The game forces you to play through arcade mode loads of times in order to unlock every character. Bah!
The first is the Baroque Combo, which has absolutely nothing to do with ancient paintings. It's sort of similar to cancelling combos with a Focus Attack in Street Fighter 4. At high levels, players use it to keep combos going when they know one of their standard attacks will miss. Also new is the Cross-Over Air Raid, which, again, is designed to keep combos going. Here, a fireball motion and P will call in your partner mid air combo, allowing you to continue dishing out damage. On the defensive side of TvC's fighting system is the Mega Crash (all four buttons), which is like a "get out of a combo free" card. It creates a barrier around your character, which sends your opponent flying backwards once touched. It's incredibly useful, which is probably why it consumes the Hyper Combo Gauge and a bit of your life bar.
TvC's fighting system is built upon a simple premise: cause as much damage as you can with multi-hit combos. The game might be streamlined and simplified compared with previous VS. titles, but the combos are no less devastating. Some characters can even do combos of the hundred hit variety, and they cause, literally, billions of points of damage. But it's all relative. Your average TvC match lasts five minutes, depending on the skill level of the fighters. Each of your opponent's characters' life bars must be depleted in order to win, and, despite how spectacular some of the attacks are, that can take a while.
Undoubtedly, it's a lot of fun, albeit in a somewhat throwaway manor. The game's fighting system is deep, and its roster well balanced - pretty much every character is viable, which is one hell of an achievement - but it doesn't quite reach the heights of Street Fighter 4's strategic brilliance or the heart-pounding thrills of MvC2. And then there's the inescapable truth: half the roster is made up of unknowns. Doronjo and Karas going up against Ippatsuman and Roll doesn't have draw of a Spider-Man, Zangief and Cable versus Wolverine, Jill Valentine and Magneto match-up. This can't be denied.
Beyond criticism, though, are the graphics. The game is a cel-shaded 2.5D fighter like Street Fighter 4, which means that while the fighting takes place on a 2D plane, everything is rendered in wonderful, eye-catching 3D. Every fighter is beautifully animated, with attacks that blend together as seamlessly as Nesquik and full-fat milk. From a distance some of the Tatsunoko characters look similar, but up close the level of detail is quite impressive, and sets them apart. The backgrounds are great, too. Some we'd even argue are up there with those found in Street Fighter 4. In short, TvC looks fabulous, and is certainly the best-looking fighting game on the Wii.
Making the game a more attractive purchase for those who aren't fortunate enough to live near like-minded mates is a pretty robust online system - surprisingly so for the Wii - which features free, ranked, friend and rival battles (the game will even tell you when your rivals are online). Battle Points are gained for winning ranked matches, and there's a ranking ladder to climb up. Unfortunately, though, the online game is pretty bare bones. There's no spectator or lobby system, for example. The important thing, however, is it works, and we didn't encounter much lag at all.
The sheer quality of TvC makes Capcom's decision to release the game exclusively on the Wii all the more surprising. It surely would have found a greater audience on Xbox LIVE and PSN. Indeed, the console it's least likely to find an audience with, we reckon, is the Wii. The Wii Remote and Nunchuck combo is a depressingly cumbersome way to play the game. A Game Cube controller, or Classic Controller, is the minimum requirement. The hardcore won't touch the game without a fighting stick.
Perhaps TvC is a test, then. If it sells even remotely well, maybe we'll see a sequel on Microsoft and Sony's consoles. Or maybe, fingers crossed, it'll add further weight to the case for MvC3. Until then, we'll just have to make do. Luckily for Wii owners, having to make do isn't so bad after all.