When news of the new Capcom 4 Meg RAM cart first appeared, it sounded very promising. After all, we can potentially get arcade-perfect games now, with no worries about slow-down, etc. Then we saw Capcom’s Marvel Super Heroes attempt with a 1 Meg RAM cart: Decent, but still plagued by ugly slowdown. Doubts started to arise as to how competent Capcom was with RAM cart add-on technology (i.e., SNK seems to have a much better grasp on it as seen in their excellent recent releases (SS4, KOF’96)). But when I finally plugged in the Real Deal, the 4 Meg RAM cart, and started up “X-Men Vs. Street Fighter,” all my worries flew out the window, uh actually they were completely obliterated. Let me tell you right now: Capcom’s “X-Men vs. Street Fighter” is _THE_ MOST VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE 2D Game on any platform Hands Down!! Folks, what Tobal 2 and Dead or Alive was to 3D, “XMVsSF” is to 2D! Witness the most Mind-numbing, no-slowdown, Arcade-perfect Fighting game for the home systems! Capcom Rules!
From the moment you turn on the Saturn, and see the intro, you know it’s “showtime, baby!!” The first thing you’ll notice are the graphics: Huge sprites, just as big as the arcade counterparts, smooth animations (no missing frames), and brain-frying Gorgeous Supers!! And most importantly? NO Slowdown. At all. Whatsoever!!! Even when we picked Juggernaut Vs. Chun-Li, and we had her do her “Kikoshou” Super (you have to see this sprite madness! It fills up the Entire screen!!), there was NO Slowdown! The characters are so smoothly animated and the moves are all straight outta’ the arcade machine! The Backgrounds are easily 3 screens high and _All_ of that is in Memory(!) complete with the ambient animations, and on some stages the ground breaks, and it goes _down_ another 3 screens!! After being blown away by all of that, yet another mind-numbing fact hits home: Capcom has _Four_ characters loaded in at the same time! Complete with all their Supers, regular moves, animations, voices, etc. And that’s on top of the complete backgrounds! I thought VF2 was impressive (the first time I saw it), and Dead or Alive is still impressive as well. But folks, you have to Respect Capcom Japan’s Skills! This IS POWER.
The 4 Meg RAM cart continues to shine, as not only have the graphics become 100% perfect, but there is NO LOADING. Yes, you read that right, NO LOADING anywhere, once the initial game loads!! You can jump right into any mode and pick 4 characters to fight and all you see are the portraits of the fighters you choose, then the panels go up, and then they go down. Sure they are probably ‘loading’ the info as soon as you picked your fighters, but you never see or feel ‘loading’ anywhere! It’s like you _ARE_ playing the Arcade machine at home!! My friends and I are still in shock.
On top of that, the sound and music have improved Dramatically over all of the previous fighting game efforts on the Saturn: All the characters have [gasp!] _Clear_ discernable voices! No more muffled crap that Saturn owners have had to put up with. Clear voices, for All 4 characters per fight! Another cool amazing aspect is that it can play All _4_ of the fighters’ background music! What I mean is, say it’s Chun and Ryu Vs. Cyclops and Wolverine. It starts on Chun’s music; if she dies, then it’ll switch over immediately to Cyclops music; if he dies, it’ll switch immediately to Ryu’s music and so on!! Amazing!
Gameplay: The gameplay is solid and exactly like the arcade counterpart. In terms of arcade exactness, it is perfect. As a game, by itself, the game has the patented “X-Men” engine: It is a lot more loose and floaty compared to classic “Street Fighter” gameplay. First off, you choose 2 fighters per team and they each have their own life bar, but share the Super Bar. You can switch between them at any point in the fight by pressing Fierce Punch and Roundhouse Kick. They’ve added in many new additions such as “Variable Counters” which is a fancier Alpha Counter but this time, your partner jumps in to ‘counter’ the enemy’s attack. The Supers have been simplified for this game (compared to the SF counterparts), and most Supers are done with a simple quarter-circle motion and two punches or kicks. There are Variable Combos where Both Team members jump in and release mind-blowing attacks that can take up huge portions of the screen! And ultimately, as you can probably surmise, this is Not a “serious fighter.” By “serious” I mean Tournament style, hard-core VF or SF style fights that require strategy. I’m know there are hard-core XMVs.SF players who live by this game alone, and that’s great, but this is a fighting game where 30-40 hit combos are common. But this isn’t Killer Instinct crap, but more that a regular ‘Super move’ just hits for 10+ hits, versus the standard 3-4 hits in a regular SF game (the damage is the same, just more ‘visual wow’). But where the game fails the most (or is the most fun depending on who you talk to), is with “Aerial Raves,” (basically Air Juggles): Ah, yes, the cheese flies high as you can start a ground combo and pop up your opponent into the air, then proceed to air juggle him for X number of hits, and on top of that you can end it with a Super or continue ground combo-ing the poor victim! Hm… Oh well. But, despite that fact, it is just a visually stunning “Fun fighter.” The “Fun fighters” fall into the category of ‘you can play with your buddies all night long and just mess around without worrying about the perfect combo or winning.’ And this is one game that is probably just as fun watching as it is playing. Lastly, did I mention that this game is Fast?! There are effectively _Eight_ Speed settings (4 Stars of Turbo in Options, and a “Regular” or “Turbo” choice for each Star). I played this game on just _1_ star with “Regular” (i.e., the slowest setting), and it is smooth and fast! It plays just a touch slower than Alpha 2 on turbo! Wow! 2 Stars is perfect fun, and 3 stars is just madness! All with no slowdown.
Ultimately this is Arcade Perfection. Whether you are a Street Fighter fan or not, or whether you are a fighting game fan or not, you owe it to yourself to check out the most Visually Stunning 2D game to have ever been released! Witness the graphical madness ASAP! The bottom line is that the technology (4 Meg RAM cart) is REAL, and this is Capcom’s first attempt on it! Although Saturn may have its days numbered in the US, import game players are gonna be living it up for a long, long time. Check Capcom’s newfound 4 Meg RAM Power for the next few months (we Saturn owners are gonna be blessed with): “Dungeons and Dragons Collection (both Tower of Doom and Shadows over Mystara),” “Marvel Super Heroes Vs. Street Fighter,” and the Bomb, “Darkstalkers 3: Jedah’s Damnation”!! This is true POWER that all non-Saturn owners wish they could have! We can only hope that SNK, Treasure, and all future developers will utilize this (in Japan at least); imagine a “Guardian Heroes 2” with 4-Meg RAM!! Madness!! The possibilities are endless and this is just the beginning for Saturn owners!
Final Scores (out of a perfect 10):
+ Arcade Perfect Graphics.
+ Arcade Perfect Animations – Smooth, clean, awesome!
+ Arcade Perfect Backgrounds – all the animations are in there as well.
+ Gorgeous Sprite Effects – with Supers that fill the screen.
+ Uh, did I mention 100% Awe-inducing Graphics that will destroy your perception of all that was “cool”?!
+ NOTHING Bad.
+ Crisp, clean voice samples for the fighters (supers, taunts), finally!
+ Excellent fighting game tunes. Solid and complimentary.
– No remix music option.
+ Arcade Perfect gameplay.
+ NO SLOWDOWN! Ever.
+ NO LOADING between fights, ever!
+ Awesome, smooth gameplay, via 8 different speed settings!
+ Wacky, Fun.
– Cheesy air juggle combos (Aerial Raves)
Thanks for your time, please feel free to e-mail me with your questions and comments.