Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars Updated Hands-On

We find out what happens when Joe the Condor and Maverick Hunter Zero mix it up with the other fighters in Capcom’s upcoming Wii brawler.

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Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
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It’s no secret that we’re looking forward to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars for the Wii. The game is one of the few fighters coming to the platform, and, more importantly, it’s an evolution of the old “vs.” games of which we were big fans. While we’ve been playing the import since last December when it was released in Japan, we’ve been anxious to see how the US version has come together. The Tokyo Game Show gave us a glimpse of some of the roster tweaks, namely the addition of Dead Rising’s Frank West and Tekkaman Blade, but we’ve been itching to get our hands on the other new folks on the roster. We recently had the chance to play the latest work-in-progress version of the game and do just that with new additions Joe the Condor from Gatchaman and Zero from the Mega Man series. Fans will be pleased to hear that the characters are most certainly not quick-and-dirty palette swaps of existing characters.

Our first stop was Joe, the third character from Gatchaman, who is probably our second favorite of the new roster additions (the first being Frank West, of course). Joe has five special moves that are a good mix of close and ranged attacks tailor-made for some combo action. The wild lasso is a sonic boom-style charge shot that lets you fire a line at opponents, rope them in, jerk them toward you, and shoot them in the face with Joe’s pistol. The range and direction of the line varies based on the attack button you use. The savage shot is an angled shot from Joe’s pistol that can be done in the air. The angle of the blast varies based on whether or not you perform it on the ground or during a jump. Shuriken feathers is a charged projectile attack that varies based on the attack button you hold down. The cactus bunker--a counter move--is probably our favorite in the game. Joe will turn his back to his opponents, and if they’re dumb enough to punch or kick him, he'll counter an incoming attack with a dramatic bullet to the face on a striking red background. Finally, the battering ram is a powerful thrust kick made for being dropped into combos.

Joe’s super and ultra attacks are wickedly effective if they hit an opponent. The condor magnum tosses feather projectiles at Joe’s target and ends with a painful flying punch. The bird missile strike is arguably the sneakiest super in the game, courtesy of a delayed component to the attack. The attack starts with Joe calling in the Gatchaman airship--the Phoenix--which swoops by and lays down suppressing fire. If you focus on dodging the incoming fire, you may miss the attack’s second component: a fat missile that gets launched on the flyby. After the Phoenix finishes its pass, the screen returns to normal and you get back into the match. Unfortunately, a few seconds later, the big missile comes slamming down onto the screen in a massive explosion that damages anyone--even Joe--standing on the ground at the time. Finally, Joe’s ultra combo, dubbed the science ninpo: tornado fighter, has him calling Ken the Eagle (or Jun the Swan depending on the team you’re using) to create a massive tornado that fills the screen and does megadamage. Overall, we probably like Joe the most out of the three Gatchaman characters, thanks to his balanced move set.

Time for Frank West to drop the camera and put up some punches.
Time for Frank West to drop the camera and put up some punches.

Next up was Zero, Mega Man X's moody friend, who turns out to be a combo-friendly fighter. Zero’s special moves currently border a bit on the overpowered side. Ryuenjjin is basically a fiery dragon punch that uses Zero's plasma sword. Hadangeki is a plasma wave that flies across the length of the screen. Hienkyaku is an evasive dash that lets Zero quickly change positions onscreen. The hyper Zero blaster is a charged attack triggered by holding down one of the attack buttons. When released, the attack releases a projectile that differs based on which button was used to trigger it. The powerful attack can be done in the air, which is sure to annoy fighters. Finally, Zero’s sentsuizan is an angled diving attack you can only do in the air but dovetails nicely into some devastating combos. Zero’s super and ultras follow the “overpowered and almost cheap” theme. The rekkoha knocks Zero’s opponents back and slams them with a rainbow of colorful energy beams. The sougenmu calls a shadow dupe of Zero that mimics all his attacks, a la the old-school custom combos from the Street Fighter Alpha series, which essentially doubles his damage. Finally dark hold, Zero’s ultra combo, traps his opponents in a bubble just long enough for Zero to whip out his plasma sword and slash them some serious pain.

Overall, we liked the additions--especially Joe--although Frank West is still our fighter of choice, thanks to his winning combination of zombie and mall item-powered moves. Sadly, the version of the game we played didn’t have online play enabled yet and wouldn’t let us have a peek at any extras, such as minigames. From the look of things, the addition of Joe the Condor and Zero, along with Frank West and Tekkaman Blade, just add to Tatsunoko’s appeal. At this point, the big questions for us are how the online play is going to work and how the minigames and assorted extras we saw in the Japanese version of the game are going to shape up in the US incarnation. As it stands now, Wii owners hungry for some fighting action have plenty of reasons to look forward to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. Look for more on the game in the months to come. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars is slated to ship late January 2010 exclusively for the Wii.

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