If any game company knows how to do stellar fighting game crossovers, it’s Capcom. One needs only to look at crossovers like Marvel vs. Capcom, and the lesser known Tatsunoko vs. Capcom to name a few. With Street Fighter X Tekken ( “X” is pronounced “cross”), Capcom (with Namco’s licensing) has induced a collective fan-gasm for fighting game enthusiasts.
In this iteration the characters are playing in the Street Fighter Universe, using the Street Fighter IV template. Everything takes place in gorgeous 2D, with the stylized anime look of SFIV. Expect to use the traditional SF controls with the quarter and half circle motions we’ve ingrained in ourselves for over 20 years. The Tekken characters transition well into the control scheme, with Street Fighter moves activating some of their familiar Tekken combos. It felt like a totally natural fit. As expected, the gameplay is smooth, fast paced, flashy, and by no means shallow. SF X Tekken is also more user-friendly than its Super Street Fighter IV cousin. Pulling off the all powerful Ultra Combos (known as Super Arts in SF X Tekken) requires just one fireball or charge motion and all three punch or kick buttons, instead of the double motions used in SFIV. This is especially useful when one doesn’t own a fancy arcade stick and has to use the control pad.
But the star of the show is the tag element, and also as expected it works swimmingly. Winning a round takes KOing one character (as opposed to incapacitating all the characters on a team in Marvel vs. Capcom), and tagging your partner when in trouble in order for them to revive health and keep you alive in the round is the simplest use of the dynamic. You can also do team attacks which can consist of ganging up on one character, or you can launch your opponent in mid-air and have your partner come in and continue the juggle combo. The most spectacular attack is the Cross Art, in which both partners combine their Super Arts into some devastating overkill. It’s a beautiful thing. All this is governed by the Cross Gauge, the amount of which depletes depending on the power of the attack.
Unique to SF X Tekken is Pandora Mode (the story revolves around Pandora’s Box from space which everybody is looking for). It’s a desperation mode in which a character low in health can get an extra boost of power and turn a menacing purple but sacrifice his/her ability to tag for the rest of the round. It’s useful and adds another layer of depth to the action. The other feature is the Gem System. There are different types of gems that affect attack, defense, and speed for example. They are activated when certain conditions are met. The gem layout can be customized before each battle. For me the effects of these gems felt marginal; they didn’t drastically turn the tide of battle as far as I could tell.
Another enjoyable aspect is the interaction of the different characters, such as their pre-fight banter and their post-fight comments. It’s fun to see what they have to say about and to each other. You can pair up any combination of characters, but they each have their default partners that have their arcs within the story. There are obvious partnerships like Paul and Law and of course Ryu and Ken (who would have thought?) But there were a few neat little surprises like Sagat and Dhalsim (pairing up the bald guys?) The default partnerships allow for battles with rival teams whose confrontations are always cool and sometimes down right hilarious.
Street Fighter X Tekken is incredibly fun and rewarding for patient and diligent players. The polished gameplay, over-the-top attacks, stunning visuals and all around fan service make this my pick for Fighting Game of the Year, hands down. Here’s hoping the mirror version, Tekken X Street Fighter, which has everyone fighting in the 3D style of Tekken is just as good.
- The best fighters from the SF and Tekken rosters
- Fast, smooth, polished gameplay
- Spectacular graphics and effects
- Nothing, really