- Format: Xbox 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC, PS Vita
- Unleashed: March 9, 2012 (Xbox 360, PS3), May 11 (PC), Autumn (PS Vita)
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Players: 1 – 4
- Site: http://www.streetfighter.com/uk/sfxtk/
The Street Fighter and Tekken universes have entered into unholy matrimony with Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken (Namco’s Tekken X Street Fighter to follow). Capcom is wearing the trousers here, so SFIV’s lovely hand-drawn-style art is retained and fights are restricted to a 2D plane. Does that mean that Tekken is little more than a trophy wife?
One of the most important issues for fans of either/both series is the character roster – which may prove to be a point of contention. 38 playable characters (the Vita version will have 12 more) isn’t necessarily an overly generous number when considering (a) the huge number of characters already generated by both franchises, and (b) the fact that Capcom’s much-loved Marvel vs Capcom 2 had over 50. Make no mistake, iconic characters such as Ryu, King, Paul Phoenix, Chun Li, Yoshimitsu, M. Bison, and many more are included. When you realise characters such as Devil Jin, Honda, Jack and Blanka (the last two confirmed for Vita) are missing however, you may start to hallucinate. What’s that coming over the hill, is it DLC? Is it DLC?
The important thing of course is that characters named Paul, Craig, Bob, Hugo and Steve have been included.
Street Fighter fans will, for the most part, find everything reassuringly familiar. Characters retain the same moves and commands, with a few additions or tweaks here and there (double fireball motions have been dropped, for example). As with Capcom’s other vs fighters it’s a tag team format; 2v2 here. Only one character needs to be defeated in order for a round to be lost however, which means deciding when to tag your partner (and thereby recover a little health) is more important than ever. In deference to Tekken, an opponent can be ‘launched’ into the air with a quick tap of two buttons, which automatically brings your partner in to hit them as they come back down (if your timing is right).
While some Tekken characters use Street Fighter-style direction/button inputs, many rely on little more than combos of normal attacks. Similarly, Tekken fans unfamiliar with the Street Fighter games may find their reliance on special moves and sweeping directional inputs initially daunting. Although most moves for Tekken characters can be used with a familiar four button setup, to get the most out of the surprisingly deep combat fans will have to take the plunge into the scary world of six – or even eight – button controls. As for somebody not familiar with either franchise who’s just looking for a good beat ’em up, well… let’s hope they’re quick learners.
Fortunately, there are a series of helpful and easy to understand tutorial modes. These range from simply teaching you how the game works to explaining special moves and combos, to winning rounds under strict conditions (no special moves allowed, for example). This is just as well, as there are complications we haven’t even mentioned. Beat ’em up fans should by now be familiar with the concept of super-duper moves and ultra combos, and the idea of a gauge needed to activate them which fills during the round. Said gauge is three blocks here, with each special technique requiring one, two, or three full blocks.
An interesting addition here is ‘super charge’. Each character has one move which can be charged, with a full charge resulting in a “super art” with no loss to their gauge. Heroic suicide is also included (no, really) in the form of Pandora. When the lead character in your tag team is down to 25% health or less, you can choose to kill them off and give your remaining character a huge offensive boost for ten seconds. Fail to win the round within that ten seconds, however, and your second character also falls down dead.
All the aforementioned is, thankfully, easy to get to grips with (especially if you have lots of beat ’em up experience). A final spanner in the simplification works is the game’s insistence on using ‘gems’. Potentially offensive to purists, each character can take up to three gems into battle, each of which is a kind of bonus; automatic throw escapes, temporary strength boost, easier special activation, and much more. Most gems require certain conditions to be met in order to activate, and some carry a handicap to counterbalance the benefit. The most frustrating thing about the gems system is that if you wish to customise your gem setup, you must do so for each of the 38 characters individually. Sigh.
Game speed is fast without being ridiculously so, which is just as well – you can’t tinker with it. In general, bringing a Tekken character to a Street Fight may seem like bringing a knife to a gun fight if they don’t have projectile attacks. Kudos to Capcom for balancing the game superbly however; this is only an issue for low difficulty AI or inexperienced players.
You have the option of Scramble Mode, which ditches the idea of tag teams – and has all four characters fighting on-screen at once. It works much better than you’d expect but, inevitably, there can be split-seconds where you’re not quite sure where you are or what you’re doing after a flashy special move in the middle of three other fighters.
Nobody plays beat ’em ups for deep and thrilling stories but, nonetheless, SFXT’s storytelling can’t help but disappoint. Loosely written, briefly told and rarely fully explained, the stories won’t be what keeps you coming back for more. The smooth combat and various character combinations will do that. So will the online modes… probably. Online functionality doesn’t go live till release so at time of writing, we’re unable to tell you anything a press release wouldn’t.
It’s overwhelmingly a Street Fighter game, but with Tekken characters. Perhaps not terribly surprising, but the inclusion of another franchise’s characters has injected new life into the series. Will it convert Tekken fans who never liked Street Fighter? Don’t know-Ken! Er, that is, no.