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Marvel Vs Capcom is a spectacle, pitting stars from both Marvel and Capcom rosters against each other in explosive tag team battles. But for all of the bravado it may inspire it takes time to master, something that may prove too much for some.
I just did a fireball, or something similar, at least I think I did. Street Fighter logic dictates that a quarter turn of the stick and punch should launch a reasonable sized ball of energy across the screen. But instead of a measured attack, performing this action fills half my TV with a blinding light.
After the fireworks fade my opponent, The Hulk, is inexplicably lying prone on the floor, only to be replaced seconds later by Spiderman.
Marvel Vs Capcom 3 never lets up and victory initially seems predicated on sheer luck. Sweaty thumbs unceremoniously slide across buttons as I repeat dimly remembered Street Fighter moves, in the hope they will create something effective. It's fun, in a way, a beautiful overpowered surprise that may or may not see me victorious at its conclusion, but it lacks satisfaction.
Of course there is only so long this game of roulette can remain engaging. When the spectacle of it all wears thin I begin to need some skill in proceedings. It is then that Marvel Vs Capcom 3 becomes overwhelming.
My trepidation only gets worse the more I play.
There are dozens of characters of offer; each with their own style and many horribly underpowered compared to others. Trying to build a well balanced three-person tag team seems near impossible as I stare at infinite roster combinations. So instead I lazily pick a few of my favourite characters, only stopping to ponder my choices when as I begin to struggle with them.
Maybe this is how I was meant to do it. Just hope that by force of will alone my team of three will somehow work out. The idea of dedicating the time required to understand all of the characters is beyond my comprehension.
Having selected my team, even basic moves still evade me. Too much Street Fighter means the different button layout is bemusing - Marvel vs Capcom 3 changes kick and punch specific buttons for just strengths of attack. This left some attacks dependent on positioning when used, and found me struggling to recall even basic moves.
My trepidation only gets worse the more I play. I realise that while I may have begun to grasp my own characters, I am still far from the understanding of my online opposition. People whose idea of a proportional response for accidently stepping on their foot is a sledgehammer to the face. I happily leap in with what I believe to be a powerful combo only to be met by an onslaught that leaves me one character down, and wanting a hug.
I realise my fear stems from not having any clue what my opposition's characters are capable of.
I realise my fear stems from not having any clue what my opposition's characters are capable of, let alone how they will utilise them. Panic starts to set in as it becomes increasingly evident that I am unable to compete. Hours of offline training dissolve in adrenaline and I drop back to my old tactics of button mashing, and to my (and I suspect my opponent's) great confusion I win. It may not be a repeatable phenomenon, at least not deliberately, but something in my random presses gained me the advantage long enough to regain a modicum of self-respect.
Tottering between complexity and mindlessness, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a gaming contradiction. It wants to satisfy both those searching for casual fun as well as those wishing to master its intricacies. It almost makes me want to join the latter, but that seems like simply too much work.
So, while playing with friends at home things remains a celebration of pyrotechnic fisticuffs, online I sit bemused hoping for a fortuitous win constantly reminding myself that I used to be good at these things.
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