The Games of Summer: X-Men vs. Street Fighter
With my picks for The Games of Summer, I always try to find something accessible, while at the same time nostalgic. But for this week, I decided to choose something that was also noteworthy, something that’s used in common practice this week. That game is X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, and it’s one of the first games to fully utilize the art of the Crossover, just like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter x Tekken do today.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the Crossover, I’m not referring to how Marvel Comics’ legendary heroes clash with the Street Fighter universe, although that’s easy to confuse. Instead, I’m talking about how you can choose a tag team of characters (from an available cast of 18) and then switch between the two. By bringing them in, you can perform a “Variable Counter”, in which you “tag” your fellow team member and have them dive in with a swift attack. You can use this strategically, especially if the opposing player comes at you with a jump attack or tries to cheapen your fight with consistently thrown projectiles. (We hate folks that do that.)
Meanwhile, you can also perform a “Variable Attack”, in which your fellow tag teamer will run in with a very quick attack, taunt, and then leave. This is a good divisionary tactic, and one that can throw off your opponent if they aren’t expecting a full-on run-in. If you wish to go for something even more lethal, you can activate the “Variable Combination”, where your second character joins your first in the midst of a Super Combo, continuing its string of hits and delivering even more damage to the opposing team. It all sounds quite technical, but after a round or two, you’ll understand how the tag team nature of the game works.
X-Men Vs. Street Fighter features a well-rounded cast of characters. You’ve got nimble fighters like Ryu, Ken, Chun Li and Wolverine; you’ve got your powerhouses like Juggernaut, M. Bison and Zangief; and then there are those who stand out in a league by themselves, like Rogue. She’s got an unusual ability where she can plant a kiss on someone and steal one of their abilities, which can be used over the course of a fight. So, say, if she locks lips with Charlie, she can use his Sonic Boom as a reasonable projectile attack. (She’s just as hard hitting on her own, however.)
The arcade game is still making the rounds in several mom and pop locations today, but the game also got a pair of home releases. The only version that managed to reach U.S. soil was on the PlayStation, and while it looked okay, it was missing one major component – you couldn’t do Crossover attacks at all. Capcom noted that the PS One was incapable of uploading four characters at once, as the extra RAM wasn’t provided. As a result, most folks were turned off by the port, opting to play it in arcades instead.
If there is a definitive version, it has to be the Sega Saturn one. Though it only came out in Japan, it was arcade perfect, as Capcom of Japan sold it with a 4 MB cartridge that plugged into the top of the game system. Now, if your system was “modded” to play imports (or, like me, you owned an import system, like my blue Derby Stallion model), you could get right into play with the cartridge plugged in, swapping out partners with ease and enjoying the arcade perfect animation and gameplay. It’s still a gem to this very day, and I humbly suggest tracking one down if you can afford it. Hopefully, one day, Capcom will consider doing an HD port for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, as it did for Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
Though X-Men Vs. Street Fighter may seem like “old news” to fighting fans nowadays (it did come out way back in 1996), it remains a classic in Capcom’s long line of brawlers, and the fighting action doesn’t feel like it gets old in the least. In fact, we enjoyed a heated match the other day, plowing some poor kid with the combination of Juggernaut and Wolverine. Hey, he deserved it – trying to cheap shot us with Rogue every chance he got. Sometimes you just gotta have balance, you know?
See you next week for another Games of Summer!