I’ve always been a fan of fighting games but more so the graphics. Pixel perfect key frames, fluid animation, and a large influence from manga and anime made it just as fun to look at, as it was to play. I consider Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes the pinnacle of fighting game sprite work. Not only collecting one of the largest fighting game casts to date but also turning western comic book heroes into video game sprites was absolutely darling. My latest purchase, Udon’s Marvel vs. Capcom Official Complete Work was inspired by my passion for these games and their art.
Marvel vs. Capcom Official Complete Work (2012)
Author: Various/ Capcom
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Binding Reviewed: Softcover (192 pages)
If you’re looking for interviews, tutorials, history lessons, or tips then look somewhere else. This book is pure eye candy. It avoids the cardinal sin of using double page spreads that plummet into the spine and excels at bringing each piece to life with vibrant color, action, and energy. Considering the subject matter, its rightfully so.
The content of artwork dedicated for each game is skewed towards the latter releases with only a handful of pieces present for the 1993 Punisher game. Drawings by Capcom veterans Akiman and Gouda Cheese ‘Bengus’ bring a nostalgic flare to the book, while Udon artists and tribute piece contributors bring their own modern spin on the franchise. I personally would’ve liked to see more promotional or Capcom Secret File artwork in the book since this is a ‘Complete Works’ but the collection found here is substantial for a casual fan.
A highlight is the extras/ sketches section found at the back end of the book. Not only does it have character sketches dating back to X- Men: Children of Atom but also rough layouts of various moves and stances for each fighter with annotations describing what they were going for. I throughly enjoyed reading the translated text and doodles the animators jotted down as it gave a behind the scenes of one of my favourite games.
The book being reviewed is the consumer softback compared to the limited edition hardback binding. The softback is prone to creases on the spine if you stretch them too much, but that is due to Udon’s switch to heavier paper making the artwork feel, and look a lot better. The book is a little thin compared to other Capcom collections but there are no re-used pictures found in this book either.
Marvel vs. Capcom Official Complete Works was disappointing as a fan of both Marvel and Udon. I felt that there wasn’t enough for the price. It largely boiled down to character portraits seen in promo images and in game result screens. You can skip this book if you’re acquainted to Udon’s other Capcom artbooks but for the casual reader there is enough here to find a home on your coffee table.