Why you need to play Tatsunoko vs. Capcom RIGHT NOW

It's easy to review a game, but sometimes a title comes along that just begs you to sit down and experience it. We're not going to give you a "buy" or "rent" verdict on these games, but rather say that you need to go out and give them a try. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom for the Nintendo Wii—a game with a name that begs for a quick glance on the cover art to make sure it was spelled correctly—is one of these titles. What makes it so special?

Well, we have a few thoughts on the matter.

The list of fighters is one long inside joke

Most Americans aren't going to have any clue who the fighters are on the Tatsunoko side of the equation, and many gamers are going to have to dig through their memories to recognize the Capcom side of things. It's almost as if Capcom got into an obscurity fight with a very Japanese company. The game features two-on-two matches, allowing you to create some truly ridiculous teams.

Batsu from Rival Schools? Kaijin No Soki from Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams? Mega Man Volnutt from Mega Man Legends? PTX-40A from Lost Planet? When Viewtiful Joe is one of your most recognizable characters, you know someone had fun with the character list. You'll be forgiven for not knowing Saki, who came from the game Quiz Nanairo Dreams, and fought to save the people of "Rainbow Colored Town."

Characters from Gatchaman and Tekkaman may be huge names in Japan, but over here they are complete blanks; releasing this game in the United States seems more like a prank than anything else. When people get sad the Samurai Pizza Cats weren't included, something very interesting is going down with your game.

You can play it like Super Smash Bros

By using a GameCube controller or a Classic controller on your Wii you can play the game as a traditional Capcom fighting title, but by using the Wiimote the controls are simplified to movement, attacks, and special attacks. Hitting both the "A" and "B" buttons at the same time activates your Hyper Combos. In other words, anyone can jump in a give this a try.

That's not to say the game isn't deep; this title has been a hit in Japan for a long time, and the combat is something you can dig your teeth into if you choose to. The three-button system of light-medium-heavy attacks along with charging moves and d-pad sweeps is just as tactical as other Capcom fighting titles. You can take a look at a list of moves for each character while you play, allowing you to practice moves.

Simplified and arcade-y or hardcore and competitive, everyone who has ever enjoyed a fighting game is going to find something to like here.

You can play online!

A fighting game on the Wii, with online play? Believe it. You can play internationally, or keep it within the country. Icons tell you whether your opponent tends towards the defensive or the aggressive fighting styles. You can set up a friends list or a list of rivals.

After playing for an evening or two, the connections tend to be very playable, although every so often you'll run into some bad lag. Hardcore players may not be satisfied with a less-than-perfect connection with their rival, but those of us in the mood for something light-hearted and fun will be glad the online play is here; it's like a never-ending supply of opponents that will teach you things the computer never tries.

The game has a strong sense of the absurd

Two of the characters fight alone, without a partner. Why is that? They're huge, forcing the other characters to double-jump to reach their main body mass or head.

The attacks can be huge, colorful, screen-filling blasts of light and movement. Even the music is well over the top, something that Capcom fighting games are known for. It could be satirical, or it could be incredible levels of earnestness that don't translate well to an American audience, but it's all awesome if you're willing to sign up and take the ride. Combos flash across the screen, claiming you landed billions of points of damage. It's fun, and deeply silly.

In conclusion

It's hard to give a final rating to a game like this, especially without enough time to really dig in and explore all the different gameplay mechanics. You can learn how to play quickly, but mastering things like Baroque Combos and Advancing Guards will take time. Luckily, the training mode is more than up to the challenge of bringing you up to speed.

Fans of fighting games need to try this, if only for how well-rounded and enjoyable an experience it brings. Some will fall in love with the fighting system and distinctive array of fighters. At the very least, this is an original and slightly insane fighting game from a developer at the height of its craft, on a system that doesn't see this sort of thing often enough. Just in case you still aren't convinced, you can unlock a 2D shooter set in the world of Lost Planet, playable with up to four players. Now that's value added! 

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