Now here's something else that may surprise you. After spending countless hours on Capcom's Wii-only brawler, we're not that bothered if Street Fighter IV never comes to Nintendo. We're too busy playing this to care.
Tatsunoko Vs Capcom is the latest in Capcom's line of Vs games, which in the past have included the likes of X-Men Vs Street Fighter and Marvel Vs Capcom. The emphasis in these games is less on standard one-on-one combat as in the Street Fighter games and more on tag-team fighting, extremely fast action and ridiculous, screen-filling special moves.
It's safe to say this ticks all those boxes and then some, because Tatsunoko Vs Capcom is one of the craziest, most over-the-top fighters we've ever played.
You may not be familiar with Tatsunoko, but in Japan it's effectively the Disney of TV animation. Having been going since the 1970s, Tatsunoko has been responsible for loads of classic Japanese anime series such as Gatchaman (known overseas as Battle Of The Planets), Speed Racer, Karas, Casshern and Samurai Pizza Cats.
Don't let it put you off if you haven't seen any Tatsunoko stuff though. The characters included here are so full of personality that you'll quickly warm to them even without any prior knowledge of their respective backstories. The likes of Doronjo and Casshern are simply masterworks of character design, making it easy to see why Tatsunoko enjoys such revered status in the far east.
Pick Your Fighter There are 25 different characters to choose from, with 12 appearing from various Tatsunoko anime and 13 from Capcom games. You have to choose a team of two for your fight, which can make for some interesting combinations. A degree of tactical thinking is necessary here. Do you go all Street Fighter and choose Ryu and Chun-Li, or will you combine the might of wrestler Alex with the quirkiness of cute little Roll from Mega Man to keep the opponent guessing?
Incidentally, two of the characters - Tatsunoko's Gold Lightan and PTX-40A from Capcom's Lost Planet - are so huge that they count as two characters and can't be teamed up with anyone. It's understandable though, considering the camera actually has to pan out when they fight so that they can fit in the screen.
As is the case in all one-on-one fighters, the gameplay is the most important thing of all and that's where Tatsunoko Vs Capcom really shines. At first glance it will seem fairly basic, especially to hardened Street Fighter players. Instead of having six attack buttons (light, medium and strong punch and light, medium and strong kick) there are only three here, simply offering light, medium and strong attacks of any sorts. This makes things easy for beginners to get to grips with.
The special attacks are also generally simple to pull off, with the vast majority requiring only basic quarter-circles (like the one used to pull of Ryu's fireball in any Street Fighter game) or Dragon Punch motions (towards, down, down-towards, attack). While there are a few other moves with more complex motions required, newcomers who know these basic techniques will be able to pick any character in the game and at least pull off a couple of fancy attacks with a few basic commands.
As well as the standard special moves, every character has a couple of Super moves, each of which do great damage while also using up a bar on their special gauge at the bottom of the screen. Finally, each character also has an Ultimate Super move, which uses up three bars from their gauge and unleashes a huge attack which does immense damage if it catches the enemy. It also leaves you wide open for attack if it doesn't. In terms of the basics, that's about it.
Hidden Depths It's when you sit down with it for a while and start to really study the game that Tatsunoko Vs Capcom's hidden depth comes into play, and it's this hidden depth that's resulted in it receiving such a high score. There's a great deal of technical stuff going on behind the scenes and experts can pull off some interesting techniques that require a great deal more skill than simply mashing the buttons and filling the screen with fireballs.
With accurate timing you can cut off the end of a move animation, linking it seamlessly to another move. With even better timing you can perform an Advanced Guard move, which not only blocks some of the more ridiculous 40-hit Super moves but also prevents 'chip damage' (when your health gets chipped away because you're blocking so many hits).
Once you gain confidence you can perform some ridiculous attack chains that will have opponents' mouths open in amazement and will give you a glowing sense of satisfaction. Even some of the more impressive-looking combos (check out the 'Combo Number 5' panel over the page) can be relatively easy to pull off with practice and once you get them down perfectly they're great weapons to add to your arsenal.
Control Freaks There's one factor that will have a serious effect on your enjoyment of the game however, and that's the control method you use. It's possible to play using the Remote on its side but the lack of handy buttons makes this limited. All attacks are placed on the 2 button, regardless of strength, and the 1 button is used for special moves. It's basically a beginner's way of playing the game.
Using the Nunchuk isn't much better, with A and B doing the same job as 1 and 2. You can still have fun, without a doubt, but if you want to properly get the most out of the game you're really going to have to use a GameCube or Classic controller. It's a shame that you don't get the full experience without one, but given the limited number of buttons on the Wii Remote there wasn't really anything the developer could do about it.
Tatsunoko Vs Capcom was originally released in Japan last year but this isn't just a straight translation of that game. There have been numerous improvements and additions made to the game for the European and US release, most notable of which are the addition of a few new characters to the fighting roster (including Zero from Mega Man X and Frank West from Dead Rising) and, more importantly, a full online multiplayer mode.
At the time of writing we haven't had the opportunity to test out the online multiplayer because Capcom doesn't turn on its servers until the game's out, but if Capcom's hosting matches on its own high-speed servers instead of having players connect directly to each other then this makes it likely that there'll be very little lag. Still, be sure to check back here soon for our official verdict on how well it works. The very fact that Capcom has added it this time around however suggests that they're serious about getting it right, and hopefully everything should run without a hitch.
Money Makin' There are plenty of unlockables in the game, all found by completing the Arcade mode with various different characters and buying items from the Shop using the Zenny (Capcom's in-game currency) you earn from winning fights. These range from characters (Frank West, Zero, Tekkaman Blade and Joe The Condor are all locked at first and appear as you complete the Arcade mode numerous times with different Tatsunoko or Capcom characters) to alternative costume colours, artwork and 3D models of the various characters and stages.
The only issue we have with this is that other than a 'completion' percentage in a stats screen, there's no way of telling exactly what's left to be unlocked and how you're supposed to do it. We'd have preferred the remaining locked items to have been greyed out with a hint message telling you how to unlock them, instead of being forced to blindly play through different modes over and over again and hoping stuff just appears the more you play.
You can also unlock a bizarre shoot 'em up mini-game which has its own title screen and everything. It lets you choose from four of the game's characters and wander through various auto-scrolling levels from a typical top-down perspective. It's an odd addition and, while entertaining enough in multiplayer, doesn't really work that well if you're playing on your own.
What's more, the sound effects get annoying quickly, because every time you 'shoot' with Ryu he throws a fireball and shouts "Hadouken!". Still, it's just an extra and you don't need to concern yourself with it too much. It's all about the fighting, after all.
Missing The Cut We do have one other minor niggle though. We played the original Japanese version of the game extensively when we were previewing the title last year and for some reason the awesome animated movies that appeared when you completed the game have been taken out and replaced with still screens instead. It's a bizarre decision as they were stunning, and it's strange that while so much extra effort has been put into the Western version, something as well-produced as these cut scenes have been taken out. Still, they're only a YouTube click away, so go and check them out once you're done.
Tatsunoko Vs Capcom is by far the best one-on-one beat 'em up on the Wii and, other than Super Smash Bros. Brawl, is the best Nintendo-exclusive fighter we've ever played. Beginners will get by hammering the buttons and will have a laugh pulling off ridiculous special moves in the process.
Experts, meanwhile, can get stuck into the Training mode and start exploring the game's surprising depth, after which they can take what they've learnt online to challenge the world.
As long as you've got a Classic Controller, this is an absolutely essential title for fighting fans. You can keep your Street Fighter IV, because there's more than enough action for us here. Here's something that may surprise you. It would be perfectly possible for Capcom to release Street Fighter IV on the Wii. The game engine was developed in such a way that the graphics could have been scaled down and the game would still play exactly the same. We know this because Tatsunoko Vs Capcom uses the Street Fighter IV engine.