The Capcom versus series has always been among the most popular in the genre. Wii owners have been denied the glory of being able to experience one of these games, or just about any good fighting games since the console’s launch. Capcom is remedying that with their latest release Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Now when you hear the name you are likely confused unless you are a huge fan of anime, specifically old-school anime. Tatsunoko is not exactly a household name anywhere outside of Japan. In fact some people thought this game would never see the light of day over here due to licensing issues. Thankfully everything worked itself out and now Wii owners have a fantastic fighting game that they can truly call their own.
Let’s start with the diverse cast of characters found within the game. Much like previous versus iterations Capcom has hand-picked each combatant from each side with mixed results. Personally I love the inclusion of some of the more diverse Capcom favorites such as Frank West from Dead Rising and Viewtiful Joe, but MegaMan Volnutt is just a peculiar choice. The Tatsunoko side feels actually quite different from the Capcom side featuring characters from such classics as Gatchaman, Yatterman and Tekkaman. Yeah there is a lot of “man” in there. I love the diversity of the roster, and everyone is certain to find a character to their liking.
Much like the aforementioned versus classic Tatsunoko is a tag-team fighter that focuses on ridiculous attacks, and plenty of juggle combos. Insane amount of damage are inflicted and special moves are truly outrageous. This recipe has been the foundation for all the versus games and it again works here. The separation between casual and hardcore fans is nearly invisible, and anyone can pick up the game and perform some pretty flashy combos. This is always a nice breather from the demanding button inputs and frame counting of games like Street Fighter IV. Tatsunoko has been bred for a very different audience, and one that fits well with the Wii userbase.
Picking the game up is a breeze, and you have the option of choosing which scheme best fits your agenda. Casual gamers can jump right in with the Wii remote and pull of flashy combos by simply mashing the A button. You can also perform special moves by tapping a direction and a single button. This is nice for those that just want to jump in and have fun, but if you want depth to the combat system, it is there. Digging below the surface you will discover that like the other versus games, Tatsunoko has a hidden layer of complexity that only seasoned players will notice. The fine balance between being accessible to anyone and complex enough to entice the hardcore is a road rarely travelled with success, but Capcom manages to pull it off once again.
Once you plug in a Gamecube or Classic Controller the game becomes a much more familiar experience for veterans of the series. There are three main attack buttons and one helper button that allows you to call on your partner, or switch out at any given time. As with most tag-team affairs once tagged out you can regain some of your energy, this also gives you a chance to build up your combo meter and unleash a special double-team attack. Advanced moves are also there for those willing to invest the time to learn them, and you would be surprised just how deep things can get. Crossover combos, air attacks and even Mega Crushes are all part of your repertoire, and learning the balance of each character will require a serious investment.
The Capcom side of things plays familiar to what you would expect from the company that brought you Street Fighter. Ryu still has the quintessential fireball motion, and for some reason Morrigan still manages to make an appearance in yet another versus game. The Tatsunoko side however has a less conventional design, making them a bit more complex for seasoned players. Overall the game straddles the line between being accessible enough that anyone can hop in and play and being deep enough to keep the hardcores interested.
The collection of modes within the game are pretty customary. You have your traditional arcade mode, time attack, versus and survival as well as a training mode to learn the move sets. The cool thing is that the move sets can be displayed during any mode allowing you to practice your skills while unlocking new characters instead of wasting time against a helpless training dummy. There is even a bonus game that feels more like a classic shooter than a fighting game that can be played with up to four players. The entire package is definitely more than worth your investment regardless of which side of the fence you fall on.
Online battles are here and from our few playtests online the game runs relatively smooth. While the Wii still lags behind other consoles for online play, developers are becoming more and more adept to creating solid online experiences. The friend system is highly functional and the ranking and matchmaking work very similarly to other online Wii titles. As with most online games you can opt to share friend codes and play with your buddies, but it is nice to be able to add rivals and past opponents you have encountered online without hassling with Nintendo’s archaic system. Overall the online is an impressive addition and one that will keep this game alive for quite some time.
Visually I love the look and feel of the game even if it has some sore spots. The characters are rendered in a cartoon-inspired 3D look on a 2D plane. The super combos are flashy and the color palette is oversaturated with lots of primary visuals. The frame rate holds up most of the time and the majority of the environments are both relative and interesting. There are odd occasions where some background items may sport a less-than-desirable appearance, but I credit that mostly to the hardware as opposed to the game itself. Sounds are great as well sporting both the English and Japanese voice track. The music while not quite as catchy as MvC2, they do a great job of setting the tone. Some characters are more annoying than others, but that is to be expected with a game of this type.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a game that would likely never see the light of day on US shores. Wii owners should definitely rush out and snag a copy before it becomes a rarity. If you have even the smallest of interest in fighting games, this is a must-own. There simply isn’t a better fighter on the Wii and this is likely the closest we may ever get to a sequel to Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Review copy provided by publisher.