The fighting-game scene has been undergoing a resurgence in Singapore since the debut of Street Fighter IV in arcades in 2008. This year, with Marvel vs. Capcom 3 out, a number of the fighting game community who used to make their constant rounds in the arcades are now content with taking the colorful fight online or within the same room with other like-minded individuals.
Enter two groups based in Singapore: Round1.sg and Project Rampage. The former is a community forum that talks about fighting games and nothing but, while the latter helps organize tournaments that in turn make sure local top players have a shot at international events like Evolution 2011 and Super Battle Opera. GameSpot Asia now chats with Project Rampage's Jon "Jonda" Lim, Marq "SBK" Chionh, and Yeo "Rchan" JK, specifically on the current hit fighting game that will take you for a ride.
GameSpot Asia: Tell us more about Project Rampage.
Jonda: Project Rampage was created because I was contacted to arrange the Super Street Fighter IV event at last year's Singapore GameFest. After making the necessary arrangements for the tournament, we needed an identity and fast. We smacked the word "Project Rampage" out within two days.
SBK: To put it bluntly, Project Rampage was spawned from Round1.sg. While we are a separate entity, both groups operate under the same ideals and work hand-in-hand in getting the scene thriving.
Jonda: However, while Round1.sg focuses on just the community, Project Rampage creates the tournaments that guarantee players international standing. If a player participates and performs well in one of these tournaments, he or she will be considered in the running to participate in the next international tournament like Evolution (in the US) and Super Battle Opera (in Japan).
GSA: Let's get to Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Which characters do you pick for your main team?
Jonda: I started out with M.O.D.O.K, Arthur, and Sentinel when I first started. If you've seen the online tournaments overseas, it's safe to say that every team needs a Sentinel. I came in and played defensive while experimenting with the game. I realized that my defensive play style and character selection isn't suited for a rush-heavy game like MVC3; if one of my characters die, the two others can't pick up the slack by turtling.
Nowadays, I play the game using Tron Bonne, Trish, and Sentinel for online play, while using Tron, Arthur, and Sentinel for an actual tournament. I feel that this is a good balance of rushdown and defensive play.
SBK: I used to play with Hulk, but now my team consists of C. Viper, Hsien Ko, and Chun-Li. I was just experimenting with these three, but after that phase, I started to see the potential in all these characters. A lot of my friends did state that my team is weird, since it is a recommendation to put in a "tank" like Hulk or Sentinel. At the same time, gamers who were brought up with Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will have the mindset that the Marvel characters are better.
Personally, the Capcom side seems more powerful. Viper, Hsien Ko, and Chun Li complement each other while leaning towards a rushdown play style. While Hsien Ko seems like the slowest, she has a lot of mix-ups that start off with her Senpuu Bu attack and a lot of uses from her Rimoukon hyper combo. It also helps that Hsien Ko can reflect projectiles, which is a boon in a game like this.
Rchan: I started off with my past team from Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in 2006: Magneto, Storm, and Sentinel. I've been playing the franchise for so long, so it doesn't hurt to stick with the mainstay characters. Maybe it's because I was inspired by a recent match between American players Nelson Reyes and Sanford Kelly. I believe Sanford Kelly was using the Magneto, Storm, and Sentinel team.
Just to change up my game, however, I decided to leave Sentinel and Magneto in and switch Storm with Taskmaster. He has a good mix of turtling (bow master and shield master) and rushdown (via his spidey swing command attack and sword master follow-ups) if coupled with Sentinel's drone assist. Then again, Sentinel's drone assist complements every character in the game.
GSA: Any tips for beginners wishing to start MVC3, especially for players who play a lot of Street Fighter IV?
SBK: The toughest part for me was integrating assists, since I've only played MVC2 briefly. The only way to do it is basically practice. Know when to bring them in, as well as restrain from spamming them unnecessarily. Getting familiar with the extra inputs for assists is just a matter of training muscle memory.
Rchan: Assists definitely make or break a match. When I use Magneto, it's really hard to get into an opponent's defenses without using Sentinel's drone assist.
Jonda: One thing you will notice when fighting someone fresh to the game is that they'll just rely on their point character. They don't throw out the assists to provide cover or even give opponents extra blockstun for you to get in. In other words, don't adopt this play style.
GSA: How is the game's accessibility when compared to its prequel, Marvel vs. Capcom 2?
SBK: It's definitely easier to learn, since the controls have a more streamlined layout, and it helps that the inputs themselves are pretty loose. When I did the Mission mode, I had trouble landing the air combos because I approached it in a timely fashion a la Super Street Fighter IV. But then, I realize that after I launch an opponent up in the air, mashing seems to work better.
Jonda: In MVC3, your hands never stop moving.
Rchan: In SSFIV, players can incorporate footsies, zoning, and take your time in baiting your opponent. In MVC3 however, you bait your opponent in a different manner. You have to rush him down, make him guess, and beat his attacks.
Jonda: There is no such thing as a reversal in MVC3. The only way you can get an offense-happy person off of you is to use advancing guard (or push block) and then call down your assists. Baiting comes into play when you anticipate your opponent push blocking and make him whiff an attack instead. Compared to SSFIV, players are rewarded for being overly aggressive than usual.
GSA: We've heard from the grapevine that the game has a number of balancing issues. What are your thoughts about that?
Rchan: Infinite combos are fine, because they're really hard to pull off in a tournament setting.
Jonda: I discussed this with Rchan the other day, and we came to one conclusion: X-Factor is definitely broken. Not only does a character with X-Factor activated deal double damage, but also has a slight speed increase, does not receive chip damage, and can regenerate the red portion of their health. It's too strong a comeback tool, especially if you have a tank character as your last remaining character.
Rchan: It's even worse when X-Factor is used on high-hit-point characters like Sentinel and Hulk. They can do a few attacks, run away, and jump high so that their life regenerates, and then go back in again.
Jonda: In one match, my Sentinel who was at about 40 percent life died from a random Dante who pulled off a million dollars hyper combo, then canceled to X-Factor, and then pulled off another million dollars. Speaking of which, I should also point out that a majority of hyper combos in the game are unpunishable.
Rchan: A local BlazBlue player by the name of Ming discovered this trick with Morrigan: activate the hyper combo astral vision, which creates an illusion of her behind the opponent. Then activate X-Factor and just keep shooting soul fists. This will make your opponent confused as to where to block as well as make him eat a lot of chip damage.
GSA: Are there any imbalances you found in the roster?
Jonda: Sentinel is definitely not broken. Much like Sagat in vanilla Street Fighter IV, he's easy to dominate with, but he isn't totally overpowered. While he's strong, he's big-sized, has obvious mix-up patterns, and is prone to rushdown from other smaller and speedier characters (like Wolverine).
Personally, Wesker and Dante are potentially broken characters. Wesker's phantom dance hyper combo can cross-up halfway and can catch people unaware. His samurai edge command attacks can be abused easily and combos to his phantom move.
Rchan: I should add that phantom move is an incredibly ambiguous teleport move where the incoming attack is nigh-unblockable. He appears behind you, and somehow the attack hits in front of you.
Jonda: The thing about Dante is that he has a lot of moves.
SBK: But what sets him apart from the rest of the speedier rushdown characters is his bold cancelling, which I personally find to be very scrub friendly. Dante's bold cancelling is where you press ATK+S to cancel out of certain moves (primarily for stinger, which is forward +H) to cancel to other special moves. Taking into consideration stinger's huge hitbox and calling in an assist, and you can see how much of a game-changer this technique is. Once a player knows bold cancelling, he can mash ahead offensively with little reprisal.
Rchan: Dante's jam session is reminiscent of Captain Commando's Captain Corridor assist back in MVC2: a useful and incredibly quick move that hits out of nowhere if you're not paying attention.
Jonda: While Dante is pretty scrub-friendly as SBK pointed out, Wesker is slightly harder to pick up since players need to know each property of his different phantom move inputs. It even forces some players to be creative with him in terms of his mix-up tools and moves that link to his phantom dance hyper combo.
SBK: I'd say that the easiest team for someone to pick up and win online is Dante on point, Sentinel as the last, and probably Ryu in the middle. Ryu's tatsumaki senpukyaku's active frames last forever until he lands. Not only is it a good attack on its own, but it also can set up with other assists, especially with Chris' grenade toss assist. Follow that up with Ryu's jodan sokuto geri, and you can go straight for his shinku hadoken.
GSA: Let's move on with the community. How's the fanfare for the game like?
Jonda: It's definitely growing. The people who play MVC3 are all the people from the various fighting-game communities. People who play games like Melty Blood, BlazBlue, Street Fighter, KOF, even the old Guilty Gear players: all of them want a piece of the MVC3 action.
SBK: MVC3's popularity may be big now, but the numbers will dwindle to a point where the core community for the game are just nobody else but tournament-level players, if MVC2 is of any indication. I'll give it half a year before that happens.
Rchan: I guess part of the boom is the roster itself: some people just want to jump in and play as X-Men characters, while others just want to make a team out of Capcom alumni.
Jonda: I feel that its appeal is because it incorporates a lot of other elements from other fighters. If you ask a BlazBlue player why he doesn't play Street Fighter IV, he replies by stating that the game doesn't have air dashes and Super Jumps. MVC3 pretty much has everything to cater for these players, from easy-to-pull-off combos to even complementing both offensive and turtling styles. Even King of Fighters players who adored the Strikers mechanic will love the assists in MVC3.
I also read somewhere that the developers may have taken the idea of hit stun reduction from BlazBlue and incorporated it into Marvel vs. Capcom 3. While pulling off infinite combos was easy in a 1996 game like X-Men vs. Street Fighter, the inputs get gradually tighter even if you're doing the simplest of combos in MVC3 if your combo spans 30 hits and beyond.
More so, a sporting tournament player would applaud your success if you somehow pull off a 100 percent combo on him.
GSA: Finally, what are Project Rampage's future plans to boost the MVC3 scene?
Jonda: We're starting out slow in this regard. We personally feel that we need to get even better at the game, then we can run MVC3 clinics (either on a set location or online). We can explain people about the game, what's appealing about it, show them basic hints and tips with our characters.
Hopefully, that can spark the interest within the gaming community who would be motivated to explore the game further. I'd reckon that we'll be holding a local tournament around May or June.