A Fab Fighter?
October 28, 2009 – There are fighting games and then there are fighting games. Brawlers with big names like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and Street Fighter have been staples in the industry since Solid Snake was just a gleam in Hideo Kojima’s eye; these popular titles have attracted a rabid following and transformed a series of very simple premises into one of the most popular genres in gaming today.
Even though most of these games have similar plots (i.e., the world’s greatest fighters have gathered in random, colorful oft-destructible environments to find out who is the world’s biggest badass), a few have managed to separate themselves from the pack with innovative gameplay and unforgettable characters. Several developers have managed to make their mark on the genre with none more prominent than Capcom.
The A-List developer/publisher are the minds behind the Street Fighter franchise and the ubiquitous “Versus” titles including Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Street Fighter, and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (‘Tatsunoko’ was previously only released in Japan). Each of these games took a large and amazing array of characters from beloved properties like Mega Man, Darkstalkers, Resident Evil, and the X-Men, and combined them with intense and colorful moves and stunning team attacks to create a formula that gamers loved. Once again Capcom is reaching into its inexhaustible well of IP’s to provide gamers (particularly stateside gamers) with an all-new fighter.
The original Tatsunoko vs. Capcom was released in December 2008 in Japan and has received a warm reception in its native country. Cross Generation of Heroes, as the game was subtitled, featured characters from several anime series like Yatterman and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, an early predecessor for shows like Power Rangers and Voltron. Like Marvel vs. Capcom and its sequel, Tatsunoko focused on tag team battles and over-the-top action moves. Unlike many of the previous versus titles, Tatsunoko, and the impending U.S. import Ultimate All-Stars, have stripped down the control scheme and added a new coat of polish to bring in those dollars and euros. With all-new characters and attacks this could be the next great fighter to storm the states.
Part of the reason Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was such a popular game was because of its unparalleled roster of heroes. Everyone from Spider-Man to Jill Valentine joined the fray, and combining your favorite heroes and villains to kick the crap out of your friends was a blast. The game’s recent re-release on Xbox LIVE and PSN made a big splash years after the last-gen release because of the timeless and addictive gameplay (the development team was wise not to mess with the formula) and allowed Xbox 360 and PS3 owners to pick up the rare title. When Tatsunoko was originally released, critics, industry leaders, and anime fans weren’t optimistic that it could successfully make the jump across the Pacific, due to the relative obscurity of many of the Tatsunoko characters, the Japanese anime studio’s mostly national fan base, and the difficulty securing the rights to many of Tatsunoko’s characters which are licensed to multiple companies in The States. Apparently, all the stars have aligned and so far the results have been astronomical.
Capcom’s new stable of heroes includes familiar faces in the Vs.-verse like Roll and Morrigan of Darkstalkers fame, and newcomers like Frank West (Dead Rising) and PTX-40A (the mech-suit from Lost Planet). Tatsunoko’s brawlers are less prominent figures mostly hailing from the wacky world of early anime. Developer Capcom’s new fighter may have a lot of substance, but that doesn’t mean it’s toned down the style one bit.
Owing much to its anime roots and the multiple games in the versus series, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom will take a bold look at traditional fighting and even its own predecessors. Signature moves and team combos are hilarious and off the wall and some even lampoon other games. Frank West uses a horde of zombies as wild card companions to attack his foes and even suits up in Mega Man-style armor to release a Mega Buster blast called “The Real Mega Buster”. Doronjo, an anime villainess and archenemy of Yatterman, explodes herself with a blast meant for her enemies (a reoccurring gag on the 1970’s cartoon). Fan service and humor are played up to the extreme in this fighter and with good reason considering how few of them are as popular outside of Japan. Fans of any of the characters will not be disappointed.
Many fighters falter when it comes to control; a long list of would be-Virtua Fighters have wrapped a potentially solid experience in aggravatingly dense and complicated controls. Thankfully, Tatsunoko will simplify gamers’ lives with a three button attack scheme. Sounds like a step in the right direction, but gamers may have to find that out for themselves. Sadly, not much has hit the infosphere since E3 2009 (it is worth mentioning that Tatsunoko garnered the critic’s award for Best Fighting Game). With any luck, the addictive gameplay, visually stunning attacks, and classic (if ambiguous) characters will make Tatsunoko vs. Capcom’s U.S. debut as unforgettable as Capcom’s other fighters, and as strong as the legacy it follows.