Tatsunoko vs Capcom VS Street Fighter IV
Back when Street Fighter IV was in the works, Capcom bragged about how the specifically designed the game so the gameplay and graphics were separate so that way they could port it to any console. “Why, we could even port it to DS!” they said.
Naturally, Wii owners assumed this meant they would be seeing a Wii port of Street Fighter IV with downgraded graphics. I mean, they just said they could do it, right? Sadly this never came to pass and a surprising number of Wii owners were quite angry about this.
There was one consolation though: Tatsunoko vs Capcom. However, there was no way it could come to America, right? Well, after over a year and the removal of one character yet the addition of five, Tatsunoko vs Capcom has finally made it’s way to America.
However, many people are shortchanging it; saying that it’s “lacks the depth of a serious fighter like Street Fighter IV”. These people are wrong. They never really paid much attention and merely assumed that a silly, flashy, anime cross-over fighter on the Wii could never come close to the depth of Street Fighter IV!
There’s a touch of irony to that isn’t there? The entire concept of Street Fighter IV was to basically go back to Street Fighter II. It’s a good concept though, fighters have become overcomplicated in recent years. As such, going back to basics was a good thing for Street Fighter IV to do.
But, Tatsunoko vs Capcom handles things differently. It doesn’t roll back fighters the way SF4 does, but it does make things more accessible. One point of common contention is the 3 button control scheme. However, this is basically the industry standard now, used by many fighters. It works too. 3 buttons is perfectly suited for a high-speed game like TvC. Also, for the completely hopeless, it has an easy control scheme as well that takes away some of the control and options but makes things alot easier.
Then we get to the sub-systems. The tag and assist mechanics alone add plenty of depth to the proceedings. Not only are you able to switch between two characters, but also call them in to preform a singular move before hopping out again as well as combine your super moves together for some potentially deadly combinations. Especially interesting as you can add your partner’s super to almost any of your own supers, leading to tactics like having one character’s beam super cover you while Saki loads the armor piercing bullet or Yatterman-2 charges her super up to max. You’d expect this out of a VS series title, but there are some newer twists as well like “Variable Air Raid”. With this you can actually switch characters in the middle of an air combo and continue it. It costs one super meter but that’s because it resets the damage scaling!
Of course, there’s a mechanic to help defend against nasty combos: Mega Crush. For the cost of two super meters, you can break out of any combo and send your opponent flying across the screen, possibly ridding the world of the ever irritating infinite and 100% damage combos. It’s costly enough not to be abused, but not so much that you won’t use it in a jam.
The other intriguing feature is the oddly named “Baroque”. This technique allows you to cancel any attack at the cost of your red lifebar (i.e. the part of the life bar that recovers when tagged out, usually indicating recent damage taken). It also gives you a power boost which gets bigger the more red you sacrifice. This is an interesting revenge mechanic and much more fair than Street Fighter IV’s questionable Revenge Meter and Ultra Combos. Lord knows I’ve won far too many matches solely through my Ultra Combo. Here, however, every time you take damage you get a “slightly nastier combo chance” if you’re willing to give up the chance to recover health. On top of that, since the more damage you’ve recently taken determines your power boost, the more BS combos you have to eat, the more damage you can send right back. It’s truly an interesting mechanic.
That’s not even getting into the characters. Street Fighter IV tried to be “Street Fighter II Again” and took that a little bit too literally. In the end we had only 5 new characters running on overly familiar play mechanics. Tatsunoko vs Capcom, on the otherhand, not only has fresh play mechanics that feel similar yet different from the rest of the VS series, but it also has a plethora of new characters. Best of all, they really went all out on making each one unique. Almost every character has some kind of “twist”. Frank West can set up traps with zombies, Karas has chain sword attacks, Doronjo is entirely summon based, Saki’s entire fighting style revolves around loading different bullets and firing them, the list goes on. Even more normal characters like Ken the Eagle don’t play like the usual shoto clones. For once it honestly seems like Ryu is the only character that plays like Ryu.
Also, I have to mention the controls. While Street Fighter IV worked, it’s controls did feel a bit stiff with the jump physics being especially rigid. It tried to be like a classic 2D fighter but didn’t entirely succeed. Tatsunoko vs Capcom, on the other hand, does a much better job. The controls are noticeably tighter and more responsive while the jump physics actually feel about right! This makes a world of difference to me.
Also, kudos have to be given for the graphics. Yes, up close TvC may look a bit off (mostly in the faces), but from the usual camera angle it looks fantastic. The cel-shading on display here does a great job of capturing the colorful feel of old Capcom sprites and I love the specialized shading on pants and muscle definition. The stages even seem to go out of their way to flex their graphical muscle as each one has distinctly different lighting, making the characters look unique in each setting. That’s before getting into the effects. Flashy effects are Eighting’s forte (yes, TvC was actually made by the Bloody Roar people) and Ryu’s hadoken has never looked so spectacular.
It’s difficult to honestly compare Tatsunoko vs Capcom against Street Fighter IV as we’re talking about a fast paced combo heavy fighter versus a slower and more methodical fighter. However, I personally prefer Tatsunoko vs Capcom. It’s fast pace, flashy, incredibly fun, and deeper than one would expect and brings alot of fresh new things to the table. While Street Fighter IV is good, I feel the same way about it that I do about New Super Mario Bros. Wii: it rolls things back a little bit too much and as such forgets to bring anything new to the table. If it weren’t for C. Viper, I’d honestly just play Super Street Fighter II HD Remix and be better off for it. However, TvC provides a new experience and I appreciate that.
That said, I do have to give Street Fighter IV one thing: the online play is a lot better.