Life of a Low-Tier Hero 4: Hayato's Style Over Substance

Jeff Kotuby,

January 17, 2018 10:30 AM

Marvel vs Capcom 2's roster is full of possibilities. One of them is the cool-looking, but ill-advised Hayato. What makes this character all flash and no fury? Find out in our breakdown.

This week, we’re looking at one of the coolest looking “low-tier” characters in fighting games: Hayato in his Marvel vs Capcom 2 appearance. This is a character who sports some interesting headgear, a rough punk-looking ensemble, and a dang lightsaber! Instantly, he’s rocking the cool points for fans of Star Wars or various anime - like if Kaneda from Akira decided he suddenly wanted to be a Jedi. Unfortunately for all his flash and fashion, Hayato is no master. He’s widely known as a crutch to most Marvel vs Capcom 2 teams to say the least.

Hayato’s first appearance was in a Playstation 1 game called Star Gladiator, one of Capcom’s first 3-D, polygonal fighting games ever released. The gameplay was very reminiscent of the Soul Calibur series, where players used four buttons - two weapon attack buttons, a kick, and a guard button - rather than a traditional 6-button layout found in Street Fighter and Darkstalkers. Capcom released a sequel for the Sega Dreamcast a few years later called Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein. 

Historical context aside, I never played those growing up and, more than likely, you didn’t either. Like most of you, my first and only interaction with Hayato in fighting games was his appearance in Marvel vs Capcom 2. Hayato looks like he was designed to be every 11 year-old boy’s favorite character. His cool hairstyle, metal headband, big red sneakers, and freakin’ beam sword to top it all off checked every box on my list to ensure he’d be one of the characters I was trying early and oftenThe Fighter's Generation webmaster Frank Yagami also compared Hayato to a Star Wars character, even mentioning how cool Capcom's take on the beloved sci-fi franchise would be. 

Seriously, how cool is this guy?
Seriously, how cool is this guy?

He was immediately inserted into my team along with Ryu (my favorite Capcom character in the game) and Cable (my favorite Marvel character in the game) and we went to work. While playing, it was soon apparent that he wasn’t going to cut it against higher-level opponents, and he would need to ride the pine while I used a replacement for him (Captain Commando, in this case). That being said, I still look back on the character fondly and give him the run from time to time, especially when I’m starting a new MVC2 save file and need to unlock everyone again.  

I wasn't alone. MVC2 players seem to think back fondly on Hayato, no matter where they're from. In an MVC2 Twitch chat I was in, one user said of our resident beam swordsman, "Hayato was so cool but you could never bring him to the arcade. I used to play Hayato with Venom and Silver Samurai and learned quick that's not the team to bring with you to fight MSP (Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke - a common high-level team in MVC2)

He has a very cool moveset, full of traditional command inputs and a “Plasma Series” of moves that are chained together using various inputs. So what brings Hayato down and makes him a bit of a tragedy?

Despite being a very aesthetically pleasing character, Hayato doesn’t cut the mustard as a high or even medium-tier character in MVC2. He can do some interesting things in the right hands, but very few players ever bother to slot him into their teams for reasons outside of simply doing something different for fun.

He doesn’t have flight combos, giant beam combos, or well-known easy-to-use infinite combos. Additionally, he also seems to have low health as compared to the rest of the cast and dies easily as such as popular fighting game community guru, Youtuber, and Twitch streamer Maximlian explains in the video below. These factors together simply make things hard going up against any Marvel vs Capcom 2 team of more competent fighters.

It’s not just Max either. Players all over fighting game forums have debated Hayato’s possibilities and existence on any legitimate and working MvC2 team. As GameFAQs poster Killarock404 points out, he’s not without some pluses, but they come with just as many disadvantages. He can combo from a lot of different places, but a wiff will leave him wide open. He can get great range, but any kind of aggressive game will depend upon good assists from his team mates.

Despite all odds, it doesn’t keep players from attempting to expand Hayato’s viability. Youtuber Clayton “Final Showdown” Chapman, a regular Hayato player put together an interesting combo video for Hayato in 2017. In the video, Final Showdown shows off the concept of a theoretically infinite combo for Hayato that could could be carried on a loop. Despite the fact that Marvel vs Capcom 2 is over a decade old at this point, it shows some dedication that some creative pros are still finding some wild tricks on even the worst and most disregarded characters among consensus.

It’s stuff like Final Showdown’s findings that make us believe that even a fashion-over-function hero like Hayato can become something more than D-tier if someone just figures out what to do with him. Were you a Hayato player in MVC2? Do you love the beam swordsman as much as we do? Or, did you laugh at the guys who thought he was such a cool character? Do you have any “low-tier” characters you remember fondly? Let us know!


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