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SummaryThe Playstation Vs 2D Fighters
The GoodX-Men Vs Street Fighter sounded pretty much like a joke when first released, and to be honest I thought Capcom had finally gone over the edge in it's desperate pursuit of even more money... then again, if Sega got away with "Alex Kidd in Shinobi World"... what the heck right?
The truth is that Capcom's first incarnation of it's Vs series did more for team fighting games than SNK's KOF series had done in 4 sequels. To put it simply Capcom took it's X-Men/Marvel Super Heroes engine and fight mechanics and added it some characters from the Street Fighter Alpha universe. As anyone who has ever played any of those game series knows, the differences in interface and controls are minimal, so the SFA characters fitted right in with Marvel's mutants with only new dashes and even more outlandish powers added so as to match them up to the superhero levels of the X-Men game.
Following that train of tought the game's mechanics where upgraded to even more over the top levels and if in X-Men: Children of the Atom characters flew around the screen shooting all sorts of gigantic energy bolts at each other, now the gameplay is twice as fast and furious and thus the game has even faster controls and simplified controls schemes. Chain combos are now easily executed by pressing light-medium-strong buttons in sequence and super moves (controlled by the alpha series three-segmented power bar) only require the strong button to be pressed for their release. The combo chains can also be executed in mid-air and each character has a juggle-starting hit that sends your opponent flying into the air and which followed by a jump command allows you to chase him into the air and continue the whupping airbone! If there was any doubt before that Capcom should have been the ones to develop the Dragonball games then this game settles the score for good. Specially when they throw into the mix ground decals that make it break up whenever someone gets thrown into it or the bigger explosion-like effects that result whenever someone gets hit.
The really cool feature in the game however is the much touted team fighting gameplay, as you control a team of 2 fighters, but with the added bonus of being able to switch them at any moment and changing your strategy while your other fighter takes a breather and regains some health. Also, you can join both characters momentarily while your power bar is above lvl 2 to unleash a double super move where both characters come on screen and do their thing at the same time for twice the damage. The nice thing with this feature is really seeing Capcom's expertise at designing these types of games, seeing how even in the face of total chaos and mayhem proper balancing is taken care of and features such as the health regeneration are kept in check by a small red bar that shows how much you can regain and which dissapears whenever you switch characters (ergo, switch around a lot and none of your characters will regenerate in any way), a significant yet not annoying delay when switching that makes your characters vulnerable for a second, the toning down of some super powered characters like Magneto which are now way less powerful and become more of a challenge to use effectively, and esoteric skills like Rogue's power-robbing or Juggernaut's charge-up help balance those characters that seem handicapped in the face of the Akumas and Cyclops of the game...
The BadThe port is awful. Pure and simple. Actually XvsSF is a nice case study for 2D fighting games as it is the really big, undeniable proof for hardcore fighting aficionados and novices alike of the Sega Saturn's towering superiority over the psx when it came to handling these types of games. I'm not going to get into a full-fledged analysis of this since it's beyond the point but for those of you that never had a clue, the Saturn while fatally flawed in the polygon arena had a host of features that made it a much superior machine for 2D games (most notably it's memory upgrading ability). In this particular case things become really awful for the psx as the technical problems essentially end up with a game that removes that which made the game such a unique experience: the team fighting. Does that make sense to you? It sure as hell doesn't for me! While the Saturn got a picture-perfect port Capcom just couldn't squeeze four different full set of sprites at the same time in the psx's measly memory, so on top of the eternal load times, missing animation frames and standard lack of features the port removes it's key gameplay feature!!.....
I mean.... Do I need to go on??
The Bottom LineExcellently balanced and designed arcade fighter by the best in the genre, a gameplay blast that makes the first really big splash in team fighting games since SNK released the original KOF '94. Oh... but wait! Let's remove the team fighting gameplay when bringing it home! That's a good idea!!
Man... Unless you can get the Saturn version there's really no point in getting the psx one, same goes for the subsequent Vs games. Long live the Saturn, the ONLY machine for 2D fighting games.