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Capcom's Versus series once delivered some of the most memorable, appealing, and addictive games in the fighting genre -- hitting creative and playability highs that other developers couldn't reach.
But by 2004, that creative spark -- which gave us games as robust as Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK 2 was snuffed out. Capcom failed to bring its first triple-A attempt at 2D/3D crossover, Capcom Fighting All-Stars, to market, instead delivering the half-baked Capcom Fighting Evolution -- a game that suggested the developer had run out of juice. The 2D fighting genre went dormant.
Somehow, though, Capcom has rescued it from dormancy with the massive success of Street Fighter IV. Arc System Works delivered the high definition BlazBlue. And Capcom has chosen to revitalize its Versus series in the form of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
The title, which debuted in Japan late last year and in the West in January 2010, pits the retro cool of the anime studio -- best known in the west for Battle of the Planets/G-Force -- against Capcom's slate of memorable characters -- up to and including Frank West from Dead Rising.
How did something like this happen? How do you even make a game like this in this day and age? And why go exclusively for the Wii? To answer those questions, Gamasutra sat down with the game's producer Ryota Niitsuma.
My first question is: why Tatsunoko?
Ryota Niitsuma: Well, the first stage of involvement is that Tatsunoko approached us about making a game using their characters. Fortunately, at that time, I was looking to make a new fighting game.
Of course, at Capcom, we have the Street Fighter-type series and then the Versus series, which are kind of different types of fighting games. So, we thought, "Oh, maybe this Tatsunoko would fit well in the Versus series." And "Since I want to make a fighting game and they want a Tatsunoko game, this might be the way to go."
The fighting genre has gotten a real boost recently. Why do you think the fighting genre has suddenly gotten popular? It kind of died down for several years, but it's come way back up.
RN: For a while, the fighting game fans, I think they were looking for something new to play, and there wasn't anything out there for them. But the developers, even us, we knew that they would want something.
So we just felt maybe it was time to put something out for them and see what happens. And I think other developers as well felt the same thing. I think we just had the confluence of all these things coming together. It seems like it's going through a revival, if you will.
RN: And after, with the home systems, we have the online play through a network. That's really come a long way from back in the day. So, because now you have that -- fighting games are all about fighting different opponents -- now you can fight people all around the world in far off places. Now that the networks and the internet are in place to deal with that, I think that's another key point to the revival.
Beyond network play, is there anything that a fighting game has to have now to capture an audience, that's different from in the past? How do you get that interest back that there always has been, but died down for a while?
RN: I guess when you're talking about fighting games, the two key words are "balance" and "graphics". When you're talking about graphics, when you compare them to any other type of genre of game, there are not as many graphical elements as a regular game.
You have basically characters, backgrounds, and then power gauges and what not. Life gauges. So, those three elements, if you nail those just right, then you've got the graphics part. Then after that, it's making a balanced fighter that people will enjoy playing.