Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: I Take It For A Ride

A few weeks ago, I vented my thoughts on the possibility of me purchasing Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. I was interested in the game, but maybe not enough for me to buy it. However, it was also an opportunity as a core Wii owner to show the world that I will buy hardcore games if companies put them out on the platform. This moral dilemma also hit me shortly before I lost my job. With all of the things stacked against it, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom seemed out of my grasp for the time being.

With my final severance check arriving in the mail a few days ago, I figured that I owe it to myself to have one last hurrah. Was it worth all the fuss that went on in my head, or did it just leave me salty?

As someone who didn’t really get into Marvel vs. Capcom 2, it’s a bit of a surprise to me how well I’ve transitioned into Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. The MvC 2 experience just felt excessive for me. There were too many characters to learn, too many characters you have to manage at once, too many gameplay systems, the game was too fast and combos required too much twitch skill for me to pull off. There are many people who play MvC 2 on a much more casual level, but playing it that way didn’t feel very satisfying for me. TvC is toned down just enough for me to grasp without losing the frantic fun. Instead of 3-on-3 matches, they’re 2-on-2. The game’s pace is slightly slower. For me specifically, I can pick this up and still feel like I’m doing something. Right away, I got a general feel for the fighting system and was able to perform some decent combos and hyper combo set-ups.

Playing TvC made me realize that the TvC style of play is what I was really looking for in BlazBlue. BlazBlue is a pretty good fighting game in its own right, but the barrier to entry for me is far too high because of all the command inputs you have to learn. Every single character has unique button commands for every single special move, which is a lot more effort than I would like to put into a fighting game at this time. TvC sticks to the standard Capcom control conventions so that players that played the original Street Fighter II can jump right in.

I don’t say this very often about Wii games, but the graphics are gorgeous. The art style does a lot to overcome the inherent weaknesses in the Wii’s graphical capability. Backgrounds are well done and the cell-shaded characters look and move great. Hyper combo animations in particular are about as zany and flashy as you would hope for in a “Versus” game. On my 42″ plasma, the characters look a bit jaggy up close, but if I sit about 10 feet away from my TV, it looks awesome. The only other downside is that I feel the game could look a bit sharper. While there are a lot of colours, the colours don’t pop out as I think they should.

I respect the fact that Capcom put in support for all the “main” controller options Wii users have at their disposal. You can play this Wii remote only, Wii remote and nunchuck, Gamecube controller, classic controller or with a joystick. If you want to play for real, then a joystick or classic controller are your only options. I can only imagine how much of a train-wreck this would be to play with Wii remote and nunchuck or Gamecube controller, as neither of those control setups are optimized for fighting games. If you want to play it like Smash Bros., the Wii remote only option changes the controls so that it sort of plays like it. One button is dedicated to all your normal moves and the other is dedicated to special moves. For my younger cousins who want to try this out, I think it’s a great way to ease them in.

Having written down a few hundred words already without mentioning the cast is a bit of a miracle. One of the biggest points people will hold against this game is the fact that half the roster is comprised of Japanese anime characters, which you probably won’t know unless you’re an otaku. For me, I came into it not knowing any of the Tatsunoko people, and not even a lot of the Capcom cast. If you really need that character recognition to get into the game, then maybe this isn’t for you. However, I’ve dabbled with all of the characters at least a bit and everyone is fun to play if you play them right.

My biggest beef with the game so far is a point of contention among many fighting game fans. Some people like to play their fighting games over and over to unlock all the characters. I hate it. You have to beat this game more than a dozen times to unlock all the characters and beat it under particular circumstances. While they’re not as crazy as the stipulations in Street Fighter IV, it doesn’t do anything positive for me. I don’t care that I’m playing this game longer, and it doesn’t really lend itself to trying out new characters. I just put the difficulty down to one star, pick Ryu and whoever I need to beat the game with and thrash the computer until the final hit of the last boss, where I bring in the other character to finish the job. Having to unlock characters just makes the first few hours of playing the game a chore to me.

I am thankful that Capcom also incorporated online play into this, which was not available in the Japanese version. Does it work as well as Street Fighter IV on XBOX Live, which isn’t the greatest experience to begin with? No. When it does work, it’s fine. However, I’ve run into a number of connection problems that I think are not so much the fault of the game, but the fault of Nintendo’s poor online support. When it doesn’t work, I can spend 15 minutes or more just trying to find a match, only to end up getting cut off before we can even get to the character select menu. I’ve also experienced matches with really unfair lag. In Street Fighter IV, I’ve noticed that both players are equally affected in a laggy match. However, I felt like I was at the complete mercy of lag and my opponent was playing just fine when lag did hit. Button presses would take seconds before finally being registered way too late, while my opponent beat me to a pulp.

While I would much rather tie the release of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars to a more joyous occasion other than me receiving my final severance payment in the mail, the game offers a great fighting experience for anyone willing to give it a chance on the Wii. Nintendo loyalists haven’t received a good 2D fighting game on the platform since Super Street Fighter II in the early 1990s, and if this bombs like how I think it will, it may be the last one you’ll get for a long time. For the love of fighting games and all that is left of “hardcore” on the Wii, pick this up.

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