Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars brings the popular crossover fighting series to the Wii. Originally called Cross Generation of Heroes in Japan, Capcom has finally brought the game to America after a massive fan campaign called for its release. Rather than simply slapping some English subtitles on the import, the developers took the time to improve on the original Japanese version, adding additional characters, online play, and new modes to the package. The final result is a worthy fighter that lives up to the vs. series’ lofty standards.
So you might be familiar with Marvel, Street Fighter, and SNK, but what the heck is Tatsunoko? It is actually the animation studio that spawned most of the cartoon companies in Japan. Anime heroes like Yatterman, Karas, Casshan, and Tekkaman are all on-board, and while many of these characters might not be familiar to American audiences, fighter junkies will still be pleased with the various styles offered within the Tatsunoko roster. On the Capcom side, mainstays like Ryu and Morrigan are offset by a few more obscure characters, like Yami from Okami and Batsu from Rival Schools. Even without knowing the specifics of each fighter, the control scheme and its loose juggling/combo system allows newcomers and veterans to easily execute satisfying and entertaining moves.
Those familiar with the typical 6-button fighting system might need to adjust to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom’s more simplified approach. Only four buttons are needed, representing a tag button, weak, medium, and hard attacks. Hyper moves are done by hitting two attack buttons along with that character’s super combo motion, and defensive moves called “Mega Crash” and “Baroque” allow you to break free from the clutches of opponents and cancel their moves for a wild counter-attack. Partner swaps can be done during air combos, hyper moves can be canceled into your partner’s hyper moves, and a team can do their hyper attacks simultaneously. While these methods are not essential to enjoying the game, they are necessary for any serious contender and are heavily employed by most experienced fighters. While I would prefer to use the standard 6-button fighting system, three attacks do just fine. The minimalized controls make the actions more accessible to new audiences, and give experienced gamers a unique challenge as they try to adjust their well-worn strategies. Unfortunately, the Wii remote feels somewhat limiting as a fighting game controller, but the Gamecube and Classic controllers are acceptable.
Story mode pits your duo against multiple rounds of fearsome foes. Beating this earns you currency to purchase extras like image galleries and alternate costume colors, as well as five additional characters like Mega Man’s Zero and Dead Rising’s Frank West. Sadly, the ending sequences aren’t animated and are generally pretty lame, with some even having grammatical errors that add to their Japanese charm. The standard Survival and Time Attack modes are also present, as well as the highly anticipated online options over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Unfortunately, like many Wii titles, the online play leaves something to be desired. It often takes awhile before an opponent can be found, and connection issues may plague those without blistering internet speeds. A system similar to Street Fighter IV would have been preferable.
The visuals of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom might seem slightly below par, but this is much less noticeable once the battle begins. The developers did a great job of capturing the look and spirit of each of these characters, with all of them having their own unique design and mannerisms. Hyper moves are accompanied by bright, pulsing colors and swooping camera moves, making them deeply satisfying and giving players a true sense of the strength that these devastating attacks unleash.
With all of this considered, any true fighting game fan should have Tatsunoko vs. Capcom in their collection. It’s fun to discover the unique characters from Tatsunoko’s side, and even more fun to beat them into a pulp with rarely-utilized Capcom characters like Viewtiful Joe. It’s also good to know that, thanks to titles like this and Street Fighter IV, the 2D fighter is still alive and well.