This is a tough one for me to judge as I always struggle to separate myself from the legendary fighting game Marvel vs Capcom 2. These days, the classic fighter fondly smiled upon as a broken, unbalanced, mindless game that can lead to hours of fun regardless of your skill level. Back in the 2000s, it was all those things, but it also set new standards for sprites, video game animation, roster sizes, and best of all, music. “I Wanna Take You For a Ride” is inseparable from this game’s legacy and the peak of that era’s experimentation with music.

Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite… meh. It’s a fighting game. Those slick sprites that redefined how video game characters were animated now replaced by generic character models with some infamously hideous faces. The music, well, it has music but nothing I’ll be humming to myself 15 years from now. In fact, I can’t even remember the music when I played the game about half an hour ago. The roster barely crosses half the size of Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s, and for corporate reasons sadly beyond Capcom’s control, the X-Men have been cut.

So, we begged Capcom for years to return to the property and bring us another game now that Marvel’s popularity is through the roof, and now that it’s here… what was the point. There’s nothing memorable about the game, and it is entirely its title. As said before, the graphics are boring. The voice acting and style are forgettable. I think there might have been music involved, but I don’t remember it.

Those standards set by the earlier titles have been reduced to a safe piece of forgettable entertainment, most likely because Capcom and Disney did not wish to scare away young fans of the MCU with flashy colors, wild tunes, and a general sense of fun. I get it, when you’re raised with boring, repetitive Marvel movies, branching out becomes a bit tougher. Keep enjoying your comfort zone, kids! Look what it’s doing to video games!What does that leave us with?

What does that leave us with? Oh right, the actual fighting itself.

Here comes the issue with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. It could be the most balanced, finely tuned, eSport ready title on Earth (because you know that’s the REAL reason this exists at all), and I wouldn’t care. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 wasn’t something I poured hours into because I wanted to master the fighting, play professionally, or drool over Twitch as I watch someone else play it. I played it for a night of fun with friends.

It’s a video game for Pete’s sake! That’s what they’re meant for, or at least what they were used to be for. Now, video games are an institution built to incorporate as many people as possible. Don’t want to offend them with unbalanced characters or juggle moves. They are supposed to be mechanical in their approach because, Lord knows, an even playing field for competition is far more important than bombastic fun.

Yes, the combat was fine. I felt like Capcom ran a fine comb through it to make sure that it was ready for prime time upon release. Maybe it was just me, but fights go on for a really long time in this game. Back when teams consisted of three characters, it would take a while to wrap up a match, but Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite really drags its heels in the mud. My opponent and I seemed exhausted at the end of each match because they went on… and on… and on. I feel like I could have gotten two or three solid rounds of Dragon Ball FighterZ over the same time frame.

This game also adds an Infinity Stone mechanics that acts as a sort of power swing when cracked open. My opponent got it to work once, and yes, it was the only match he beat me in. I never bothered. Such gimmicky supermoves don’t impress me in fighting games. You need something like Power Stone, which builds its entire concept around collecting stones for a super attack, to impress me with something like that.

So yes, kids. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is mechanically sound. You can watch it on Twitch, cheer for your favorite pro-gamers, and have a blast NOT playing video games while doing so. But here’s the secret: so is every other fighting game on the market. In fact, we’re sort of in a renaissance for fighting games at the moment, where we’ve gotten so good at making them, the X-factor is all the especially matters. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had that X-factor 15 years ago. Dragon Ball FighterZ has that X-factor today, and it has trounced all over Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite since the day it was announced.

In the meantime, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite does not have an X-factor. It has a few familiar faces we’ve seen in games and movies, a title that spawns happy memories… and that’s about it.