It's not a typo.
They say it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong (#bodyshaming). So I’m going to jump right in. In our recent “Positive Outlook” post (where we highlighted some select titles we were looking forward to in the coming month - Check HERE) I mentioned Marvel vs Capcom Infinite as an honourable mention and following my discovery of several developments I am retracting that honor with immediate effect.
I wanted to give a brief history of what this series meant to my gaming experience and why I’m deciding to take such drastic action against the latest title now (ain’t nobody wants a NOWO recommendation taken away!). In order to do this you’ll need to suffer a history lesson, get comfy.
I’ve been a fan of Capcom’s “Vs” series since the beginning and even earlier when you consider XMen CotA and the Streetfighter franchise as a whole. Following XMen CotA and Marvel Superheroes I quickly got used to the lightning fast action and screen filling supers. When the Streetfighter Alpha series came to be I tried to enjoy the more relaxed and down to earth (?) pace but I’d experienced something more extreme and I preferred that. When Xmen vs Streetfighter hit that was it. I was instantly hooked on the series which despite being a bit more “button mashy” still had a level of depth I could get on with, albeit covered in explosions and laser beams.
Like many, in my opinion the series peaked with MvC2 which I grabbed on day of release for my Dreamcast. Featuring essentially every character featured in a vs title (plus some questionable new ones), I can honestly say it’s the fighting game I’ve spent the most time with.
The series went into hiatus for quite some time after this though, over 10 years in total. Street Fighter 4 was released in this time and revived the 1 on 1 fighting genre and brought the title into the 21st century with an impressive 3D aesthetic which could now show as much personality as the sprite drawn originals (there was a dark time in the early noughties where most 3D fighting games lacked the facial details which could be drawn with sprites and everything ended up looking like a doll). In this time Capcom actually lost the Marvel licence which lead to a mountain of sub-par fighting and action games to be released using Marvel characters. Capcom released Tatsunoko vs Capcom in this time (2008) on the Wii which kept the series spirit alive however due to the aging hardware which featured basic and confused button set ups (not lending themselves to fighting games in general) and the fact that hardly anyone west of Nagasaki had heard of the Tatsunoko brand this was doomed to obscurity (whilst not the worst game ever).
Also in this 10 year hiatus lots of other things had been happening regarding comic licences. Disney purchased the label in 2009/10 which served to put the Marvel label back in Capcom’s hands (where it arguably was proved it belonged!). Some of the key IP however belonged to rival studios; Fox owns the rights to the X-men and Fantastic Four and Spiderman is held by Sony.
The cracks begun to show with the line-up of characters in MvC3 which now featured some more obscure (though not entirely unwelcome) entries. Wolverine remained at the forefront of the Marvel roster. He has been a character in every “vs” entry to date and plays quite uniquely. Storm also featured, again having previously been prominent with abilities that transfer very easily to the game. There were rumours that Capcom were keen to include the Fantastic 4 in the roster however this would only wind up being in spirit by including Super Skrull who has combination of all their powers. Upon hearing this at the time it wasn’t a big loss as the 4 hadn’t received a whole lot of press since two movies in the mid-2000’s which had petered out by 2011 (not a bad choice all considered against the 2015 reboot too). It wasn’t due to their dwindling popularity for the non-inclusion however, the reality was more political and centred around the rights issue of Fox owning the IP’s. The roster also managed to include a lot more of the characters found in the MCU with the addition of Thor and Hawkeye (Ultimate MvC 3).
Also included in MvC3 was fan favourite Deadpool who subsequently received mainstream fame due to the movie being released in 2016.
Jumping straight into late 2016 and the announcement of Marvel vs Capcom Infinite (an irony of a name if ever they chose one). The title actually making reference to the Infinity War/Stones which are relevant to both the games plot and current state of play of the movie franchise coincidentally.
To date the following characters have been announced from the Marvel Stable;
Black Panther, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Dormammu, Gamora, Ghost Rider, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Nova, Rocket Raccoon, Spider-Man, Thanos, Thor & Ultron
The keen eyed among you will notice that every single one of these characters features somewhere in the MCU, Nova featuring in the upcoming series New Warriors.
The popular and staple characters which were included in the previous games; Wolverine, Storm, Gambit, Iceman, Cyclops, Phoenix, Deadpool, Magneto, Doctor Doom are as yet absent. What all of these things have in common is that they are all currently properties of Fox. Marvel (or rather Disney’s) stance is that it doesn’t want to provide free advertising to these brands.
Interestingly Spiderman made the cut however one assumes that this is due to them being co-operative with the movie franchise.
What we have here are outside politics influencing and damaging the game. There have always been rights issues in the past which cause similar problems however it’s not contractual in this example, it’s tantamount malicious to exclude these assets. It is taking advantage of its position and whilst I don’t particularly care for Fox’s suffering, Me, the consumer is one of the victims. Furthermore they are stifling Capcom’s creativity and the result is them making a game as they’re told and not as they would want.
Let me also be clear that I am not a fan of what Fox has done with the X-Men movie franchise (Deadpool yes), in fact a separate article will follow on this point in the future. I am however a fan of the X-Men in general and believe that the characters I’ve mentioned above included some of my favourite team members.
FACTOID: Marvel has even now gone as far as to cancel the existing Fantastic 4 comic series for allegedly the same reasons, upsetting that fan base to for the same corrosive reasons.
I get the same sensation here as when I heard Microsoft around the time of the announcement of Xbox One. They showed their hand to be one of greed when they initially advised that the console; Had to be online constantly, would not have a disc drive and would only be able to play second hand games which are purchased from approved retailers. All of these points benefited no-one but themselves and their margin and when the consumers balked at the idea they decidedly changed their minds. I even recall an interview with a Microsoft exec on the subject where he was questioned about households without access to the internet (there are still some out there), where his response was essentially “they can buy an Xbox 360”. Naturally Microsoft made a U-turn on the decision due to the backlash but the damage was done. This attitude is why I decided I will not be owning an Xbox One. Period (reverse engineered backwards compatibility or not).
Sony swept in and rallied the fans together for some of their own good PR and I hope the same will happen for Bandai-Namco with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ which seems play more like a sequel to the “vs” series without being part of it (and looks to be making good use of the licence too).
I’d not be a fan if I also didn’t mention the issue with the character design on the Capcom elements here too. I’ve been advised this was just a poor design choice which has since begun to be rectified so whilst off putting, that alone wouldn’t have kept me from buying!
So what we’re left with is what essentially could be an Infinity War branded game and we all know what great games movie tie-ins make. You’ll not be getting my dollar this time Disney.
So this marks the end of the first chapter of something which I’ve been meaning to start some time ago, my Geek Out Freak Out. I’ve several more targets in mind to vent my rage which will all become apparent in time, most are not as current as this but stay tuned for more if you’ve enjoyed this.