The Game: If there can be a collective of Super Friends, why not a cabal of supervillains? The forces of evil from the various anime series created by Tatsunoko Studios have merged their powers, so the heroes of those same universes must join forces to save us all. This saving takes the form of a lot of unarmed combat – you can probably figure out what to do from here. You must do battle with the great villains of those various shows – or even other heroes, in Vs. mode. Series whoses characters are included are Gatchaman (better known as Battle Of The Planets in the U.S.), Tekkaman, Casshan, and Polymer The Ha-Ri-Ken Fighter. A new character in the classic Tatsunoko Studios mold, Volter The Lightning, is introduced here for the first time. (Takara Toys, 2000)
Memories: When you think of Tatsunoko Productions, what’s the first thing that springs to mind? For me, it’s visions of armor-and-spandex-clad superheroes wearing helmets with transparent visors! No, seriously – virtually every Tatsunoko superhero has a helmet with a transparent visor. Check the screen shots below, see if I’m lying to you. I swear, they all do.
Seriously, though, the Tatsunoko charatcers inhabit one of the least-known (but simultaneously best-loved) almost-shared universes since the golden age of Marvel Comics. The plotlines are all shockingly similar, and have since been co-opted by the likes of Haim Saban and recycled into the umpteen-dozen Power Rangers series. Of course, most U.S. viewers will be most familiar with Gatchaman, the series which was heavily re-edited and rewritten to become the Sandy Frank after-school favorite, Battle Of The Planets. From that series, Ken, Jun and Berg Katse (or, in Battle Of The Planets-ese: Mark, Princess and Zoltar) are featured. Similar main character/heroine/villain troikas are lifted from other Tatsunoko animÃ¨ for the game.
The first thing that strikes me about this game is the sheer beauty of the graphics. No clunky polygons wrapped around 3-D models. This game is built on some of the slickest cel-style animation I’ve ever seen. I’m glad Takara took this approach to the look of the game – it’s almost like watching the shows themselves!
And speaking of the shows, not only are the sound effects and music spot-on, but when you pick the hero you’re going to play, the game begins with a sharp-as-DVD playback of the original opening titles of the series in question. Being the Battle Of The Planets fan that I am, I tend to play as the Gatchaman characters, and that intro is almost enough to bring tears to my eyes, even though it’s the original Japanese intro and not the sanitized Battle Of The Planets intro I used to see every day after school.
The controls are slick and not too complicated, with even the characters’ “power moves” not requiring a 53-key “chain starter” command. Normally, I hate Street Fighter variations like this with a passion, but perhaps Takara knew that the Tatsunoko properties would be most appealing to those in their late 20s and 30s – not really the target demographic for fighting games with complicated controls. Tatsunoko Fight is just about my speed – and the head rush of pure nostalgia is phenomenal.