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LK4O4 avatar 6:42 PM on 01.27.2010  (server time)
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom vs. Sleep

Posted by: Ryan

My receipt was marked with the number '8'. I was eighth in line to get my game. The person directly behind me was getting Tatsunoko vs. Capcom too, although most people were in line for Mass Effect 2 or MAG. But I got my copy of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom nice and early, got home before 1AM, and played with Noelani for a while, until she fell asleep. And then I played some more. I now know from personal experience that there actually are other people playing online ranked matches at five in the morning on launch day.

And unlike the god-awful online experience I had playing Brawl, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is actually playable online. Some matches have been completely perfect, others have had some intermittent lag, but every match I've participated in online has been playable. So yes, the online works so far, and I've had a good experience with it even though it's only been about two days.

Since a little before 1AM on Tuesday morning until now, I've pretty much spent every spare moment I have at home (when I'm not at work) playing Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. I haven't even been getting much sleep, so I figured I'd break a few things down and give you my thoughts on the game.

Starting with the fact that nobody knows who any of these characters are.

Reviewers treat it like a big deal that we don't know what this is or who these characters are, but that's really not too different from most other fighting games. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is one of my favorite fighting games of all time, and when SFIII first hit the scene, nobody knew who any of those characters were either. Even in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, I still don't know who Ruby Heart, SonSon, Amingo, or Marrow are. People mispronounce BlazBlue as "blahz blue" just like the guy at my local GameStop mispronounces Tatsunoko as "tatsunawkuu." It's the same thing.

Wii games, now complete with new, shiny accessibility

So now that we've got that out of the way, let's dig into the meat of the game. Noelani doesn't play fighting games, and although she's watched her peers play Marvel vs. Capcom 2, that game always intimidated her because of the level of "omg, it's too fast and there's too much happening on screen wtf is going on?!?" In contrast, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is still fast, but slower than MvC2 and with only one character for assists, it's not too difficult to keep track of.

I also just taught her how to do the quarter-circle motion a few days ago, so she opted for the Wiimote-Nunchuck control scheme. That control scheme is brilliant. It definitely limits what the player can do, so serious gamers will never want to use it and it doesn't break the game in any way, but it also doesn't require my button-mashing friends to learn how to do a dragon punch motion. I cannot stress enough how great it is to give my random, non-fighting game friends the ability to pull of supers with no trouble at all, and it just makes the game more fun for everyone involved.

Excuse me while I be a traditional controller nerd for a bit

As for me, I'm using the Classic Controller until I can afford an arcade stick. The Classic Controller and GameCube controller work just fine, and since the game only requires the four face buttons, they've mapped 'A + B + C' to the right trigger, which feels really good. You can press up-forward and pull the trigger to air dash really quickly, and you can also use the trigger to do advancing guards while blocking. I've also tried using the trigger for supers, but I found that I still prefer pushing two face buttons instead. The left trigger is just 'C', but I plan on remapping it to either Baroque (A + P) or Mega Crash (A + B + C + P) sometime soon.

Speaking of button inputs, I like the three attack button control scheme of Tatsunoko vs Capcom much better than the two punch buttons and two kick buttons of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, mostly due to having three variations of any special move instead of only two. The button setup makes normals more limited in exchange for more versatile specials, and considering this is an over-the-top 'versus' game, that's definitely the right call.

I haven't spent quite enough time with it to say just yet, but I think I like Tatsunoko vs. Capcom better than Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

And Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is definitely better than Street Fighter 4

To compare, when I first got my hands on Street Fighter 4, it felt like a step backward to me. I loved SFIII: 3rd Strike, but in SF4, the game is faster again, the attacks don't feel as good as they did in 3rd Strike, and the characters are ugly. Not all of them mind you, characters like M. Bison (dictator) actually look good, but Sakura and Chun Li look weird. Not everyone has to be ridiculously buff and disproportionate. If any fighting game this generation carries the Street Fighter III torch, it's probably King of Fighters XII oddly enough.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom actually starts with the MvC2 system and takes a step forward. First, a much-needed feature is the Mega Crash, which is basically like a burst in the Guilty Gear games, and the combo-centric versus games have been begging for this feature for a while now. But there's none of that burst meter/heat meter bullshit; instead, a Mega Crash takes two levels of super (and some health), which limits it's number of uses without adding another meter to the game. To balance this new defensive option, there is also a new ability called "Baroque," which allows for longer combos, and it also increases your damage output, but at the cost of your red health.

In addition to the new systems, the game is beautiful. Not quite KOFXII (or BlazBlue) beautiful, but what's lost in realistic shading or sharpness is easily made up for in art direction. This game has bright neon colors and sparkles and rainbows and when the game zooms in for a dynamic shot right before a super move, it's just a joy to look at. Yes, there's some aliasing, but I would much rather look at this game than have to look at the awkward design of Street Fighter 4.

Well, even though the story sucks, I like the characters

But the best part of the game so far has been the character roster. When I first looked at the line up, I thought that Ken the Eagle, Jun the Swan, and Joe the Condor would all be as similar as Ryu, Ken, and Akuma, but they're actually not. Their moves are NOT the same, and those characters don't feel the same when you're playing them. Tekkaman feels really different from Tekkaman Blade. Even the giant characters play differently from each other. This game may only have 26 characters, but I assure you that none of them are filler. There's no Fox/Falco/Wolf padding out the line up. Every character feels unique.

Saki looks like a Cable knock-off (from MvC2), but she isn't nearly as cheap as Cable, since her beam attack is thinner and she can't use it in the air. But apart from that, she's more fun to use than Cable ever was. Saki's got an ammo-switching move that allows her to fill her gun with an electrical ball that lingers on the field and does multiple hits, or even an unblockable super bullet. She's more versatile and interesting than Cable ever was, and I like her a lot.

All of Doronjo's special moves involve her calling minions to beat up the opponent, or grab them, or throw things at them, but she can still be moving and attacking at the same time. Her "In The Beginning" super follows suit by not coming out until long after the super has been performed, allowing Doronjo to attack and throw off the opponent instead of letting them just sit there and block the super when it finally does roll on screen. Because she can move and attack independently of a lot of her specials and supers, she creates a lot of chaotic situations, and she's a lot more fun to play than I expected her to be.

But due to the uniqueness of each character, that also means that quite a few of the characters will put you off at first, because they won't feel familiar. Don't let that deter you. Be curious, spend some time with each of them, and you'll find their quirks will reward you with some new, interesting gameplay.

So, to wrap things up...

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom has an amazingly interesting and diverse line up, and the gameplay is fast and fun and furious. My girlfriend can pick up a Wii remote and nunchuck and do a super by just pressing two buttons, and I can take it to a random party and convince my beginner friends to play this instead of Soul Calibur. It's flashy and over-the-top and it's beautiful. It's a more balanced game than Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and it's got less filler. And it's online.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is easily the best fighting game of this console generation. Buy it.


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