Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All Stars Review

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Ultimate All Stars (Only available on Wii)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players:1-2
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom/8ing
Release Date: January 26, 2010

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars is the Wii’s go-to fighting game, despite it competing with Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which is more of a party-fighting game.  TvC is the latest in Capcom’s VS series of fighters and has filled the void for a traditional AAA fighter.  Capcom cleared numerous legal hurdles and finally brought the game to the States, albeit with differences compared to the Japanese version…. but it’s just awesome.  Ours enjoys new characters, added mini-games, and online play.  We lack a playable Hakushon Daimo (not a big deal) and the original music.  The North American release clearly comes out on top.

The story, or what resembles a plot, is impossible to briefly describe.  It’s irrelevant anyway, so there’s no point in discussing it.  As with most arcade-style fighters, story is really only tied to the characters’ endings.  The US version wears completely reworked artwork thanks to UDON, who supplied some amazing designs.  It’s just a shame that the endings are just still images with text.  The Japanese version was animated, what gives?  The same applies to the voice work, heard mainly during the opening movie and those unlocked.  The presentation is basic.  There are no cutscenes or dialogue, though the speech is set to Japanese, which is interesting.  The voices are great and spot-on for the characters, but Frank West sounds off.  I would’ve appreciated a character guide or a more thorough examination of the roster so North Americans could be educated about the Tatsunoko side.

The game supports every means of control possible: NES-style Wii-mote, remote and nunchuk, Classic Controller and GameCube controller.  For the arcade purist, a limited edition TvC fight stick is available (I unfortunately have no experience with it).  For the fighting fan, the Classic Controller is the best option.  The D-pad and button placement is better suited to action.  Otherwise, the remote and nunchuk is convenient and streamlines many of the commands to make unleashing combos a snap.  TvC is more accessible to newer players, but may frustrate veterans.  Button mashing/waggle can push a player far, but it isn’t mindless to the degree that a seasoned vet won’t win.  The GameCube controller is also easy to use, but the D-pad isn’t as good as the Classic Controller’s (unless you’re one of the few with the Hori Digital).

The fighting is fast, fun, and over the top.  Like other vs. games, TvC is about hitting fast and hard, not developing an on-going strategy in something like King of Fighters.  Even Street Fighter IV, with its flash and finesse, is more about conservatism and strategy.  Tatsunoko vs. Capcom doesn’t intimidate in your starting to throw out screen-filling special attacks.  However, the hardcore fan can be happy with the depth, complex roster and great battle system.  Ryu, Chun Li, Alex, Batsu, and Morrigan bring familiar styles.  Who doesn’t know how to Hadouken by now?  From there, the roster becomes more intense and diverse, with a multipurpose character like Mega Man Volnutt, and the more throw-heavy (and sometimes comical) Frank West.  There are also two giant robot characters, Lost Planet’s PTX and Golden Lightan, each employing a unique fighting style.  PTX is about range weapons while Lightan fights hand-to-hand.  From the new characters, Zero is probably the best, with diverse attacks and excellent combos.  Other US-specific characters are Yatterman-2, Joe the Condor, Frank West, and Tekkaman Blade.  Tekkaman Blade is an interesting variation of the existing Tekkaman character.  Both use a lance, but have distinct styles and movesets.  There are no clones to be found here.  Casshan uses his robotic canine Friender for help, while Joe the Condor focuses on countering (but has a pistol for long range).

Super moves can be unleashed after building up power in a bottom bar.  Dishing and receiving damage fills it (up to a maximum of five).  Each character has three supers, two that require one bar, and the most powerful taking three.  You can even swap out during an attack.  One of the best mechanics is the Mega Crash, a combo breaker.  If the opponent is cutting you down and there appears to be no escape, just use the Mega Crash (sacrifice some power) in order to do so.  You don’t even have to memorize or be dedicated like in BlazBlue; it’s a wonderful balance.  Some point out similarities to Marvel vs Capcom 2 or Street Fighter Alpha 3, and they’re appropriate.  Tatsunoko vs. Capcom brings a level of action Wii gamers have been missing.  There are other nuances that I could explain, but all the little details can be left for your discovery.

The arcade and versus modes are the main attractions, which is expected.  There’s also time attack, survival, gallery, training, shop, online versus, and extra mini-games.  Arcade spans about 15 minutes per character, with seven rounds of challengers and a final boss.  Unlocking characters, outfits, and gallery content is easy, and usually a matter of reaching the end of Arcade.  Online versus offers random battles across both specific regions and worldwide, as well as the options to add friends.  Even previous opponents can be added, with no need for a code.  TvC sports ranked and unranked matches.  The mini-game, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Ultimate All Shooters, is a run ‘n gun arcade shooter that could’ve been released for the SNES ago.  It has a thorough retro feel, offers four-player co-op and alternate pathways, which is pretty cool.  The idea is to run through Lost Planet-like levels and shoot enemies, which is a fun diversion from the main game.

The graphics are clearly optimized for Wii — TvC hasn’t been ported from an existing engine.  In fact, this is the first Vs. to feature 3D graphics on a 2D plane, making it somewhat similar to Capcom’s flagship fighter Street Fighter IV.  The fighter models are colorful, and the animation is superb.  The polish isn’t something we’re used to, which is most welcome.  The flashy specials are particularly fun to see.  The audio effort is also impressive, with an array of decent rock and techno tunes.  The original soundtrack is unfortunately sacrificed, but most players wouldn’t be familiar with it anyway.  The voice work is great, though again, Frank West sounds off.

The 20+ character roster, online play, added bonuses (shooting mini-game, character artwork, etc.), wonderful visuals and amazing fighting system make Tatsunoko vs. Capcom the best of its kind on Wii.  This is reason for other console owners to be jealous.

Scoreboard (Not an average)
Story: **/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Value: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

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