Marvel vs Capcom: a history of the Vs fighting series

After 11 years of anticipation, speculation and plain ol’ hoping against hope, Marvel vs Capcom 3 is finally a reality. We’re now just a few days away from its worldwide release, so naturally interest in this long-awaited sequel is at its peak. Capcom’s got a strong new roster of characters, and Marvel is arguably more popular now than it’s ever been, so the time is perfect for a new entry in the long-lasting Vs series.

Above: A licensing nightmare finally realized

But where did it all start? No, not with Marvel vs Capcom 1; the Vs series dates all the way back to the arcade glory days of 1994-1996, when words like CPS2 and Q-Sound were on the tips of everyone’s tongue. Join us as Capcom’s own Seth Killian hosts our journey through fighting history, beginning with X-Men: Children of the Atom.



The beginning

As Seth points out in the video, many of the fundamentals of the Vs series begin with Children of the Atom. You’ve got aerial combos, big open playfields, super jumps, hyper combos and, most obviously, all the meticulously animated sprites that would be used for the next six years.

That led into 1995’s Marvel Super Heroes, which expanded the cast beyond the X-Men, adding heavy hitters like Spider Man, Captain America and Dr Doom. Its notable exclusive feature is the Infinity Gauntlet and its gems (Space, Time, Reality, Power, Soul and Mind), which you can activate during a match for various effects. These two titles performed well, and Street Fighter was still doing big business, so that naturally led to…


X-Men vs Street Fighter

Company crossovers are commonplace today, but the very idea of X-Men and Street Fighter mixing it up in a game, in 1996, was on par with Roger Rabbit’s Disney/Warner Bros team up. Here are two unrelated properties you know and love, interacting with each other in ways that are usually reserved for fan fiction or “Who would win in a fight between...” forums. Sure it doesn’t make the most sense (how could Ryu ACTUALLY beat Magneto?) but it was damn fun and irresistible to watch.

Above: May I also say the art is fantastic?

Above: The roster was a mix of Children of the Atom and Street Fighter Alpha 2, plus Rogue, Sabretooth, Gambit, and the first “Shadaloo” Cammy costume

The big addition was tag-team play, which had you pick two characters instead of the usual one. At any point you could call your other fighter into the match, allowing the other to regenerate small amounts of health. More importantly, the tagging added another layer of combo opportunities, where you could start a combo, then tag the other fighter to finish it off. The ultimate culmination would always be a team combo, which has gone on to become the hallmark of the Vs series – a huge, screen-filling attack that racks up hits and shreds your eyeballs.

Above: XvSF also had a lot of small comic book touches that future games would lose – notice the panels in the background

Above: And then the Game Over screen has even more comic/game mashups

When it came time to bring XvSF home, the only options were Sega Saturn and the original PlayStation. Saturn was already flailing in the US, so we never saw an official release – however, you could import the Japanese version, and with an Action Replay attachment, enjoy an arcade-perfect conversion. The PS1 version, on the other hand, came to the US but suffered severe cuts to deal with the limited tech. As in, no tagging characters in and out, which was kinda the whole point of the game. Naturally this led most serious players to favor the imported Saturn version, which remains a blast to this day.

Speaking of XvSF’s longevity, Seth also had this to say concerning the game’s competitive legacy:

“X-Men vs Street Fighter has been a long-term favorite for me. It’s really survived on the competitive scene, which is bizarre because it’s known for being broken in many ways. It’s filled with infinite and devastating combos, but it’s still played every year at EVO. There’s a hardcore group of people who stick with it, they have their own championships, and you’ll still see some of the top names in Vs play competing in this game. It’s close to everybody’s heart, it’s where they got their start, and it’s really got a lot of the same mechanics that make the series fun today”

Next page: The Vs series expands to include more than just the X-Men and Street Fighter, plus adds even more ways to slap your opponent around


  • Randomwordcombination - April 2, 2011 4:12 p.m.

    Great video! Just a heads up, is that Brett's personal GamerTag at about six minutes in? You guys may want to blur that out or something. Side note: Seth looks like Nick Kroll.
  • GillaMobstaYBD - February 18, 2011 5:36 a.m.

    I love all these games i still play marvel superheroes vs. street fighter and MvC2 at the arcade.
  • Killshot - February 16, 2011 12:20 a.m.

    Well if seth came for the article why not stay for a podcast or two
  • seabassuk - February 14, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    "56 playable characters. And to think it’ll all whittle down to Magneto, Storm, Psylocke and Sentinel" Replace Psylocke with Cable.
  • Snailboy - February 14, 2011 2:33 a.m.

    i played Street Fighter for the first time twenty year ago
  • carlosflores - February 14, 2011 2:09 a.m.

    We Need Elektra and Dr.Strange in this Game and the Iconic Marvel Heroes would be Complete....
  • AlpineGuy - February 14, 2011 12:41 a.m.

    Sweet, I love it when Seth Killian drops his usual history bombs. Anyway, love the video, love the article, and CAN'T WAIT FOR MVC3 WOOOOOOO!
  • Fraught - February 13, 2011 8:22 p.m.

    Even though I haven't really bought or really played any fighting games for a year or two, reading this and how great MvC 2 was (which it was) really makes me want to buy and play MvC 3.
  • sonicspear64 - February 13, 2011 6:11 p.m.

    Just so you guys know, while the Versus games might include series like MvC, TvC, and CvS, they are NOT that similar to each other. The Marvel VS series is different from the Capcom vs SNK series, which is different from Tatsunoko vs Capcom. Mentioning the other versus games would've been superfluous.
  • CoppertopJohnson - February 13, 2011 12:59 p.m.

    Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter was what got me into fighting games, especially the Street Fighter series. I only ever played as Marvel characters, though.
  • Kicksville - February 13, 2011 5:30 a.m.

    It's fair enough not to include the SNK games, since they really are a different animal. Including TvC would've made sense, though, especially since not only was it a direct successor to the Marvel Vs series mechanics, many of its ideas and dynamics carry directly over into Marvel vs Capcom 3 (not to mention characters introduced there first - Zero, Viewtiful Joe). It's quite possible MvC3 would play differently if there wasn't a TvC first. The only thing holding it back is that it's "Tatsunoko" and not "Marvel". Which, well, I guess is fine, and this is still a great article/video for beginners. Still, it would've been nice for it to get at least a passing mention since it does very much figure into this series' legacy.
  • Junpeihermes - February 13, 2011 2:51 a.m.

    Great Article
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - February 13, 2011 2:28 a.m.

    @gojiguyar It's not an article to "advertise" MvC3, as we're certainly not seeing any money from this. So that's hardly a fair assessment. I figured putting "Marvel vs Capcom" in the headline would make it clear we're not going to go into CVS or TvC, but apparently not. CVS and TvC are completely different games with different developments, different rosters and different mechanics. Being good at one doesn't instantly translate to another, there are nuances to each. Meanwhile, each of the Marvel Vs games is a direct continuation and expansion on the previous one, and make sense to collect into a retrospective on the eve of the next big release. I get these are all technically part of the "Vs" series. I probably should've picked a different headline to make the distinction clear, but really, is that your big sticking point? Screw the video and the rest of the article because it didn't go into a sub-series you like? If the headlines changed to "A history of Marvel vs Capcom," is it all suddenly OK?
  • Crabhand - February 12, 2011 10:53 p.m.

    Wow, a lot of people are being dicks about an article that probably had a lot of work put into it. For shame. I really liked the video, it tied in a very well with the written article.
  • gojiguyar - February 12, 2011 10:44 p.m.

    @Brett The title is history of the Vs. Series not the "MARVEL vs series"- and TvC has been strong for two years (though the longevity of the title is irrelavent- and at this points its one of the most popular vs games). Your logic is false and retarded. Just admit its an "article" to advertise MvC3.
  • gojiguyar - February 12, 2011 10:33 p.m.

    Where is Tatsunoko vs Capcom? It's every bit a part of the Vs. series as any of these other games (and one of the most important).
  • skinlessmessiah - February 12, 2011 10:01 p.m.

    What about Capcom vs Snk!?!?
  • kluivertus - February 12, 2011 9:25 p.m.

    Another reason why Marvel vs Street Fighter is never mentioned? It's really not that good. All of my friends and I remember the original X Men as handling a lot better than Marvel, and when they converted over the same sprites for MvSF, they kept the really loose handling (Captain America especially is hard to handle for some reason)
  • Deutero - February 12, 2011 8:09 p.m.

    maddeningly great stuff. big fan of the article and seth killian in general
  • NightCrawler_358 - February 12, 2011 6:20 p.m.

    This has to be one of the best articles I've read on GR! Amazing work, I also really liked the video. Can't wait for Tuesday!

Showing 1-20 of 44 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000