Street Fighter X Tekken: Vita catchup review

Street Fighter X Tekken is not a new game, but the Vita release – which was for some reason delayed until October – is slightly less not new. Join us now as we concentrate on the version available for Sony’s struggling handheld, to see how it stands up against its big screen cousins.

The core game, unsurprisingly, is exactly the same. Thus it is – as stated in our original review – a beat ’em up dominated by Street Fighter mechanics, art and play styles, with plenty of Tekken characters and moves along for the ride. The tag team format means that you can mix & match fighters as you wish, going for a classic Ryu & Ken combo if you’re a traditionalist, or perhaps pairing Guile with Yoshimitsu if the idea excites you for some reason.

Anybody with a fist larger than their opponent’s head has an unfair advantage, surely?

With a wide range of fighters from two different series – some relying on projectiles, some with no projectile attacks at all – balancing is already a concern. Add to that size and speed differences, and it’s all the more impressive that Capcom has managed to ensure that pretty much any combination of four fighters in a match is fair (though obviously, there are tactical advantages it’s up to you to consider). This is at least partly down to the purist-baiting addition of ‘assist gems’, customisable stat bonuses that are activated once certain conditions have been met. Land or receive a certain number of hits in a round, for example, and you could trigger a boost in your strength or defence. Gems carry penalties as well as boosts though; increasing your speed, say, might also increase the damage you take from each hit.

Going back to the issue of characters the Vita carries not only the five Sony exclusives from the PS3 version (including a Mega Man who looks like a middle aged man in cosplay), but also the twelve fighters from the controversial on-disc DLC of the other versions. This brings the fighter roster up to a hefty 55, more than enough for you to find your perfect duo of psychotic thugs. There are some similarities between characters that are a little too close for comfort, carried over from previous games. Generally speaking though, fighters are admirably distinct from one another.

It doesn’t matter how many characters there are if it’s no fun to control them, though. Prospective Vita fighters can breathe a sigh of relief here. If you look closely you can see that the graphics are a few tiny steps behind the home versions, and the Vita often struggles with frame rate in movies and pre-match animations. During a fight however everything flows as smooth as silk, and – crucially – the Vita’s sticks work wonderfully for the sweeping gestures necessary for many special moves. Further effort is made here to soften the blow of the game’s focus on hardcore fans for those who desire it, via touchscreen controls on both the front and back of the unit. You can customise virtual buttons with special moves and combos, in much the same way as is possible in Super Street Fighter IV on the 3DS. You can also use your Vita as a controller for the PS3 version of Street Fighter X Tekken. You know, if you want to.

The Hamburglar vs Ronald McDonald sans makeup.

If you decide to dip into your money pit to purchase both the PS3 and Vita versions, you can at least avoid buying DLC twice. Anything you’ve downloaded for one version can be downloaded again for the other, for free. Of more interest in terms of cross-platform functionality is the the pleasant surprise that you can play against people playing the PS3 version when fighting online. This is just as well, as if you search only for other Vita players it can be extremely difficult to find a match. The biggest surprise of all is that, while fighter intro frame rates were even worse online, the fights themselves again ran without a hitch time and time again – no matter which country our opponent was in or, indeed, which format they were using.

The last feature worth lingering on is the AR section. This basically consists of choosing a fighter, setting their animation (idle, special attack etc.) and then snapping a photo of them in your surroundings. It’s not exactly guaranteed to provide hours of fun, but it’s easy to imagine childish (read: drunken) photo opportunities. “Haha, look, there’s a bear chasing that old woman! Haha, look, Akuma’s kicking my pint! Dave mate, stand over there – no, there. Hand on, stand back a bit. Actually…” and so on and so forth.

We didn’t get a chance to try Ad Hoc matches, and other minor features such as sharing your tailored costumes with others (sigh) and some menus that bizarrely force you to use the touchscreen don’t really contribute anything to the package. The bottom line is that this is (slightly) more than a straight port, for which Capcom should be applauded. There’s little to warrant buying the Vita version over the others to be honest, and there’s certainly no justification for buying it in addition to the PS3 or 360 ones. However, if you don’t already own a version and you’re looking for a deep fighter for your Vita with plenty of content, you won’t be disappointed with this.

critical score 8

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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