Have you ever played a crossover fighting game and wondered who could have possibly came up with the idea of meshing two completely different worlds into a ridiculous circus sideshow of a game? We’ve all been there at least once, and it’s usually not pretty. Luckily for fans of two fighting behemoths, Street Fighter X (Cross) Tekken delivers a game that not only ISN’T a massive disappointment, but it’s actually pretty darn good.
Street Fighter X Tekken’s roster features thirty-eight of the best fighters across both sides (nineteen from each franchise), and no allegiance is required in order to enjoy all of the dream match-ups. Ever wondered what a Kuma/Dhalsim team would look like? Juri/Yoshimitsu? Thankfully, Capcom has allowed us the opportunity to find out, along with many other potential (if not strange) teams.
The gameplay of Street Fighter X Tekken features the beloved engine from Street Fighter IV’s various versions with tweaks to accommodate Tekken’s fighting style as seamlessly as possible while maintaining the fast-paced combat one would expect from a Street Fighter title. Tag team is the name of the game, as each fight takes place with two fighters on each side and continues until one character’s life bar runs out. Far and away the most important feature in Street Fighter X Tekken relating to gameplay is the introduction of the Gem System. Fifty-seven Gems can be used in the game, five of which are for Assists and the other fifty-two being used as Boosts. Each Gem represents a different function, and you can customize your Gem selection to suit your needs in the hopes of making an unstoppable team. I found using Gems to be a great way of making a fighting game, which is typically essentially kill/repeat, a deeper and more engaging experience.
Underneath the Gems in the in-game interface is the Cross Gauge, which builds up throughout the match and can be used to trigger EX Attacks, Cancels, Super Arts and more. I personally love using Switch Cancels, allowing you to change fighters during a combo to land even more damage. For the fighters who are new to the series, you may find yourself overwhelmed at first with all of the meters, but the nice thing about them all is that it’s all optional. You can even customize what you see during a fight if you feel the menus are too intrusive.
While the game is predominantly Street Fighter-based, Capcom has gone out of their way to make Tekken fans feel at home with their new universal Juggle system. Tekken fans already know what I’m talking about as far as what that does for the gameplay, but for those who don’t it’s pretty self-explanatory; it allows you to do combos that involve juggling your opponent in the air. Also added is Pandora Mode, allowing gamers to sacrifice themselves when their life bar reaches 25% or less in order to give their teammate a quick but powerful boost during battle in a last ditch effort to win.
Controls have been carefully designed to make sure that no fan of either series is screaming expletives at their television, though I will be completely honest and say that there is a clear difference between playing to have fun and playing tournament style. Capcom has always had a reputation for putting out tournament-caliber fighters, and SFxT is no different. Advanced fighters will feel right at home, yet the controls are still accessible and intuitive enough for the average Ryu to hold their own. At least in everything not involving Online play, which I’ll get to in a bit.
Visually, Street Fighter X Tekken is either gorgeous or hideous, depending on how you felt about Street Fighter IV-style graphics. Capcom really paid attention to Namco’s Tekken fighters, delivering them in a plausible way while maintaining their trademark comic book style. Admittedly, it’s an entirely different world than the realistic approach Tekken takes, but ultimately I enjoy seeing the transformation’s results. Vivid colors are dominating each stage, menu and hub of Street Fighter X Tekken, but it never reaches the point of being overbearing or forced.
During my time online, I found the gameplay to be relatively lag-free, even while running multiple internet-hogging devices like laptops, smartphones and other potential distractions. Ultimately, your connection and partner’s connection will play a large part of it like in any game you take online, but Capcom appears to have delivered a netcode that is reliable enough to enjoy the game for an extended period of time. From a gameplay perspective for the average fighter, you will get absolutely creamed in online play. It’s not a matter of if, it’s not that you’re bad, your competition is just that good. I’m truly amazed at the talent pool of online fighters, but if you have thick skin and the will to learn (and lose, often), it’s a good time. Of course, you can always play against your friends too, which is probably the safest bet if you enjoy sanity.
Ultimately, this game has bumped Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition out of my lineup as my official Street Fighter game. Between the fresh faces, the introduction of the Gem system, match rules similar to Tekken Tag Tournament, and the feeling of nostalgia meeting modern day technology, this game is the most fully-featured Capcom fighter yet. I fully understand if Tekken-first fans aren’t feeling this game or are apprehensive, but I think any true fighting game fan is doing themselves a disservice by not taking a chance on it. At the end of the day what that truly makes Street Fighter X Tekken great is that it’s fun to play for hours on end, no matter your skill level. I hope Namco is ready to deliver when Tekken X Street Fighter makes it’s way to the public eye, because Capcom set the bar pretty high.
Street Fighter X Tekken is currently available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and in the near future for PC (May 11, 2012) and PlayStation Vita (Fall 2012). If you’re going to pick up Street Fighter X Tekken, leave a comment below or talk about it in our forums!