I always love when I have a reason to dust off my Tournament Edition fighting stick, though I never thought it would be for a crossover game quite like this. Street Fighter x Tekken (pronounced Street Fighter Cross Tekken) seemed like an odd mash up of fighting games to me at first, simply because Capcoms Street Fighter series is 2D based, where Namcos Tekken is played in a 3D environment. This is why you dont see many fireballs and projectiles with Tekken games and fighters and in abundance with the Street Fighter series. Street Fighter x Tekken is developed by Capcom an is a 2D fighter and at some point Namco is going to release Tekken x Street Fighter that will be more 3D based for those more into the Tekken series.
Capcom is not shy with doing crossover games in the least, as proven by their resume. The Marvel vs. Capcom series has been a fan favorite for years, and even Tatsunoko vs. Capcom gathered its own following as well. To be honest, I was expecting a heavily Street Fighter based fighting game that just happened to have some playable Tekken characters and maybe a few new tricks. Nope. Street Fighter x Tekken is a completely different game than I was expecting, and Im happy to say its not just a re-skinning of Street Fighter 4 with new characters. Whole new mechanics and gameplay changes require you to learn a whole new game.
While some feel the online community is where the heart of a fighting game lies, others that dont desire to play online (or arent good enough to compete) more enjoy the story mode, or Arcade Mode in this game. Fighting games wont win awards for their writing to plot points, as it usually involved revenge or proving ones self, but the plot line in Street Fighter x Tekken is so shallow and uninvolving that youll literally complete Arcade Mode in about twenty minutes. A welcome addition though is that two players can play together on a team since its tag based 2 versus 2. Something that stood out for me the few times I went through Arcade Mode was attempting to continue your game if you failed. Yes you stay where you left off, but youre booted back to the character select screen and will even fight two new fighters. Why cant I just rematch, I chose those characters for a reason.
Oh, and for those wondering about the weak storyline, it goes something like this: The reason the characters from both universes are fighting is because a mysterious cube has crashed on Earth. The object is a mystery and apparently brings more power to its owners and is named Pandora. Yup, thats why youre fighting each other. Granted, you usually dont play this genre for the storylines, but having a better reason than that couldnt hurt.
There are nineteen characters available to use on the Street Fighter side and another nineteen on the Tekken front also. While most of the more popular fighters are present, some favorites are missing (sorry E. Honda, you didnt make the cut, and Blanka, youll be DLC later on) which may disappoint some if they are your go-to fighter. Street Fighter roster has many of the favorites like Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile, Sagat, Akuma, Juri, and more. The same goes for the Tekken side of things, as Nina, Heihachi, Kuma, Paul, Yoshimitsu, King, and more are included as well. Until I saw the characters side by side, I never really realized how similar both games characters were, as it seems theres a direct counterpart for almost each fighter.
Street Fighter x Tekken is 2 versus 2 tag based, though you only need to deplete one characters health to zero to win the round. This makes tagging out and switching very important to staying alive. As this is primarily Street Fighter based, you use the standard six button layout with low, medium, and heavy punches and kicks, but being a fantastic Street Fighter IV player wont carry much weight here, as theres a whole slew of new mechanics to learn to be successful in Street Fighter x Tekken.
The Training Mode still isnt all that helpful sadly. As you learn new moves and combos, it still lists everything by name rather than inputs. This doesnt help with understanding the precision timing needed for many of the combos or why Im not pulling them off properly. Instead, youre just given the laundry list of moves to perform, but there are no tools to help you actually learn it, why, or demonstrate how to properly perform them. Theres little effort to actually help you other than showing you the combo list, youre then left to figure out how to get it to work on your own. This was the same problem I had in Street Fighter IV as well.
Just like Street Fighter IV, you have normal, special, and EX moves. These will gradually fill your Cross Gauge at the bottom (it fills from getting hit as well), and your Cross Gauge is your lifeline to perform many unique and powerful move sets. A Cross Cancel is essentially a parry that can be used when blocking that uses one of your three Cross Gauge bars if you need to get out of a bad situation. If able, you can also switching between your two fighters by pressing both medium punch and kick, and the fighter not in use will recover some of their health slowly. Quick Combos uses a block of Cross Gauge and acts almost like an auto combo if the attack lands, which can also be customized for each character.
A simultaneous heavy punch and kick will perform a Launcher which knocks your enemy up into the air as your characters switch and opens them up for a combo. A Boost Combo can be done by doing attacks in a certain order (light to medium to heavy) which can deal some great damage. Adding another heavy at the end of a Boost Combo will perform a Cross Rush which will end it with a Launcher, thus switching your characters and opening another combo opportunity.
Super Arts (essentially Supers and Ultras from Street Fighter IV) takes two Cross Gauge bars to perform and its really cool to see the unique ones from the Tekken characters. Specific moves allow you to charge them for a more powerful version upgrade. Take Ryus Hadouken for example: Input the command for the fireball and then hold the punch button. Holding it for an extra second will perform an EX version if you let go, but holding for even longer will execute the Super Art version (and without draining your Cross Gauge). I really liked this mechanic and its always unexpected as youre never sure if they are going to try and hit with an EX or the Super Arts.
A player with three full Cross Gauge bars can be very dangerous, as there are two sets of moves that can be performed with devastating fashion if done properly. A Cross Art (quarter circle forward and mediums) will do massive damage and a character switch. Not only this, but the Cross Art will also get rid of your opponents recoverable damage as well. Even more dangerous is the Cross Assault (quarter circle back and mediums) which will have both of your characters out at the same time beating on the one opponent. This isnt an animation you watch either, you continue fighting and so does your partner (computer if playing solo or actual friend if playing together on the same team).
If youre like me and are always close to losing, performing Pandora (down, down, and mediums) is your last defense to try and salvage a win from a bad situation. Pandora mode is only usable when under 25% vitality and will give you a massive boost to try and mount the comeback. Using Pandora makes your current fighter unable for the rest of the round (no more tag moves), but your partner gets a bonus to strength, cross gauge always at maximum, and theyll receive twice your current characters remaining health. If you cant pull it off before Pandora mode ends, youll lose via Time Over. A fair trade off I say since you were probably going to lose anyways. If this sounds like a lot for new mechanics, its because it is, and youll have to train yourself to remember each opening and possibility.
One of the biggest additions, and a controversial one according to some of the competitive community, is the inclusion of Gems. There are 57 different gems that can be equipped and the two types of gems are Boost Gems (52 of them) which do just that, boost certain abilities in battle, and Assist Gems (5 total) which will help your character control (and fantastic for new comers). Youre able to equip up to three gems per character (and theres no reason not to) to suit your character and play style. You can boost damage, defense, speed, vitality, or cross gauge via Boost Gems. Each gem has its own properties to activate, such as landing X amounts of supers, or getting hit X amount of times. Assist Gems can be very powerful as well and allow a player to automatically block or counter throws (but at an expense of losing a Cross Gauge bar). Youre going to spend quite a lot of time customizing each characters gem setups. Do you make a strong fighter more powerful or try and boost their speed or defense instead? Theres a huge amount of possibilities that can play into your strengths or weaknesses.
For those that enjoy playing online against friends or random people, the Battle Points system from Street Fighter IV returns in Ranked matches. Endless Battle (no BP given) is the winner stays on mode for up to eight players, and Scramble Battle (no BP given) has multiple players fighting each other continuously. The replay channel returns, but just like before, its difficult to find exactly what youre looking for. I wanted to see videos of good Juri players, and it kept showing me replays of terrible ones instead.
Just like I explained in Arcade Mode, the same goes for Ranked matches, where youre booted back out to the main multiplayer screen and have to put yourself back into queue for another match. I do not want a rematch against the same person as that would abuse the BP system, but let me choose a new match or something so I dont have to go back through the menus after every game. The online co-op is a big plus, but in every game I played online, I had nothing but issues. Voice and sound effects would constantly cut out (which is a known issue) quite frequently, but that wasnt the worst of my online problems (aside from losing quite often), the lag was. Latency in a precision fighting game is probably the worst thing that can plague a games online system, and it was in abundance here. Even with people only in my area nearby, some matches were basically unplayable while others barely tolerable. Trying different settings on different days received the same results which makes me wonder why the net code from Street Fighter IV wasnt used or at least tweaked. At the time of writing, the online was essentially broken because of this lag, as I never had one match that was smooth.
As I mentioned before, I was honestly expecting a Street Fighter game with some Tekken characters mixed in, but thats not what Street Fighter x Tekken is at all. It doesnt completely feel like a Street Fighter or a Tekken, as its a good blend of both with some new and interesting mechanics. Things are much easier to perform, as the double fireball inputs are completely gone, and theres even Assist Gems to allow for easy and super easy inputs to make things even easier for newer players.
Following Capcoms record of DLC, Street Fighter x Tekken is no different, as youll be able to purchase many new costumes for all the characters soon as well as a slew of new characters as well (Blanka, Sakura, Guy, Cody, Elena, Dudley, Alisa, Bryan, Christie, Jack, Lars and Lei), though these have already brought its own drama as they are already on the disc.
Street Fighter x Tekken is a great attempt attempting to tailor a game towards the hardcore and casual simultaneously, though it will be quite daunting for a fighting genre newbie with all the sets of special mechanics to memorize and when to use them appropriately. Id also be lying if I wasnt worried about a Super version coming out within a year, although Capcom says differently. Street Fighter x Tekken should be looked at for any fighting fan, as its a blend of both universes layered on top of some truly interesting and unique mechanics.