The last year was unusually good for fighting game fans, as the once-dominant genre was stirred from a comfortable slumber with some truly interesting choices for fans to wrap their arcade-happy hands around. But one console that was wholly underserved was Nintendo’s dominant waggle-machine, perhaps as companies felt it not powerful enough to bring the true experience home, or maybe its perceived target audience was less interested in pummeling than partying.
Thank goodness that Capcom has once again bucked the trend and chose the Japanese Wii to debut the home console version of their latest chapter in the popular “Vs.” series of crossover fighters with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes. Released almost simultaneously alongside its arcade-counterpart, I just had to
Chances are good that you’ll never see a stateside release of this one, and even if you did a good half of its roster might be unfamiliar to you. Although faces like Ryu, Chun Li, MegaMan and others are popular across the globe, the Tatsunoko troupe (while revered in Japan) are less recognizable. The animation company has produced some of the beloved creations the country has, including Gatchaman (G-Force in America), Neo Human Cassher, and Tekkaman to name a few. Although anime fanatics might explode with joy at the prospect of seeing these heroes match wits against Capcom’s finest, the complex world of licensing rights will most likely keep this chapter strictly a Japanese affair, so unless you’re prepared to navigate the import waters or have someone who can send you a copy, you may have to settle for watching YouTube videos and static screenshots.
Like all previous ‘Vs’ games, the bulk of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom consists of supplying gameplay that can literally fill the screen in brilliant flashes of devastating firepower and laughably comic absurdity, with controls that vaguely resemble those of any classic Street Fighter game. In a nutshell it’s a ride of near-insanity that is even more accessible with an broadly simplified control scheme that consists of only three attacks (light, medium, strong) and a partner-assist button. Compared to previous titles the gameplay does compromise a fair amount of complexity in execution, but manages to keep things interesting for everyone thanks to instantly-pleasing Air Combos, Variable Hyper Combos, and even the logic-defying barrages of Baroque Combos.
Unless your blessed with an actual arcade stick, having a Classic Controller is probably your best bet if you prefer fighting on a control pad. The standard Wiimote or Gamecube options (while available) just won’t cut it for any serious fighting game connoisseur. To help please the masses Capcom has actually manufactured an arcade-quality stick specifically for this game that, while pricey, may be your best option if you plan on being competitive and want the full arcade experience at home.
Fans of the ‘Vs’ franchise will be happy to know that the insane visual nature also returns, rendered in glorious and seizure-inducing spasms of color and action onscreen. 3D polygons faithfully replace traditional sprites, and while purists may boo at the apparent sacrifice of hand-drawn splendor, these are great representations of our heroes and boast silky-smooth animations and interactions. The gameplay is pure 2D goodness, and the ridiculously explosive, screen-filling calamities should erase any doubts that the game is here to entertain. The Wii handles all the action just fine, and looks great on progressive-scan HDTVs. The backgrounds (and background music) is suitably inspired, as both draw from the impressive back-catalogs to really drive the personalities home. Music changes to match the actual character, and its possible to spend hours just picking out eye candy from the lush and detailed backdrops.
To keep things entertaining you’ll have Versus, Survival, and Time Attack modes to serve as alternatives to the fairly straightforward Arcade mode, but even then you’re treated with an exclusive “Original Game” mode that consists of character-specific mini-games that manage to keep the replay value alive and thoroughly kicking. Of course, these mini-games are only limited to your Wiimote, and lots of manic motion wagging and waving. For the truly obsessive a “Secret Shop” mode is there if you to undertake the task of truly acquiring everything this game can offer.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on the enticing prospect of pairing video game mainstays against revered classic anime heroes, then it makes perfect sense to look into Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes. It returns the frantic nature of the earlier “Vs. series” into a modernized fighting frenzy and never stays too far from the formula. Of course the only real hurdle is availability, which as it stands is currently a ‘Japanese only’ release, although don’t lose hope of this one ever seeing the light of day outside Japan.
A major-motion picture of Gatchaman from Imagi Studios (who released TMNT) is slated to hit American theaters in 2010, so perhaps the dam is ready to break and the licensing options will yield some good dividends. You may have to pony up for an import copy, but if really want to engage in the battle of the gaming and anime titans this game will certainly deliver. No doubt about that.