Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars Review

By Brian Leahy - Posted Jan 25, 2010

A US release of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom had a very slim chance of happening due to complicated licensing issues. Capcom worked through the legal flak to secure a Western release and added new characters and online play during the localization. Will TvC live up to the Versus Series pedigree?

The Pros
  • Simplified Mechanics For Newcomers
  • Nice Depth For Hardcore Players
  • Fantastic AI
  • Top-Notch Art & Animation
The Cons
  • No Challenge Mode Like In Street Fighter IV
  • Online Features Hindered By Wii Infrastructure

Capcom's Versus fighting games have typically been loaded with a large cast of characters and a high barrier to entry. The newest installment, the Wii-exclusive Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, is the most accessible Versus title to date, featuring a much smaller cast of characters (26 playable characters compared to Marvel vs. Capcom 2's 56). 

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

Ryu, Chun-Li, And 24 Characters You May Not Know

The US version of TvC fields 13 playable characters from Tatsunoko Production and 13 from Capcom. The cast may not be as recognizable to American audiences, but after spending some time with the characters from Tatsunoko, it's easy to develop favorites as each character is fun and all play differently. The Tatsunoko characters from the anime Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets in the US) all look very similar, but each has a unique playing style. For example, Ken the Eagle is agile and dangerous from any range, while Joe the Condor is slow and powerful in close-quarters.

The US exclusive characters (Frank West, Zero, Joe the Condor, Yatterman-2, and Tekkaman Blade) are nice additions, bringing the roster up to a respectable 26 choices. Giant robot Zippo lighter "Gold Lightan" and Lost Planet's mech "PTX-40A"--two massive characters--cannot be used with teammates. Both are fun to play, but ultimately weak compared to a team of two characters because the enormous robots excel in defense, but lack mobility and variety in their offense.

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Flashy, Fantastic, Fun!

The artwork and animation are gorgeous (you do have Wii component cables, right?) and the framerate is crisp. While the sound effects and voice acting are excellent, the music is sadly lacking. Instead of the character themes found in the Japanese version, the US soundtrack has been changed, due to licensing issues with securing the original Japanese soundtrack. It's a small detail, but worth mentioning, especially if you're familiar with the Japanese version.

The modes presented in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom are standard fighting game staples. You'll get an Arcade, Versus, Survival, Time Attack, and Training modes. The only story to be found is a short character specific montage of stills and subtitles you see when you complete the game. Animation would have been nice, but most of the endings are quite amusing. Repeatedly finishing Arcade mode will unlock additional characters, costumes, and earn in-game currency, which can be used to purchase artwork and other bonuses in the Gallery.

The big omission is any sort of challenge mode, similar to the one that shipped with Street Fighter IV. Challenge mode presented a series of trials for each character that taught combos, special moves, and gameplay mechanics. It was a bit grueling at the harder levels, but was extremely useful for teaching new players the game's mechanics or new characters. TvC does allow you to overlay a character's command list over live gameplay, which facilitates looking up special moves without having to pause and dig through menus. Figuring out the game's more complex features will require a lot of practice, FAQ-reading, and more practice.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

Simplified Controls Meet Complex Mechanics

The fighting system in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom has been simplified compared to MvC2, but only on the surface. There are three attacks (Light, Medium, and Heavy) and a Partner button. Your second character can be called in for a quick assist move by hitting the Partner button or tag in to give your first character a breather. Unlike MvC2, each character has only one assist move. Team selection is very important for high-level play, but I didn't find any characters that would be relegated strictly to assist duty as you see in MvC2 (Captain Commando, anyone?!).

Depth comes into play with TvC's extra mechanics: Baroque, Variable Air Raid, Variable Counter, Advancing Guard, Mega Crash, and more. All of these are optional, but will allow better players to pull off flashy combos and compete at a higher level. Baroque is TvC's "cancel" mechanic, which cancels your current move, allowing you to continue a combo where it would otherwise be impossible, while Variable Air Raid/Counter are two methods of tagging in your partner in without risk. With all of these options, the game plays surprisingly like a cross between a Capcom Versus game and an Arc System Works game (Guilty Gear, BlazBlue).

Thankfully, the game's phenomenal AI will make use of all of TvC's mechanics at higher difficulty levels to give players a nice challenge as they improve. The AI is realistic, playing almost as a human would, and is some of the best I’ve ever seen in any fighting game. It will poke and try to exploit openings, punish with high-damage combos, intelligently manage super meter, and win. The best way to see impressive combos? Crank the difficulty up to the max and watch what the computer does. The only thing I noticed the AI do in error regularly was use Mega Crash at the end of my combos instead of during... you know, when the AI was actually taking damage. Except for that minor gripe, the AI puts up a great fight and offers great gameplay without having another person in the room or when hopping online.

Oh Boy... Friend Codes...

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom supports online play using Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection, and while the implementation is the best it could be considering Nintendo’s online abilities, the feature set is a bit limited. I'm a bit spoiled by playing Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix with all the bells and whistles that come with Microsoft and Sony's online platforms. What you'll get are ranked matches, unranked matches, and the ability to save friends and rivals to a list for easy look-up. Rivals differ from friends because you can add them to a stored list after playing them in a ranked or unranked match. There's no mutual code exchange to list a rival and I commend Capcom for adding this support around Nintendo's "Protect The Children" online infrastructure. I do wish the developers had included spectating and lobbies, but overall, online works and should add a good deal of longevity to the game.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

Fight Fans Take Heed

In short, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is the best fighting game on the Wii and deserves to be checked out by Wii-owning fighting fans. It's not the most robust package in terms of modes, but it's an extremely solid first entry in a new franchise. Too often, Wii gamers end up getting ports or watered down versions of games available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This is not the case with TvC, which was developed from the ground up on Wii hardware. It looks beautiful and plays extremely well on a Classic or GameCube controller. If you just have to play every good fighting game, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a clear system seller for the Wii.