The latest in Capcom's VS fighting game series, Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars represents a large collaboration between two entertainment giants. Featuring a host of characters from popular Capcom franchises in addition to classic manga heroes and villians from Tatsunoko Productions, Ultimate All-Stars is the second version of this game to be released. Boasting some game changes, including new characters not featured in the Japanese version, it's very interesting to see exactly how this title stands out against other console fighting games.
Unlike other fighting titles, Tatsunoko vs Capcom features 2v2 combat - players select two fighters and participate in only one round. It's an odd shift from the norm, as most fighting games feature at least a best-of-three setup, but it works just fine. Characters as a whole have extremely large health bars, and individual attacks only do minimal damage. As a result, the game is extremely combo oriented. Between switching characters mid-fight and using a super attack right in the middle of another super attack, the complexity of the game runs quite deep.
This would spell trouble if it wasn't for the games extremely intuitive controls. Heavy, light and medium attacks are spaced out between individual buttons, and each character has an extremely distinct style. It doesn't take very long to figure out how each fighter plays, and those who're familiar with the comics/games they come from will have an even easier time dissecting their powers. The controls also work well with various controller setups, though the game is designed to function best with the fight-stick (made exclusively for this game). There are various setups between the Gamecube or Wii Remote controls (with or without nunchuck) and it really boils down to personal preference for which to use.
Taking into consideration that the game is designed to be a 2v2 match, it's not just about the single characters selected, but the combination of two that really changes the flow of the game. It's completely possible to select characters that work well alone, or to pick ones that combo really well with one another. This is the sort of variety that a lot of games miss out on, and Tatsunoko vs Capcom embraces with phenomenal effect. Fans of the Marvel vs Capcom series will be very familiar with the setup, but while that game can at times be unforgiving to new players, this title is extremely player friendly.
While Capcom is known to host standalone fighting games, like Street Fighter, those with limited, to no experience with the Tatsunoko portion of the roster will be just fine as well, the entire cast has a very retro-eighties feel to it. Seeing a large man with a sword shoot a rainbow laser from his eyes to devastate his opponents never gets old, and it serves as an extremely bold line to distinguish the 'video game characters' from the 'comic book adapted characters'. From a stylistic standpoint, it's hard to ask for anything more.
Another pleasant surprise is the game's loading times being almost non-existent. The menus are extremely easy to run though and setup between matches takes almost no time at all. This is great since with only one round of combat, it would be painful to have to wait extensively for another - that's far from the case here. Unfortunately while the arcade mode is fun in its own right, the real bulk of entertainment comes from playing with another person. To supplement this Tatsunoko vs Capcom offers Survival and Time Attack settings, letting players hone their skills against objectives. There's a lot to be done in single player, make no mistake, but without an additional person to enjoy the game with things can get repetitive (as most fighting games can).
Graphically the game is very nice, not high in the realism or detail department but still good looking. The screen stays mostly clear from distractions during fights, and super attacks offer just enough flair to look cool while at the same time avoid any possible lag. The soundtrack can be a treat, or unremarkable depending on where you're coming from. Catering directly to the fans, much of the soundtrack consists of themes from various shows or games, recognizing favorite scores is fun but as a result others may pass by without notice.
With online matchmaking and a host of characters to choose from Tatsunoko vs Capcom has a lot to offer. Unlocking each of the individual storylines, as well as alternate costumes and secret characters, players should find themselves quite busy. Ultimate All-Shooters also adds a nice break in between the fighting, as players can shoot their way through various level paths to fight different bosses depending on their performance. Combined with the potential for new downloadable characters for its already extensive cast there's no doubt that Tatsunoko vs Capcom holds a lot of replay value.
Overall the game is a blast. Fans of fighting games definitely don't want to miss out on this title. The only downside could be figuring out what controller works best, and perhaps struggling on learning each of the character's nuisances. Though the game has been out for a while in Japan its release does come with enough new (and revised) content to justify the wait. A lot of fun to play, easy to pick up, and with a lot to master Tatsunoko vs Capcom is a must have for any fan of Wii multiplayer games.