The fact that Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is being released in North America is almost mind-blowing. Considering that Tatsunoko is a relatively unknown brand in the western world it was universally assumed that Capcom wouldn’t be bringing the game stateside which forced avid fight fans like me to import the Japanese game and hunt down a Freeloader in order to bask in it’s awesomeness. Now just over a year after it’s homeland release, TvC is available in stores all across America and furthermore Capcom has added some sweet additions to make up for its late arrival.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars is the latest installment in the “Capcom Vs” series. Only this time instead of squaring off against Marvel or SNK, Ryu and Co. are in conflict with a bunch of Japanese characters you’ve probably never seen or heard of before. Tatsunoko is a very popular anime company in Japan but in the west you’d be hard pressed to find a person who‘s even heard of the brand, let alone recognize anyone from it. However all the Otaku’s and old school anime fans out there will be pleased to know the Tatsunoko line-up includes characters from the likes of Gatchaman, Tekkaman Blade and Karas. The Capcom line up will likely be far more appealing to the domestic audience as it features well known names such as Ryu & Chun-Li of Street Fighter fame, Megaman, Viewtiful Joe and Dead Rising’s very own Frank West who appears as an unlockable character. Unfortunately no characters from key franchises like Resident Evil, Devil May Cry or Ace Attorney are present in the game but hey that what sequels are for, right?
Keeping in tone with the “vs.” series Capcom opted to use a 2 on 2 fighting mechanic for TvC. You can select any two characters from both the Capcom or Tatsunoko universe or if you’d like to be an asshole and completely grief your opponent you can substitute your choice of two characters for one huge robot (from either Lost Planet or Golden Warrior Gold Lightan) who completely breaks all the rules of the game and instantly makes you a moral loser no matter what the outcome of the fight may be. If you decide to play fair and chose two normal characters each of them will have their own independent life bars and you can change between them at any time during a match. Like in Marvel vs. Capcom you can also have your partner jump on screen, deliver a blow, and then jump back out which can lead to some impressive looking tag team combos.
On the surface TvC may seem like super simplistic, especially if playing with the Wii remote held sideways which allows you to pull of special moves with a single button press. However hook up a classic controller or fight stick (which is being released by MadCatz alongside the game for $80) and it won’t be long before you discoverer hidden depth in the fighting system. Within a matter of hours you’ll find yourself chaining together Super Moves, dishing out lethal combos and performing well timed dashes to get the upper hand on your opponent. Trying out new characters for the first time can admittedly feel a little daunting but finding the right combination of fighters to suit your play style is vital if you wish completely dominate.
In terms of game modes Capcom has everything you’d expect, and then some. There’s an Arcade mode, a Versus mode, Time Trail, Survival, Practice and new to the western version of the game is the inclusion of an Online Versus mode. Online play works exceeding well with very little (if any) lag, while the Wii’s Friend Code system makes it difficult to arrange match-up’s with your real life buddies, finding a match against a random internet stranger is seamless. Hopefully TvC will be able to retain a strong online community because as far as online fighters go, this is currently the best the Wii has on offer.
Graphically TvC isn’t anything groundbreaking but the over the top Japanese quirkiness is truly appreciated. The characters are well drawn with a heavy anime influence and some of the fighting arenas are pretty creative while others feels a little empty. My biggest gripe with the graphics aren’t technically the game’s fault but more to do with the fact that the game is on the Wii. After growing accustomed to the sharpness of Street Fighter II HD Remix and the sheer gorgeousness of Street Fighter IV on the PS3/360, TvC looks particularly blurry and low-res. The Super Moves look visually impressive as the screen goes dark and the camera zooms in (similar to the Ultra Moves in SF IV), however the Super Moves gauge fills up so quick;y and Super Moves are so easy to pull off that you’ll soon become tired of seeing them.
If you’ve been waiting for a Wii-based experience on par with some of Capcom’s classic fighting games then TvC is definitely the game for you. Residing somewhere between the methodical nature of Street Fighter IV and the bat-shit craziness of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, TvC is a fun fighting game which should satisfy anyone who knows how to pull off a drag-on punch. While the character selection leaves plenty to be desired and the graphics aren’t too impressive, none of that really matters once you’ve found the perfect pair of fighters and proceed to kick ass both on and offline. This is by far the best fighting game on the Wii (not including the Virtual Console releases) so do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today, I’d hate to see another awesome Wii title fail miserably at retail.