If there was ever a crossover king in the video-game world, then Capcom would wear the crown. While X-Men vs. Street Fighter was the first game to feature two different universes colliding in a fighting game, all of the characters were based on Capcom fighters. Eventually we got Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and the respective sequels. Capcom has worked with another company’s properties, with their Capcom vs. SNK and Tatsunoku vs. Capcom games. Now they have joined in a new partnership with Namco Bandai to mash up the Street Fighter and Tekken universes together. While both companies will be producing their own games, Capcom is first out of the gate with Street Fighter X Tekken.
Street Fighter X Tekken plays very similarly to Capcom’s other recent games. The art is similar to the Street Fighter IV games, without the heavy emphasis on the outlines of the characters. The Tekken characters have been completely redrawn to fit in the Street Fighter universe but still retain the unique details of their character. The animations move smoothly, with plenty of effects shooting out with each special move. The characters move quickly across the screen, without the seizure-inducing speed of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
The voices are distinctively Capcom. It seems like the same voice actors are used from the previous Street Fighter IV games. You may want to turn on the subtitles though, or else you might not know what some of the characters are saying since they aren’t all in English. Musically they mix in techno, trance, and rock sounds in with the melodies that you find with Capcom themes.
When choosing the characters, Capcom went with some old favorites from both series. It wouldn’t be a Street Fighter game without Ken, Ryu, and Chun-Li, but some Hugo, Rufus, and Rolento are some of the more obscure characters that show up. Tekken characters include Heihachi, Law, King, and Nina. I didn’t feel like there were many obscure Tekken characters in the roster, because I recognized most of the Tekken characters and I’m not as familiar with the Tekken series as I am with Street Fighter.
Street Fighter X Tekken takes elements of each series and mashes them up into one game while still introducing some new elements. The character models are all generated in 3D, but the fighting takes place on a 2D plane. You aren’t going to be dodging attacks by side-stepping like Soul Calibur or Tekken. Since the characters do have depth, it gives each of them more creativity for their special moves. The fighting is a tag team affair, where a team of two fighters goes up against another team of two, similar to Tekken Tag Tournament. The “resting” player does gain back health while their partner is fighting. You want to keep track of your health of your current character on the screen, because when one character gets knocked out, that fight is finished. That means that even if your off-screen character is at full health and your current team member goes to the mat, your match is finished.
The Street Fighter series was never known for featuring air juggling, but Capcom has added that feature here. By hitting a player with a launcher, your other character comes on screen and finishes off the combo. You need to hit it though, because you leave yourself open if you fail to connect. It adds another wrinkle to the familiar gameplay that makes Street Fighter X Tekken feel fresh.
The Cross Gauge isn’t anything different from the gauge used in Street Fighter and other fighting titles that allow you perform special moves. It grows as you land attacks, take damage, or block. The EX special moves, Cross Cancel, Super Arts all require a block or two of the Cross Gauge and perform a more powerful version of one of the character’s special moves. The Cross Art and Cross Assault moves both require a full Cross Gauge, but they allow you to perform a devastating move which utilizes both members of your team.
Having two characters play on a team gives some new multiplayer possibilities. Normally two people would need to face off against each other, but now you can play side-by-side with each other. You can take control of a character and only fight as that character while your friend fights as your partner in Pair Play. While you have to make sure that you pay attention and start fighting when you are tagged in, sharing a victory with a friend feels much better than fighting against each other. You can play online against two other people as well, which is something that is only available on the PS3 version. This functionality wasn’t included in the Xbox 360 version.
Playing as a Street Fighter character will be familiar to those who have played since the Street Fighter II days. All of the moves are performed similarly to those days when you heard “Hadoken!” coming from the back corner of the arcade. The quarter-circle and Z-moves are heavily used in the rotation. The Tekken characters also use moves similar to their 3D counterparts, using the low and medium attack buttons to correspond to the old-school Tekken controls. However, the characters still feel more like Street Fighter characters in Tekken clothing. It’s not surprising that controlling Street Fighter characters would feel more comfortable in this game. It might be better to look at the roster as a completely new Street Fighter game with half of its roster filled with new characters.
An all new gem system is implemented here that augment your character. The Boost gems enhance your abilities temporarily, so you want to get your shots in as quickly as you can. Assist gems help you with controlling your character. For instance, one gem helps you escape from throws. However, it does this at the expense of your Cross Gauge. I don’t know if it’s possible to create a combination of gems with a character that makes them almost undefeatable, because I wasn’t able to try all of the characters and combinations of 36 gems. This won’t matter to the casual player, but it will matter to the hardcore who might want to see this in the Evo tournaments.
While the fighting is largely satisfying, several technical issues bring the game down. When selecting characters, a delay exists between putting your cursor on the character and showing up on the screen. There is an incredibly long wait time at the VS. screen before the match. You can hear the disk spinning to gather the information for the upcoming fight, and it sometimes feels like you are waiting for the disk to load as long as one of the matches you have. There is an option to install the game on the PS3, but it is buried in the menu options. If you don’t go looking for it, you are likely to miss it.
Capcom has touted new net code for Street Fighter X Tekken, so you would think that playing online would be completely smooth. Unfortunately that’s not the case. The fighting stutters during the match, especially during the execution of special moves. The sound also cuts out during the match for no apparent reason. It’s almost sounds like the speakers got blown out and the sound gets tinny. You also can’t select to rematch against the person you fought against, and when the match is over you get to see your stats and you are shown the main network menu. Until a patch fixes these issues, I would stay offline unless you can live with them.
The typical modes are available in Street Fighter X Tekken. The arcade mode has you going up against teams against the AI in a ladder format, with one of the most convoluted storylines ever created. Versus lets you play against the AI or up to three players. You can fight as teams or mix it up in a Scramble where all four characters are up against each other at the same time. The Training mode lets you set up your opponent and then you can practice your moves. You’ll want to complete part of the tutorial so that you can learn about all of the new moves that have been added to the game. The Challenge mode does just that, challenges you to complete a certain task. They start out easy and get more difficult.
Capcom has taken advantage of their crossover opportunities, and usually the results have been great. However, Street Fighter X Tekken is frustrating. The actual fighting is great, and the roster is enjoyable. The Tekken characters are represented well. You wouldn’t think that the wait times would be that big of a deal, but it is a noticable amount of time waiting for each match. The online experience is incredibly flawed, making it not worth playing. If you can get past the wait times and don’t mind playing against the AI, then Street Fighter X Tekken is an enjoyable game and a worthy addition to your collection. I would just recommend having a fightstick if you are serious about playing.