At Comic-Con I spoke with Ryota Niitsuma, Producer of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars, armed with a bunch of reader submitted questions and a few of my own. During the interview we covered online play, licensing issues, and what Niitsuma wants to do with the series in the future.
Can you tell us about the licensing issues and the challenge of bringing Tatsunoko vs. Capcom to North America?
Ryota Niitsuma, Producer: It was extremely difficult. Basically, we had to go through one character at a time and get the proper licensing for each of them. Obtain one character, check it off, and go to the next one.
Then we had problems with each region that had characters we could use and couldn’t use. It’s OK in Japan, but not in America. It’s OK in America, but not in Europe. That sort of thing.
Hakushon Daimao wasn’t in the Tatsunoko vs. Capcom build I saw at E3. Is he the missing character?
I guess it’s OK to tell everyone this now. He’s not in the game. We had some licensing issues with him so we weren’t able to obtain him for the American version. The original Japanese version had twenty two characters, minus him. In place of that we’re going to add some new characters so it will be more than the original roster.
What can you tell us about these new characters? Are they going to be split evenly between the Tatsunoko and Capcom sides?
In the end we want to have a good balance between the Tatsunoko side and the Capcom side, a split down the middle with characters on both sides. We’re still working on which characters to add and ones to put in so I can’t give you any specifics on that.
Right now I’m looking at around three to four, maybe more. Nothing has been finalized yet. We will be making an announcement very soon about how many characters and who they are.
How do you select new characters from the myriad possibilities?
What we do is think who would be cool as a fighting character, who has over the top moves the team can employ in the game. Then we decide what character we want to add.
Which characters are your favorites from the Tatsunoko side and Capcom side?
Hmm… I guess if we’re going to talk about characters, the ones that made a good impact on me are the ones which are compared to the others. They would have to be Ken the Eagle from the Tatsunoko side and Ryu from the Capcom side.
How is the online play system shaping up?
We wanted to make this game so you can play it over a network and have leaderboards. The main thing is the Wii itself isn’t suited to that. It isn’t optimized for playing online. We’re working right now to polish it so there aren’t any problems with lag when playing online.
That’s interesting. I hear Eighting already developed an online mode for an upcoming Naruto game. Is Tatsunoko vs. Capcom using the same code?
We did take elements that they [Eighting] developed from the Naruto game, but we almost had to start from scratch with this because there hasn’t really been such a hardcore fighting game on the Wii. We could use some elements from the Naruto fighting game, but we had to go a step further and almost rebuild the system to handle this type of game.
Will the online mode support Wii Speak?
I can’t say for sure at the end how it’s going to turn out, but right now it does not support Wii Speak. We’re still in the development process so in the end it could.
An early press release said something about “rivals mode”. What can you tell us about this?
That was a long time ago. It has gone through so many changes it’s not even the same thing anymore. That does not exist as it was mentioned in the press release.
Some of my readers noticed the music was different in the US version. Are you going to keep the original music in?
Yeah, you’re readers are right. A lot of the Japanese music from the original isn’t in the new version. There are different issues involved. We made new music as you can see in the build here.
Most of that music will make it in the finalized version of the game. Just like the characters there were certain licensing issues involved in the music so we couldn’t use the original Japanese music in the game. We made new music to replace that.
What about the voice acting? Will you have a dual language option for things like the endings?
A lot of it is a time constraint issue, but for the most part the Japanese voices will be the only voices you hear in the American version. The text will be in English so there won’t be any problems with players not understanding what’s going on.
What would you do if you could change anything about Tatsunoko vs. Capcom?
I want to put even more characters in the game.
Are you planning to re-release Tatsunoko vs. Capcom in Japan with the online mode, extra characters, and Hakushon Daimao to make an Ultimate Ultimate All Stars Edition?
[Laughs] It’s kind of difficult to add him back to the game. Instead it would probably be easier to make a full on sequel.
OK, how about re-releasing the game in Japan minus the genie then?
We’re still looking into that. We haven’t made any final decisions. We have to look into various market conditions. Hopefully, we can announce something in the near future, but as it stands right now there are no plans to release it in Japan.
Actually, as I’m speaking to you right now. We’re looking at it and seeing if we can do this in Japan as well. Depending on what the fans say and what we decide as Capcom we can probably make announcement pretty soon about that.
Since Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is going international do you view it as a franchise?
If this one does well will definitely make more.
If you decided to make a sequel would it be for the Wii or one of the HD consoles?
First, we have to see how this game does then we can consider what we want to do next. As far as I’m considered the HD systems have Street Fighter IV. What does the Wii have? The Wii has this. We wanted to make a fighting game for the Wii.
If we’re talking about a sequel we first have to talk about success of this game. If it does well we can probably make a sequel. But, if people are going to invest in this game, like we want them to, they’re going to go out and buy arcade sticks. It would be a disservice to fans to just put out this one game that they buy sticks for and then they have nothing more to play. Since this one is for the Wii, maybe the sequel will also be on the Wii.
But, we have to look at market conditions to make a final decision about that. As the way I’m seeing it now, the sequels will be on the Wii as well.