|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Eighting||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
For more than a decade, Capcom's "Vs." series has been an indispensable part of the 2-D fighting landscape. With its trademark tag-team brawls, fast pace, easy special moves, and ultra-damaging super moves, it has let players experience their favorite characters from various franchises in a whole new light.
In America, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars is a bit of a departure, because virtually no one here is familiar with the first part of the game's name. Tatsunoko is a half-century-old Japanese animation studio. Its many anime series are popular in its home country, but they're basically unknown elsewhere. Thus, about half the game's roster will be foreign to stateside fighter fans.
That shouldn't be too much of a problem, however, because Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is quite possibly the best new fighting game available for the Wii. Its many strengths, including its balance, smooth learning curve, and frantic pace, completely outweigh its few weaknesses. For those who want a game that they can pick up and a play immediately, but that takes weeks to master, Tatsunoko is the perfect buy.
The first thing newcomers will notice is that it's remarkably easy to learn this game. There's a training mode, but it's completely unnecessary, because you can display your characters' move lists during the single-player campaign. We recommend dialing down the difficulty, picking some random characters, and displaying the moves list. You can make progress toward unlocking everything while you're learning. What's more, the game's fast pace makes it just plain fun to play, right from the beginning, even against a computer opponent.
There are only three attack buttons (light, medium, heavy), and pulling off special moves is a breeze; they rarely require anything more complicated than a fireball or dragon-punch motion. Usually, the attack changes slightly depending on which attack button you use. A fourth button brings in your other character, either to help out for a second or to step in while your current character regains some health. The truly unskilled can use the Wii-mote and do special moves with the push of a button, but that makes combos harder, so we recommend the Classic Controller or a fightstick.
As you give and receive damage, you build up a meter for Hyper moves. These moves are also easy to execute (a simple motion followed by two attack buttons pressed simultaneously), but the most damaging ones are tough to connect with. Hyper moves trigger multicolored graphical displays that are both amusing and impressive on the Wii.
As players get the hang of the game, they see how much complexity is hidden just beneath the surface. As with any fighting game, you can learn how to time each player's moves, and how to assemble long, drawn-out combos (the latter is especially important in this game, because the moves don't do much damage by themselves and it's relatively easy to juggle an opponent). There are specific techniques to master as well; you can "break away" from attacks, for example. Also, when you take damage, part of your energy bar turns red rather than disappearing completely; you can recharge this energy by tagging the character out, or you can use it to perform a "baroque cancel," ending an animation prematurely to extend a combo and briefly making your character more powerful.
The roster here is a great blend of the familiar and the unfamiliar. On the Capcom side, some of the characters are old favorites; Ryu and Chun Li feel a little bit more nimble than they do in the Street Fighter games, but their fans won't have any trouble mastering their move lists. Other characters come from non-fighting franchises, including Lost Planet, Viewtiful Joe, and Mega Man. The Tatsunoko characters are all unfamiliar, of course, but they offer a lot of personality. Tekkaman is an armored "space knight" with medieval weaponry. Roll is a small girl who fights with a broom and a mop bucket full of scalding water (by the way, what are the child-labor laws in Japan?).