Avengers Vs. X-Men Is A Mugen Game That Raises The Bar
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Avengers vs. X-Men is the second full game release by the Project X team. Following the success of the game X-Men: Second Coming, the Project X group began work on it’s successor. In In August 2012 the team decided to focus on the current Marvel story arch titled Avengers vs. X-Men. The project has been in development ever since. In the game play mechanics there has been an emphasis placed on what has come to be called “combo extenders” or “pick ups”. This game makes heavy use of wall bounce, ground bounce and off-the-ground mechanics in order to increase the usefulness of character moves and to give more satisfaction to those who develop their skills in the game play. The game was released on March 18, 2013.

Much like how Capcom’s Marvel Superheroes: War Of The Gems was a “sequel but not technically a sequel” to X-Men: Children Of The Atom, Infinity’s Avenger’s Vs. X-Men project is a spiritual successor to their earlier X-Men: Second Coming game. Much like the Capcom attempt of the nineties, Many of the characters from the previous game have found their way into this “sequel,” with enhanced game play and new features. They are joined by quite a list of newcomers, either borrowed from the Capcom stable (Iron Man, captain America) or completely drawn from scratch (Black Widow, Scarlet Witch). The “borrowed fighters all have their own enhancements and style changes that makes them fit nicely alongside the brand new guys to give the entire thing a feeling of freshness that’s rarely seen in these types of Mugen projects.

There are a few secret characters here, too.

Also much like how WOTG refined and added to the systems established in COTA, AVX does the same when compared to XSC. The game borrows a lot from Marvel Vs. Capcom 3’s book, featuring hard knockdowns, wall bounces, OTGs, and ground bounces. If one were to be a regular on the team’s forum, they would find it ironic that the same people who give MVC3 such hate have decided to adapt it’s core mechanics into their own project, but let’s take the high ground here and look at the big picture. Unlike MVC3, the game doesn’t have a damage dampiner, it actually has a damage MULTIPLIER on everything except hypers. All characters also have a 75% to 85% combo if you can pull it off. It’s not quite “first hit kills” like Mahvel, but it’s close enough that getting in on your opponent will still make the difference in the match in high level play. There’s a large write up from Acey, the project’s lead on the Infinity boards, and it includes a lot of math.

In some ways AvX is a really fun training ground. It is built to encourage long combo strings rather than random hits. It also gives preference to a strong neutral game and execution. It’s a lot of fun to break open and figure out, but it could use some tightening up. The mechanics taken from MVC3 feel kind of awkward here because the whole game just feels kind of “slippery”. I’m not much of a programmer, but just from eyeballing it, I would think that it has something to do with the characters needing more animation when they take damage. Also a little more “oomph” during ground and wall bounces. These are supposed to be attacks that hit people so hard that they fly across the screen and hit the edge so hard that they bounce back. The ability to recover in the air would be nice too, since characters have no air mobility options like flight or air dashing. There are also the normal animation, art direction, and hitbox inconsistencies that come along with any Mugen project made by a team of multiple people, but Project-X and Infinity have done an extrememly good job of keeping that stuff to a minimum. This attention to detail is quickly becoming one of Acey’s most notable strong points as these games are produced and released throughout the years.

Two redheads having a fistfight in skintight outfits? I’M THERE!

Visually, The game looks pretty good on my high definition television, especially considering it’s a bunch of CPS-2 styled sprites. The hand drawn and Franken-sprited characters all have a high level of polish that makes them look just as good, if not better than the Capcom ones, and even the Capcom originals have been overhauled graphically to match. I must admit, however, that I am getting tired of seeing the same Thor and Storm sprites recolored to emulate their current comic attires in every project that features them. I think it’s time to stop being lazy on these two. The opening of the game uses comic book panels and Full motion video to mimic the 90’s arcade game attract modes, and the character select screen replaces the static 9000,1 portraits with fully animated characters, much like the original Killer Instinct. However there are some Inconsistencies in the sprite art, as mentioned above, but it’s not anything glaring. You wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t looking for it specifically like I was.

I also really like these lifebars.

On the audio side of things, WizzyWhipitWonderful once again provides a fantastic soundtrack, emulating the music of the 90’s arcade days perfectly, and HyperSonic92 (what the fuck is up with these names?) provided some decent voice acting to a few of the fighters, but the rest of the sound is a mixed bag. volume levels are all over the place, with the music often completely drowning out the character voices. The only voices that seem to come in loud and clear are the ones ripped from Marvel 3, actually. Sound effects aren’t very varied, often falling flat, and to make matters worse, some of the voice samples conflict with others. Why does Colossus have HyperSonic92’s voice, Juggernaut’s MVC2 samples, AND Colossus’s MVC2 samples as well? At least that soundtrack is fucking fantastic, though.

I did a quick run through of Arcade mode with Iron Man for the purpose of this interview, and as expected of the people who created X-Men: Second Coming, there are a ton of great bells and whistles that make this feel more like an actual game and less like a Mugen project. Right off the bat there is a tutorial level that teaches you the basics via beating the shit out of Cable, and for the first time that I can recall, you can actually pause the game and look at your character’s move list. Taking advantage of the new Mugen 1.0 engine (XSC ran on the old Winmugen build), all of the fighters not only have their own winquotes, but personalized ones depending on who they just defeated.

This character makes Abyss look fantastic.

The A.I. is rather inconsistent, either being overly aggressive, or entirely stupid, and most Arcade mode fights turn into constantly throwing a projectile from across the screen. In fact, “Tiger Kneeing” Captain America’s M Shield Slash is an infinite if you can keep the timing right. There are a lot of odd things like this that made their way into the game, such as some moves being entirely safe on block (Luke Cage’s lariat super). AVX is a game best played against another human, where you can both enjoy finding and exploiting the brokenness to create the largest and most damaging combos possible.

There is a Final fight inspired side-scrolling bonus stage, where you fight a bunch of henchmen, M.O.D.O.K., and finally a GIANT Sentinel, but it’s incredibly buggy, and not that fun. It’s unfortunate, because if this was done properly it would be great. In it’s current form it’s mostly just frustrating and I wish it was excluded entirely. The final boss is also laughably bad and feels like it was rushed. This is a shame, since Bastion was such an incredible way to end XSC. I was really expecting something mind blowing this time around, and instead I am treated to a badly drawn, barely animated bird covered in as many fire effects as possible, that floats around the screen screeching annoyingly and randomly shooting fireballs. I also laughed when I punched it so hard that the head and wings disappeared and didn’t come back. Mugen can only do so much, I guess.

In conclusion, Avengers Vs. X-Men is a hell of a game full of interesting concepts, that is only marred by it’s ambition. With some fine tuning it might be one of the best Mugen games to date. I highly recommend going to the Infinity Mugen Team’s website and downloading it. While you’re at it, check out WhizzyWhipitWonderful’s youtube channel and give his tracks a listen. You’ll be glad I sent you.