Perhaps one of the most requested fighting games of the last ten years has been a sequel to the fantastic Marvel vs Capcom 2. Earlier this year, the prayers of many a beat'em up fan was answered with the announcement of Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. And producer Ryota Niitsuma wants to make a big impression.
His development team has taken early builds of the game on the road, you see. To EVO. To E3. San Diego's Comic Con. It'll likely be at Gamescom this week too. And with each showing, fans have been able to provide feedback on everything, right down to the controls and character balancing.
Niitsuma-san is aware of how much this game means to the fanbase, and as we play a round or two together - I picked Chun-Li, Devil May Cry's Dante and Iron Man as my tag team, and still lost! - he explains how the controls have been altered to accommodate new players while still maintaining a high level of depth.
As I was pulling off extreme laser beam bursts with Iron Man and flipping my developer opponent up in the air with the new aerial assault button, I continued to ask him about the changes to the series, what place this game has in the arcades and what Disney have to say about all of this.
SPOnG: You've said before that you've tried to bring a comic book feel to the proceedings. Any particular inspiration at all, or has this been an attempt to combine all worlds and styles together?
When we were discussing this deal with Marvel, we were wondering how best to portray these characters. It was easy to combine all the styles together, because all of these Marvel characters stem from the classic comics, which had a very particular art design. So generally, we wanted to have 'comics in motion,' and that's why we've ended up with this sort of visual style.
SPOnG: Did you take any major inspiration from Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Street Fighter IV or any other recent Capcom fighting games when it came to the controls and game design?
In terms of influence, when we made the first prototype it was closer to Tatsunoko vs Capcom
. But it soon got to a point where we didn't want to have the game compared to that benchmark, so we decided that this is going to truly be a sequel to Marvel vs Capcom 2
, rather than [a spiritual sequel to] Tatsunoko vs Capcom
. In that way, we have been influenced by both Tatsunoko
and Marvel vs Capcom 2
, but rather indirectly.
SPOnG: The development of this started before Marvel vs Capcom 2 was released onto Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, right? You have mentioned that sales of that digital re-release spurred you on to feel more confident about the success of Marvel vs Capcom 3. Did you not think this game would be popular?
Well, Marvel vs Capcom 3
is a big game. It's a AAA, huge-budget title – it probably compares with Street Fighter IV
in terms of development costs, so we were actually adamant that this was going to do well.
What we didn't know was where all the fans went, because it's been 10 years since Marvel vs Capcom 2
. We knew Marvel vs Capcom 3
was going to do well as a new game, but we weren't sure if those people who used to play Marvel vs Capcom 2
were going to come back. Looking at the success of the download version, we were basically guaranteed that there are still supporters from that era. In that sense, we were encouraged even more than originally anticipated.
SPOnG: I guess one of the striking things about Marvel vs Capcom 3 is that it continues the tradition of 2D Capcom fighters. Knowing that Capcom has dabbled with 3D fighters in the past, do you feel that the 2D plane is the way forward with fighting games? Are 2D fighting games back?
It's not so much that we haven't looked into 3D-plane fighting games, but it's that we have so much more experience in 2D fighting games. It's Capcom's speciality. Even when we come up with ideas for new projects, in the end we just decide to have 3D models fighting on a 2D plane. So for the moment, this is probably the way to go for future fighting games, yes.
SPOnG: You mentioned earlier that the control scheme has been changed up since Marvel vs Capcom 2. This third game seems to adopt the controls of Tatsunoko vs Capcom, which some fans seem to believe is simplifying the series somewhat. Do you think that fighting games are simplifying themselves a bit too much? Do you think there is still some depth in this control scheme?
Well, when it comes to controls, if we wanted to we could have millions of buttons if that pleases the internet! But having more buttons doesn't always increase the depth, that's for sure, and it's about how you play the game rather than how many buttons there are.
For instance, Street Fighter IV
's got six buttons. In Marvel vs Capcom
we need two buttons for the assist system. And as you know, in this game we have the new aerial button – that's another one – so there's already nine buttons we can use. And if we wanted to we could work in another one for something else.
Potentially the game could end up having ten buttons, which in my opinion is just way too many. I don't think anything has been simplified in having fewer buttons, because despite this we are still maintaining that underlying depth in the game.