Capcom made the 3DS sing with Super Street Fighter IV by bringing everything that made the console version great onto the small screen with few sacrifices, and they’ve done an even better job with UMvC3 on the Vita. Everything from the console version is intact, from the new characters to DLC (which is free if you’ve already bought it on the PS3), and the Vita version features some exclusive features that make it worthwhile even for owners of the console version.
There are optional touch screen controls that are implemented perfectly. I knew they’d be optional, but I didn’t think they would be optional AND still allow you to use the regular controls at the same time. It’s a great way to use either the front or back panel, and allows you to mix things up in combat. The touch controls are like the simplistic ones in the sense that they turn pretty much every fight into a flashy special move-fest, which is great for quick plays of the game, to show it off for friends, or for a come from behind victory. They’re very responsive, and wind up feeling like more than just a gimmick since they do add some strategy to the game.
The regular controls are simply amazing, and a large part of that is due to the Vita’s spectacular d-pad. Sony’s always made solid d-pads, but never really an amazing one - they get the job done, but don’t wow you. The Vita features their best d-pad yet and the best one I’ve used on new hardware in a long time. It’s like a bigger version of the SNES d-pad, just with the Sony-style arrows etched into it. It’s incredibly easy to do quarter and half-circle motions on it, and is quite comfortable to use for long periods of time. I preferred controlling the game with the Vita over the PS3 pad, which means that being able to play the PS3 version of MvC3 with the Vita is a joy to do.
The regular 3-on-3 fighting is as fun here as it was on consoles, but is a bit more impressive visually due to the Vita’s sharp screen and the sight of seeing a whole bunch of crazy stuff happening on a five-inch screen with no slowdown. The post-release console DLC Heroes and Heralds is available as free DLC as well. It combines the traditional fighting game with a card battle game. It allows you to play as either a set of heroes out to save the world, or their metallic dopplegangers out to destroy it across seven stages with seven battles per stage for each side. You start off with a basic deck that doesn’t help much, but the more you win, the more cards you earn, and the more decks you can craft.
This mode reminded me a lot of the two Capcom vs. SNK games for the NGPC, with one as a fighter and the other as a card game, merged together and given away as a bonus mode instead of sold as separate games. If you’re not big into card games, don’t worry - the mode is mostly a fighting game with a card element to mix things up, but it has enough depth to it between the roster of cards and fighters to give fans of that genre a lot of replay value, especially since you can play it both off and online. Online plays works the same as it did on consoles, and is largely lag-free.
Visually, nothing has been lost in the transition from the console versions. Even the backgrounds, which were sacrificed a bit in the 3DS SSFIV port, are completely intact here. The animation is just as smooth, and Galactus’s screen-filling stature is even more impressive on the small screen. The music is as fun to listen to on the Vita, but with headphones on, the sound effects really pop, and make the action seem even more crazy.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an impressive showcase for the Vita. Its sharp colors pop off the screen, and it controls better than ever thanks to the system’s d-pad. If you love the game, or the series in general, this is a must-buy and delivers the goods in every way. However, if you’ve already got a console version, you might want to wait for a price drop since this is presently priced the same and can‘t be played on the big screen.
This review is based on a retail copy of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the PlayStation Vita provided by Capcom