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FULL TILT: Capcom's X-Men vs. Street Fighter at 20

Contributed by
Jun 11, 2018

Welcome back to Full Tilt, SYFY WIRE's 21-joystick salute to influential, fan-fav video games hitting their 20th anniversaries in 2018. Throughout the calendar year we'll be plugging in and peeling back the cover on how and why these electronic amusements ascended into Gamer Heaven.

Jurassic Park isn't the only pop culture icon celebrating a landmark birthday today, as 20 years ago Capcom rang the bell for their fierce mashup fighting release for the PS1 adapted from their arcade classic, X-Men vs. Street Fighter.

Capcom, most notable for their Resident Evil franchise, has scored considerable success with these alt-universe battle royale video games, recently with their mega-mauling fantasia, Capcom vs. Marvel: Infinite.

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X-Men vs. Street Fighter was the gaming factory's first entry in their Marvel vs Capcom series that continues to this day. It's a fun, 2D fighting game based on the original 1996 coin-operated arcade machine, where players control a selection of characters from across Capcom's blockbuster Street Fighter series and Marvel's mutant superheroes and villains to engage in single-round, one-on-one combat, and tag-team tournaments.

Though the better Sega Saturn version had debuted a year earlier, complete with tag-team battles, the widely-released Sony Playstation edition that dropped on June 11,1998 eliminated the group competitions and was limited to Arcade, Versus, Training, and Survival modes. In all, 17 different playable characters were up to the task, mostly culled from earlier Capcom games, X-Men: Children of the Atom and Street Fighter: Alpha.

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For the X-Men world, the mutants seeking showtime in the arena included Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, Juggernaut, Magneto, Rogue, Sabretooth, and Storm. Street Fighter's participants were limited to Akuma, Ryu, Zangief, Cammy White, Charlie Nash, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Ken Masters, and M. Bison.

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The simple storyline involved several recent disappearances among Mutants and Street Fighters. In order to investigate these severe matters, crossover teams composed of punch-happy protagonists have formed to stop the vanishings, but internal fighting still rages on. All mysteries aside, the real allure of this late-'90s slugfest was pairing and picking your combatants out of the deep well of X-Men characters and Street Fighter stars and nicely replicating the arcade experience.

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Reception to the game elicited mixed reviews, as these first generation Playstation games had several issues with slowdown during frenetic fighting sequences, long load times, and poor frame-rate due to its limited CPU capabilities and inability to add external RAM. The poor Playstation's paltry 2 MB of onboard RAM, laughable by today's platform standards, was already straining to keep up with bigger games needing more room to roam in the fourth year of its evolution. By the time Sony launched the Playstation 2 two years later, the memory was quadrupled to 8MB.

However, X-Men vs. Street Fighter was a solid seller for Sony's flagship gaming device and many a long afternoon was spent slugging it out with high-flying Hurricane Kicks, Super Fireballs, and Siberian Bear Crushers.

What are your memories of Capcom's X-Men vs. Street Fighter on its 20th anniversary? Do you believe it deserves to be remembered as a pioneering title helping to spawn today's crossover crazed market?