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Fightin' Game Fanatics

Fightin' Game Fanatics: James Chen

We chatted with fighting game veteran James Chen to get some tips on MvC3 and much more!

Shuma-Gorath screenshot from Marvel vs. Capcom 3

By Ben Chabala

We love Marvel fighting games and we know you do too, so we're starting a new series of interviews with top brawlers from the community. This week, we’ve got fighting game guru and long time Marvel Vs. player James Chen to lay out some history, some strategy, and other “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” goodness!

Marvel.com: Can you give us a little of your fighting game history and your background? 

James Chen: I’ve actually been playing fighting games pretty much since “Street Fighter 2.” I’m about as old school as you can get. I’ve been playing fighting games forever, and I’ve been involved in the community for just as long.  I’ve been there since the beginning.

Marvel.com: And when did you start playing the Marvel Vs. games?

Well I’ve been playing the Vs. games since before they were Vs. games.  I definitely played “X-Men: Children of the Atom” and the combo system there was just amazing.  It’s like MvC3, in that everything works.  Then I played “Marvel Super Heroes” and loved “X-Men vs. Street Fighter”; I was obsessed with that game.  Didn’t like “Marvel vs. Street Fighter” as much and then played a ton of “Marvel vs. Capcom” but never really played MvC2.  I always reveal my age when I say this, but the reason I didn’t play MvC2 is because I graduated from college the year it came out and I got a job and stopped going to the arcades as much.

Shuma-Gorath screenshot from Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Marvel.com: What did MvC3 get right in regards to highly competitive play?  Are more characters viable options?

James Chen: Well in MvC3 there’s definitely still a tier list.  Some characters are still considered better than most, but by no means are any characters considered bad.  That’s really cool.  Every character can be viable in some way shape or form.  I mean, in MvC2, the best characters were WAY better than the others and it wasn’t even a competition.  Here I can’t even say that the best characters are way better.

The other thing I like is that every character feels broken, meaning really powerful or really strong. That’s what makes it so cool, because everyone is so powerful and everybody’s broken, so it’s like no one is.  And I like that MvC3 brought back the “one touch equals death” idea.  You get hit once and you’re finished.

Marvel.com: What do you think about X-Factor? Is there a right way or a wrong way to use it?  Do you have any tips for new players who just can’t seem to get the most out of their X-Factor activation?

James Chen: X-Factor is such a powerful tool and you’re more dangerous the longer it lasts, so I’m a big fan of waiting ‘til your last character to use it.  There are a lot of matches that I watch at Wednesday Night Fights where someone uses it to just finish off a character and I never agree with that.  The only situation I would say that it’s okay to pop it early is if you catch two characters [in a combo] and you need X-Factor to finish them off.

Shuma-Gorath screenshot from Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Marvel.com: When do you think players shouldn’t use it?

James Chen: Don’t use X-Factor to save a character if they don’t really have any life left to save.  In that situation, I would suggest sacrificing the character.  However, if losing that character is simply out of the question, I would use X-Factor as an offensive tool.  Since you can X-Factor cancel your block stun, say you want to save Wolverine and he’s got a lot of red life to heal, I would block and then X-Factor cancel and get myself into a situation where I can DHC (Delayed Hyper Combo) or aerial exchange--something to get Wolverine out safely while still doing damage.

Marvel.com: You’ve been using Shuma Gorath pretty regularly lately and not many other players have picked him up.  How do you think he measures up against the rest of the cast?

James Chen: I feel like Shuma is fighting an uphill battle because he’s very easy to guard against.  I never activate X-Factor until I get to Shuma, because as soon as he’s got it he becomes really really powerful.  My favorite thing about him in X-Factor is that Chaos Dimension (his level 3 hyper combo) is an unblockable hit.  Not an unblockable throw, but a hit, so you can rock people with it while they’re in block stun.  If I see that they block the hit of Chaos Dimension, I’ll X-Factor cancel the animation, dash up, and get them while they’re in block stun.

I use him as an anchor and I think he’s a perfectly viable anchor.  Without meter Shuma has problems because Chaos Dimension is really his thing.  If you’ve got 5 meters you can land Chaos Dimension, which takes 3 meters, and then you’ve only got to build one more before you’re ready to go again.

Shuma-Gorath screenshot from Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Marvel.com: We’ve talked about X-Factor and using Shuma, but do you have some general gameplay tips for all the Marvel neophytes out there?

James Chen: I have a few actually.  Number 1, if you’re coming from other fighting games, you need to have a totally different mindset than with other games because of the assists, it’s “multi-threaded” in programmer speak.  For instance, when I go for an air throw that’s all I do and if I got teched I’m back where I started.  What I should really be doing is air throwing while calling an assist so it can protect me if I get teched.  If you guys find it difficult, I’m right there with you.  I need to learn how to properly use assists too.

The other piece of advice I have is that training mode is your friend, but not in the way you think.  This game is full of amazing and fun combos and pure style combos so when you’re in training mode you’re like “well let me maximize my combo, maximize my damage,” so when you go and play a real match you’re so focused on hitting them and landing that one combo.  In actuality that never works out the way you want it to.

Shuma-Gorath character art from Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Marvel.com: EVER!

James Chen: Ever, exactly.  What happens is that you’re limiting yourself by only paying attention to combos.  What I’ve started doing is going into training mode and setting the dummy to all block and push guard automatically and then I just practice moving.  I use Doctor Doom because he’s so difficult to maneuver correctly, and then every time you touch the opponent you get pushed away, so I just move and call assists.  It’s kind of like an exercise in improvisation, which is a huge part of MvC3.

Third piece of advice is don’t get married to your team.  Team synergy is huge in this game and if you have three of your favorite characters and they’re not working do yourself a favor and change.

Spider-Man screenshot from Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Marvel.com: Changing gears here for a bit, you suddenly and inexplicably find yourself in a bar brawl.  Which Marvel character has your back?

James Chen: Which Marvel character has my back, huh?  Honestly the first answer that comes to mind is Spider-Man because he’d probably have fun beating up on everybody.  Some people might think Wolverine, but I feel like he’d kill everybody so to avoid the bloodshed I choose Spider-Man.  Plus he’s my favorite Marvel hero.

Marvel.com: Then after this bar brawl one of the thugs manages to inject you with some mysterious glowing serum that imbues you with a super power.  What power do you have?

James Chen: Being able to teleport, for sure.  If I want to go up some stairs I don’t even need to walk.  I wouldn’t use it to save the world, I would use it to be totally lazy.

Follow James Chen on Twitter - @jchensor




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