Street Fighter and Tekken, together in the same game? Impossibru. I’ve been a fan of Street Fighter pretty much my entire gaming life. I started out like most, stumbling across the original Street Fighter at an old arcade somewhere in Tennessee. I played it for a while but decided it’d be better to just wait til I got home to play Kung Fu on my NES, since it had similar mechanics. It wasn’t until a few years later when I found Street Fighter II: The World Warriors that Street Fighter earned a place in my heart. With Street Fighter being entrenched so deeply in my veins, how did I ever find room to love Tekken? I stumbled upon Tekken 2 one night at a Mr. Gatti’s pizza, and I was immediately taken in by how much fun I could have without trying to throw fireballs. Tekken was almost love at first sight. Combining these two franchises which I have so much love for should sound like the ultimate game for a long time fan of both franchises, right?
The short answer is: no, not really. SFxTekken has all of the right ideas in place but there are so many awkward choices and seemingly broken elements that make it very hard to love this game even though it’s fundamentally excellent. If you’ve played any version of Street Fighter IV, you’ve pretty much seen the majority of everything available in SFxTekken. There’s an arcade mode that gives you FMV endings for your characters and there’s yet another one of those oh-so-awesome-and-fun trials system. Yay. I like several of the training options, including the Missions mode where you’ve given pre-defined standards and you’ve got to meet those standards in order to accomplish the goal. You’d be really surprised to find out how hard it is to win a match with nothing but special moves.
With plenty of options and things to delve into, SFxTekken delivers a solid core of modes to keep you coming back. At this point, you’re probably asking ‘But if the game has this many options, why aren’t you super excited about it?’ The answer is simple: Remember earlier when I mentioned all the problems this game has? Yep, you guessed it, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that’s wrong, awkward, or just plain bad.
The menus are surprisingly deep, and you’ll have a ton of customization options for your profile and the fighters themselves. Much like any other Capcom fighter since SFIV’s initial release, you can set up online options such as title, picture, etc. You can also customize the colors of the fighters, allowing you to choose your own look without having to buy skins just to get a new color scheme. The problem with this is that it feels like it takes forever to get any of it set up. The menus are ridiculously slow in this game. It took me a good 15 minutes to set up my profile, choose a color for my fighter, and change their gem layout despite only taking a few seconds when actually choosing each option. Why is this so slow considering the game is built on Street Fighter IV’s core? Street Fighter IV AE on the PC loads almost instantly, meanwhile SFxTekken chugs along often giving you time to grab a drink or hit the restroom while waiting for the loading screen between battles. For a game centered around fast and frantic action, it sure does feel like you do a lot of waiting.
Another huge problem with SFxTekken is the incredibly unbalanced Gem system. If you remember the old Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems game, you’ll know this isn’t the first time Capcom has tried this Gem system (though not nearly as refined as the one present here). Players who bought the Collector’s edition (or bought the upgrade via the store) are immediately at a disadvantage as there’s no sort of level restriction or anything prohibiting people from using their strongest or best gems against new players, so that immediately gives those who are willing to pay more an advantage. Online this makes a big difference as you really only have to be good with one character who’s got 3 increased damage power gems, which means you’ll basically be able to absolutely wreck anyone who’s not excellent with blocking or counter attacks. Sure, there are defensive gems but if you’ve got 3 offensive gems you can easily activate the weakest one (which still can be incredibly strong if you’ve bought more) and force the enemy to waste their defensive gems.
Speaking of online, there’s still a lot of issues with online play. I’ve played this game both on the PS3 and on 360 and the online play pretty much sucks on both platforms. The fights are often laggy (which results in one player just getting mercilessly combo’d by the less laggy of the two) and the sound seems to have some issues. I’ve heard people complain of the sound entirely cutting out while fighting, but I’ve not encountered it. Instead, I’ve gotten that “in a barrel” sound where everything sounds slightly muffled or certain functions didn’t have sound associated for whatever reason. Hadoken without the shout just doesn’t feel as effective.
Another balance issue I’ve noticed is it seems like the Street Fighter characters seem to have an overwhelming amount of favor in this game. The Tekken characters have “Street Fighter-esque” button commands for their moves instead of having intricately strung together button combinations which really made using the Tekken characters feel awkward and out-of-place to me. Some characters like Kazuya, Hwoarang, and Xiayou are fairly manageable with the new inputs, but other characters like King or Marduk feel almost unplayable to me. Perhaps with more practice it’ll be easier to get used to the new commands but it’s certainly not familiar or intuitive for Tekken loyalists. You’ll find this even more obvious when you start playing online and running into teams mostly consisting of two Street Fighters. I can’t wait to see how the Namco version comes out to see if the Tekken characters have an advantage.
As a whole, Street Fighter x Tekken is solid for the most part but it’s got some biting issues that are (at times) hard to ignore. Still, this cross-over collaboration might not be perfect, but it gives me a large hope that we’ll continue to see these cross title appearances happening – not just in fighters, but in other games as well. If Namco could put Ezio in Soul Calibur 5, I have high hopes of running into Yoshimitsu in a game like Devil May Cry. Maybe one day, but for now I’m glad we have SFxTekken, but until the issues are patched, you’re better off sticking with SFIV:AE for online play.
Street Fighter x Tekken was played using both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, and was provided for review by Capcom.
Combining two heavyweight fighting franchises is no easy task, but Capcom has done a killer job making the Tekken characters feel and look natural.
Online play is laggy and the sound is broken. Gems break balance. SF characters have an obvious home-turf advantage.