It was bound to happen sooner or later. The folks at Capcom and Namco Bandai were destined to bring together their respective stable of fighting game characters for a game that, on paper, could be the greatest fighting game of all time.
That time is now.
In a unique twist, each of the two publishers, Capcom and Namco Bandai, decided to develop their own version of the game. Capcom’s title is the first out of the gate.
Street Fighter X Tekken (pronounced Street Fighter Cross Tekken, but will henceforth be referred to as SFXT) is the fighting game fans’ dream. Forty-three fighters from two popular franchises brought together to battle it out for gaming supremacy. SFXT takes elements of both franchises to create its game, but focuses much more on the Capcom side of things.
The character designs are all Capcom. The aesthetic look retains the art direction from 2009’s Street Fighter IV, including the 2D presentation. The move sets are primarily Capcom, though there are a few Tekken-based controls, and of course, the two-person tag team is all Tekken. And unlike Capcom’s recent Marvel vs. Capcom 3, if a SFXT fighter is defeated, the round ends, even if the tag/partner fighter has full health. It creates a level of health juggling during the fight.
There are multiple game modes, including arcade and versus. Arcade is the story mode, versus is for two-on-two battles. Because of the tag fighting style, co-op (both online and ad hoc) is available. There is also a training area for tutorials, challenges, and missions. Each of these are designed to teach the player a fighters moves and quirks.
The action is pure fighting gold. Capcom has included EX power moves, and a typical match can become near ludicrous with the sheer amount of action going on screen. The fighting is near perfect, which has been a Street Fighter calling card since its inception. There is also a cross gauge (that plays into the game’s title) that when filled and released, can unleash pure insanity. There are three levels to the cross gauge, and each special move costs a level.
There are moves, such as the Pandora Move, that completely drains the cross gauge, automatically kills your tag partner, and empowers the primary fighter for a set time. The player must then win the match before the set time ends, or the game will end. It’s all or nothing, and it works.
The sound and music are pretty much classic Street Fighter/fighting game, with pulsing beats and guitars meant to drive the punching and kicking to whole new levels. There is voice acting, but most of the lines are spoken in Japanese, as what is in English isn’t all that great.
Another feature included in SFXT allows any player in the world to issue a challenge to another player at any time, which interrupts the arcade story mode and, if accepted, begins an online match. Capcom has said that they wanted this to feel like being in an arcade and that the player is supposed to feel like they are being challenged by another player with quarters in hand. Unfortunately, it kind of misses its mark.
There is a decent amount of character customization in SFXT, such as colors and controls, but the true meat of the customization comes from the gem system. Gems allow the player to give boost and assist power ups when certain criteria are reached. There are boost gems for attack, defense, speed, vitality and cross gauge. When the boost is hit, the fighter gains a bonus in the stat for a set amount of time.
It’s a new wrinkle in an old genre, but even a new wrinkle can’t save an old face.
The problems with the game begin to pop up almost instantly. All of the character designs are from Street Fighter IV. So, even though I’m playing with Tekken characters, they move, look and act just like Street Fighter characters.
In fact, since Capcom’s version is 2D, and Tekken characters have been 3D since the days of the original PlayStation, the character play is hampered. This is more like an Ultimate Street Fighter IV: Super Fighter Alpha Edition than a true mix of fighting game styles. And early word is that Namco Bandai is doing the same thing with their version, but in 3D, so the Tekken and the Street Fighter characters will both be 3D.
The online battles that spring up while playing the arcade mode are not only annoying, but are also ill-matched. Not to mention the slight lag that can make a fight almost unbearable with moves that won’t work (blocking is exceptionally difficult in an online battle), and sound that comes in and out. Most matches sound like they are being played in a tin can.
And the matches happen at any time. There have been multiple times where I was finishing up a match with a “perfect” intact, only to have the “A CHALLENGER HAS ARRIVED” screen to pop up and take me to a lobby. After the online fight ends, I have to go back and restart that previous story match from the beginning. It’s tedious, and very annoying.
To be fair, you can shut this feature off before you begin the arcade story mode, but in so doing, you lose one of Capcom’s highly regarded features.
Another issue with the game is load times. They are atrocious. There are 15-20 second load times between matches, and screen changes. That’s a load before a match and after a match, and god-forbid you are challenged by a stranger online, because that only makes the load screen number quadrupled. In a game built on adrenaline rushes and fast fingers, delays and lag are mood-killing poison.
The last major issue is something that has plagued gaming in recent years. Capcom released SFXT with DLC included on the disc, DLC that you have to purchase. Yes, after paying $60 for a game disc, you get to go home and spend more money to unlock all of the features on that disc. It is dirty pool, and something that publishers need to get away from. And why even bother to call it DLC, or downloadable content, if it’s on the disc. You aren’t downloading anything.
I’ve always been a fan of Street Fighter, and have enjoyed fighting games casually over the decades. I admit I haven’t played a Tekken game in years, but when I saw that the two were coming together, I knew I would be in for something pretty amazing.
SFXT is a decent attempt, but is bogged down by design flaws, sketchy on-line battles, and a DLC controversy that is as much mind-boggling as it is deceitful and shady. Unfortunately, these overshadow an amazing technical fighting game.
Street Fighter X Tekken is available for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The PS3 version includes five exclusive characters.
Shop for Street Fighter X Tekken for a discounted price on Xbox 360 or PS3 at Amazon.com (March 6, 2012 release date).