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There hasn’t been a better time to make a 2D Fighting game since the halcyon days of Street Fighter 2. After over a decade of relative inactivity, Street Fighter 4 (though I don’t like to admit it) has single-handedly revived the genre: a genre that was thought to be dead by pretty much everyone except the hardcore enthusiasts, who kept it alive via national tournaments. The franchise is now gloriously revered and celebrated worldwide once again.

Now, Capcom is reviving the “Versus” series, which has thus far consisted of Capcom characters fighting against characters from comic publisher Marvel. This time around, though, Capcom’s characters are pitted against characters from the famous anime company Tatsunoko. While less popular in America, Tatsunoko is renowned in Japan, and responsible for many popular animated TV series.

For those who have never played a “Versus” game, Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom pits two teams of two characters against each other, tag-team style. Characters can dash, double jump, and air dash all over the place. Weaker normal attacks can chain into stronger attacks, which can be combo-ed into special attacks, and even more powerful super moves. Characters can launch their opponent sky-high and combo them in mid-air. Once both characters on a team have lost all their life, the match is over.

This is, more-or-less, what you’ve missed if you’ve never played a “Versus” game. The new elements of TvC are a few features borrowed from the Guilty Gear series (which, incidentally, borrowed from the original Capcom Versus games). Inspired by Guilty Gear‘s “Burst” mechanic are TvC‘s Mega Crashes. A Mega Crash is a special defensive maneuver that costs two stocks of meter from your super bar and a little bit of your character’s life, but pushes the opponent back, stopping a combo instantly in its tracks. Mega Crashes, contrary to Bursts, are much more crucial, since they can be used more often and have more pressing penalties to consider.

The second innovation is the Baroque system. Inspired by Guilty Gear‘s “Roman Cancels”, Baroques allow a character to use up the recoverable part of their life bar to immediately cancel any attack you’re doing. For example, pretend you were using Street Fighters‘ Chun-Li, and you do her Spinning Bird Kick, the SBK does not naturally recover fast enough for you to continue a combo afterwards.

However, using Baroques, she can now cancel her SBK’s cooldown animation and continue attacking. Unlike Roman Cancels, the damage caused by any moves after a Baroque are stronger, depending on how much recoverable damage (red life on the life bar, which can be gained back while tagged out of battle) is used. This makes Baroques more dynamic than Roman Cancels, since there’s more of a risk/reward situation when using them.

Lastly – and not inspired by Guilty Gear – are the giant characters. Both the Capcom and Tatsunoko character rosters each have one giant character. They are not easy to jump over in battle, they have much higher defense than anyone else, and they can also do a lot more damage than normal characters with fewer moves. The downside to using them, however, is that they cannot play on a team; if you pick a giant character, that’s the only character you’re using.

All of these contribute to the crazy, fast-paced style of Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom; battles appear like an action sequence one might see in a superhero film – or, alternatively, The Matrix. While the game hasn’t been out long enough to say how well-balanced it is, the inclusion of Mega Crashes prevent infinites (never-ending combo loops that can be repeated until the opponent dies) from happening, which already puts the balance leagues ahead of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2.

It goes without saying that Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom is a good game. The game feels very fluid and easy to play, but without going overboard, as Street Fighter 4 did, in my opinion. It’s easy to learn and get into, but is hard to master, and the new gameplay mechanics reward good on-the-spot thinking and judgment – a respectable goal to be achieved by any competitive game.

Yet, I feel myself incredibly annoyed by the execution of the game. There are certain things we still see in console fighting games (and console ports, if we want to get into semantics) that just shouldn’t be happening, and the two worst offenses are seen in Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom.

The first offense lies in unlockable playable characters. I enjoy unlockables, but playable characters need to be ready from the beginning. While this point may or may not be up for debate, the sheer bore factor of unlocking all playable characters is not. There are five characters to be unlocked; four out of five of these characters are unlocked by beating the single player mode with three and six Capcom and Tatsunoko characters, respectively. The final character is unlocked by beating the single player mode with all the unlocked characters.

So, to unlock every character, the single player mode must be completed at least fourteen times. Before taking 4-6 hours to do this, you will be out five characters, which is disappointing if you want to have friends over. To add insult to injury, if you go online to fight someone, your opponent can use any character they’ve unlocked, even if you haven’t, making the playing field a bit uneven.

Speaking of online, the netplay in TvC is downright egregious. Players have no control over who they play; one has to simply “search for matches” and be paired up with an opponent at random – a process which takes several minutes. If you enjoyed playing someone, you can save them on a “rival” list and try to play them again later, but there’s still the matter of sitting around for several minutes before finding an opponent in the first place, making the process of finding good “rivals” unbelievably tedious.

Also, TvC deals with latency by using input delay (Street Fighter 4) instead of rollbacks (Street Fighter 2 HD Remix). This means that playing games with people from too far away is virtually impossible (too far away can be as far as West Coast USA to East Coast). Since players have little-to-no control over who they’ll face, they have no way of assuring they’ll play someone with low latency. Even playing someone near you can result in unplayable input delay unless your Wii is connected to the internet via a LAN cable. So in other words, if you connect to the internet via the Wii’s WiFi, don’t count on being able to play the game online.

Finally, we reach the controller issue. TvC has four important buttons during play: the three attack buttons, and the “partner” button, used in assists and tagging your partner in. These buttons are all accommodated nicely when using the Classic Controller or a Gamecube Controller, but using the Wiimote or the Nunchuck forces the player to use “Easy Operation” mode, where there’s only one attack button, and another button used for quickly and easily executing special moves.

If someone wants to use “Easy Operation” mode, that’s fine; but, there’s enough buttons on the Wiimote and Nunchuck to assign all the attack buttons individually, so why not at least give gamers the option to try? Since there is no such option, the game can’t be enjoyed in its full glory without a Classic Controller or a Gamecube Controller, meaning the player has to make additional purchases right off the bat.

I feel kind of bad to levy these complaints on TvC, since the game itself is really excellent. However, there are some elements of console fighters that need to take a hike; needing to unlock playable characters and having input lag in online play are two such things. With arcades more-or-less dead in America, online play is a key element in the future of fighting games, and it can’t be ignored for much longer.

Ultimately though, Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom is an incredibly good fighter; it’s tons of fun and brings a lot of new stuff to the table for casual and competitive fans alike. But I fear that players such as myself, who like to jump into multiplayer straight away and rely on online play for competition, will eventually put it down for more rewarding pursuits. After just one week, I can already hear Street Fighter 2 HD Remix calling my name again.

Rating Category
8.0 Presentation
Cel-Shaded graphics give the game a colorful anime-esque look.
How does our scoring system work?
8.0 Gameplay
This is an excellent revival of the "Versus" games; but the unlocking of characters and poor online play have to go.
5.0 Sound
Generic techno doesn't really get me in the mood to fight: the soundtrack is definitely lacking.
7.0 Longevity
For anyone who has friends, TvC will last forever. If you live far away from anyone who cares about fighters, this game will lose its appeal quickly.
7.5 Overall
Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars is incredible - no joke. But, the message needs to be made clear: needing to unlock playable characters is bad. Bad online lobbies are bad. Input delay is bad. If anything keeps TvC from making waves, it'll be these key issues.

  1. Hmm…

    I don’t think it’s quite fair to knock down points for some of these things. As for the online, I’ve heard mixed things. I’ve heard some people rave about it. Others don’t like it.

    As for the controls, though, I think everyone understands by now the Wii fighters are best played with classic or GameCube controls. I mean, serious players use sticks anyway, so what’s the beef with requiring traditional controls?

  2. Great review mate! Too bad the online component sucks :/

    • avatar Daniyal

      the earthquake mesesd up their entire schedule. Umm .. so? People aren’t driven by companies who update as frequent as possible. People want quality, unless I’m the only sane person here who still believes that we can still get that at times.Also look at another fighting game, BlazBlue. They’ve had huge,(subjective) balancing and changes in the past year, all of which are FREE.Capcom is doing this because they have a large market with the fighting game community and could care less about what they do. While MK9, BlazBlue, Arcana Hearts 3, and other fighting games are holding their fans by giving what they want, or what is acceptable in a update .Mind you, Guilty Gear made many games but took advantage of that time where the fighting game community was still easy to play a lot of fighters. Or paying 50 bucks ONCE and getting the total experience, with future updates? Watch what you believe in. One DISC ONLY expansion will only be the start. Really think hard about when I say, what is holding Capcom back from making more Ultimate expansions retailing for at least $20.00?MEGAMAN will most likely come back, in ANOTHER VERSION, almost a mirror to SSFIVAE’s Yun and Yang.

  3. “Inspired by Guilty Gear’s “Burst” mechanic are TvC’s Mega Crashes.”

    C-C-C-C-Combo breaker!

    @Tony
    This is one of the very few (if any) Versus fighters that’s billed as more “casual friendly”. Most of the market isn’t going to think “oh I need a $70 fight stick!” before they purchase the game. Additionally, the Gamecube controller is awful for fighters: it was terrible for Capcom Vs. SNK 2, and it is probably terrible for this as well due to the button placement.

    I can’t understand why Capcom couldn’t have a traditional control method with the peripherals you already own, instead forcing you to buy a $20 classic controller that you shouldn’t need. No More Heroes 2 offered both schemes.

  4. avatar Artix

    I have to disagree [partly] with this review.

    A, because my online experience has been great. The game tries to match you up with people of your skill level, and the process rarely took me more than two minutes.
    Then you can just opt for rematches.
    I have to admit to being positively surprised by it, in fact. I didn’t expect crap from Wifi, but 90% of my matches have been lag-free.

    Plus, if you wanna have “control” over who you fight, go on a forum, find someone in your region/who is as good as you, get their friend code and let ze fightang commence.

    As for unlocking… Yeah, it’s dumb; we need an unlocking menu in games at this point… But you know what? You’re even dumber for not downloading a save file.
    Plus, you make it sound like half the game is locked away… not really. Just 5 characters and some other neat extras that aren’t too important.

    Overall, I feel that calling it an incredible fighter but knocking its score down to 7.5 because of an issue that can be resolved with a quick download and another that you’ve completely blown out of propotions/that varies among players is wrong.

  5. I understand and accept your disagreeing with me; but please don’t call me ‘dumb’. In the competitive fighting world, missing about 1/5th of the cast is a pretty big deal, and not everyone has the means to download a save file. Have your opinions – I love em’ – but please disagree respectfully, huh?

    • avatar Keila

      The problem with SF4/SSF4 is that it’s so much bgeigr than any other current fighting game, and probably bgeigr than any fighting game since SF2/CE/HF. Maybe there were other games that sold as many copies as SF4/SSF4, but if you look at the size of the community six months or twelve months after release, everything pales in comparison. Games like Mortal Kombat sell a ton of copies but then virtually disappear after the first month.So essentially everyone’s jealous of SF4 because they wish their game was that popular. And this is aggravated by their unwavering certainty that their preferred game is superior. Of course it’s a waste of time to listen to anyone motivated by jealousy because that’s one of the most wasteful emotions of all goddamn time. But the sadness goes deeper than that.See, what it really comes down to is these people thinking that SF4 has reached the very apex of mainstream popularity and that it’s time to tear it down in the interest of restoring universal balance. But they’re too limited by their own experiences and expectations. They shouldn’t be thinking Damn SF4 for being more popular than my favorite game! They should be thinking Will SF4 ever be as popular as Halo or WoW or Poker? Because fighting games still have a looong way to go before we rival WSoP or Nascar. At the end of the day, whether or not SF4 is your favorite fighting game, it certainly represents the fighting game community in the public’s mind at least for now.What jchensor is saying is that it makes more sense to push that further forward and rally other games around its success, rather than undercutting SF4 s chances with bitterness.I mean, is there anything more pathetic than people who hate on something and go out of their way to undermine it just so they can revel in saying I told you so when it fails? Everything goes out of style eventually. You can either make something positive out of it while it lasts. Or you can be a naysayer and chip at the foundation until an earthquake knocks it over so you can be happy on flat land (and later take credit for knocking it down).I mean, i don’t agree with everything in the article but i certainly agree with the overall sentiment. Before SF4 came out, i was really ready to take a break from video games for a long while. Obviously that didn’t happen and somehow for better or worse i’m more involved now than probably ever before.But even if i had taken a completely different path and skipped SF4 altogether, i still wouldn’t go around publicly talking shit about the game simply because i wish CvS2 had been that popular instead.The bottom line is it’s still Street Fighter! How can anyone deny that SF4 s success will help SF5 in terms of production budget, marketing investment, and mainstream buzz? And that goes beyond Street Fighter, because we’re even hearing rumblings about a possible Darkstalkers game.At the end of the day, you can either be an optimist or a pessimist about all this. (Anyone who claims they’re a realist is a poser because nobody has a good handle on what’s going on right now and nobody can predict where this will lead in 3 years.)

  6. avatar dtoid|mourning_orange

    TvC works VERY well with the gamecube controller. B,A, and X are all in a horizontal line on the controller, so you have light, medium, and strong right there, with Y on top for assists. Not only that, but Nintendo puts an 8-way gate on the left stick, so you are able to feel true directions like an 8 way arcade stick, instead of the circular style employed by Sony and Microsoft. This helps immensely when trying to do shoryukens instead of hadoukens and whatnot.

  7. Based on the written review, the game play sounds spectacular. From the sounds of it, this game seems like it can be the next tournament style franchise game. But with that being said, the online play has to be spectacular as well if it wants to be perceived as the next great tournament fighter. Beating down on the same friends gets redundant quite quickly.

  8. Nice writeup. It’s hard to believe there are brand new games coming out without any sort of lobby system for online play whatsoever. That just seems a bit silly to me.

  9. avatar Artix

    You don’t have an SD card, that oh-so-precious artifact which you can get for less than 10 bucks?

    Also, I lol’d@competitive fighting world. Don’t pretend you’re part of it; your review reeks of casual.
    The fact that you’re grading a fighting game on such unimportant aspects as “having to unlock stuff” is proof of that.

  10. avatar ShiningLegacy

    @Artix
    I agree having to unlock stuff is very minor and can often be a good way to get you used to a range of charcters rather then stcking to ones you know
    Also if your able to take the console online i’d have thought your more than likely going to have access to d/l a save file to overcome the “chore” of unlocking
    Finally the music on this game is great MvC2 had an unusual soundtrack but it complimented the crazy gameplay

  11. avatar jwebb1970

    As to the complaints about unlocking characters – you know that you can simply crank down the AI difficulty & bash thru Arcade mode a few times to get stuff unlocked – or even go xtra-lazy & do this using the simplified Wiimote controls.

    What I have been doing is using Arcade as it’s own Training mode – crank down difficulty & activate the command list to appear on screen. While learning various tricks/combos & how the various characters handle them, you can also continue to unlock stuff.

    As to online – I’ve played 25-30 online matches so far. Only 1 had a minor bit of lag – not game-killing, just a minor hiccup. Otherwise, online opponents could have been in the same room. That is something that was a RARE occurence for me in Brawl.

  12. avatar Jaguarandine

    @Artix
    Haha, are YOU a competitive figting game player? I’ve been one for years and I happen to think this review was on point.

    Nice review overall. Online isn’t close to HD Remix or Marvel (happen to think it’s a slightly better than SFIV though); when is Capcom Japan finally going to take Capcom USA’s lead on this netcode stuff?

  13. avatar Blade

    Well, sorry but the review is just partially correct…i’m not talking about points of view, just about real or not.
    I can agree about the unlockable players (just partially anyway, since the process to unlock them runs very smooth and it’s fun to play anyway…c’mon, it’s a game, it’s meant to be played ^^) but i completely disagree about the online.
    I red another review blaming the online play on wifi before having the game…but know i start to think it’s some kind of story that jumps from a review to another.
    I use wifi connection and 90% or more of my matches had no lag, even when i was against someone on the other side of the world. Cannot even imagine using cable!
    Also, i’ve never been waiting for more than one or two minutes (worst cases) to find an opponent.
    Agree on the rest :)

    • I just want to say that I did not call the online play ‘bad’ based on hearsay I read from another review. If there’s one thing I definitely tried, it was the online play. As someone who loves playing fighters for the competition, I look to netplay as my main source of fun, since there are no arcades near where I live. I was extremely disappointed, and everything I wrote on the online play was based on my personal experiences.

      I’m happy to hear that you have a better time of it. Reports of the quality of online play are so mixed it’s not even funny. It’s nice to hear that it apparently works for some people…but, a lack of consistency is a point against the game too, even if the netcode is nice for some people.

  14. avatar Kurisu

    Online is fun but theres major faults i could sit for 10 minutes and never find an opponent and when i do 80% of the time its someone i demolish and they ragequit on me. then i wait 3 more minutes and its the same F***ing guy WTF up with that

    there needs to be a penalty for Rage quitters and a MUCH better matching system sometimes i get matched up with biggeners and feel bad that i kill them effortlessly (Then they ragequit)

    ive used the classic but i must say i can pull of a 22 hit air-combo to air raid to special using 2 special bars for 20billion dammage using Kaijin no Soki and Tekknoman blade or i can pull off a 15 hit combo using only my assist and no special bars and does 25billion with the wii-mote

    it all depends on skill plus my devistating sword of purification then Oni tactics then omnidirectional voltekka 55 hit cambo 37billion damage capable of compleatly whiping off a character for the cost of 5 special bars thats LOADS easier to pull off with the wii-mote

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