X-Men vs. Street Fighter Saturn
Review by Keita Iida Capcom Fighting
Graphics: 8 Sound: 7 Gameplay: 8 Overall: 8

Although Saturn support from third party publishers has been on the decline for some time in the US, it's almost the opposite in Japan, where a popular coin-op is almost assured of being ported to Saturn. A prime example of this is X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, the latest in a long line of 2-D Street Fighter variants from the venerable fighting masters. Combining the best aspects of the Street Fighter and X-Men heritage, the game that was a smash hit in the arcades has proven to be just good on Sega's 32-bitter.

The premise of Saturn X-Men Vs. Street Fighter remains unchanged. Two separate groups of good guys have joined forces in an effort to free their captured comrades and eliminate Apocalypse. Unlike previous games in either series, players assemble a two-man team comprised of characters from either the Street Fighter or X-Men universe. Several familiar faces return on both sides, including the likes of Wolverine, Chun Li, Rogue and Ken.

The home port of X-Men Vs. Street Fighter has remarkably retained the brilliant fighting engine that made the arcade version so popular. And in a change from previous fighters that had team play features, X-Men Vs. Street Fighter allows players to switch characters on the fly in the middle of a match. The gameplay is very deep as a result, since it allows a player to bring a healthy fighter into play when his/her other hero is on shaky ground. Furthermore, injured, tagged-out fighters can partially recover health off-screen. And once your super bar is fully charged, stand back, because they'll have the ability to combine for an awesome team attack!

This is the best looking home 2-D fighting game by a longshot. Thanks to the new 4 megabyte RAM cartridge that's included with the game, every frame of animation has been duplicated from the arcade, and all the backgrounds look sharp and detailed. Just as important is the seamless switching of characters, with no momentary lapse of action as was the case in earlier Capcom efforts. The character movements are smooth and fluid, which is evident from the realistic way that they breath and flex their bodies even when standing still. From a graphical standpoint, it's virtually indistinguishable from its coin-op cousin.

But this isn’t the only area of the game that benefits from the extra breathing room of the RAM cart. The load times between matches has virtually been eliminated. This is evident when you compare X-Men Vs. Street Fighter's three second load time average to that of Marvel Super Heroes, which takes considerably longer (fifteen seconds, according to my stopwatch). Just about every frame of animation remains intact in the Saturn version, and there is absolutely zero slow-down.

Combined with these impressive technical leaps are the standard assortment of home-only features, such as hidden characters, options,and character variations that help sugar coat the already polished experience.

The only downside of X-Men Vs. Street Fighter is that Capcom still hasn't decided whether to bring this game (and the RAM cart) to the US. So if you've been putting off the purchase of the import in the hopes that it'll see an American release, you might want to grab the game now, especially since the RAM cart (which also works with several other games, most notably Metal Slug) is packed-in with the game.

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