In the realm of video games, nothing screams ’90s more than Capcom’s Marvel mash-up fighting games–you were greeted by a “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” screen seconds before being inundated with the overwhelming bliss, color, and sound of ’90s-era Capcom that drugs only wish they could match up to. It was a great time for fighting games. Arcade1Up’s latest cabinet attempts to capture some of that magic, and while seasoned fighting veterans may raise an eyebrow or two at its concessions, the company’s Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet serves as a wonderful throwback that’s as exciting to play as it is striking to look at.

Gameplay

Arcade1Up’s Marvel vs Capcom cabinet features five games from Marvel and Capcom’s beloved history. The first four are fighting game classics that called Capcom’s CPS-2 arcade hardware home: Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. Each game is as enjoyable as the last thanks to Capcom’s trademark style of bombast–I’ll never get tired of hearing “Shoryuken” and “Berserker Barrage” from my Ken and Wolverine team in X-Men vs. Street Fighter.

All of the games are presented well, too, with the 17-inch screen shining bright enough to do the colorful ensembles justice. And while the cabinet’s built-in speakers lack some much-needed bass, each game’s iconic audio is able to shine through that shortcoming. This Arcade1Up cabinet is by no means the best way to play these games, but it’s hard to deny just how attractive the whole experience is, especially when you’re standing next to a friend and playing these classic games in a way that represents them well.

Marvel vs. Capcom Arcade1Up cabinet's light-up marquee
Marvel vs. Capcom Arcade1Up cabinet’s light-up marquee

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Marvel vs. Capcom Arcade1Up cabinet games list

  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes
  • Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter
  • X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  • Marvel Super Heroes
  • Marvel Super Heroes in War of the Gems

The black sheep of the Marvel vs Capcom Arcade1Up cabinet is the inclusion of the SNES game Marvel Super Heroes in War of the Gems. This home console beat-’em-up lacks a lot of the flourish of the beat-’em-ups you’d find in arcades, such as Konami’s X-Men game and Turtles in Time. And while it’s not necessarily a bad game, War of the Gems’ simple side-scrolling gameplay feels underwhelming on a stand-up arcade cabinet. The arcade-style controls don’t map well to the original D-pad and button controls on SNES, making the game feel less responsive than it does on the original console, too. War of the Gems is a strange inclusion when there are plenty of other CPS-2 fighting games that are more appropriate thematically.

The Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet also features online multiplayer with lobbies for its fighting games, which works surprisingly well the few times I’ve been able to secure a match. Latency feels minimal, and I didn’t notice any significant issues. I wouldn’t buy this cabinet with the plan of playing online a lot unless you plan on coordinating with other cabinet owners, though. There aren’t an abundance of players online at any given time. Arcade games tend to be more enjoyable when you’re playing with someone who’s standing next to you, so online multiplayer feels more like a bonus than a staple feature.

Marvel vs. Capcom Arcade1Up cabinet specs

Included accessories: Riser, light-up marquee, Marvel vs. Capcom stool
Measurements: 45.8″ x 19″ x 22.75″ (H x W x L)
Screen size: 17 inches
Wi-Fi connection: Yes, for all games but War of the Gems

Build quality and design

Arcade1Up went with Marvel vs. Capcom’s iconic faceoff art for this cabinet’s panels, which was a great choice. While not what you’d find on the original cabinet, the beloved art by Japanese illustrator Bengus is striking, featuring some of the classic characters’ best designs–when people think of Marvel vs. Capcom, they often think of this very artwork. The X-Men are evocative of their ’90s cartoon series, Spider-Man and Venom are ripped straight out of a Todd MacFarlane comic, and the various Avengers bring back fond memories of pre-MCU adventures. On the flipside, Capcom’s cast of characters retain their classic looks and appear ready to fight as they’ve ever been. This clash of heroes and color make it one of Arcade1Up’s best cabinet designs so far.

Where the build quality breaks down a bit is in its controls. Arcade1Up’s joysticks and buttons are of middling quality compared to the higher-end options out there, and while that’s not as noticeable when you’re playing something like Galaga or Pac-Man, it becomes much more apparent when you’re playing fighting games. The joystick doesn’t feel particularly solid, and the plastic handle feels very cheap. While the controls are disappointing overall, the novelty of playing these games on a stand-up cabinet in your home is enough for the Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet to get by on. Think of it less as a competition-level product and more of a fun toy to gather around at parties or when company is over. And after a month of casual use, the controls still feel like they did when I first set the cabinet up, so as long as you and your friends aren’t overly rough with them, you should be fine.

Photos taken of screen
Photos taken of screen

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The bottom line

The Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet’s cheap-feeling controls are disappointing, but when you’re in the middle of a match with a friend, taking on their Magneto and Zangief with your Wolverine and Ken, Capcom’s fighting game action takes over and delivers an exciting experience. Arcade1Up has done a great job capturing one of fighting game history’s best chapters, each game boasting quality emulation that keeps that ’90s nostalgia intact. If Arcade1Up had provided higher-quality controls, it would have sealed itself as a truly incredible cabinet. If you can get past that, the Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet is a no-brainer.

The Good:

  • Games are vibrant and smooth on the cabinet’s 17-inch screen
  • Each game is emulated well, providing a great experience no matter your favorite
  • Cabinet design utilizes Capcom’s gorgeous artwork

The Bad:

  • Joystick and buttons feel cheap compared to higher-end options
  • War of the Gems is a strange inclusion among the arcade fighting games

About the author: Mat Paget tested the Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet for more than a month. To him, nothing beats X-Men vs. Street Fighter, and while he owns it on Sega Saturn, he’s still happy to play it on the Arcade1Up cabinet every now and then. Arcade1Up provided the cabinet for review.



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