There's some Brawl in my Street Fighter.
When Tatsunoko vs. Capcom comes up in conversation - whether among die-hard or casual gamers - the first question that arises is usually, "What is Tatsunoko?" After playing Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, I can say that that question will not matter. The game is a fantastic 2D fighter whether you know all the characters or not.
In this latest iteration of the "Vs." series, you pick a pair of characters from a roster of 24, or choose between two giant robots. For the uninitiated, this series has you picking a few fighters – two in this version – and dueling against a team of two other fighters. You can only play as one character at a time, but you can have the other character jump in and perform a quick attack, or you can switch between the two whenever you want to. TVC also features two giant robots that can fight by themselves. In other words, you can have Tatsunoko's humongous Gold Lightan square off against Capcom's Viewtiful Joe and Mega Man Volnutt.
The roster is split down the middle with 13 from each property. The Capcom side includes Ryu, Chun-Li, and a mess of awesome obscure characters, including Dead Rising's Frank West, Mega Man's kid sister Roll, and Rival Schools' Batsu. On the Tatsunoko side, there are a lot of teenagers who wear power suits, three members of Science Ninja Gatchaman, and three representatives from the wacky Yatterman series. Each character is truly different, with some of them being really off the wall. Never did I ever think that Frank West would be in a 2D fighting game, don a Mega Man suit, and fire off a huge mega buster shot.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a wonderful mix of over-the-top fighting games, such as the Super Smash Bros. series, and hardcore fighters. The varying control schemes help blend the two styles together, with some of them (Wii Remote; Wii Remote and Nunchuk) featuring simple Smash Bros.-style controls and the others (Classic Controller; GameCube controller; fighting stick) using the tried-and-true button combinations that revolutionized the genre in Street Fighter II. It creates an extremely accessible game that can pair advanced players against beginners in a fair and balanced manner.
Still, there are some big differences between the two types of controls. In the simpler scheme, one button performs normal attacks, and another performs special ones. The two buttons can be modified by the analog stick, and you can chain combos together by pressing the buttons repeatedly. Additionally, Hyper Combos, moves that will remind Nintendo fans of Brawl's Final Smashes, are easily performed by pressing the two buttons simultaneously.
The other one feels familiar if you've ever played any of Capcom's fighting games. You use quarter-circles, half-circles, and more to perform all sorts of moves, and you can perform a variety of combos using the three different attack buttons. Obviously a fighting stick would be the best for this setup, but a Classic Controller fills the slot nicely for gamers on a budget.
TVC's gameplay holds a lot of depth. There are numerous types of combos (Chain and Baroque), a variety of partner-based attacks , some defensive maneuvers (Mega Crash), and all sorts of Hyper Combo combinations. Some players may never use these effectively, while others might work them into their fighting style and see great improvement. The game encourages you to experiment in its Training mode, but it doesn't require you to know the ins and outs of every character and control scheme to have a great time.
Along with Training mode, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom offers a few other modes: Arcade, Versus, Survival, and Time Attack. You'll likely spend a lot of time in Arcade mode, especially since you have to plow through the mode over 10 times to unlock characters. Luckily, it's only eight matches long, so it's not too long of a chore.
The online component, the big new addition to the North American release of the game, is solid, but still has the standard issues that plague most online fighting games. There is occasional lag, but it's not enough to ruin the experience. There are both ranked and unranked matches, with the ranked ones contributing to your battle points and providing you with different titles. You can play against your friends and rivals, or play against random people. As long as both competitors register each other, they can play each other again using the rival feature, which is a really nice addition and a great band-aid for the friend code problem.
There's a good deal of unlockable content, including art galleries, alternate character colors, and videos, but the biggest hidden feature is the lone mini-game, Ultimate All-Shooters. Unfortunately it's more of a distraction than anything of substance, as you pick one of four characters and take them through some levels of top-down action. You can romp through this with three friends, which adds to its replayability.
With zany characters and gameplay and a low barrier to entry, TVC is fantastic for the fighting game novice. On the other hand, there is also a deep fighting system for veteran fighter fans along with a solid online setup. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars is an amazing 2D fighting game that is tailor-made for the Wii and its audience.