong made his name on, and a day after falling short in Super Street Fighter IV, he went on to win his 7th MvC2 world championship in 10 years.  The game's depths have been plumbed further than perhaps any other title, and most players would agree that it's about time to retire it.  If you've never witnessed high-level MvC2 play before, however, it's worth marveling at how these players are able to maintain complete control over their characters moving at such blistering speeds.  The number of button presses they must be inputting per second, without it ever devolving into button-mashing, is mind-boggling.

It wasn't always this way.  Before Justin showed off the truly dominating potential of Magneto's flying rushdown, the most popular characters in competition were methodical lockdown fighters such as Cable, Doctor Doom, and Spiral.  Cable still shows up on some teams, but Doom and Spiral are almost never seen nowadays.  One player at this tournament, however, had the guts to bring back, not only Doctor Doom, but Strider as well.

Strider (with Doom assist) was once considered by some to be theoretically the best character in the game.  In practice, most players found that the guaranteed damage offered by his orbs summon super did not offset the high risk posed by his low health and the ridiculous level of execution required to play as him.  He pretty much died off in competitive play even before Doom and Spiral did.  It didn't help his case that Storm, a ubiquitous character in the post-Spiral era, also happened to be the perfect counter to Strider, foiling his trapping game with her ability to fly off the screen and out of his range.  One guy never afraid to rep Strider/Doom, however, is Daniel "Clockw0rk" Maniago, an OG player who has been utilizing that combination almost since the game has been out.  Seeing Clockw0rk crawling out of the woodwork with this team to make it all the way to 3rd place at Evo 2010, beating modern Storm and Magneto masters along the way, is perhaps a bit like the idea of Pete Sampras coming out of retirement at Wimbledon to mess some fools up with his now nearly extinct serve-and-volley style of play.  Alas, Clockw0rk's 3rd place was still a distant 3rd.

MvC2 was, appropriately enough, followed by the Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars tournament, probably the first and last time that most of us will be seeing high-level play in this game.  Before Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was announced, some people had pegged Tatsunoko vs. Capcom as the game to replace MvC2, but the Wii fighter didn't quite take off.  More comparable to the turnout for a Guilty Gear or BlazBlue, the pool of competitors at Evo was composed mostly of TvC specialists.

Although I originally perceived TvC as a regression back to Capcom's earlier Marvel crossover titles, the Evo play reminds me of Guilty Gear in other ways as well.  Even without MvC2's constant assists, it's a very fast-paced game with a heavy emphasis on meter management, and unlike MvC2, it still exhibits great variety at the highest level, with its roster of quirky characters committed to diversely intricate and extreme fighting styles, ranging from Yatterman-1's aggressive rushdown to Doronjo's elaborate zoning game.  Granted, TvC has not been around long enough for players to exhaust and distill it the way they have MvC2, but it's a fresh and exciting game that maybe could have lasted a couple more years.

On the other hand, maybe we have seen enough of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom:

No comments: