Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars Review!

Hey, johnny139 here, bringing you the first Nintendo 5-Star Review! Our game this time? Why, the biggest Wii game of 2010 (so far, at least), Tatsunoko vs. Capcom!

Now, I'm a Wii owner. And a fighting game enthusiast. And a Capcom junkie. And a lover of classic anime. So when I heard that Tatsunoko vs. Capcom was the next installment of the Capcom Vs. series, I nearly flipped. Then I realized how unlikely it would be for such a game - full of obscure characters in licensing limbo - to come to US shores. So, I lamented.

But months ago, the western world heard rumbles of an American release. New characters, online, improved gameplay... and Capcom delivered, fully aware of the fact the chances of success were slim at best. Capcom, we can only assume, worked hard wrangling all of these characters for a global release. Was it worth the effort? It most certainly was.

When you boot up Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, your first thought it just how much it feels like an arcade fighter. The title screen, the character select, the digitized announcer's voice booming over the menu music... of course, this makes perfect sense, as the original edition WAS an arcade fighter.

The game itself follows suit - on the whole, it's a fairly basic fighting game. You have a roster of characters - 26, to be exact, evenly split between the two sides - and you fight with them. However, this is not a weakness; in fact, it's the game's greatest strength. There's no complex story mode, no real plot to speak of, and virtually no non-fighting modes (with one major exception). It's a straight fighter.

You have the normal spread of modes: Arcade, where you go through eight matches with your selected characters. Survival, where you fight until you run out of energy. Time Attack, where you defeat enemies as quickly as possible. Versus, where you and a friend go head to head. And, perhaps, the greatest addition from the original version - Wi-Fi.

Yes, online fighting. You can do battles with anyone on the face of the Earth (assuming they have the game, of course), either in free battles or ranked matches, or with friends, via Nintendo's Friend Code system. The online is far from perfect - matches can take some time to set up, and there is always a chance of lag. However, neither do anything to harm the overall game, and the online is servicable, at the very least - if you want to fight someone, you can fight them.

Without the core gameplay, though, would you ever want to? The gameplay is pitch-perfect. The roster feels balanced, and even the worst player can enjoy themselves. Like me - I'd be the first to admit my complete lack of fighting game skills. While some characters are certainly worse, on the whole, and others better - try and win a serious match with PTX-40A or Gold Lightan and I doubt you'll come out on top - it never feels like a BAD thing; it's a natural part of the game, and it's never impossible to win.

The characters themselves are no doubt foreign to most players - I consider myself a fan of obscure Japanese things, but characters like Ippatsuman and Saki are question marks, even to me. And to many, this is likely a turn-off; Marvel or DC, or even more Capcom characters would be more familiar and likely garner more attention. Personally, I love seeing strange, unknown figures duking it out, but I can see the arguments against it.

Similarly, the lack of English voice acting is less-than-ideal. It certainly adds to the foreign nature of the game, and this was likely a reason for the choice. But with only the vaguest idea of what people are saying ("Jinzoningen Casshan;" well, I'm sure it means SOMETHING), you can feel a tad detached from the action.

Another loss on the way across the pond was the music. Likely, music rights for the Tatsunoko characters were too expensive, particularly for a game without such low sales forthcoming. While many of the track are good - the Orbital Ring and Gesellschaft (Stormy) are my personal favorites - there is a certainly feeling associated with classic theme song music; it's perhaps the greatest loss for the global adaptation.

While the sound has its flaws, the graphics are absolutely superb. The lush backgrounds, the realistic-yet-cartoony characters, and the fast action are among the best the Wii has to offer. Characters as diverse as Viewtiful Joe and Tekkaman Blade are distinct, but do not seem out of place in the same game. This design aesthetic works very well; hopefully, a similar style is used for future crossovers.

As far as other modes go, there's, of course, a Gallery - a must have in any character-rich game nowadays. It has videos, character art, and so forth; par for the course, but not without merit. One glaring flaw is the lack of a Sound Test - while the music isn't as good as the original, it's still worth listening to. The other is the Extra Game - Ultimate All-Shooters. A game in the same style as a classic shoot'em'up, it's a fun, if simple, diversion, with up to four player multiplayer. There is also a platformer in the credits, starring Doronjo's Gang (and occasionally Roll); again, a fun diversion.

I, like many, have looked forward to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom for months, and was not disappointed. As I said, I'm a fan of anime, Capcom, fighting games, and the Wii - this is my game. For anyone casually involved in any of these things, it's a worthy purpose; personally, I'd say it's a must have for any Wii owner looking for a good time.


(Image Credits: WiiBlog)