Almost two years since the first time we heard about Street Fighter X Tekken, it has finally made its way home to consoles. Everyone wondered, how would the characters of Tekken mesh into the Street Fighter world and how the Tekken fanbase would feel about the gameplay mechanics they know and love so much for their favorite fighters being altered to match the fast paced, juggle and projectile based combat of Street Fighter. Because of the quality of the team working on the game, the answers didn’t come as a huge surprise but they were awesome to experience.
Street Fighter X Tekken knew it needed to bring the best to the screen with this combination of two of the most beloved fighting franchises ever. The unique challenge of bringing the two worlds and not just their characters but their signature styles together was one of massive intrigue. Luckily, the Capcom team was able to piece together a unique tag system differing from past Capcom Vs. titles and using core Street Fighter mechanics to create a new but familiar fighting style.
While maintaining the basic three punches, three kicks and back to block control scheme, Capcom was able to put together new combinations using the tag and juggle system allowing players to not only swap characters on the fly but have multiple characters fighting at the same time on the same side. Signature special maneuver’s return in the form of Super Arts to allow for small cinematic beatdowns, giving Street Fighter’s cast their classic favorite moves while Tekken’s roster is introduced to them for the first time. In addition, the game introduces Pandora Mode, tying in to the game’s story, that allows players to sacrifice one of their characters to give their partner a limited boost (that will be fatal if they don’t win the match in time).
One of the key new features is the gem system. Though it seems minor, in a game of inches and nanoseconds the game’s customizable gem system which allows players to mix and match before 57 different gems that both Assist and Boost a player during a fight proves to be a massive game changer. Also new to the series is Scramble mode, where a team shares a single life bar and all four players are on the screen at once. Though massively chaotic, this mode can be the most fun when someone wants to just turn off their brain from over thinking a match and just get down to classic gaming mayhem.
The gameplay is what drives Street Fighter X Tekken. Whether its analyzing the little details for tournament style play or just hopping in to the Arcade mode and working up the ladder or venturing online, the tight control and focused action of Street Fighter X Tekken puts it as one of the best in the genre. While it will share much of the audience of both the Street Fighter and Tekken franchises, it isn’t likely to cannibalize the audience of either. The gameplay is different enough from both that it actually throws a new fighting game into the mix instead of merely replacing a previous one.
If you saw any of the videos posted before the release of Street Fighter X Tekken and were able to interpret the events of a mystical item referred to as Pandora’s Box falling from the heavens and landing on earth, starting the horde of fighters scrambling to acquire it, you’ve pretty much gotten all you are going to from Street Fighter X Tekken. As with many fighting games, especially Capcom ones, the heart of the game lies in its gameplay and not its story. While some still consider Marvel vs. Capcom 2 one of the greatest fighters ever, most people can’t tell you a single detail behind it’s story.
Disappointing though is that while there were elaborate CGI shorts made in the promotion of the game, much like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 these films never made it in to the game nor are any created for the individual characters at any point or for their endings. In fact, the endings don’t even have the traditional single piece of artwork with subtitles explaining the aftermath for the specific characters. Instead it is only a black screen with white text. With all the effort put into the game, it feels like a very poor reward for players attempting to complete Arcade mode with each of the different characters.
Street Fighter X Tekken is probably the best looking game yet from the Street Fighter franchise. With a smaller roster than Marvel vs. Capcom 3 but a more varied roster than Street Fighter IV, the characters are all given a chance to shine. From the hyper detailed designs of both characters and backgrounds to the crisp animations, Street Fighter X Tekken is a beautiful game across the board. Especially in instances where combatants of various size grab on to each other, clipping never becomes an issue with the game’s fast pace and energetic effects.
The sound effects and the music both greatly add to the intensity and high energy of Street Fighter X Tekken. The song at the beginning of the game, though not as catchy as the “Take You For A Ride” from MvC2, is actually a good enough song that I’d consider listening to it outside the context of the game and around other people, which is a rarity in gaming. The mix of Japanese and American voice tracks works well too as the audience almost expects a blend of the two countries and their respective influences in the crossover title.
The only time the sound design of Street Fighter X Tekken suffers is during online play. For some reason even though the moves are going off in front of the player’s face, their associated sound effects don’t carry over in the event of lag. It is odd that one affects the other, it does break some of the immersion in the game, especially where audio cues play a part in a players defensive and offensive strategies.
Fundamentally, Street Fighter X Tekken delivers in every respect that would be expected from it. The control is tight (and works well with the home console controller, though obviously a fight stick is the way to go for any hardcore player). The graphics are bright and beautiful. And while the story is lacking and confusing, it is a Street Fighter and Tekken game so no one is really coming to the plate because of the “rich” history of either franchise.
It will be interesting to see now that Street Fighter X Tekken has hit shelves what is next in store for the franchise. With Namco Bandai heading up Tekken X Street Fighter, one can only imagine if the Tekken engine will factor in the unique combat styles of Street Fighter’s characters (especially with the more fantastic special moves) as well as Street Fighter X Tekken was able to. Whatever comes next from this Capcom team, as long as it involves the Street Fighter license, I am looking forward to seeing it.