From the earliest days of fighting games, there have been people pushing for cross brand mergers in order to find out who really is the best fighter of them all. While this isn’t quite the same level as Street Fighter
meeting Mortal Kombat
would have been, it’s nevertheless an intriguing combination of two otherwise disparate brands. Street Fighter X Tekken
was always going to be a risky manoeuvre from Capcom, potentially managing to piss off two sets of fanboys instead of just one, but it’s a risk that has definitely paid off.
For anyone out there who has been hiding in a very dark place for the last year or so, Street Fighter X Tekken (the X is pronounced “cross”) is Capcom
’s take on the collision of the two hugely popular fighting franchises using the Street Fighter engine; down the line we’ll see what Namco Bandai
has to offer when the reverse title, Tekken X Street Fighter, is released on a date yet to be confirmed. While it’s not an original concept to pit two separate fictional universes together, it’s something that we’ve never seen to quite this scale in the fighting game genre.
With so much potential here to annoy both Street Fighter
fans simultaneously should things not work out quite according to play, it was absolutely essential that Capcom got out of the blocks running, offering enough to sate both returning players of both series’ and newcomers alike – and they’ve certainly managed to do just that.
If you’ve played any flavour of Street Fighter IV, you’ll feel right at home from the minute you boot the game up. The visuals use the same stylised ink aesthetic that made the SFIV series so pleasing on the eye, and everything sticks to the 2D plane long established in the Street Fighter world. For those coming from Tekken though, things might seem a little bit strange at first. Since the game has six primary inputs rather than Tekken’s four, but the game has been built in such a way that it actively strives to make the transition as easy as possible.
That’s one of the major themes you’ll find running through SFXT
– helping the player to improve. If you’re a fighting game veteran, and you don’t like the sound of all this handholding, then you’ve got no need to worry – the game retains the very same level of depth that we have come to expect from the Street Fighter franchise, and you needn’t concern yourself with any of the tutorials or advice that it has to offer. Instead, this is very much here for newcomers to either franchise or the genre in general – and it’s something that adds a lot to the value of the package as a whole.
As you play through the tutorials, hosted by the incredibly hateable Dan
, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the basics needed to acquit yourself well in combat. From the absolute basics like normal attacks through to a through explanation of the Cross Gauge and it’s multitude of special functions, as well as blocking, counters and special moves, there’s no stone left uncovered, and if you’re unsure of how anything works you’ll be able to retake any individual tutorial as often as you like.
Since there are so many changes and new additions on offer, we would recommend that most players spend the fifteen or twenty minutes necessary to work through the tutorials to familiarise themselves with everything.
The biggest of the changes is the fact that battles are now fought between four combatants at a time as two on two teams can tag in and out of action, or even team up for very special attacks. It’s a mechanic that has been around for quite some time, but which hadn’t found its way to a major SF title until now. While the concept may seem a little alien to some, its execution couldn’t be any simpler – to switch players, a two button input is all that’s required. That’s it, there’s no additional fiddling, and it makes for a very fluid experience.
Tactical switching now plays a huge part of the game, even for those who don’t normally concern themselves with much more than spamming fireballs continually. You’ll need to manage your Cross Gauge
to build it up for special attacks, while also keeping a close eye on the remaining health of each of your characters, swapping them in and out to make maximum use of their combined skills. Should you decide that you need a last gasp boost to have any chance of success, you’ll be able to activate the novel Pandora
move, where your character “absorbs” the other one’s health – giving you increased health with which to dispatch your opponent(s). Unfortunately, this comes with two catches. The first is that it’s extremely Cross Gauge hungry, so you’re really going to need to be in a pickle to warrant its use, and the second is that you can only stay in a Pandora state for a limited time before your character succumbs to its power and loses the fight, meaning that you’ll need to defeat your opponent in short order to make it worthwhile.
As one of the major additions to gameplay, we’re a little bit unsure as to whether it’s going to catch on if we’re being honest. It’s a huge risk, and many players may instead opt to carefully eek away at their enemy’s health while playing defensively, rather than throwing all their cards onto the table at once. Ultimately though, the game’s online community will be the ones who decide whether or not it’s a valuable addition to the series – and based on what we’ve seen in our bouts so far, it’s still very much up in the air.
One addition that’s really going to be divisive, however, is the new gem feature. Here you’ll be able to equip your fighters with two gemstones, each of which will afford you a particular ability, perk or skill otherwise not found in your fighter. Don’t worry, it’s not exactly Call of Duty, but it is a little bit curious initially.
On paper, the system isn’t the worst idea ever. It allows for a huge amount of customisation right across the board, so that one Ryu player can be differently tooled out to another. It enables players to tweak their favourite characters to behave exactly how they want them, perhaps addressing weaknesses in their own style of play, such as struggling against throws, or being unable to execute some of the more complicated moves. By adding gems, you’ll be able to create a more suitable character for your approach.
In reality though, the system is a little bit clunky. The screen where you kit out your gems lacks any real guidance, so the whole procedure tends to be hit and miss. Each gem has a brief summary, detailing the conditions upon which it becomes active (for example, if you’re hit with three special moves in a round) and the effect that it will have, but beyond that you’re left to your own devices.
Now that wouldn’t be a problem if there were some base gem configurations for you to work from, but there aren’t. There’s nothing there that’s universal across characters, with helpful names or descriptions. Instead you’ve to work it all out for yourself – and if you use more than a handful of characters, that’s going to prove to be a real chore. If you can stomach setting up gem multiple configurations for each character though, it’ll definitely prove worthwhile in the long run for online play, but it’ll take up a serious chunk of time.
And then we come to what is, obviously, the biggest addition to the game – the characters from Tekken. Beautifully recreated in Capcom’s own style, the Tekken warriors look fantastic, staying true to their original form while also offering something new. Our main concern was how exactly their style of fighting, coming from a game without the same reliance on special moves and projectiles that SF has, would be incorporated into this new universe.
Thankfully it has been very tastefully done. Once used to the new button layouts, Tekken
connoisseurs will find that they’re able to call upon some of their favourite combos and input strings with ease. Additionally, some key gameplay elements found in the Tekken series have been ported over to great effect. You’ll be able to juggle your opponents just like in Tekken, with more powerful attacks enabling you to continue your assaults after your opposite number has been smashed off the ground or side of the screen. It’s those little things that should ensure Tekken players feel right at home.
Street Fighter X Tekken brings plenty of new features to the table, while tastefully handling what could have been quite the conundrum in figuring out how best to merge the two game universes. Capcom has managed to offer a title that is as welcoming to newcomers as it is seasoned competitive fighters, which is a rarity these days.
It looks great, it runs without any frame rate drops (essential for the genre) and it sounds fantastic, but most importantly of all, it plays like a dream. We may not be the greatest fighting game players in the world, but we know a good one when we see it, and this is most certainly a good one!
Those of you wanting to get hold of SSXT on PC
will need to wait until May 11th in North America and May 14th in Europe for the former, and a date yet to be confirmed in the third/fourth quarter of the year for the latter. Is it worth the wait? Absolutely!