James Chen is one of the FGC's most widely known personalities. He's been an avid competitor, the author of countless fighting game guides, a tournament organizers, and he now regularly commentates at high-profile events.
With such a rich portfolio, how could we possibly pass up the chance to get his thoughts Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite? As you've discovered from our recent featured player interviews, avid fans are ready for Mahvel to be reignited in 2017. Here's what he had to say.
There was a real air of shock with the Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite reveal. WHat was your reaction to the announcement trailers last weekend?
I was just surprised. There was no way, in my mind, that they could have a game in any form of present-ability in the time frame that I'm picturing in my head, unless they've been working on it long before Disney announced that they would stop making games in-house.
So it was a shock to me. I was one of the super skeptical people, but all the leaks and talks definitely tempered the complete shock value. Which makes me sad in a way. I would love for it to have been announced with no idea it was coming, because that would have seriously blown my mind!
Infinite looks like it will be the first crossover fighting game that’s more accessible for casual players. What do you think the game’s biggest challenge will be in maintaining enough depth for veteran players?
It's a funny question in the first place, because the Marvel games are DESIGNED to be beginner friendly, they always have. One button special moves (assists), easy Chain Combos, hitting two buttons to unleash three Supers at the same time, etc. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is arguably one of the most beginner-friendly intended games ever made.
Having said that, it's the players who really broke the games wide open, and hopefully they leave a lot of room for creativity open. Marvel games are great examples of easy to pick-up yet still high levels of execution, and I do hope they maintain that idea. That's a key factor, IMO.
If the game ends up being too watered down, it won't be "Mahvel."
How important is it that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite includes the X-Men and other popular mutants?
I would be very sad if X-Men weren't in the game, but I don't think they are crucial. The MCU is wildly popular right now, so if they bank on that, MvCI will be perfectly successful without the X-Men.
However, what would be sad for me personally is that Wolverine is the ONLY character who has been in 100% of the Marvel games by Capcom. If he was not in MvCI, that would be a really shame to break that streak!
Do you believe that Infinite will create the same following from the community?
I believe it will, largely because the Marvel community now has experience jumping from game to game. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 veterans were really cautious and wary about going to MvC3, but MvC3 players will understand it a bit more, especially now having gone through a lot of the resistance from MvC2 players.
I think many MvC3 players will be willing to move forward to MvCI so that they can continue to build their scene. But they should definitely NOT stop playing UMvC3. Keep that community alive as much as possible as well.
As a caster, do you personally find it more challenging to commentate a crossover title than say, Street Fighter V?
It can be tougher, but really you just have to be faster and concentrate less on minor details. Also, you do have to be more energetic and hype for Marvel games, it's just their nature. I never really got to commentate UMvC3 late in its life because I just never kept up with it enough to be a good commentator for it, so I'm not sure how it would have turned out if I were still commentating it today.
But I definitely know I would approach it entirely different than how I commentate Street Fighter V, definitely trying more to be energetic and more briefly analytical.
Any chance that you'll consider potentially getting back into the competitor's seat to play Infinite?
I'll play it, for sure, so I can be a good commentator for it. But there's very little possibility of me becoming a competitor again. Commentary is my focus, and it's hard for me to play games in a casually competitive fashion. I get too angry when I play, so I'd have to dedicate every bit of my faculty to playing if I were a competitor, so my commentary would suffer greatly.
Many seem concerned about the lack of X-Factor and the assist system. What are your thoughts on Infinite reintroducing the Gems to be used as a groove a la CvS2?
I think Gems are a cool idea, but I am VERY wary about lack of Assists. Assists are what make team composition really important. The combo tagging is neat and all, but really the "team synergy" that makes Marvel so special isn't as important in that regard.
A lot of people have made Street Fighter x Tekken comparisons, and it's a good one because SFxT combos weren't as reliant on synergy as Marvel games. The synergy also goes beyond combos and plugs holes in your character's game.
Having Doom Missiles or Doom Beam really changes the way a character plays. Without Assists, that will be lost. I'm hoping they can find a good way to make up for that with the Gems, so I can't wait to see what they have in store.
What features do you feel Infinite must include to guarantee it will resonate with veteran players and new players alike?
Franticness. Energy. Speed. Crazy Combos. Hype.
If they can pull that off regardless of what characters or game systems are in place, that will be important to pull from the existing fanbase. Interestingly, just judging by how the UMvC3 community has grown and changed over time, they seem really open to playing a different game so long as those things are intact.
Are there any creative, special modes that you’d like to see included along with the confirmed Story and Mission Modes?
Proper tutorial modes done through mini-games. A really robust online mode, with progress beyond some arbitrary ranking points.
What additional characters would you like to see added to the roster?
From Capcom: I've been wanting Linn Kurosawa of the Alien vs. Predator games forever, but she's a tough one due to licensing. From the Marvel side: Black Panther would be sick.
Some purists are still on the fence about supporting Infinite following its debut. What insight would you offer for anyone that feels skeptical?
Every game is different, and they should be. If they made Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite just a clone of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I'd think it'd be boring. We already have Marvel 3. Players have been going through this forever now, with huge changes between games.
Alpha 3 was VASTLY different than Alpha 2. UMvC3 was different than MvC2 which was different than MvC. Street Fighter V is very different from Street Fighter IV. It's part of the circle of Fighting Game life. Embrace it, and you'll actually find that you'll have MANY fighting Games you love to play and enjoy.