Capcom’s dedication to fan service is pretty commendable. Putting Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars on American shelves is a pretty risky, trust-fall-like move: The game is the seventh entry in the same series that previously spawned gleeful offerings like Marvel Vs. Capcom, but this time, it pits Ryu, Mega Man, and Morrigan against decidedly less familiar faces from Japanese anime powerhouse Tatsunoko. Unless names like Jun the Swan and Yatterman mean something to you—or you were in on the Internet petition to bring this game over from Japan—you’re just going to see a lot of baffling robots, rainbows, and exploding yo-yos. Exotic as they might seem, though, they don’t feel at all out of place.
Then again, a lot of goodwill has been built up with the release of Street Fighter IV—even though the arguably unnecessary Super Street Fighter IV isn’t far behind—but make no mistake: This isn’t at all like Street Fighter IV. Originally a 2008 Japanese arcade game, Tatsunoko on the Wii maintains the same simplified control scheme and fighting mechanics paired with some impressive graphics, margarine-smooth animations, and a far-flung cavalcade of colorful characters. Some techniques are added to the Capcom-fighting lexicon, like baroque cancels, which instantaneously stop your current attack animation, make your character shimmer in rainbow colors, and add a considerable power boost to your next set of moves. An interesting idea, but such easily exploitable strategies contribute to the overall flatness most rounds can have.
As if Tatsunoko coming to America isn’t surprising enough, Nintendo stuns further by acknowledging the existence of the Internet and the fact that gamers might actually want to play against each other online. The matchmaking is automated, and adopts SFIV’s assignment of icons indicating play style so you know what to expect before entering a round. Still, online play doesn’t differ greatly from offline, aside from the fact that there’s always an opponent up for a couple of rounds at any ungodly hour.
Hardcore Capcom fans will likely find the simplified controls a bit out of step, but stateside Tatsunoko disciples will undoubtedly be ecstatic to see some of their favorite characters in an English-translated videogame. For anyone else, unless unleashing 42-hit combos with a single button still thrills you, it ultimately doesn’t really matter who’s executing them onscreen. Once you get over the game’s roster, under the hood is a fighting-game-newbie friendly, flashy button-masher.