The Lost Characters of Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom

It all started with fond childhood memories.

"The anime that Tatsunoko makes is well known in Japan," said Capcom producer Ryota Niitsuma. "Even now, looking back on them they had a lot of good stories and were really fun. I think a lot of adults in Japan have fond memories of those."

So when the anime studio approached Capcom about making a game based on characters pulled from their five decades worth of work, Capcom jumped at the idea.

The result was 2.5D fighter Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.

The hardest part of making the game, it seems, was figuring out which characters to include from Tatsunoko's more than 80 cartoons, and then getting the company to OK their choices.

"We started by sitting around and deciding what characters from the anime we would like to see in a fighting game," Niitsuma said. "Then we had to consider licensing issues. Once we had that list we had to figure out how to make a balanced fighting game. On top of that we wanted a good balance between male and female characters.

"We mainly plucked the main characters from the anime we used, and not too many villains."

But not all of Capcom's choices were approved.

"One of the main anime we got more requests for than any others was Samurai Pizza Cats," he said. "There were a lot of people who wanted to see that. I wanted to see that, but we couldn't reach an agreement."

Another set of characters shot down by Tatsunoko were the transforming-motorcycle riders of Genesis Climber MOSPEADA.

"They told us what we could and couldn't use," he said. "If they said no we cut them.

"We weren't privy to a lot of their decision making process. They didn't share a lot of reasons with us. When they said no and we asked why, they wouldn't tell us, but would give us another suggestion."

When Capcom decided to bring Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom to the U.S. as Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars they added a few more characters to the game. If it does well enough, Niitsuma says that they may consider releasing even more characters for the Wii game as downloadable purchases.

And Niitsuma hopes that Capcom isn't finished working with Tatsunoko.

"On a personal level I am so happy I was able to make this game and I hope I can continue to work with them and adapt more of their anime for games," Niitsuma said.

Bringing Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom Ultimate All-Stars to the PS3 or Xbox 360, though, is much less likely, he says.

The game was developed for the Wii because Capcom wanted to have a fighting game on all of the current platforms, but to bring the game to the other consoles would require an enormous amount of work, he said.

"We would have to change our development schedules around," he said. "The work involved would be pretty insurmountable."