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Teambuilding Archetypes in MvC2

[Note: This is actually something I wrote a long time ago. It was on a forum I went to a lot at the time in response to a previous poster talking about how MvC2 teams were generally constructed (and making gross generalizations). I wrote this in response, which won’t hold up under a microscope but gives a general overview of teambuilding with a few specific examples. I’m reposting it here so I can find it more easliy in the future. Enjoy!]

 

I remember when MvC3 was announced, an old MvC2 pro, Fanatiq, did a writeup on the four main kinds of teams in MvC2: Rushdown, Zoning, DHC, and Trap. These four teams played very differently and because of that they had to be structured very differently. And because I don’t want to do any real work for the next 3 hours, I’m going to go over their general structures in detail.

Rushdown – Exactly what it says on the tin. These teams are about opening up the opponent and getting them into extremely damaging combos. Characters with high mobility, strong combos or infinites, and assists that can help start or extend combos are all strongly reccommended for these types of teams. Meter building is not an issue because landing combos will do more damage than just a simple DHC usually.

General team structure: Rushdown character/Rushdown character you can DHC into/Combo starting or extending assist.

Example: MSP (Magneto-A/Storm-A or B/Psylocke-A) – Magneto is so pringles the embodiment of everything rushdown in MvC2. He has incredible mobility, great combos, unparalleled resets, big range on his fast snapback, and is a good meter builder and starter for DHCs. Magneto’s assist, though rarely used on this team, is also very good for punishing since it goes full screen very quickly and leaves Magneto at a very safe distance away. If Magneto’s resets and ROM infinite don’t kill characters or if Magneto is low on health then he can combo into Magnetic Tempest and DHC into Hailstorm to bring Storm in to do what she does best – build meter and punish opponent’s mistakes. After Storm puts in some work and Magnus has gotten some health back, she can punish with safe Hailstorms, DHC into Psylocke’s Butterfly super, and DHC again to get back to Magneto. Storm’s Typhoon assist is used because it handily goes through other projectiles and does decent damage, but Lightning Attack can also be used to set up unblockables. Psylocke’s Psyblade assist is phenomenal both as an anti-air and a combo starter because of its high amount of invincibility and because it leaves the opponent in the perfect position for Magneto to launch into a ROM infinite. Psylocke is also a decent character on her own, with good mobility, solid DHCs, and a soft corner trap.

Other Example: Team Combofiend (Magneto-A/Iron Man-B/Sentinel-Y) – A team that was originally used by Combofiend and is still used by Josh360, this team is a good example of a modern Iron Man team. I already talked about Magneto so I won’t say much about him other than that combos into Tempest with this team lead well into Iron Man’s Proton Cannon. Iron Man is like a slightly slower Magneto with only one very inflexible super. Tony Stark has similar mobility, mixups, combos, and resets as well as some fun stuff like guard breaks, but isn’t seen as much because Magneto is just a better character overall. One area where Iron Man excels more than Magneto is in his Repulsor Blast assist, which is a great combo extender for both Magneto and Sentinel. Speaking of Sentinel, Proton Cannon can combo well into Hyper Sentinel Force which Sentinel can then loop with the meter built up over time by Magneto and Iron Man. Sentinel can also do fly/unfly combos with both Magneto’s Disruptor assist and Iron Man’s Repulsor Blast assist. This allows Sentinel’s already high damage output to become even greater. Overall, this team is less an example of having one really strong assist and more of an example of having three characters that have assists that work well with each other.

Zoning – Another straightforward archetype. Zoning teams want to control space as much as they can and basically play the whole game like it’s Super Turbo with flying robots. Assists are extremely important to defensive teams, specifically assists that can control a lot of space. Characters with fast projectiles, projectiles that cover a lot of the screen both horizontally and vertically, and powerful beam supers are important to zoning teams.

General team structure: Zoning character/Projectile assist/Anti-air assist

Example: Team Scrub (Cable-B/Sentinel-Y/Captain Commando-B) – Just as Magneto is the quintessential rushdown character, Cable is the quintessential zoning character. Cable has a quick gunshot projectile, a slower beam projectile that covers more space, a grenade projectile that can put the opponent in lots of hitstun or blockstun, guard breaks, good enough mobility to not get locked down, a solid DP that is also a projectile, and, most famously, a full screen hyper that he can do up to 5 times in a row. Cable’s assist is a great anti-air and very good for Sentinel when he’s playing footsies in the air with other Sentinels or Storms. Sentinel himself is a great zoner in addition to having massively damaging combos. With drones, a nearly full-screen Rocket Punch, the ability to punish with Hyper Sentinel Force loops, and massive range on every move he has (except standing LK, but who uses that?), Sentinel can play the bait and punish game just as well as Cable, if not better. Sentinel’s drones assist works well with Cable as they stay on screen for a long time and can control the bottom half of the screen while Cable controls the top half with gunshots, grenades, and Viper Beams. Speaking of controlling the top half of the screen, Captain Commando’s Captain Corridor assist will make air footsies skew heavily in your favor. Both Cable and Sentinel benefit from having a Corridor cover a huge vertical column on their screen for them, but Sentinel benefits even more as Commando’s assist can extend his fly combos and potentially turn them into one-touch kills. However, on his own Commando can’t do much besides build meter to try and DHC back into one of the other characters.

Other Examples: Team Watts (Blackheart-B/Sentinel-Y/Captain Commando-B) and Watts 2.0 (Blackheart-B/Cable-B/Sentinel-Y) – In general, Blackheart is valued as a zoning character for his ability to spit gargoyles at his opponent which slowly drain their health. Blackheart also has a solid projectile game and can control air space very well with Inferno, although its comparatively slow speed makes it slightly less useful than Captain Corridor. He even has a soft trap with Sentinel’s Drones assist. Both of these teams offer different benefits, with the original Watts placing more emphasis on Sentinel’s abilities and fly combos and Watts 2.0 allowing the opportunity for Cable to enter the fray. The original has the advantage of being able to control the air better but the sequel has the advantage of allowing two characters to be able to take advantage of Sentinel’s drones assist.

DHC – One of the core mechanics of MvC2 is the ability to combo one character’s hyper combo into one of their partner’s hyper combos instantly. This process is known as the delayed hyper combo, or DHC. In MvC2, not all DHCs are created equal and there are specific teams built around the best DHCs in the game. In a DHC team, meter management is crucial, so the best DHC teams have a character who can build meter well. Ideally, this character starts the DHC, but this is not always the case. If the meter builder is one of the two characters who starts the DHC, the third character will likely be a character who can either benefit one of the two DHC characters with a strong assist, or a character who benefits from the assists of one or both of the existing characters.

General team structure: DHC starter/DHC ender/Character who can build meter or benefit the other two in some way

Example: Santhrax (Storm-A/Sentinel-Y/Captain Commando-B) – Remember that part in “Mahvel Baybee 2” where Yipes says “That’s 90%, welcome to USA *****“? He was talking about the Storm/Sentinel DHC that Santhrax and a laundry list of other teams are built around. Storms basic launcher combo ending in two Lightning Attacks and a Lightning Storm super put her in the perfect position to DHC into Sentinel’s Hyper Sentinel force, which then leads to loops, launches, mixups, and other really fun stuff. Storm is also one of the best characters in the game at running away and building meter as well as being a fast character who can punish well, making her a great lead in the combo. The third character in this specific team is Captain Commando, whose assist is used to help Sentinel and Storm control air space, but there are a ton of variants of the basic Storm/Sentinel combo – MSS uses Magneto to lead and Storm and Sentinel to follow up, Cody uses Cable as an anti-air assist and sometimes as a lead, Matrix uses Cyclops’ assist to put opponents in massive blockstun and punish other assists, one of Justin Wong’s early teams used Cammy as an anti-air, hell you could use Storm/Sentinel/Roll and do decently (although you’re really screwed if one of your good characters dies). Storm/Sentinel is one of if not the best DHCs in the game and because of that Santhrax and its many variations are some of the most common teams at tournament level play.

Other Example: Team Z (Juggernaut-Y/Tron-Y/Dr. Doom-B) – Bet you didn’t expect me to talk about this, did you? Team Z is a team that is generally pretty balanced in that it can employ solid offensive pressure with Juggernaut backed by assists, zone solidly with Doom, and trap opponent’s with Tron’s drill backed by Doom’s rocks. What makes this team notable, though, is its DHCs, or more notably, its DHCs into Juggernaut. Juggernaut’s Head Crush super doesn’t damage scale much, if at all, which makes a lot of this team’s combos with Tron and Doom one-touch kills or close to it. Juggernaut’s massive damaging ability, Tron’s extremely helpful assist and Lunch Rush super, and Doom’s rocks, powerful combos, and zoning skill all build upon the strength of the DHCs to make this an incredibly solid and fun low-tier team.

Trap – Do you like blocking? You better if your opponent is playing a trap team. Trap teams utilize blockstrings or fast projectiles to get the opponent to block a lot so that they can build meter, mix them up, or just chip them out. Like with DHCs, good traps are very specific and depend on the specific characters, which means that there isn’t any general rule for making them. However, having a character who can compensate for the other characters’ weaknesses, a character who can create pseudo-traps or slightly weaker versions of the main trap, or a character who can build or use meter depending on what your team needs, are generally very helpful. Some could argue that trap teams are subgenres of rushdown or zoning teams, and while I do see merit in that argument I feel that they are distinct enough that they deserve their own separate discussion.

General structure: Trap point character/Trap assist/Character who benefits the other two in some way

Example: Team Clockw0rk (Strider-B/Sentinel-Y/Dr. Doom-B) – This is a team that utilizes a trap to lock the opponent down and mix them up. Strider’s Ouroboros super creates a ton of projectiles on the screen with every button press the Strider player makes. Combined with Strider’s incredible mobility, having teleports and being able to fly across the screen and into our hearts, this allows for the opponent to constantly be in a guessing game over which way to block. If they guess wrong, they eat a damaging combo followed by a nasty reset or a second Ouroboros activation. Ouroboros combined with Dr. Doom’s rocks assist also provides a frame-perfect lockdown, meaning that Strider can chip his opponents to death if he so desires and has enough meter. This brings us to the first issue of the team, meter. Since Ouroboros is a super, Strider needs to eat a lot of meter in order for his traps to be most effective. This is not that much of a problem since whiffing normals builds meter in MvC2, but eventually Strider will run out of meter and be relatively defenseless until he gets it back, which is dangerous due to Strider’s low health. This is where Sentinel comes in. Sentinel is a very solid character for building meter and does not need any assists to be good (although he is much better with assists as I’ve said before) and he can do a lot of damage and buy a lot of time while building meter and recovering Strider’s health. Sentinel’s Drones assist can also be used as a soft trap with Ouroboros in case Doom dies for whatever reason. Ultimately though, Sentinel/Doom is not as threatening as most other combinations in the modern MvC2 metagame, which is why if Strider dies the team is usually in big trouble.

Other Example: Team Duc (Spiral-A or B/Cable-B/Sentinel-Y) or Banshee (Spiral-A or B/Sentinel-Y/Captain Commando-B) – Spiral teams are in many ways the opposite of Strider teams – Where Strider’s trap consumes meter, Spiral’s trap build’s meter; Where Strider teams are aggressive, Spiral teams are defensive; Where there’s really only one Strider team that works consistently (as far as I know), Spiral teams are a lot looser in their configurations. Spiral’s Dancing Sword move summons six swords around her that she can fling at her opponent to use as either a hit confirm, to chip them out in a trap, or to just control space. Her standing HP also puts the opponent in blockstun for a long time as she hits with all six of her arms, and Sentinel’s Drones assist (or Doom’s rocks) can keep the opponent blocking while Spiral reactivates Dancing Sword, creating a frame-perfect trap. Spiral’s Sword Ring followups to Dancing Sword can also be very effective zoning tools, especially her expanding Sword Ring, which is good for covering space in all directions. Like Strider, Spiral also has solid mobility, with a teleport (though the location you teleport to is fixed) and a quick drop, allowing her to evade heavy pressure (but only to an extent as MSP is still her kryptonite). The third character typically used on a Spiral team is usually one who can provide air cover or use the meter built from Spiral’s traps effectively. Cable fits both of these categories and benefits from Sentinel’s assist, which is why he is typically used on Spiral teams. However, recently (by recently I mean in the past 4 years or so) a Spiral player named Banshee has been playing Captain Commando over Cable to better control air space and allow Sentinel to use meter to perform damaging combos instead. This configuration has the advantage of making Sentinel stronger, which provides a slight advantage against Magneto teams. As mentioned before, Dr. Doom can also be used on Spiral teams, but the other two options are generally considered better.

So yeah, MvC2 is awesome.

My EVO 2011 Fantasy Brackets

So I know I posted my opinions and predictions on EVO already a few days ago, but today Shoryuken.com posted brackets for the people in SSFIV:AE and MvC3 who are already seeded, so I thought I’d fill them out and give some quick opinions just for fun.

Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition

Top 8 Rundown

  1. MadCatz Daigo Umehara – This year’s EVO isn’t a question of “Will Daigo win?” but rather a question of “Will Daigo even lose a single game?”
  2. Wolfkrone – I talked about it briefly in my longer EVO Predictions article, but the general gist of it is that nobody in America is hungrier for an EVO win than Wolfkrone is. He knows his character like the back of his hand, he knows all the other matchups in the top8, and he just generally knows the metagame really well. Aside from Daigo or other Yun players, I can’t foresee him losing to anyone unless he plays really sloppy for some reason, which is very unlike him.
  3. PR Balrog – Nobody is hungrier for an EVO title than Wolfkrone, but PR Balrog is very, very close. PR ‘Rog also knows his character just as intimately as Wolfkrone does to the point where he can stand up to the Japanese better than anyone else. This is one of the reasons I have him getting third over Tokido – PR ‘Rog has clashed with the murderface before and if he plays perfectly he can handily win.
  4. MadCatz Tokido – If you look up “godlike” in the dictionary, you’ll see Tokido posing over a lifeless victim with the Japanese character for heaven on his back. Tokido is an amazing player and an amazing person, even though he tier whores like a motherfucker. But like I said before, nobody can beat Daigo in this game and if PR Balrog plays perfectly then he can win this match, so I’m going to bet on Tokido getting 4th for now. But to his credit, I will say that it is extremely unlikely that he will place lower than 4th.
  5. DMG Inthul – Inthul is a very strong player who started gaining notoriety when SSFIV came out for not only playing Fei Long extremely well, but for playing him extremely well on a PS3 pad. For those who don’t know, most competitive SF players choose to play on arcade sticks instead of pads because most agree that it allows a more natural feel. But once in a while, a “pad warrior” will surface who displays such incredible skill that it makes you wonder why you paid $120 for a MatCatz Tournament Edition stick. Inthul is an incredibly good player and Fei Long is an incredibly strong character in AE, but the real handicap for Inthul is the fact that PS3 pads are banned from EVO. Using a stick will likely feel unnatural for him, but hopefully he’s had enough time to practice on one.
  6. Infiltration – Infiltration is an incredibly good Korean Akuma who placed very well in EVO 2010. He’s an extremely strong player and I don’t see him having any trouble against anyone besides the Japanese. But he’s no murderface.
  7. Arturo “Sabin” Sanchez – Arturo is a very good player who has been playing Dhalsim since back when he was known as Mahatma Gandhi and has been playing Rose since she before bought a Shamwow. His performance in AE has been surprisingly strong to the point where I’ve decided to be pretty damn generous in some of his matches. Most of the matches I gave him are purely because of his character’s matchup against his opponent’s character, with his Dhalsim being able to take out Dieminion’s Guile and Alex Valle’s Ryu [hopefully]. This is probably the single choice on this list that I am least certain about, partly because I’m not 100% sure if Sabin can pull it off and partly because Filipino Champ would probably have this spot instead if he were seeded on this list.
  8. Poongko – Poongko is one of the best players in Korea and plays Seth. Seth has been in the SFIV series since the first game came out on consoles but was nerfed in SSFIV and again in AE. However, this resistance apparently only makes Poongko’s penis harder determination greater, as his performance in AE is nothing short of mind-blowing. His weaknesses lie mostly in his character having the lowest health and stun resistance in the game, meaning that a hard-hitting character like Balrog can give him a lot of trouble, mixup characters like Akuma can make him pay if he guesses wrong, and a single touch from a Yun with full super meter will probably mean an instant game loss. Still, Poongko is probably THE player to watch in the AE event.
Marvel vs Capcom 3
Top 8 Rundown:
  1. EG Justin Wong – Justin Wong’s tournament performances in MvC3 majors is like the structure of a typical Batman story arc – He kicks ass all the way to Winner’s Finals only to be beaten by something he hasn’t seen before and/or can’t handle, he goes back to the EG Batcave to think up some new technology and browbeat minor thugs in a gruff voice in Loser’s Finals, then he figures out how to defeat his opponents, resets the bracket in Grand Finals, and then poses dramatically in the night with his oversize novelty check containing his winnings…or he picks Tron like an idiot and loses, but that part doesn’t fit into my metaphor. Anyway, I think that Justin Wong is, in addition to being the best MvC3 player in the world, finally coming to terms with the fact that he doesn’t have a decent Tron and that he can’t run characters on his team just for the assist like in MvC2, so I think that as long as he remembers this and plays his team of She-Hulk/Wolverine/Akuma he’ll have no problem resetting the bracket against Tokido.
  2. Tokido – If you look up “tier whore” in the dictionary, you’ll see Tokido beating Justin Wong just because he had Phoenix on his team. Tokido is an amazing player but a horrible person, in part because he tier whores like a motherfucker. In my longer EVO Predictions article, I went over how much I hate Phoenix and why in great detail, so it should be no surprise that I think Tokido is going to do undeservedly well in MvC3 just for playing this stupid character.
  3. Complexity Filipino Champ – He plays Phoenix, ’nuff said.
  4. UVG Noel Brown – Noel Brown is one of if not the best players on the East Coast and is likely going to be the highest placing East Coast player in MvC3. Noel is incredibly strong and knows a lot about the game and his team. But he doesn’t play Phoenix, so unfortunately he’s going to be forced down to 4th place.
  5. Chris G – Chris G is in competition with Noel Brown for the title of “Best on the East Coast”. He’s also a sort of low tier hero with his use of Ryu which many consider unorthodox. Regardless, he knows his team extremely well and is a very strong player. But again, he doesn’t play Phoenix, so unfortunately he’s going to be forced down to 5th place.
  6. Complexity ComboFiend – ComboFiend is an old school MvC2 player who is also sort of a low-tier hero in MvC3 (and pretty much every other game he plays) for his use of She-Hulk and Taskmaster (before their popularity exploded) and Spencer. He’s a very solid player but hasn’t made any grand showings since he won Final Round 14 by defeating Justin Wong after Bionic Arming Marn into a state of depression. EVO might change that, but I can’t see him getting higher than 5th (because…you know…no Phoenix), and to be honest, that’s pretty generous since Fl0e could easily be a match for him.
  7. Marn – I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like Marn. This is the guy who almost single-handedly killed the US Guilty Gear scene. But I will admit that he is a solid player and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he made the Top 8 at EVO. I can’t picture him placing higher than 7th though because Noel Brown is undefeated against him.
  8. RyRy – Another strong East Coast player, RyRy seems to have somewhat of an affinity for the game. However, not only does he not play Phoenix but he also still plays Sentinel, which will likely prove to be his downfall since Sentinel is one of the easiest characters to fight against in MvC3.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t care? Let me know what you think or post your own brackets in the comments below. I might update this again

Tune in on Friday for my scheduled post about the problem with game reviews.

EVO 2011 Opinions and Predictions

Note: If you don’t know what “footsies” are in regards to fighting games or what a Roman Cancel is, you may not meet the qualifications to read this article. Might I suggest looking at puppies instead?

One of my favorite genres of games is the fighting game genre. I love the action and competition the genre provides. That’s why this year I’d like to post my opinions about the state of fighting games as a whole and state my predictions of the results of EVO 2011, happening July 29-31 in Las Vegas.

The following games will be the main events at EVO this year, all of which I will give a brief overview of:

  • Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
  • Marvel vs Capcom 3
  • Tekken 6
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II
  • Mortal Kombat [2011]


Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition

The Street Fighter IV series began in Japanese arcades in 2008 with the release of Street Fighter IV. The game was wildly successful due to its combining of Street Fighter II-style zoning and footsies and Street Fighter III-style combos with an interesting new Focus Attack system, visually stunning ultra attacks, a Roman Cancel-esque system that was blatantly stolen from influenced by Guilty Gear, and almost the entire Super Street Fighter II Turbo cast as well as several new characters. However, the initial SFIV release was criticized by the fighting game community due to extremely lenient shortcuts, the ability of some characters to be able to land their ultra combo after trading moves, Ultra combos in general as a comeback mechanic, and the fact that several characters were considered overpowered at high levels of play, most notably Sagat.

So, roughly a year after the release of SFIV for home consoles, Capcom produced Super Street Fighter IV, which introduced a whopping ten additional characters (though only two were brand new to the SF series), gave the entire cast a second ultra, and fixed a lot of the balance issues of the game. The game wasn’t perfectly balanced as you still had characters like Gen, Cody, Hakan, and Makoto who suffered from a number of bad matchups and were very hard to use at high levels of play, but for the most part you could pick a character you liked, learn them inside and out, and do well with them (unless you picked Dan, in which case winning probably wasn’t important to you anyway). The balance of SSFIV was so good that people were willing to overlook the fact that it was basically the same game with the same shitty input shortcuts and the same bullshit comeback mechanic ultras, or the fact that Capcom created maybe 6 new characters for the SFIV series (several of whom were heavily based on other characters in the SF series), and play the living shit out of it. It was a ton of fun for a lot of people and it even converted players who weren’t fans of the original SFIV.

Then Arcade Edition came out and brought back Yun and Yang from Street Fighter II: 3rd Strike (I know they originally appeared in New Generation but I just want to get these abbreviations out of the way as soon as possible) as playable characters as well as two “original” characters in the form of Evil Ryu, who is slightly more original than the Street Fighter Alpha series Evil Ryu since he has a HOLE IN HIS CHEST HOLY SHIT, and Oni, who I’d like to call a palette swap of Akuma but his moveset is just barely different enough for him to be a “original” character. Remember how the Scooby Doo series started to go downhill in quality when they introduced Scrappy Doo? That’s what Yun and Yang are like. Yun and Yang, often simply called “The Twins”, are walking balance issues. In retrospect, I really don’t understand how people didn’t see this coming, as they were both very dominant in 3rd Strike. Maybe the community as a whole was just so glad to have them in that they didn’t stop to consider what kind of impact having a super like Genei Jin in addition to an ultra would have on most matchups. Maybe they didn’t realize how easy it was for Yang and Yun to build both super and ultra meter through the use of palm strikes and focus attacks. Maybe the developers were too busy making Street Fighter X Tekken to actually be bothered to balance AE.

But no matter the reason, his heart or his shoes, The Grinch sat at his computer, hating this fucking game. I mean seriously, why would you play this game over other games in the SF series? For pure footsies, ST is better. For combos, 3S is better. For balance, SSFIV is better. There is literally no reason to play AE unless you were a good Yun player in 3S and you want to help scrubs’ wallets lose weight. But the SF community as a whole is incredibly fickle and has to play the very newest thing at all times, no matter how bad it is. What a bunch of sheep.

Who I think will win: Daigo Umehara. There have been two SFIV-series EVO championships so far and Daigo has won both. Now in AE he’s playing the best character in the game, so Americans stand even less of a chance. I’m not a Daigo fan or hater, but the reality is that unless something absolutely astonishing happens Daigo will win AE. Period.

Who I want to win: Wolfkrone. The man is one of the hardest working people in the SF community and doesn’t accept any failure from himself. Even if he gets second place at a tournament, he’ll go home sad that he didn’t win. He’s that kind of person and he has the exact mentality that the American community as a whole needs to succeed over the Japanese. PR Balrog is also very dedicated to this game, and I’d like to see him do well too.

Marvel vs Capcom 3

Speaking of over-hyped things, let’s talk about the disappointing sequel to a game that came out ten years ago. Now when I say disappointing, I’m not complaining about the fact that it was inevitably going to be disappointing after a decade of hype (I understand this logic but it doesn’t apply to everything), nor am I complaining about the netcode (why would you play fighting games online anyway?), and I’m also not complaining about my favorite character not being in the game (he is, although ever since they nerfed his health he hasn’t been that fun to play as). I’m talking about everything that’s wrong with the game from a competitive balance standpoint. Now there’s a ton of things wrong with this game so I’m not going to go over everything, but I will go over the biggest ones right now.

One issue in the game is the very same issue Capcom said they were going to get right with this game – character balance. Now I’m not going to waste time talking about the underpowered characters in the game. Since MvC3 is a team game, a weaker member of the team can be balanced out by having strong characters to back them up. So unless you’re playing something like Chris/MODOK/Viewtiful Joe, you’ll be able to run a lower tier character on a team and still be able to come out on top. However, one character is so good that you can run whoever you want with her and still do incredibly well. I am talking, of course, about Phoenix.

For those who don’t know, Phoenix is absurdly good at both rushdown and zoning in MvC3, like some combination of Strider and Storm from MvC2. Her teleport mixups are ridiculous, her blockstrings are extremely good, and her “weakness” of low health isn’t really a weakness at all for reasons I’ll discuss soon. On top of that, when she dies with 5 meters she gets even better. She’s effectively a comeback machine and playing against her requires most players to completely change their gameplan. In level 3 X-Factor, which I’ll talk more about soon, Phoenix is ridiculously powerful ans can wipe out whole teams on her own, even if you only have a very basic grasp of the character. This isn’t just me being a scrub and complaining either, Phoenix has been incredibly dominant at high-level tournament play, to the point where a typical top8 has at least 3 or 4 Phoenix players. Now I know I’ve been complaining, but there are some smart design choices that went into making Phoenix. One such choice is in her teleport. Phoenix cannot use her teleport to run away, as all three versions of her teleport leave Phoenix right next to (or on top of) her opponent. This means that Phoenix needs to be ready with a blockstring and she has to hope that her opponent doesn’t hit her out of it with an invincible move.

In this game, for every good design choice Capcom makes, they make at least two bad ones, and the worst design choice by far is X-Factor. Remember how I said people criticized Ultras in SFIV as a comeback mechanic? Well that was nothing, nothing, compared to X-Factor. X-Factor is, to put it moderately, completely balls to the wall ridiculous. Let’s look at a list of things X-Factor is:

  1. It’s a Roman Cancel.
  2. It’s a Melty Blood-style red health regenerator.
  3. It’s a damage and hitstun scaling resetter.
  4. It’s a chip damage nullifier.
  5. It’s a short term damage boost and speed boost that gives you more damage and speed over longer periods of time the more characters on your team are dead.

Now on paper this doesn’t seem that bad. There are some worrisome parts, sure, but most of them make sense. Roman Cancels are in there because Guilty Gear was a cool game. Melty Blood is also a cool game and the MvC series already uses red health, so it makes sense that a health regeneration mechanic would be included too. Chip damage isn’t fun for new players, so nobody really cares if it goes. Resetting damage and hitstun scaling doesn’t really have any purpose aside from making cool combo videos, and that’s what really matters, right? In practice though, X-Factor is a catastrophe. It’s either burned off quickly to kill your opponent’s whole team or it’s saved until your very last character to make them as powerful as possible and wipe out your opponent’s entire team. The damage and speed boosts are seemingly random too with some characters not getting very significant changes until Level 3 X-Factor and others getting absurdly powerful. What’s more, X-Factor is integral to the balance of this game. Whenever discussion of a character happens, one of the things that’s brought up is “good in level 3 X-Factor”, regardless of whether the character being discussed is good without X-Factor or not. On top of all this, in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, X-Factor not only has these boosts but you can do it in the air. Come on, Capcom, I thought you were proud of the fact that you listened to your fanbase.

To me, everything about X-Factor and most aspects of MvC3 in general is really lazy. Players who are too lazy to learn how to block well and deal with pressure situations can X-Factor on their last character and still come back and win. Players too lazy to learn long combos or complex resets can X-Factor and repeat the combo they just did for over double the damage. Players who want to be good with minimal effort can pick Phoenix. But there’s just as much blame to be put on Capcom too. Online play might not work with a 3 on 3 fight, so they gave us only the bare minimum. Balancing was too strenuous, so they gave everyone a broken button. People don’t like it when they lose two characters to their own stupid mistakes, so they gave everyone the most overpowered comeback mechanic of all time. Everything about this game screams bad design. I’ll probably do a full review of this game eventually because there’s just so much wrong with it that I don’t have time to go into everything here. Most of the community is starting to realize that this game is bananas too, as many Marvel vs Capcom 2 pros have quit the game.

Ten more years? At the rate this is going, I’ll be surprised if it lasts for ten more months.

(That is, ten months after UMvC3 comes out, because god forbid the Capcom Fighting Game community ignores a new game no matter how much it sucks)

Who I think will win: Justin Wong. The best and most successful MvC2 player of all time has been doing incredibly well in MvC3 as well, winning nearly every major tournament he’s ever entered. His team is also incredibly strong, using the powerful combination of Wolverine and Akuma, which many players hate as much as or more than Phoenix. In the rare event that Justin doesn’t win, however, the winners will most likely be Phoenix players. The two best Phoenix players I can think of at the moment are Clockw0rk and Filipino Champ, both of who are very solid players with very strong Phoenixes, so if Justin does not win one of them likely will. A lot of people are concerned about American players’ chance of winning since both Daigo and Tokido are entering MvC3. However, the Japanese have historically not done well at MvC3 since, unlike most other 2D fighters, the Marvel vs Capcom games are more about resets, positioning, and meter management than just combos. I have no doubt that Justin, who is a veritable encyclopedia of MvC, will have little trouble beating Daigo in MvC if it comes down to that. Tokido, however, is a very skilled player and a notorious tier whore who plays Wolverine/Sentinel/Phoenix, so he may actually be the biggest threat in MvC3 to come from Japan.

Who I want to win: EMP Mugetsu, if he’s going to EVO this year. I always liked Mugetsu as a player and I never really knew why he wasn’t successful in this game. He has good execution, extensive knowledge of his characters, and is just a good player overall. Fanatiq is also a player who I really want to win – he seems to have pushed Magneto/Storm/Sentinel to its limits in MvC3 and he’s an old-school MvC2 vet. But if Mugetsu and Fanatiq don’t go (and I have no idea if he will or not) then I’ll probably want Justin Wong to win. Though really I’ll cheer for anyone who’s not Japanese or playing Phoenix.

Tekken 6

Yeah…I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know shit about Tekken.

I like watching people play it because of the unique footsies and spacing involved, but when I go to play the game it’s like a six year old stumbling through calculus. I will say this though: Rage mode is bullshit. For those who don’t know about Rage mode, it’s a condition that automatically triggers whenever a character is at about 10% of their maximum health or so and gives them a 50% damage increase. Not the worst comeback mechanic (**cough**X-FACTOR**cough**) but it’s still bullshit.

Who I think will win: The Koreans or the Japanese.

Who I want to win: The Americans.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger was a fun spiritual successor to the Guilty Gear franchise. For those of you who don’t know what Guilty Gear is, it’s a fun but execution-intensive game with a gorgeous anime-influenced art style, an awesome rock soundtrack, and a community that has in the past been completely disrespected by the SF community for no adequate reason. BBCT was similar to Guilty Gear in a lot of ways, had great netcode, and was beginner friendly without being dumbed down, so naturally I played it about 5 times as much as SFIV back in the summer of 2009. However, there were problems with the game but fortunately they only stemmed from the balance of a few characters, which was easy to fix since the game only had 12 characters and there weren’t any un-winnable matchups anyway.

The rebalancing came in the form of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift last summer with many characters being nerfed or buffed as needed but there were still some balance issues in that version too. Not as much rebalancing was needed though, as since CT had three characters (Rachel, Nu-13, and Arakune) who needed balancing out of 12, CS only needed to balance two characters (Bang and Litchi) out of 15 (not including DLC characters). Now in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II (aka. “the balance patch”) the cast is so well balanced that there are almost no characters that stand out from others in terms of how good they are, and I mean this in a “this game is really balanced while still having diverse characters and it’s really fun to play because of that” way and not a “they nerfed everyone into oblivion so now nobody is fun to play” way.

However, in situations like these where every character is viable at a competitive level, the most likely ones to be successful are the popular ones, simply because there are more of them. Of the characters in BBCSII, the most popular one right now seems to be Makoto. Makoto is popular for her fairly safe rushdown style, her mixup abilities, her ability to punish normals, and the fact that she looks like Alvin and the Chipmunks’ wet dream (and believe me, that’s about as SFW as Makoto gets). She also has a good damage output and excellent super meter building skills. So why aren’t I complaining about her? Well, she’s honestly not that unbalanced. It’s not as easy to zone her as it is to zone some other characters but once you do she can’t really do much about it, once you read her mixups you can hit her out of them, and she can’t deal with being pressured as well as other characters in the game without the use of a guess parry. She’s just not as dominant as Yang, Yun, or Phoenix are in their respective games.

Plus, SHE PUNCHES PEOPLE INTO THE FUCKING MOON HOLY SHIT THAT’S AWESOME!

Who I think will win: Makoto players. The most recent major to have BBCS2 as an event had double Makoto grand finals, and I doubt that the results from EVO will be much different.

Who I want to win: Lambda players. Gotta side with my main here. I would also want Mike Z to win  so that he can show our puny American minds some real Soviet damage, but at this point all I want him to do is finish making SkullgirlS.

Mortal Kombat [2011]

If you had told me a year ago that the game I would be most excited to see at EVO was Mortal Kombat, I would have laughed at you and then probably poured my drink out on your head and kicked you in the groin because that’s the kind of asshole I am. Nobody expected MK9 to be even remotely good since the series as a whole has had a history of being about as competitively viable as rock paper scissors, only once in a while paper throws a spear at rock and yells “GET OVER HERE!”. It’s extremely refreshing, then, that the most recent iteration of Mortal Kombat, called MK9 by fighting game fans, is quite possibly even better than SSFIV:AE.

YEAH THAT’S RIGHT I SAID IT.

Well alright, let me explain. MK9 does have input shortkuts like SF4 does, but the way the inputs have worked throughout the series it’s about the same as what you’d expect from a Mortal Kombat game and definitely not as lenient as SFIV. On top of that, the development team has been working very hard with the kommunity to make patch after patch to improve the balance of the game more and more, so characters that were initially overpowered (Kung Lao for example) have been nerfed to a reasonable level. The gameplay is also just plain fun. It has the 2D footsies and zoning of a Street Fighter game with the juggling system of a Tekken game along with bursts from Guilty Gear (though in practice they operate a bit more like Mega Crashes from Tatsunoko vs Capcom).

Ironikally, where the game fails the most is in the single player mode, which is probably the single mode that matters least in a fighting game. The one important single player mode that MK9 fails at the most is the most important one – training mode. Training mode in MK9 is atrociously bad with very few options for the dummy. Being able to rekord the dummy is something that has been in fighting games since the Dreamcast era but MK9 totally botched it up by making the rekord funktion only useful for showing replays of sick kombos and not actually practicing said sick kombos. The story is also a joke, but it’s a fighting game so who gives a shit.

Overall, MK9 is an excellent game and I love it. The only thing that irks the kompetitive player in me is how easy it is to do X-Rays – you literally push two buttons at the same time. This kind of takes away one of the more difficult aspekts of doing kombos into supers in a fighting game – the exekutional barrier. Making it so easy to do X-Rays on reaction kind of takes away the exekutional elements of the game, which I imagine is why many players don’t like the it. Still, I think the game is fantastic and I can’t wait to watch it.

And yes, I am going to spell everything with a hard “C” sound with a “K” while talking about MK. Kan you handle it?

Who I think will win: EMP Tom Brady (and for those of you who don’t know the MK9 scene, this is not the New England Patriots’ quarterback). Tom Brady is to MK what Justin Wong is to MvC. The man is a walking encyklopedia of knowledge on the game and has already won or almost won several majors. However, he’s not invincible and there are a lot of SF players who are picking up the game and doing well, so we’ll see.

Who I want to win: EMP Tom Brady. Not only is he a great player, but he’s also very helpful in fostering the kommunity and helping it grow. He worked with the development team at NetherRealm Studios to balance the game and has a semi-weekly podcast where he answers questions from inquiring minds. He’s really just a great guy all around and he deserves to go home with the MK9 2011 trophy.

EVO 2011 Panels

Yes, for the first time ever, EVO is having panels. I guess they thought that their tournament wasn’t enough like an anime convention.

Panel #1 – Feed the Stream Monsters: A Guide to Broadcast Fighting Games

As a stream monster myself, I find the title of this very offensive. Stream monsters can be very productive contributors to the community. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make fun of Chris Hu’s accent.

Panel #2 – SkullgirlS: A New Age of Heroines

Get it? Because MvC2 was subtitled “A New Age of Heroes”? Yeah, I don’t think it’s clever either. Anyway, SkullgirlS looks amazing but the one thing I want to hear from them more than anything else is a fucking release date.

Panel #3 – Inside the Mind of the Beast: Daigo Umehara Exposed!

I honestly couldn’t care less. I really couldn’t. I think everyone makes too much of a big deal out of Daigo as it is.

Panel #4 – Marvel vs Capcom 3: Past, Present, and Future

This really doesn’t matter since by EVO everyone will already know about the future of MvC3 (or rather UMvC3) because of the SDCC announcements. All we can hope for is character announcements, but really the only character people wanted was Strider and he’s in UMvC3 (but man did they fuck him up – Ouroboros as a level 3 is a sick joke).

Panel #5 – The King of Fighters XIII: Panel and Discussion

I would like to know more about the game so yeah I guess you could say I’m looking forward to this one.

Panel #6 – Street Fighter III: Online Edition, Reinventing a Classic

You know what they could give us that I’d be interested in? A release date. Never mind, they already announced the release date so I have nothing to care about here.

Panel #7 – Namco Bandai: Get Ready For The Next Panel!

I’m not that interested in Soulcalibur V, but I am interested in Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

Panel #8 – New Directions in Street Fighter X Tekken

Another upcoming game I’m excited about. After all this comeback mechanic bullshit with Rage mode in Tekken and Ultras in SF, it’s nice to see a comparatively normal game that doesn’t have any ridiculously centralizing comeback mechanics to upset the bal- WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT!?!

I gotta say, these panels are at the very least very relevant to new fighting game releases. Except for the Daigo interview, I thought that was kinda stupid and unnecessary.

Other EVO Stuff

There’s more?

Balrog: Behind the Glory

Who gives a shit?

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Invitational

I’m definitely looking forward to this. Here’s the list of players I want to see:

  • Pyrolee
  • Rommel
  • Tokido
  • KSK
  • J.R. Rodriguez

I want to see a good amount of character diversity but at the same time I also want to see the best players. It’s a shame Kuroda and MOV aren’t coming, I’d definitely want to see both of them play in this invitational.

East Coast vs West Coast MvC3 5-on-5

So far the teams haven’t been announced, but we do know that the captains for the East Coast and West Coast teams are NerdJosh and Justin Wong respectively. Here are my predictions for what the teams are actually going to be.

West Coast:

  • Justin Wong (Captain)
  • Floe
  • Combofiend
  • Clockw0rk
  • Filipino Champ

Since Justin Wong is the West Coast captain and lives in SoCal, I’m expecting the team to be mostly consisting of SoCal players. However this is not a bad thing because right now SoCal has some of the best players in the game, including the best, Justin Wong, and his teammate, Floe. Clockw0rk and Filipino Champ are also going to be mainstays of the team since they are arguably the two best players of the best character in the game, Phoenix. I would have listed Marn on this team, but since he not only is not the best choice but also hates the game, I thought that Combofiend would be the most likely 5th member of the team.

East Coast:

  • NerdJosh (Captain)
  • Chris G
  • Ry Ry
  • EMP Jago/SmoothViper/EMP Evil Rahsaan/Marlin Pie/Josh Wong/PR Balrog/Noel Brown
  • ^^Another one of them

East Coast I’m less sure about. Obviously NerdJosh would have to be stupid not to pick Chris G and Ry Ry, who are two of the best on the coast. However, the rest of the coast is roughly the same in terms of skill and no one in particular stands out besides them. PR Balrog seems to be a likely choice but I’m not sure if he plays the game anymore. Marlin Pie is extremely talented and he plays C. Viper, a character which few people know how to deal with, but he hasn’t made strong placings in majors. Evil Rahsaan is in a similar predicament, in that he uses Spider-Man, a character who has the tools to deal with Phoenix and Wolverine (thought not much else), but Rahsaan has also made sub-par tournament placings. This leaves Jago, Smooth Viper, Josh Wong, and Noel Brown, all of whom are strong players but also around the same skill level, so it’s kind of hard to guess who will be on the team. Honestly, I think the weakest point of this team in NerdJosh, who has never performed particularly well in tournaments. Josh’s insistence on using Tron instead of, say, anyone else also hurts his team, as a good assist is nothing in MvC3 unless the character can also perform well on point.

Of course it doesn’t particularly matter because I’m also predicting that regardless of who is on the East Coast team, West Coast will win for one reason – Justin Wong. It is not hyperbole to say that Justin is the best MvC3 player in the world and because of this he is the single biggest factor in this 5 on 5. Justin has beaten everyone else I’ve named here in tournament or money matches in this game in the past, East Coast and West Coast. And frankly, because I am so confident that this will be the outcome, I’m not going to bother watching it. I’ll probably watch some MvC2 games instead, like Duc vs Sanford, Neo vs Clockw0rk, or Fanatiq vs Toan.

Wireless Controllers Banned

Is this bullshit? I say yes…to an extent. On one hand, I think that if a player qualified for EVO playing on pad then they should be able to play on a pad at EVO. On the other hand, there are some fairly easy workarounds, which the EVO website even outlines. I don’t play on pad so this wouldn’t affect me, but this is still a problem. Then again, I guess if anyone had a wireless arcade stick they probably wouldn’t be allowed to use that at EVO for the same reasons.

Final Joke

Whenever Gootecks lands a combo I’m going to yell out “THERE YOU GO GOOTECKS!”

Play ’em off, Keyboard CrossCounter!

Join me next week when I talk about The Problem With Game Reviews.