It’s déjà vu all over again

It was one of last year’s premiere fighting games and it is a franchise that arcade fighting fans absolutely can’t get enough of. So, much in the same vein of how the Nintendo 3DS had Super Street Fighter IV at their handheld system launch, Sony wanted to make sure they had a premiere fighting game to go along with their handheld on launch day as well.

That game, of course, is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. But with a game already heralded as a superior fighting product that gave fans everything they wanted and then some, what could they possibly do with their port to the PS Vita? Nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true, but relatively speaking Capcom did very little with this latest version of the game that makes it stand out from its console brethren.

And this can be a good thing because why mess with something if isn’t broken? The game still has stunning visuals due to Vita’s processing power and the full 48-character roster of fighters remains completely in tact. The arcade, training, mission, and versus modes all return as nothing content wise was cut to facilitate the small size of the Vita’s cartridge. The voice acting and original music is still all there, the story cut scenes done in a style similar to comic book panels, the hyper combos, Galactus as the final boss, and even personalizing your online card is still present. All of the patches and balancing tweaks that console players had to wait for are all packaged in the game and because of it you still get one of the premiere fighting experiences of 2011 available to you.

The problem is that now it is 2012. And most people who were going to buy this game already have. And the major negative of making little to no changes with the game is now evident. If the audience has already been tapped, who is going to buy the exact same game twice?

Sure, it’s portable now and you can link up with friends to get in some quick versus matches. That’s a cool feature, but again, most people won’t have need of it really if they already bought the game unless they are so hardcore that this game is the center of their entire gaming universe and must have it with them AT ALL TIMES. But for the rest of us, what might sell us on this? Will a new touch screen system make us want to pick this game up? No. Especially since the touch screen is mostly pointless as it is crucial to actually see the screen when playing a fighting game to learn hit boxes, range, patterns, and other critical elements to victory and so you can’t have your fingers constantly getting in the way of that.

And speaking of fingers, it does become a bit harder to pull off a lot of the moves you’re accustomed to with the smaller joystick and buttons of the Vita. And the one thing the Vita version of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 does lack isn’t a shortcoming with the game itself, but with the hardware as you only have two shoulder buttons to try to pull off moves that were originally mapped to four. This can lead to some unnecessary button mashing that changes the game play for the worse.

But, aside from that, if you should pick this game up again, you’ll get everything you would expect from the console version. And if you missed it the first time around on a console, then picking it up for the Vita will definitely be money well-spent. There just isn’t enough of a positive difference though between the console and Vita versions to warrant owning both in most cases.

SUMMARY: Still a stellar fighting game, but if you already have it on a console, there’s no point in picking it up again.

  • THE GOOD: Basically the same game as on consoles
  • THE BAD: Pointless touch controls, lack of shoulder buttons sacrifices move list
  • THE UGLY: Tiny buttons and joysticks make button mashing more difficult

SCORE: 8.0

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PS VITA. This review was based on the PS VITA version of the game.