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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (Wii)

Playing to the strengths of its long-running versus series, Capcom has teamed up with legendary anime studio Tatsunoko for an appealing anime-infused fighting game that should please casual and hardcore gamers alike. Featuring an impressive and varied roster of fighters, the game's accessible controls make it easy to play. Go deeper and you'll find an extensive array of moves and strategic aspects that gives the gameplay plenty of depth and strategy. The challenging opponents, tons of secrets and excellent design create solid gameplay mechanics. Its outstanding aesthetics makes for an instantly appealing fighting game that delivers a solid experience that should appeal to casual and serious players alike.

The first game in the Tatsunoko vs. Capcom series, Cross Generation of Heroes, was released for the Wii almost a year ago in Japan. Unfortunately, gamers on the other side of the ocean had to wait for the second revision until Capcom released it here. The release has finally happened and the good news is that it was worth the wait. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a solid fighting game that should have broad appeal. It's brightly colored visuals are sharp and crisp, with the characters rendered in impressive 2.5D plane that mixes traditional 2D fighting with 3D backgrounds and cinematics. This gives things a modern, yet retro look that's quite appealing, through the j-pop soundtrack can be annoying. They look vibrant and animate smoothly, moving around the screen at a frenetic pace. The game's cool combo attack animations give thigns an additional punch that makes for a vibrant and impressive experience. Aesthetics are nice, but going beneath the surface shows a title that also delivers solid gameplay. The most important element in any fighting game are the fighters themselves. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom's cool character roster is varied and offers plenty of characters that should appeal to gamers and anime fans alike. The game includes 20 characters in all to start with additional ones available later on. There are many familiar names from the Capcom part including Ryu, Chun-Li from Street Fighter, Mega Man, Morrigan from Darkstalkers, Viewtiful Joe and many others. The Capcom characters maintain their traditional moves sets and attacks for the most part and they play beautifully in this installment. They offer the same balance and feel as in previous titles since most have been redone in the new 2.5D style, they have a refreshing appearance.

Many of the Tatsunoko characters are probably going to be less familiar to those who aren't hardcore fans of anime, but some well-known Tatsunoko characters such as Ken the Eagle and Jun the Swan from Battle of the Planets are present along with more obscure characters like Cashan, Yatterman, Doronjo and Polimar round out an appealing lineup. It a well-rounded cast that gives you plenty to choose from, and the number of characters and abilities gives the game plenty of depth and replay value. Players will also find several unlockable characters are also present and you can play them easily by defeating arcade mode with three or so different characters. Since you have to select a two-member team before each match, there are endless combinations and abilities that you can try out. You can choose to play as a stronger character with devastating combo attacks and balance them off with a more strategic character that's less obvious. You'll also need to think about their combo team attacks as well, since some characters bring more damage in assist mode than others, but also have stronger presence when they're the main character. This makes each character selection a strategic move that plays a significant role in how each round plays out. For the most part, there are traditional 2 on 2 battles where you face off in teams against each other, but there are also a few rounds that throw in an interesting twist. In several sequences, you'll battle a robotic boss that has a much larger energy bar than you do. These battles are quite challenging and require you to use both characters' skills to their maximum. This is doubly true for the final boss battle, where you face off against a massive spherical foe who transforms several times and has multiple energy bars you'll need to deplete before it is defeated. These boss encounters add to the game's unpredictability and gives an added challenge to the arcade mode, but fortunately isn't nearly as frustrating as the end level boss in SFIV.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom follows the pattern of the earlier Marvel and SNK versus games in that its control system has been streamlined and simplified, while the emphasis on over-the-top combos makes for a faster, more frenetic fighting experience. The biggest change from standard Capcom fighters is the devolved two button interface on the Wiimote controller, which should make the game less intimidating for new players. Instead of the usual 6-button configuration, there's a single button for punch, kick and dodge moves. Performing special attack combos is relatively simple as well. Once your combo meter fills up, you can unleash these moves. Playing with the standard Wiimote is easiest, requiring only the pressing of two buttons and a single direction to unleash the combo attack. However, players who use either the classic controller or an arcade stick will probably enjoy the game much more, since it's got a more traditional gaming configuration. Surprisingly, it doesn't use the Wii's motion sensing abilities at all, which is surprising. It would have been cool to shake the controller and unleash a move or some combo, but this is a lost opportunity. The basic moves that are available are pretty much standard fighting game mechanics, and most casual players should be able to get by with these moves and the occasional combo attack. However, this only grazes the surface and there are more moves available if you want to go deeper. Baroque moves are fairly interesting, since they use up the red portion of your energy bar but allow you to gain more damage. Players can also call on their reserve character for assist attacks and switch between characters if the primary one is running low on energy. There's also a number of cross-over combo moves where you can call in the reserve characters to assist you in blocking or with standard attacks. In addition, the game lets you unleash many different types of special moves and combos in team or solo mode, which gives Tatsunoko plenty of depth. This extensive moves list is available onscreen and should help you gain more moves once your done with the flashier combat moves.

As you play through the game, you'll discover that there are several types of special attacks that you can perform with standard specials that only use a single life bar on your power-gauge. However, more strategically, you can build up your power-gauge which lets you perform more elaborate team combos that use several power levels but inflict massive damage on your opponent. Some of the more impressive combos take some effort to perform, such as the Team Hyper and Mega combos that are quite impressive, and take a lot of energy from your opponent. Players can also use their assist characters and perform a hyper combo at the same time, which can either cause much more damage, or very little depending on your position. The effectiveness of these combos depends on your timing, distance from the opposing character and whether or not they'll be able to block your moves in time. While they're flashy and impressive, they don't always decide the match, and you'll need to focus on your standard attack moves and timing if you really want to play each match decisively. These multi-tiered combos allow the matches to move quickly, which is a plus. However, it does make the game feel more like a button masher than a technical fighter, but the trade-off there is that players who 'turtle', (crouch in a corner in blocking mode) will find that strategy almost nonexistent. The focus is definitely on the combo moves and this makes the game a fast exhilarating exercise. It's more accessible control schematic makes it somewhat less intimidating for novice players, but the experts familiar with Capcom fighters will also find plenty of depth, too.

While playing in single-player arcade mode is probably going to be the default for most players, there are other modes of play available. There's an extensive training mode that allows you to practice your moves against dummy opponents or pre-programmed opponents. You can browse through the store and buy additional items and colors for your characters with credits you earn after each match. The game also includes a cool Gallery mode where you can view character art or ending cinematic movies. For multiplayer modes, TvC gives you the ability to compete with friends using the Wii's wifi mode, which is a nice addition for those who want to match up with others nationwide. With all of these features and extras taken into account, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom offers plenty of variety. This is a solidly entertaining title that fits in nicely in the long-running versus series. The brilliant, colorful visuals make it a joy to look at with smooth character animation and some fairly spectacular combo move animations. Its accessible and simplified game mechanics mean that the game isn't the deepest or most technical fighter on the market, but it doesn't pretend to be. Like the earlier installments, this is aimed at the casual player. It's an accessible, arcade-style brawler with many appealing and obscure characters that makes for some exciting matches. This is a remarkably streamlined and accessible title that delivers a solid gameplay experience effortlessly. With its appealing roster of characters, excellent play mechanics, unlockable content, multiple play modes and deep moves lists, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a challenging and highly entertaining fighting game that delivers the cross-over goods players have come to expect.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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