San Diego Comic-Con International 2013
The X Button at Comic Con: Friday, July 19

by Todd Ciolek,
This year's San Diego Comic-Con saw Capcom a little quieter. There were no major updates of Resident Evil or Devil May Cry or Mega Man dominating the company's booth and panels, and perhaps that was for the better. It allowed Capcom to focus on the smaller games, the stuff that's both fan-pleasing and accessible to just about anyone. There was no attitude-drenched Devil May Cry to divide fans. There was only a giant bin of money in which attendees could pretend to be Scrooge McDuck.

Of course, Street Fighter still commands a fierce and loyal following, and that much was evident at Capcom's Street Fighter panel. Much of the excitement concerned Ultra Street Fighter IV, an expansion that adds five new characters, six backgrounds, several new modes, and a plethora of gameplay tweaks. The backdrops come from Street Fighter X Tekken, and so do four of the characters: Poison, Hugo, Rolento, and Elena. The fifth is currently a mystery, but Capcom confirmed that it's someone new to the Street Fighter series.

Capcom's Matt Dahlgren discussed a future tournament called Capcom Cup, open to the top players from other tournaments. It'll cover the latest Super Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Street Fighter X Tekken. Details will be announced at a future date. Dahlgren also updated fans on the live-action film Assassin's Fist, which covers the multi-generational struggle surrounding the Ansatsu-Ken martial art and how it affects series icons Ken and Ryu.

The panel also included a costume contest, with Capcom representatives picking finalists for the crowd to applaud in voting. The title of Mr. Street Fighter went to the sole Rolento cosplayer, while Miss Street Fighter was a young Chun-Li cosplayer. Naturally, Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono appeared and mugged for the crowd, wearing a Chun-Li costume, posing with fans before the panel, and entering both the Mr. and Miss divisions.

Ono closed the panel with some questions from the audience. The first asked about updates for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, hoping for something similar to Ultra Street Fighter IV. Ono and Dahlgren mentioned that updates are possible, though there's nothing firm yet.

Another audience member asked for details on character balance changes in Ultra Street Fighter IV, and was asked to pick just one character. He settled on Zangief, and Ultra Street Fighter community manager Peter Ramos told him that Zangief's EX Banishing Flat now knocks down upon hitting, while the regular version is speed up for balance's sake.

The newly be-sashed Miss Street Fighter stepped up to ask a pointed question: “Is the new character going to be a girl?”

“If that's what you want,” Ono jokingly replied, and then asked the crowd if they wanted a male or female character for the new spot. The applause was notably stronger for an original girl character.

Pressed further by another question, Ono revealed that the new character is “not Strider Hiryu” or the title hero from Asura's Wrath. No more hints were forthcoming, but Dahlgren closed the panel with a prediction.

“We think you'll be very happy when you find out who it is,” he said.

Capcom's booth had its share of attractions: an unexpectedly difficult company-history quiz, a big Monster Hunter 3 array, a Strider photo-op, and a Phoenix Wright section where the attorney pointed accusingly at visitors. Yet the big crowd-pleaser came from DuckTales. Fans could climb into a small simulation of Scrooge McDuck's money bin, complete with unabrasive treasures and coins, on top of playing demos of Capcom's DuckTales Remastered. It was just another part of the game's timeless charms.

That charm is evident in the three playable stages of DuckTales Remastered, a thorough revamp of the NES game considered Capcom's finest treatment of a Disney property. Despite new hand-drawn character animation and 3-D backgrounds, it maintains the same atmosphere as the NES original, and much of the same gameplay. The level layouts and enemy placement are very much the same, and Scrooge's cane-whacks and pogo jumps still get him through. The game even imitates the NES title's little touches. Whack a hard surface, and Scrooge gets rattled. Duck down, and his hat takes just a fraction of a second to catch up with him.

Of course, DuckTales Remastered must change a few things. The levels now have extra challenges along the way, requiring players to explore a bit more than they did in the original game. The Amazon stage now hides eight engraved coins for Scrooge to hunt down, while the Himalayan slopes send him on a search for missing airplane parts, whacking Thumper-ish bunnies along the way. Transylvania, where Scrooge had to rescue one of his nephews in the NES incarnation, now has him saving all three before the level is cleared. Each stage also offers a lot of dialogue at every new discovery, evoking the feel of a DuckTales episode. Some of the exchanges aren't necessary, but it's good to hear Alan Young voicing Scrooge alongside the rest of the surviving DuckTales voice actors.

DuckTales Remastered might not be a long game. Despite the expanded levels and a new final stage, it's still rooted in an old NES game that had to be finished in one sitting. That may not be a problem; fans still return to the original DuckTales despite its brevity, and if WayForward and Capcom sew up Remastered just right, it'll have the same staying power.

One might have misgivings about the new Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. It takes the legal drama from a 2-D setting into a 3DS-friendly realm of polygon characters, and it gives Phoenix a new sidekick with a new courtroom gimmick.

Moments into the playable demo of Dual Destinies, everything seems just fine. Athena Sykes, Phoenix's new assistant, is a endearing go-getter who fits right into the franchise's collection of oddballs, and her burning-justice bravado balances out Phoenix's shaky re-emergence into practicing law. The courtroom banter's also up to standards, at least in the initial case where Phoenix faces a bomb disposal expert who types out his increasingly defensive testimony through a wrist computer.

And what of the new Mood Matrix? It's also within the Phoenix Wright sphere of bizarre plausibility. Athena, psychology expert that she is, uses the device to sense a witnesses' emotional states and highlight incongruities between what they say and what they feel. What's seen in the demo isn't all that complex, but it adds a helpful new dimension to the trial-and-error approach of a typical Phoenix Wright courtroom puzzle.

In fact, the Mood Matrix makes the investigative side of the game seem underfed. The demo also includes a case where Apollo Justice and Athena investigate Phoenix's sudden and possibly violent disappearance amid a village's yokai festival. It's just a case of poking around a room until the correct clues emerge, as it's been in many previous Phoenix Wright games. Once again, it's up to the game's writing to carry things.

And it does that. Some may disdain the Phoenix Wright games as hand-holders of limited interactivity, but that misses the crux of it. The games are appealing because they're lovely blends of humor, mystery, and a free-wheeling sense of personality that the game industry seems allergic to in this era. Dual Destinies looks to have all of that.

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