Street Fighter X Tekken (pronounced “cross” not “ex”) was on my must-play list even before I stepped into the exhibit hall. I am an avid fighting game fan, and I always debated who would win in a fight: Jin or Ryu. Fortunately, Yoshinori Ono, Deputy Head of Consumer Games R&D Division, was present at Sony’s conference to introduce the epic crossover game giving me the chance to find the answer to my long pondered question. More importantly, he revealed that actual demo units were available at E3 so anyone could find the answers themselves. Once the exhibit hall opened, I immediately lined up to try out one of my most anticipated games of E3. Here are my initial thoughts:
The best part about the game is the graphics. Building on Capcom’s recent fighting engine, SF X Tekken gives the characters and backgrounds the semi-cell shaded look that popularized the Street Fighter IV game. Somewhere in the middle of 2D and 3D, character models are rendered smoothly and simplistically. If you hate the way Ryu and friends look in SFIV, then there is nothing this game will do to change your mind. However, if you are like me and enjoy the animated look, then this fighter is a sharper version of an aesthetic we already know and love.
Besides graphics, I really enjoyed the two-character system the game uses. It shares the same tag based format that popularized the Tekken Tag Tournament game. When one of your fighters is defeated, the round is over. This contrasts Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s system where every character in your lineup needs their health bar depleted before a knockout is announced. The one-character-elimination that Street Fighter X Tekken is using makes gameplay a bit tenser forcing you to keep tabs on both of your characters at all times.
On the topic of tagging, this game will also have both hard tags and quick tags that allow you to continue a combo. Hard tags are the basic switches that open you up for a combo from your opponent, but often times are crucial to prevent getting K.O-ed. Quick tags, on the other hand, allow you to continue your combo while simultaneously tagging out to your secondary fighter. Start by initiating a powerful stun move and hit the mid-kick and mid-punch buttons to switch characters, you can then continue your combo and decimate your opponent’s life bar. Even though this was anticipated, it was still awesome to see Ryu and King working together to claim the victory.
More weird than bad, this game will definitely require a fair amount of adjustment for fans of those that prefer Tekken over Street Fighter. We already knew it was developed by Capcom, and Katsuhiro Hada and his Namco Bandai team would only consult on the look of their characters. However, my experience today made it very clear why the game is being called Cross and not Versus.
Before I picked up a controller, Ono and I discussed the necessary controller adjustments for the mash-up considering that Tekken characters use a four button schematic while Street Fighter players are familiar with the six button format. Ono stated that if and when you used a Tekken character, you could still use the four button system to control that fighter. However, once I started playing, I was a bit disappointed—but not altogether surprised—that all of the Tekken characters now incorporated Street Fighetr-esque joystick movements. Kazuya alone had 4 reverse-quarter circle moves that made him perform roundhouse kicks or uppercuts. Anyone who even dabbles in Namco Bandai’s game knows that Tekken is built on a system of pressing left or right and punch or kick buttons to create combos. Yes, there is the dragon punch move that Kazuya and Jin both have, but characters like Julia never had moves like this. In the end, Kazuya felt like he was just doing his own version of Ryu’s Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku. This was more disappointing than anything else. Although I did not get a chance to experiment with other Tekken characters, it should be noted that hardcore Tekken players may not be able to instantly transfer their fighting skills over to this game.
Speaking of the new fighting system, the speed of a fight felt like a half way point between Street Fighter IV and Tekken 6. For casual fighters, this is pretty negligible, but for those that mastered the SFIV engine, there will be a period of adjustment. From my own experience, Ryu’s combos felt surprisingly heavy while Kazuya was definitely sped up. By no means should this be considered a breaking point for the game, but fans of both franchises will need to spend some time getting used to the gameplay before competitive tournaments start popping up around the nation.
Although the experience was a bit of a mixed bag, there was nothing incredibly disappointing from Street Fighter X Tekken. The fighting mechanics were similar to SFIV, which allowed me to jump right in. Plus, I already predicted that Capcom would implement traditional joystick movements for its Tekken character so I was not thrown for a loop. However, there was still the difference in timing as well as the overall awkwardness of the new move list that leaves me uneasy. In the end, the game felt more like an adaptation of the Tekken characters rather than an actual merger of the two independent ideas. Even though I am left wondering about how the final product will play, 2012 cannot arrive soon enough, and after today, I am finally eager to pick it up.