WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Chris Kramer, and I'm the senior director of communications and community at Capcom.
WP: One of the big announcements for E3 was the fact that Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is coming to the U.S. and Europe. What was it like getting that brought over? We kept hearing that it was never leaving Japan because licensing is hell.
CK: Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is one of those games that, when it was first announced in Japan, the media assumption was that the game would never leave Japan. Tatsunoko, for those who don't know what it is, we like to describe them as the Hanna-Barbera of Japan. For close to 50 years, Tatsunoko has been doing some of the biggest and most influential anime series in Japan. They've had a hand in everything from Gatchaman, which people in the U.S. know as G-Force or Battle of the Planets, all the way through Neon Genesis Evangelion, and with a whole range of Japanese anime that a lot of people really aren't familiar with. There are so many characters that have been in the U.S. or been in Europe or never made it out of Japan. A lot of people assumed that the licensing hurdles would make it nearly impossible to get that here in the U.S., but at the root, the core, the game itself is so amazing that we knew in North America that we had to have the game here, and that we were going to do everything we could to make sure that licensing issues were solved, licensors were happy, everything went really well, and the partnership in Japan with Tatsunoko as the parent license company has been so solid that it's actually been an amazingly smooth transition to get this game here.
WP: We know the game is on the show floor, but will the full game have any missing or cut characters when compared to the Japanese version? Or were you able to preserve that?
CK: There will actually be characters in the U.S. — what we call the "newer" version of Tatsunoko, which is called Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. There will be new characters for this game. We are adding some new characters, we're adding some new stages, we're adding a bunch of new features that were not in the Japanese release that came out in December, so for those who might have imported the game or might have read about the game back at the end of 2008, there will be stuff that's being added that we think are going to be pretty attractive for North American gamers.
WP: We understand that the arcade version is running on a variant of the Wii hardware. Given Capcom's long-standing arcade history with its own boards and with others, why make a jump to Wii hardware? It doesn't seem to jump out as the first thing you'd think of for an arcade title. What was the thought behind that?
CK: Over the last couple of years with the success of the Wii on a global footing, Capcom has realized that we want to be more involved with the Wii, we want to bring more games to the Wii, and there was an option to use Wii arcade hardware that fit in very nicely with the plan for this particular game. Again, just strictly speaking from a Japanese perspective, if you look at the brand recognition for Tatsunoko and for their characters — we were looking at characters like Gatchaman, Ippatsuman, Tekkaman, Yattaman, lots of characters whose names end with "man" — you look at the recognition factor for those characters in Japan, they really resonate in the same level that characters like Space Ghost, the Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Harvey Birdman, like those characters would resonate here [in the U.S.]. The Wii seemed like a very natural hardware fit for those characters because there was such a broad cultural awareness of those characters in Japan, and the combination of hardware in the arcades with hardware in the home made a lot of sense.
WP: Speaking of hardware in the home, will we be using the classic controller, the GameCube controller, or will Capcom be releasing an arcade stick or fight stick for the Wii for this game?
CK: The interesting thing is that in Japan, there is actually a branded Tatsunoko vs. Capcom arcade stick. It comes in a really amazing colorful box, and it's a really great-looking package. We would love to get an arcade-quality joystick out in the United States of the same quality as the Street Fighter IV arcade sticks that were done for us by Mad Catz. That's a goal that we're working toward, and we hope that we're able to make that happen here. In the meantime, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom supports the regular Wii controllers, the classic controller, just about anything you want to plug into your Wii that would make sense for this game. Obviously a Mario Kart racing wheel wouldn't do so well, but just about anything else would work well with TvC.
WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?
CK: For us internally at Capcom in the United States, TvC is sort of a dream project. This is one of Capcom's unusual games. If you look at Capcom's range of games, we have games that are very broadly appealing — Street Fighter, Resident Evil, titles like that. Then we always have our unusual games, and these are the games that resonate with fans through the years — things like Godhand, Okami, Mega Man Legends — these are games that plug straight into the gamer brain.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is, from the first time we heard about it internally, a game that we knew would resonate immediately with the type of people who still speak lovingly of Okami or Darkstalkers or some of Capcom's most genius, non-mainstream titles. We want to introduce the whole world of Tatsunoko to North American gamers and kind of bring these characters that are beloved in Japan and make them resonate with the people in North America at the same level as our Street Fighter characters resonate.
Really, what we hope is that our fan base in North America and Europe look at Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and go, "I don't recognize that character," but we hope that they look at the game and go, "I want to know more about that character. I want to know why that guy Ken Eagle has a cape and his helmet has a beak on it and why his third level super combo makes him turn into a fiery phoenix and just nuke the other player." We want to get players in North America engaged with the title and get them excited about the characters in the same way that they're excited about Chun-Li or Zangief or Dhalsim — you know, the more colorful Street Fighter characters.
WP: Given your level of excitement, when the news first leaked out on Nintendo Power a few weeks back, how did it get decided that you would be the one who confirmed it on the Capcom blog? Was there any back and forth about who got to be the official announcer?
CK: No, I just happened to be the first one in that morning. (laughs) So we came in, and it turned out that scans of the Nintendo Power issue that we'd worked very closely with Nintendo Power for about two months to get that news in their magazine and break that with them. The blessing and the curse of the Internet is that nothing is sacred, and everything is immediate, so the scans of that issue came out, and immediately we got a flood of e-mails coming into the communications department at Capcom, asking us, "Is this true? Is this real? Is this Internet fakery?" We knew that we had to own up and let people know, so we did a very brief confirmation and told people on CapCommunity that yes, what they were reading was true, and if they wanted to know more, they had to go out and pick up the new issue of Nintendo Power.
What we did was confirm that the game was coming, told people that we'd have more news at E3, and that they'd be best served by going out to the newsstand and picking up that issue of Nintendo Power. What we'll do, as you've seen here at the E3 show, we've brought out a little bit more information on the title, we've let a lot of people play it for the first time, and kind of expanded upon that first amazing tease that went out on Nintendo Power.
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