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Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
Capcom
Nintendo Wii

Capcom Entertainment has balls. They'll test their characters against any other company that's brave enough. From Marvel Comics to rival fighting-game company SNK, Capcom has never backed down. So it's no surprise that anime giant Tatsunoko sends its best to throw down in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, the latest in Capcom's vs. series. 

Familiar faces, such as Ryu from the Street Fighter series, Mega Man, and Viewtiful Joe represent Capcom here. Tatsunoko, on the other hand, brings a rather esoteric crew; a few you may have heard of, including Ken and Jun from Gatchaman, Battle of the Planets and G-Force. Though the Capcom fighters may feel familiar, don't let the bizarre Tatsunoko stable turn you off, because they came to brawl.   

Graphically skewing toward an anime look, there's no wanting for color here. Control-wise, it's easy to tell that standard fighting games are not Wii's forte; all the Wii controller options are counterintuitive to fighting-game staples. Also, without the standard 6-button setup of previous vs. games, most fighting is done with two buttons. While simplified, gameplay is still surprisingly deep. You'd think the fighting mechanics would be dumbed-down with fewer buttons, but the simplicity works. You can focus more on combo linking than crazy joystick manipulation to do one super attack. Less is definitely more. 

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom offers an interesting mix of fighters, both familiar and new. Pair that with an easy-to-pick-up (but difficult to master) gameplay model and there ain't much to dislike.


Heavy Rain
Sony Computer Entertainment
PS3

Games are often easy to categorize, be it a shooter or sports game, but good luck lumping Sony's newest PS3 exclusive, Heavy Rain in with anything you've ever played. You'll ask yourself, is this even a game? 

Billed as an "interactive thriller," Heavy Rain presents the Origami Killer, who targets and kidnaps young boys. You'll be the four protagonists: Ethan Mars, along with FBI agent Norman Jayden and private eye Scott Shelby, is on a desperate search for his kidnapped son Shaun; there's also the insomniac Madison Paige. The four individual stories intertwine as they progress, which leads to the final climax. 

The Origami Killer challenges you to ask how far you'd go to save those you love. You'll be forced into making difficult moral choices, and this is where Heavy Rain shines. You form emotional bonds with the characters, you feel their plight, and each choice you make isn't made lightly.  

Heavy Rain offers newness in terms of story (and gameplay) but its biggest innovation is also its biggest drawback. Using the PS3's six-axis controller in ways previously reserved for Nintendo's Wii-motes, the gameplay's a mixture of button pressing and controller shaking, and how well you match the onscreen prompts is what pushes the storyline forward.

QuickTime events are a love-hate component in gaming, so it's tenuous to base an entire game around them. (You'll wonder if you're playing a game or watching the next generation of Choose Your Own Adventure.)   

While imperfect, Heavy Rain is a heart-stopping thriller. Calling it a game doesn't do it justice. But whatever ... it's an experience not to be missed.

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