Crossover games, especially fighting game crossovers, are decent money right now. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 sold quite well, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK 2 are still played at tournaments, and not to mention the perplexing existence of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and the huge success of the Super Smash Bros. series. Sony is churning out a lazy Super Smash Bros. clone starring Sony’s own characters and there’ll probably be an upcoming Virtua Fighter/Dead or Alive crossover game. Everyone seems to love crossover fighting games. Sure, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was trash and SNK hasn’t made a crossover since the decent but sluggish NeoGeo Battle Coliseum (And that’s only if you count in-company crossovers), but fighting game generally fans love having a huge roster of characters to play with, and it calls back to the “who would win in a fight between X and Y” arguments that children and comic book nerds are so fond of. Two video game companies come together for a big game and split the profits. Everybody wins, right?
Street Fighter X Tekken (The “X” stands for “straight edge”) is the most recent crossover fighting game. You’ll never guess which two fighting game franchises it combines, but there’s a subtle clue in the title. If you’ve played either of those, you know most of what to expect. Controls are in the six-button Street Fighter style. The Tekken characters have modified move lists to accommodate this change, but for the most part they play similarly to their original incarnations, though you’ll have to get used to having 5 special moves instead of 150.
Most of the characters from the large roster are copy-pasted from their Street Fighter IV or Tekken 6 counterparts (Except that Marduk now has a stance suspiciously similar to Hakan’s) with an ugly grain filter run over them. It’s hard to overestimate how clunky the visuals are in this game. Everything looks too dark and yet shiny. I realize that they wanted to make things visually distinctive from the games the characters are obviously lifted from, but this was not the way to do it.
There’s a couple sorta-new characters. Poison from the Street Fighter/Final Fight series has never before been playable except in the obscure Sega Saturn game Final Fight Revenge (Someone made an excellent video on the history of Poison’s character, a video which would be interesting even to non-gamers). Rolento (Who was rumored to be a new character in Street Fighter IV) hasn’t been seen since Capcom vs. SNK 2. DLC to be released later will feature Elena from Street Fighter III as well as more characters from both companies that already have current 3D models. But there are no brand-new characters like Hakan and Juri were in Super Street Fighter IV. No new play styles, no experimentation. Except for…
The PlayStation 3-exclusive (boo-urns) DLC characters, which are a pile of bollocks. One is a version of Mega Man based on the horrible American box art to the first Mega Man game; he has a handheld gun, a fat sagging gut, gross stubble, and a hilarious game-breaking glitch. One is Pac-Man. In a fighting game. Two are irritating cat thing mascots that Sony shoehorned into the game to hype the dying PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. And one is Cole from Infamous? Is there any logic whatsoever to the inclusion of these characters? How much money did Sony slip to them under the table?
Damage overall is very low except for bruisers like Hugo and Marduk. Move speeds are too slow, throw range is too short and throws do too little damage. Turtling is heavily encouraged, especially with the horribly ill-conceived auto-block and auto-throw-tech gems. Many tournament games end in timeouts due to the lack of damage dealt.
One thing I never liked about Tekken Tag Tournament and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum and a thing included in this game is that when one character goes down, the player loses that round. Why not go with the standard set by Marvel vs. Capcom, Capcom vs. SNK, and The King of Fighters and require all the characters to be beaten? Maybe because Street Fighter X Tekken is already way too slow and they didn’t want matches to be drawn out more than they already are. But I would have liked to have the option to select a fight-to-the-finish mode.
There’s a monkey-simple dial-a-combo that works for every character and ends in launching the enemy and tagging your partner in. Just press light punch, light punch, medium punch, hard punch and you’ll set up your opponent for a gigantic combo that will do about 15% damage. Was this intended to appeal to the Smash Bros. crowd or what? There is little technique involved in performing combos in this game, and that is shameful for a fighting game.
OK, now it’s time to talk about the dumbest part of Street Fighter X Tekken: Gems. They are items you can unlock and equip on your characters to give them extra damage, increase meter building, and other “fun” stuff when certain in-game requirements are met. Their alleged purpose is to fill in the gaps in a character’s capabilities, like increasing their blocking ability if they have weak defensive options. In my opinion this only homogenizes the cast when gems really should have been more like the Arcana in Arcana Heart where they give entirely new skillsets.
The gems are not just unnecessary, but also incredibly disrespectful to the players and obviously added at the insistence of marketers to leech money through DLC transactions from gullible rich kids. On top of this pointless corporate meddling, gems can’t be disabled from any mode because they are “too important” even though people played earlier builds of the game without gems and liked it just fine. Then, the insult frosting on the cake of injury, they hid the best ones behind DLC. That’s right, you have to pay real money if you want the best gems. No. Pay-to-win is not acceptable behavior. Fighting games are supposed to be stripped to their essentials to pit two players against each other in a test of pure skill, but that mentality is not present here.
There’s another worthless gimmick: Pandora mode, which is supposed to give you a big powerup at any time that ends after a few seconds and loses you the round. Oh boy, more comeback mechanics, as if supers and gems weren’t enough! Combined with the overly defensive nature of the game, Pandora mode is almost useless due to the tiny amount of time you have available to make use of it. Your opponent can easily block (Or even auto-block if he has the appropriate stupid gem) and force you to lose. And when Hugo does his big body slam super, he will run out of Pandora time and die before it finishes. Did anyone even bugtest this game? Pandora is supposed to tie into Street Fighter X Tekken’s ridiculous plot, but I don’t pay attention to fighting game plots and neither should you.
Street Fighter X Tekken has its fun moments. It’s two disparate franchises crashing together in a big chaotic mess. There’s a four-player option for my non-existent friends to have a huge brawl together, tag-teaming back and forth and or all going in at once to lay down the beatings. It’s not conducive at all to tournament play, but who cares? We have lots of serious, technical tournament fighters already. And who can turn down playing Rufus and Bob, two enormously obese and agile American fighters, crushing the enemy with their overwhelming fatness?
But the bad outweighs the good. Street Fighter X Tekken simply has too much extra crap. Atrocities such as gems shows how completely out-of-touch Capcom is with the common man. Capcom needs to work on its fundamentals, ditch the gimmicks and give us a real fighter like The King of Fighters XIII. It’s kind of strange that SNK suddenly decided to start making good games again while Capcom has been slipping. But at least Street Fighter X Tekken doesn’t have any stupid Focus Attacks.