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Similar to Capcom's various Street Fighter titles, X-Men vs. Street Fighter is a 2D fighting game in which players control various characters to engage in one-on-one combat, attempting to knock out the opponent by depleting their health. It is the first formal installment in the Marvel vs. Capcom series and features dual-character selection and tag team battles. Instead of the typical best-of-three round format, matches consist of a single round. Players select two characters at the beginning of a match, each sporting their own life gauge. Players control one character at a time, while the other awaits off-screen. The starting character can tag in the off-screen character at any time during the fight. The dormant character will also slowly recover a portion of their vitality while the current character is fighting. If one character loses all of their vitality, then the tag partner will automatically come into play. The match continues until both characters on either team are defeated. If the timer runs out before either team is knocked out, then the player with the most remaining health is declared the winner. The game borrows numerous gameplay conventions from Capcom's previous Marvel-licensed ventures, X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes, such as the "Super Jump", the ability to jump higher than normal, and "Aerial Rave", the ability to perform combos on the opponent while in the air. X-Men vs. Street Fighter also includes a meter system similar to the two aforementioned games called the "Hyper Combo Gauge". As characters perform moves and receive damage, the players' Hyper Combo Gauges will gradually fill. Players can expend their meter to perform various special techniques, such as the "Hyper Combo", which unleashes high amounts of damage; "Variable Combination", where both characters use their Hyper Combos simultaneously; and "Variable Counter", which transforms a defensive block into an offensive counterattack by tagging in the off-screen character.
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