"Insanity." That's the word Capcom's community manager and "special adviser" Seth Killian used to describe the Versus games to us. Well, that and the phrase, "generating a giant storm of crap." If you've played any of the previous games in the series, you'll know exactly what he's getting at.
A world away from the measured mano-a-mano precision of Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo HD Remix, the Versus series has always been about bonkers 3-on-3 team battles, flashy combos, insane specials and just general bat-shit nuttiness.
But there's more to them than just that. What the series strives for more than any other Capcom fighter is accessibility. Marvel vs Capcom 3 is no exception. So while earlier games in the series employed the six button method pioneered by Street Fighter 2, and Marvel vs Capcom 2 used just four attack buttons, MvC 3 reduces it even further.
Borrowing its configuration from Tatsunoko vs Capcom on the Wii, MvC3 uses three attack buttons; light, medium and fierce. Rather than differentiate between kicks and punches, this method is context-sensitive. So, for example, a low fierce may result in a sweep, while a high fierce would be an uppercut. It may sound complicated, but it's actually pretty intuitive.
Joining these are two tag buttons to swap characters mid-fisticuffs and a new "launcher" button, which allows you to thwack your opponent up into the air.
This streamlined approach lowers the entry level for newcomers, but also gives them a strong platform from which to build their skills. You see, for the period your opponent is in the air they are utterly defenseless, leaving you free to get creative with your combos without fear of immediate reprisal.
Which is where the hardcore come back in. Despite the relative accessibility of MvC3, Capcom's trademark depth remains. The sheer range of moves available to each character is dizzying. And once you start busting them out with cross-over Team and Hyper Combos that's when things get silly. "A giant storm of crap" indeed.
On this note, Seth Killian tells us that Devil May Cry's camp superstar Dante has more moves than any other in fighting game history. We can vouch for that, in our short match-up against Killian we're sure he hit us with most of them. From a plethora of missile and gun-based ranged attacks to his close quarters sword-swiping, Dante has it all.
Another Devil May debutant is Trish. We already hate her. With the ability to lay invisible, life-sapping traps, she's either an infuriating annoyance or a stone-cold killer, depending on whether she's on your side or not. Perhaps after repeated plays it will be easier to cotton on to her tricks, but initially at least she'll drive you nuts.
Elsewhere, returning characters rock up with their familiar armoury. Wolverine's Tornado Claw, Iron Man's Proto Cannon and Chun-Li's Spinning Bird Kick are all present and correct. Yet there are tweaks here and there. Both Iron Man and Ryu can now shoot their ranged attacks at angles, for example. So far Capcom have successfully navigated the line between familiarity and freshness.
The character models are an improvement over SFIV and SSIV, for our tastes. The almost cel-shaded look of the outlined characters suit the game's cartoon leanings, of course. Colourful vibrant and expressive, Capcom fighters have always looked better flatter, as it were. Highly preferable to the chunky oafs of Capcom's recent efforts.
Backgrounds are a mixed bunch thus far. The highlight of those on show in our demo was Spider Man's New York level, a wonderful explosion of detail and colour. Set on a rising stage, the level towers over what looks like Marvel and Capcom parade, giant Spidey and Servebot blimps bouncing away in the breeze, tickertape filling the air. It's lovely.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, was a dark laboratory, with creatures in jars lined up against the backdrop. Snore.
The real action is more than enough to make up for it though. And that's the most exciting thing about MvC3. With a roster that Capcom promise will feature around 30 characters, more moves and combos than you can ever wish to learn, greater accessibility for the newcomers, and a healthy dose of fan-service, MvC3 looks to have all the boxes ticked. We welcome the insanity.