I’m not sure what it is, but this generation of handheld consoles seems to love fighting games. I can see the love for it over on the 3DS, as the depth is very apparent with the orientation with the background and the characters closer up. However, the first shot at fighting games on Sony‘s latest bundle of joy comes from the folks at Capcom, as they’ve done their best to give a true console fighter experience on a handheld that can certainly handle it. So given the power behind the PS Vita, how well does the portable version of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 hold up?
For those who have never played a Capcom fighting game before, you put together a team of three fighters against an opponents own team. The combat is very combo-heavy, as opposed to something like SoulCalibur which relies more on well timed hits. It’s entirely possible that while playing Marvel Vs. Capcom, you’ll be able to rack up combos of literally hundreds of hits. Everything is supposed to be fast-paced and requires a ton of skill to become good at.
Aside from the combos, each character has the ability to use their own unique hyper combos, used by filling a bar at the bottom of the screen. These attacks are usually incredibly over-the-top and cinematic, and add a bit of insult to injury when duking it out with your friends.
To give a quick recap to those who may not be familiar with the differences between Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and it’s less ultimate counterpart, several new characters have been added from both sides of the coin, in addition to some balance tweaks, a more stable online experience and the strategic Heroes and Heralds mode is available (oddly) as free DLC.
This mode puts you in the shoes of either heroes (or regular people in tights or other funny clothes, good or bad,) or the heralds, clones of the greatest warriors of the universe created by the planet eater, Galactus. You’re given a map of the stages in the game, and each one has a percentage showing how much influence you have over that area’s control against the rival faction. The ultimate goal is to control the entire map. You’ll do this with the help of collectible cards which carry special abilities such as increased damage if you have only one character left, a greater chance to get rare cards if you finish a match with a Marvel character, absorbing life from your opponent when you rack up a combo over a certain amount, etc. These cards are earned through normal victories, but rare ones can be earned through fantastic feats.
You’re given a hit list in the form of a bingo card with various characters on them. Defeat all the characters in a line and you’ll unlock a special area. The fights in these areas will be harder, but will reap larger rewards. You’ll also gain more powerful cards for taking complete control over an area.
Remember, the Heroes and Heralds mode is only available through a patch when you connect to PlayStation Network. So if you have no access to PSN, you’re out of luck.
The remaining modes are largely unchanged from the norm. You’ve got your typical arcade ladder ending in a final boss fight with Galactus himself, a training mode, your basic local and online multiplayer mode, and a mission mode, which acts as a sort of tutorial tasking you with being able to pull off certain combos with all the characters in the game.
Added exclusively to the Vita version is the ability to play the game using touch controls with either the touchscreen on the front or the touchpad on the back. The controls are pretty self-explanatory. You swipe in a direction you want to move, you tap constantly to attack, tap the hyper combo bar or the X-factor icon at the top to activate either, simple stuff. However, I can’t get over the feeling that it’s completely unnecessary. It has a bit of novelty to it, sure, but that’s about the only reason to try it out. Many combos and special moves are locked if you try this mode out, and most people online choose to filter out people that are using this mode because it makes things ridiculously easy and unfair. I tried the touch mode twice: once for myself and once to see if my girlfriend could figure out the controls without me telling her. She figured it out. I’m proud.
The online modes are still solid and don’t have too many hiccups, although you’ll get the occasional slowdown if your Wi-Fi signal is weak. I have a hard time recommending people try this mode out considering the sheer amount of “WTFery” with how good people online usually are with the game. Although it’s important to note that this is on the community, not on the game itself.
The online mode had a couple features added: spectator mode and replay saving. Spectator mode allows you to watch others fight online, while replay mode allows you to save yours and other people’s matches so you can either brag to your friends about an awesome match or study your own flaws when you’re so spectacularly beaten online.
Despite a handful of added features, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 still feels a bit on the empty side. It would be fine if there were some sort of real story mode, or even if the character endings in arcade mode were more than just a bit of text and two drawn pictures of that character. To be fair, it’s not entirely unexpected that Capcom would put in a bit less effort on this release given their track record with their fans (just ask the millions waiting for a new Mega Man game,) but you’d think there would be more than just a touch-based control scheme to show off the handheld version of the game.
At the very least, the game still looks great. I’d go as far to say the graphics are on-par with the console versions. I didn’t notice a single missing detail or any jaggies or anything. The vibrant colors and brilliant fighting animations look incredible on the Vita’s OLED screen.
For the record, I fully recommend Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 on the Vita, but I have a difficult time figuring out which audience to recommend it to. The hardcore fighting game fans won’t like it until a fight stick is made to work with the Vita (docking station anyone?) and the casual fighting game players will be disappointed at the lack of content. I suppose that only means those who really want to take the world’s greatest crossover on the go with them will find a good game here. If you have the game on any other platform, you really have no incentive to buy this version other than the portability. If that alone sells you, you won’t be disappointed.
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom is a great, beautiful game on the Vita. If you haven't invested into the series yet, this is a great place to start.