Deja Review: Marvel vs. Capcom Origins

We're of the firm opinion that your time is too precious, too valuable to be spent reading a full review for a game that was already reviewed many, many years ago. What's the point of applying a score to a game that's old enough to be enrolled in the sixth grade? That's why we invented Deja Review: A quick look at the new features and relative agelessness of remade, revived and re-released games.

It's a good time to be an old fogey as far as fighting games are concerned. Between HD remixes, XBLA/PSN re-releases and PSOne classics on PSN, it's almost impossible not to be able to download whatever fighter wasted most of your youth.

Marvel vs. Capcom Origins reduces the number of unavailable oldies even further, containing enhanced ports of the original arcade versions of Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom. While said enhancements are fairly pedestrian and expected (HD filters, online play, etc), Origins' faithful recreation of the original subject matter alone makes the price of admission worth it. In fact, this is the first arcade-perfect console port of Marvel Super Heroes that's ever existed.%Gallery-159784%

What's new this time around? Since these are decorated ports of the arcade versions, rather than re-releases of the PlayStation, Saturn or Dreamcast ports, everything beyond arcade mode is technically new. The biggest addition, however, is online play, which runs on the same GGPO middleware that powers Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition and Skullgirls.

As is typically the case with budget/digitally distributed fighters of this sort, online modes are limited to ranked matches and player rooms, though both function perfectly well for what they are. Developer Iron Galaxy even managed to avoid some classic Capcom pitfalls in its UI architecture, automatically re-queuing players after the completion of a ranked match.

Playing online does remove the ability to choose between Turbo and Normal settings prior to the beginning of a match, as the speed of the match is essentially dependent on the speed of the connection. This can be a bit annoying when the speed of a given fight is somewhat slower than the Turbo setting a player might be used to, but speeds remained generally consistent and uniform once a match had begun. Input lag was rarely encountered during online play in either game, and as in Skullgirls, the game's input buffer can be fine-tuned to help calibrate around persistent issues.

Deja Review Marvel vs Capcom Origins

Iron Galaxy has also included a wealth of different graphical filters, scanline emulators and display modes/screen orientations for both games. Depending on personal preference, a player's visual experience can range anywhere from a pure, unstretched and unfiltered representation of the original graphics, all the way to a smoothed, ultra-scanlined, curved faux-CRT over-the-shoulder arcade viewpoint, which is straight-up weird.

The graphical filters themselves look surprisingly good; better than Third Strike Online Edition's perfectly adequate offerings and worlds beyond JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD's smudge-fest. The scanline and CRT emulators are the most convincing I've seen in any vintage game reissue, though they're not exactly subtle.

How's it hold up? Though still much easier to use and play than other fighters of the time, Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom are both much more technically demanding than their modern counterparts, specifically Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. As a result, both games may appear somewhat slow and basic at first blush, though that's hardly the case.

The level of glitz and glamour, as well as the number of available characters, also pales in comparison to most modern fighting games, which may turn off some neophytes unfamiliar with classical Capcom game design.

Deja Review Marvel vs Capcom Origins

Get past that, though, and Origins will transport you back in time by about 17 years, which is exactly what a re-release like this should do. Everything is still here – the secret characters, the infinite combos – exactly as it used to be. Even the rage and shame associated with losing to Wolverine's infinite stings just as it did way back when, and yes, Roll's stage music in Marvel vs. Capcom is just as catchy as it ever was.

Origins is so spot on that, as I mentioned earlier, this is actually the first-ever arcade-perfect home console version of Marvel Super Heroes. While the game was originally ported to the PlayStation and Saturn in 1997, neither version was a direct one-to-one translation due to both systems' inability to match the performance of the CPS-II arcade hardware. Marvel vs. Capcom would later see an arcade-perfect port on the Dreamcast, but Marvel Super Heroes was never so lucky.

Sure, by modern standards both Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom are atrociously broken games with impossibly difficult end-bosses and fairly high learning curves, but that's the whole point – they literally don't make games like this anymore. Though there's no remaining competitive scene for either, both games are still tremendously fun in their own right, in addition to being valuable historical relics.

This Deja Review is based on an Xbox 360 download of Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, provided by Capcom.