X-Men vs Street Fighter EX
When X-Men vs Street Fighter was released for the arcade, it collected much acclaim due to the novelty of pitting Marvel Comics X-Men characters against the now-famous Street Fighter characters. But it also introduced the innovative tag-team mode, where you could switch between two players during the heat of battle. Players were lifted from various previous games by Capcom. On the X-Men side, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Juggernaut, and Magneto returned from "X-Men:Children of the Atom", while Sabertooth, Rogue, and Gambit were all-new players. Street Fighter characters were lifted from the Street Fighter Alpha series, including Akuma, Ryu, Ken, Charlie, Dhalsim, Zangief, Cammy, and Chun-Li. All of these players could be arranged in teams of two at the player select screen, and all featured pumped-up moves, 2-screen high super jumps, insane 50-hit combos, and powerful double-team supers that activated both characters super moves at once. The arcade game was highly successful, and so Capcom planned to release this huge game on home system.
So now, after a long waiting period, we finally have X-Men vs Street Fighter for Playstation, renamed X-Men vs Street Fighter EX for home system. Playstation owners can count themselves lucky that Capcom even attempted to make this game available at all due to the massive amount of memory needed and the rather limited RAM of the Playstation itself. Needless to say, many corners were cut to fit this game onto home system. Character animation frames were chopped out, backgrounds were slightly modified, and the tag team feature that made the arcade game so beloved was taken out, much to the dismay of hard-core gaming fans. When these removals were announced, many players had already blacklisted the game in their minds, refusing to enjoy anything that deviated from the arcade game. So after all the tag-team mode mourning and outcries about chopped animation, how did the game turn out? Let's see...
The graphics themselves are beautiful to look at. Capcom did a faithful job of reproducing the huge stages and comic-book colors of the arcade, even down to the breakaway floors, and the eerie final battle against Apocalypse. The jungle scene is especially nice due to overlapping vines and a wide range of colors. In fact, there isn't a bad background in the game. Marvel Superheroes had very basic backgrounds that did the job, but all the scenes in X-Men vs Street Fighter EX are just great. Awesome looking manga-style character drawings highlight the select screens, showing off each character in colorful graphics.
As for the character animation itself, many animation frames have been removed due to the Playstation's limited memory. For those who have played Marvel Superheroes, the frame rate of X-Men vs Street Fighter EX is just a little more choppy, but not much. Probably the smoothest moving characters are Wolverine, Ken, Ryu, Akuma, and Dhalsim, who all retain a good frame rate due to their smaller size. Zangief and Sabertooth are a little more chopped than others, but their frame rate is still good (Zangief's frame rate is the same as in Street Fighter Alpha). Juggernaut is the largest character, but he has the same animation used in Marvel Superheroes, plus a few extra frames for falling and grabbing. Not arcade perfect, but not bad.
The sound is quite good as well. While Marvel Superheroes featured bland techno tracks, X-Men vs Street Fighter EX has some nice, instrumental versions of previous Street Fighter themes, as well as some musical variety, like the swing music playing in the Manhattan police stage. The voices are good and clear, and at times rather humorous. The completely over-the-top announcer fits the spirit of the game, and player comments are amusing (especially Rogue). The music and sound effects can be adjusted in the options menu. Pretty nice stuff here.
It's a Capcom game...what more can you say? Even those who don't like the game must admit that the control is perfect, simple, easy to learn, and yet still challenging. This is a game that one can just dive into, unlike Tekken, since so many moves are performed in a similar fashion.
The execution of X-Men vs Street Fighter EX may not be the same as the arcade, but it's the next best thing. The tag team mode has been modified to some extent. For instance, if you choose Rogue as your first player, and Gambit as your second, you will not play as Gambit. Rogue will be your main player, but you can call Gambit onto the screen to perform double-team super moves and team counters. The team counters are rather uneven and somewhat useless (you block an opponents move, and your second character jumps out slowly to inflict minor damage) but the double-team super attacks are still intact and just as crazy as they were in the arcade. In fact, not being able to use your second character as a second player forces you to think more about your strategies, and actually adds more depth to the game. Even with all the on-screen pyrotechnics, there is very little slowdown during double-team moves. In fact, there is little slowdown at all during the game, and the bit that is there just isn't that noticeable. Juggernaut vs Apocalypse is probably the slowest match, due to the massive characters, but itıs still standable. In fact, the most consistently slowdown-causing character is Magneto, due to the extra animation added to his flowing cape.
As for the speed of the game, it plays blisteringly fast on four turbo stars (adjustable in the option menu) and seems to play almost twice as fast as Marvel Superheroes did on full speed. As for difficulty, it's adjustable, and on the highest settings it's reasonably difficult (harder than Marvel Superheroes highest difficulty level, anyway). Still, it leans more toward the easy side on one player mode, making two player mode the real kicker. Loading time is about the same as Marvel Superheroes, running from ten to fourteen seconds. A shortcut mode on the option menu allows a shortened loading time.
As for the added Playstation bonus features, you get a training mode, a survival mode, and codes to play Akuma and Apocalypse (Apocalypse only in vs mode). Training mode is quite useful, since you can experiment with various double-team supers to find the right backup character to use with your main player, and it's cheap, but fun to play as the gigantic Apocalypse against a buddy in vs mode. The only truly disappointing thing about the home version is the lousy instruction manual, which only tells two moves per character. Still, experimenting or using the arcade moves from old magazines will give you all the moves.
Given the constraints of memory on the Playstation, X-Men vs Street Fighter EX is not too shabby. There is NO WAY that Capcom could have possibly put this game on Playstation intact, and the features they removed were fun, like the tag-team mode, but that was only one feature of the game. The main fun of X-Men vs Street Fighter EX is having the X-Men fight the Street Fighters, accompanied by crazy double-team combos, blazing speed, great backgrounds and sound, dead-on control and gameplay, and classic characters from two universes. For anyone who loves both Marvel comics and the Street Fighter video games, this is a decent and very fun game on itıs own merits. Arcade purists should probably stay far away from this one, but anyone with an open mind and a sense of fun will enjoy it.