Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/PC
"Street Fighter X Tekken" is a game about combinations. It’s a game that combines the two most critically acclaimed fighting franchises into one. It’s a game that lets you combine two characters from those games to form a lethal tag team. It’s a game that has a battle system predicated on combining punches and kicks in rapid succession.
It’s also a game that has the ambitious goal of combining the whims of the hardcore fighting game fan and the casual button-masher into one title.
Ambitious indeed, but not easy.
Let’s start with the serious fighting fans first. One would be remiss without noting the obvious joy that comes with mashing up two mega-successful forms of intellectual property. Remember when “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons” crossed over? It’s kind of like that. All of the familiar faces are present, with 38 characters to choose from, all will customizable appearance.
A genre as old as Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, fighting games have been trying to keep things fresh for a half-century. It’s not enough to beef up the animation and moves on a franchise such as “Street Fighter” or “Tekken.” This crossover title finds a way to innovate for those who have been memorizing combos for decades.
There are multiple layers of special moves, each unique to situation and character. It would take hours upon hours just to master a single character, much less be able to dominate proficiently with two characters forming a tag team. Teams build up their “Cross Gauge” to cash in for a wide variety of moves, including cooperative actions that allow teammates to gang up on a vulnerable opponent. “Tekken” fans will be at home with the juggling system, allowing fighters to pummel an airborne opponent like a beach ball at a baseball game.
Also new to “Street Fighter X Tekken” is a preselected power-up system, wherein players select multiple three gems out of hundreds before fighting in order to give them a boost in desired areas. This provides a great deal of depth for those wanting an extra edge and who like to experiment.
The aforementioned depth of the game is the area that hardcore fighting gamers will love and will befuddle the casual player. The gem system makes sense once you spend a lot of time with it, but before you figure out where yours and your chosen fighter’s strengths and weaknesses lie, you feel like you’re missing out on helpful bonuses. This goes for the multiple ways one can activate a special move, with dumbed-down button sets (via the gem system).
Capcom has genuinely tried to make “Street Fighter X Tekken” accessible to the casual gamer, but a truly “casual” fighting fan would take some time to figure out exactly how they could modify the game to their advantage. With a menu system that takes awhile to navigate through, the learning curve for the game is steeper than necessary. It may actually irk the more seasoned fighting fans that some moves are so easy to pull off, but the problem is that the game isn’t really “teaching” anything to the novice fighter — it’s just doing things for you.
Online play has become vital to a good fighting game, because there is little more personal than hand-to-hand combat (even if it’s digital). Without a roommate or vengeful spouse on the couch next to you, one must go online to seek the camaraderie that can only come through shooting a fireball out of your fist at someone. Again, “Street Fighter X Tekken” provides a great forum for the experts and enthusiasts to duke it out. The competition level is extremely high, and new players who have been babied by the game’s relatively easy default arcade mode settings will find it’s a whole different world when there are other humans involved.
"Street Fighter X Tekken" has a lot going for it. It’s the “double happiness” of fighting games, giving you the sweet 2D bliss of “Street Fighter” and the salty ass-kicking mentality of “Tekken.” There are enough game modes and potential for downloadable additions to give “Street Fighter X Tekken” a very high replay value, especially given the online experience. The game commits to a rich, vibrant visual style that completely works, and should be an instant hit with anyone willing to put the time in to master it.