- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
- Genre: Fighting
- Pros: Clever character design, fun backgrounds, dozens of fighters, quirky visuals
- Cons: Favors button-mashing over strategy, non-existent solo play
While your mom may look at the market of fighting games and think they're all the same, fans of the genre know that most of the hit franchises play to different types of fight fans. Some are heavy on strategy. Others place an emphasis on combo moves. And then there's "Street Fighter x Tekken," a game which often feels like it's a contest to determine which player can mash his buttons the fastest. It's a fighting game that values a varied, high-speed attack over mastering combos, blocking, or trying to find your opponent's weaknesses.
Capcom has long operated from a "more is better" business model, and "Street Fighter x Tekken" certainly delivers on that accord. The game includes multiple fighting styles, specialized moves, and dozens of characters from both franchises including Ryu, Ken, and Dhalsim from "Street Fighter" and Kazuya, Nina, and Asuka from "Tekken." The PS3 version also includes five exclusive fighters, which exemplify Capcom's unique approach to fighting games as they bring such bizarre choices as Pac-Man, Mega Man, and Cole (from Sony's "inFamous" series) into the arena. Strange, clever, and fast-paced, "Street Fighter x Tekken" does seem thin when compared to some of the stellar fighting games released in the last few months, but it's a title that has been targeted at a very specific audience that will almost certainly be satisfied with its brand of manic combat.
The core mechanics of the game are drawn from Capcom's "Street Fighter" franchise (as opposed to Namco's "Tekken"), however, there are definitely elements of both series incorporated into the experience. The game defaults to "Street Fighter"'s six-button system -- high/medium/low kicks and high/medium/low punches -- but it can be changed to a "Tekken"-esque four-button system if the player prefers. Though the visual style is pure Capcom, the tag system and some of the combat techniques will be very familiar to "Tekken" fans.
"Street Fighter x Tekken" features four basic modes -- Arcade, Versus, Network, and Challenge. There is also a Tutorial, a deep Customization menu, and, of course, access to the Store for downloadable content. The modes are relatively self-explanatory, though the emphasis is clearly on getting you online to face against an actual opponent. Even as you're playing Arcade, trying to hone your skills, you can be instantly drawn into an online match unless you turn off a setting. The Challenge mode basically just teaches you individual character combos and Versus and Network are merely off-line or on-line battles. There is a small story told over Arcade mode, but it's completely inconsequential. The designers of "Street Fighter x Tekken" clearly want you to play online with other gamers and everything is built around that goal.
As for arena design, the developers employ the quirky aesthetic that one would expect from a game in which a Pac-Man in a robot suit can fight a scantily clad ninja. One arena features dinosaurs in the background, while another takes place on a moving vehicle being chased across Antarctica by a giant mastodon. It's extremely silly, but it is nice to see a fighting game that doesn't take itself seriously in the slightest.
When it comes to combat, "Street Fighter x Tekken" is all about speed. The tutorial may teach you how to block, but, the second you enter an online fight, you will realize that the faster combatant wins. In terms of strategy, mix up your punches and kicks, find a few combos that work, and push the buttons as fast as you can. All fights are 2-on-2 and it's easy to tag out players quickly, even in the middle of a move.
As the fights go on, players build up gauges and earn gems that can amplify combat. The "Cross Gauge" allows for special moves, and the gems boost certain abilities based on accomplishments in-combat and can be tweaked like a weapons load-out pre-fight. For example, you can set a gem that increases your fighting ability after completing 5 normal attacks. There are defensive gems, speed gems, and several other variations that can all give you some extra power against your opponent.
The other new addition to combat that will be unfamiliar to either "Street Fighter" or "Tekken" fans is something called "Pandora." When one of your fighters is below 25%, you can initiate "Pandora," which gives the remaining fighter super strength and unlimited "Cross Gauge." However, the powers come with a meter and, if the initiator does not win the fight by the time it runs out, it's an automatic loss.