Sum of Its Parts: Capcom vs. Capcom

Time for another Frankensequel article. I’ll be honest with you, when I thought up the idea for this article, I almost wanted to put the last article on hold and just go ahead with this one. Of course, since I had taken so long to come up with another topic for this series, it just didn’t seem fair to shelve it again. Fortunately, I managed to come up with another idea fairly quickly, so I was able to write this article on schedule, which I’m really happy about. I really have fun playing armchair game designer with these articles, and placing some constraints on my creative visions for future releases of video games I enjoy actually makes it a lot more fun.

Having said that, let’s discuss the topic of today’s article. Capcom vs. Capcom is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: another crossover fighting game, except this time, it exclusively stars characters from Capcom’s various intellectual properties. Unlike the last two sequels I pitched, this one isn’t exactly far-fetched. Capcom attempted to make one back in the early 2000s (which ended up being terrible) and prior to his departure, Christian Svennson (former senior VP of Capcom USA) was actually a champion of returning to the concept, given how fickle Capcom’s partners on these projects tend to be. Now obviously, the final game probably wouldn’t be called “Capcom vs. Capcom”, maybe they’d go for something along the lines of “Capcom Fighting All-Stars”, “Capcom Fighting Evolution 2” (which would be suicidal, in my opinion), but considering Capcom’s recent DLC announcement, I’d probably go for a more tongue-in-cheek title: Capcom vs. Street Fighter! You know, as sort of an homage to their first two crossover games with Marvel.

Why do a self-contained crossover? Well, as I said before, Capcom hasn’t had the best luck keeping deals with their partners for their crossover games this generation. Tatsunoko’s license was extremely hard to negotiate outside of Japan in the first place, Marvel’s dead and buried and Street Fighter X Tekken (although my favorite Capcom fighter of the generation) was generally unpopular and failed to meet sales expectations. Despite this, the so-called “Versus” series is Capcom’s second-most popular fighting game franchise (first place goes to Street Fighter, obviously), so it would be in Capcom’s best interest to make another one. Considering the fact that Street Fighter V is currently being planned and isn’t set for release until 2018 at the earliest, it would probably be in their best interest to release another fighting game.

So, onto the fun stuff. First off, the base gameplay engine. Now, there are quite a lot of ways to go with this one, especially considering that we’re going to be basing this on series that has seen a lot of diversity. Most people consider Marvel vs. Capcom 2 to be the apex of the series’ evolution, while Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and even Capcom vs. SNK 2 are also popular bases for this game. Me personally? I’d use the gameplay from either the first MvC or Tatsunoko vs. Capcom as a base. I don’t know why, but Capcom’s 2-on-2 tag fighters just feel a lot more coherent than their 3-on-3 counterparts to me. Of course, if they can allow both options, then that would be the best. Better still, if they allow for 1-on-1 matches and allow mixed ratio fights (like in CvS2), then they’d be on-par with Skullgirls. Of course, most people are going to want a large roster, and balancing characters for singles and tag matches is a difficult task. So, it’d be best to keep it at 2v2 and 3v3 tag matches. If I had to choose one option, I’d definitely just go for 2v2.

Another important part of any fighting game would be the control scheme. Part of the reason I’d prefer this game going with strictly 2v2 gameplay is because that would allow for the return of the 6-button control scheme. Capcom’s 3-on-3 fighters generally need to reserve two buttons for each tag-team partner, so they typically experiment with 4-button layouts for the main attack buttons. Personally, I preferred the TvC and MvC3 layouts over that of MvC2, but hell, if I’m building my ideal Capcom crossover game, it’s going to use the ideal Capcom layout. 3 punches, 3 kicks, just like in the original MvC and its predecessors.

Next, let’s deal with some more specific attributes of the fighting system itself. Frankly, if we’re going to make a fighting game that entails the entire Capcom multiverse, I’d prefer it if the game was more akin to the fast-paced crossovers with companies like Marvel and Tatsunoko. More conservative crossovers, like those with SNK and Tekken, have their places, but the Capcom universe is entirely too off-the-wall to keep everything as anchored as your typical Street Fighter game. As for in-game mechanics, as unrealistic as it may be, I’d kind of like to see the assist character mechanic from MvC1 return. However, as this game would more than likely use 3D models than 2D sprites (not to mention, there would be backlash if anyone’s favorite characters get demoted to assist status), it just wouldn’t be viable. Let’s just stick to the typical assist format from the majority of the series: character(s) that are both currently not in use and not knocked out can be called for assists. In this case, this is the mechanic I’d be the most willing to borrow from MvC2 and 3. Those games allowed players to pick from 3 different assists, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, to create better synergy within a team. Custom assists would be an interesting idea, but indie fighter Skullgirls has already implemented that and has shown that even with its small roster, it’s hard to balance. Trying to apply that to a game the size of a modern Capcom crossover game would be nearly impossible, especially considering both a likely lack of a beta and the inherent difficulty of updating the console versions of the game.

Also, while controversial, I’d actually like to see some kind of a “comeback mechanic” in this game as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about something as simple and broken as MvC3’s X-Factor, but I was actually a fan of TvC’s Baroque system, which allowed players to trade regenerable red health to cancel out of attacks, extending combos and dealing extra damage (tied to how much health was sacrificed). It was a proper risk/reward system that required skill to use effectively. Similarly, I was a fan of the Mega Crash system, which despite being a burst mechanic, did have a cost: 2 bars of super meter and 10% of your character’s health. Even if these mechanics themselves don’t make it into “Capcom vs. Street Fighter”, if mechanics with similar risk/reward elements are implemented, I would be happy. As for the rest of the game mechanics, bring back crossover counters, Delayed Hyper Combos, Team Hyper Combos, snapbacks and the pre-MvC3 air combo system, and I’ll be happy.

Now for everyone’s favorite part of devising a crossover: the roster. Obviously, the best place to start would be to use the entire Capcom side from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which gives us a starting roster of 25 characters that can likely easily be ported into the new game. To improve on that, I’d throw in some characters from Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, specifically Roll, Saki, Alex and possibly Kaijin no Soki. These characters would probably need more of a rework than those from UMvC3, but I’m sure some of their materials could be salvaged. After those characters, it’s pretty much a crapshoot. Anyone could probably just throw together a list of characters they would expect to be in this game, but coming up with a proper roster wishlist for this game given the circumstances of this article would be impossible. So instead, I’ll just say I’d hope the game has roughly 40-50 characters and then list a few characters I would personally like to see in the game:

  • Lord Raptor would be great (people have been complaining about the lack of male Darkstalkers representatives)
  • Classic MegaMan (or heck, just bring back Volnutt from TvC)
  • Jin Saotome (and/or Devilotte) from Cyberbots
  • another Dead Rising character (anyone’s fine, but one of the psychopath bosses would be awesome)
  • some more Street Fighter characters, my picks would be: 
    • M. Bison/Dictator
    • Cammy
    • Charlie/Shadow
  • SonSon II from Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (always kinda hoped she’d get a spinoff game)
  • Tessa from Red Earth (I loved her in Pocket Fighter)
  • Asura from Asura’s Wrath
  • Gene from God Hand
  • Nilin from Remember Me (but only if Capcom actually owns that IP)

Just to reiterate, those are my personal picks, most of them probably wouldn’t even make it into any actual crossover.

With the basic gameplay detailed, I guess it’s time to get to the less important factors. Regarding graphics, Capcom should probably stick to 2.5D, using 3D models on a 2 dimensional plane. A new artstyle would be great though, maybe something that actually looks like the old-school sprites (like Arc System Works is doing with Guilty Gear Xrd). Even something matching the artstyles from Tatsunoko and MvC3 would be acceptable in my opinion, but something new and gorgeous that really flexes that “next-gen” muscle would be spectacular. As for the music, I tend to prefer character themes over stage themes, but considering that recent Capcom fighters like the SF4 games and MvC3 have offered both, having a toggle between those options would be great. A more old-school sound would be appreciate, but so long as the whole soundtrack doesn’t end up being techno or dubstep-flavored, I think I’d be fine with whatever Capcom’s modern sound team can cook up.

Of the three articles I’ve written about dream sequels so far, this one probably has the greatest chance of coming to fruition. Yoshihiro Ono, the lead producer of the Street Fighter 4 games, has recently been teasing that Capcom is working on a project related to fighting games and has been trying to put together an internal development team to work on them. He’s also been teasing the announcement of a new fighting game project unrelated to the fifth Street Fighter game (which appears to already be in a planning phase). Whatever this project ends up being, whether it’s a new crossover, an entirely new IP or dare I dream, a new entry in one of Capcom’s more obscure fighting franchises (C’mon, Darkstalkers 4!), I have to admit I’m kind of excited to hear what it ends up being.

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