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Violent encounters: Besides the unending stream of grunts, screams and moans heard as matches take place, combatants crumble to the ground in defeat but are not bloodied. This is a hyper comic-book universe in action, complete with onomatopoeic bursts during attacks and special effects that engulf the television screen and characters.

Read all about it: The 48-page, digest-size art book found in the game’s special edition contains a 12-page prequel comic book written by Frank Tieri and illustrated by Kevin Sharpe. Also, sequential-art fans get one month of free access to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, where they can select from more than 9,000 comics to read online.

Pixel-popping scale: 8.5 out of 10. I often enjoyed the game much more as an audience member, thanks to being able to step back and admire some bold and explosive attacks that play out with lightning speed through fantastic and colorful cel-shaded design choices. (Thor’s Mighty Spark is awesome.)

Multiplayer: Besides the head-to-head combat between a pair of players in the same room, the matches also quickly happen online through lobbies containing opponents from all over the world. Online players are also always readily primed against opponents through four pages of statistics so they can select challengers with comparable ranks and skills.

Unlockables and extras: The special edition includes a code to unlock the characters Jill Valentine from the Resident Evil games and Shuma-Gorath, a supernatural villain in the Dr. Strange universe (available March 15).

While enjoying the arcade action, players not only unlock more fighters, such as the Sentinel, but after beating the boss in any of the arcade-mode matches, also can view the match leader’s biography, a 360-degree viewable 3-D model, a unique ending cinematic, and a ton of extra artwork.

Extras also include all of the musical themes and audio phrases from each character. Deadpool’s audio nuggets definitely are worth a smile.

What’s it worth? Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an amazing-looking game that provides a beautiful treat for the comic-book fan. Unfortunately, it will appeal to only a limited demographic — mainly the old-timers. The younger generation weaned on Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War and Tekken, having no reason to appreciate the game’s legacy, might lose interest after only a couple of arcade matches.

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