This is Morrigan Aensland.
She’s a young girl, with bat wings and (usually) green hair. She’s vain, she’s cute, she has little bat decorations in her hair and on her costume. She’s magical and savage. She’s strong and surprising. She’s wily and forceful. She’s winning all over the place.
I first met Morrigan in Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millenium, a fantastically fun fighting game for the Playstation 2.
Having only come into fighting games through Street Fighter (and Mortal Kombat, though unsuccessfully), Capcom vs. SNK 2 was truly exciting. The game came out in 2001, and there’s weren’t a ton of 2D fighting games available for the system, so me and my husband had a blast revisiting old characters, like my buddy Zangief, and meeting new ones, like my new favorite ass-kicker Morrigan.
I’ve written before about SF and MK, but CvS2 was a different animal entirely. In early versions of SF and MK, upon starting the games, all you had to do was pick a character and a stage. In some SF games, you got to also pick turbo and handicap levels. Fine. All that I got. Once we got to CvS2, however, things were a little less simple. This game introduced me to extra choices that came along with choosing a character. (It also introduced me to three-player teams and tag-team playing.) CvS2 had a “ratio” system and something called “grooves.” I’m probably going to miserably fail at this description, so forgive me, but I believe ratios applied different strengths to your characters and grooves applied different fighting styles. So once you picked your characters, you also had to assign them a ratio and a groove. Honestly, none of that mattered to me. I just wanted to PLAY. So while I deliberately chose my characters, I very randomly chose my ratios and grooves. Maybe I would have been better at the game if I had taken time to understand all the extra stuff, but I didn’t. I still have no idea what they mean. It’s been some years since I’ve played the game, so the point is moot (and come to think of it, the ratios had nothing to do with 3-on-3 matches). That’s said, I was trying to pay closer attention to these extra choices in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and then our PS3 broke. So there.
Anywaaay, CvS2, like it’s predecessor, brought together characters from Capcom games – mostly Street Fighter, though Morrigan was from Darkstalkers, and SNK games – Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, Art of Fighting, and so on. I had read about these other fighting games but never played them. All of the SNK characters were unfamiliar to me. I recognized most of the Capcom folks. And then there was Morrigan.
In CvS2 she quickly became my go-to, with her special combination of “magic” and physical moves. That combination plus her speed made for some truly enjoyable matches. I loved handing my opponents her Soul Phoenix combo or special Shadow Blade in defense. I especially liked combining her with more deliberate fighters like Zangief and Ken. Unfortunately, I never really found a 3-character team with her that I liked much. I got fairly good with her, Zangief, and Ken or Sagat. Sometimes, Morrigan, Mai, and Zangief worked out, but sometimes not. Nobody quite matched the sublime joy I got from watching Morrigan flit about the screen, dealing precisely manic blows from above, behind, and…below (ha ha).
Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium was a great game in it’s day. Its pixel-y graphics look fairly dated by today’s standards, but the fun is still there. And so is Morrigan, looking ever so delicious and decadent and deadly.