Game Review—Street Fighter X Tekken

Street Fighter X Tekken

Now with More Disc-Loaded Content than You Can Wave a Middle Finger At!

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PlayStation Vita
Release Date
March 6, 2012
Review by Ari Rockefeller
                As much as a fan I am of fighting games, as well as the Street Fighter series, the release—and subsequent review—of this game filled me with equal parts rampant glee and looming dread. I did my share of following the game’s development, from watching all the trailers, attending panels at conventions (mostly Capcom’s) that discussed the game, you name it. But as the release date drew near, numerous, large red flags started going up.
                I’ll certainly address those issues with the game later in the review. Said issues certainly colored my opinion of the game quite a bit—and this was before it was even released. Even when I brought up wanting to review the game, the thought lingered in my mind of simply giving it an “F” score and calling it a day. But then I realized that I’m better than that. I’m a professional, and I act like one. Besides, I’m not reviewing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, after all. That said, “mixed bag” doesn’t even begin to describe this game…
SPOILER ALERT: Story details below!

                As I mentioned in my Soulcalibur V review, fighting games aren’t exactly known for their engaging storylines. And when the subject of crossovers comes up, nine times out of ten the issue is forsaken entirely. “This time will be different!” they at Capcom and Namco proclaimed. The pretense for bringing these two franchises together involves stuff falling out of the sky. An alien object shaped like a cube crash lands near the South Pole. It’s referred to as a box, and subsequently named “Pandora.” Genius, I know. The very presence of Pandora on Earth enhances aggressive emotions in every living being, especially people who do a lot of fighting—martial artists and the like. The crux of the story revolves around Shadaloo and the Mishima Zaibatsu in a mad dash to see who can acquire Pandora first and use its power to take over the world. At least, world conquest is M. Bison’s desire; Jin Kazama (head of the Mishima Zaibatsu after the events of the Tekken 5 games) believes the power can rid him of the Devil Gene…and with the Mishima Zaibatsu at his disposal, his methods aren’t exactly noble…
                It’s also notable that the title has “X” in it as opposed to “Vs.” Where other recent crossovers use the latter, it’s also implied that the attitude of the game is more towards the light-hearted side. This isn’t the case here; the “X” (pronounced “cross”) makes it clear that both sides are out for blood—especially strange considering Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono and Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada enjoyed their verbal spars; their public appearances and their challenges against one another when promoting the game bordered on Saturday Morning Cartoon levels of silliness. While on the topic of silliness, the characterization is cranked up for pretty much everybody. Notions or little tidbits about their motives are virtually their defining feature; take Ling Xiaoyu for instance—she was hinted to be in love with Jin throughout the Tekken games, but here she’s single-mindedly loyal to him.
                Arcade Mode is your typical fighting game fare; you pick two characters for your team and set off. The first six fights are randomly selected teams. The sixth fight is against that team’s rivals, and there is plenty of amusing interaction between rivals across the franchises. The last two fights differ based on whether or not you picked Street Fighter or Tekken characters—Namco fighters get to do battle against M. Bison and Juri Han(?), while Capcom fighters go up against Jin Kazama and Ling Xiaoyu(?!). Even worse, both boss teams are in Pandora mode for the entire length of the battle. And after that, you get to fight the final boss right in the shadow of Pandora itself. The final boss is either Akuma or Ogre, depending on what franchise your team is from. They’re not in their respective Shin or True forms, but nonetheless they are infuriatingly cheap, even on the default Medium difficulty.
                Playing through the game helps unlock a multitude of custom icons and titles, to accentuate your player profile. Getting a character’s ending, completing their challenges in Trial mode, or just racking up lots of wins help unlock them. But there are hundreds total, so you’re gonna be a while. Oddly enough, there is no Gallery mode. Usually when you view someone’s ending for the first time, it’s set aside so you can watch it again later. Not here, it isn’t. Wanna watch your favorite character’s ending again? Go find a compilation of them on YouTube somewhere.
                Online mode is your standard fair, for the most part. You can match up with random players from anywhere in the world. The load times for offline modes are bad, but playing online makes them worse—especially if you and/or your opponent have customized your characters’ appearances. Aside from one-on-one, there is also a Free-For-All mode, as well as 2-on-2—meaning you pair up with another player online and fight as a cohesive unit against another such team. You can play local 2-on-2 online…at least on the PS3 version; not only does the Xbox 360 not have this function (despite it being in the game manual), but there are no plans to patch it. Yes, you will run into opponents whose skill far outclasses your own, but the players’ attitudes are much nicer than what online play is known for breeding.
                The fighting engine itself is a fusion of both franchises’, with Tekken-style combos and special move inputs coming from Street Fighter. There’s also plenty of aerial combo action involved, with not only a universal launcher (HP+HK), but combos ending with a HP or HK will not only launch your foe, but switch out with your teammate. You can also set up custom combos, triggered (by default) with LP+HK or LK+HP. They can also be mapped to L3 and R3 on the PlayStation 3, but a) chances are you will most likely be playing with an arcade stick, which typically neglect those buttons, and b) pressing down too hard on the sticks on a PS3 controller can trigger the combos by accident, screwing up your game plan. Each character can be fine-tuned thanks to the Gem system. You equip each character with up to three different gems, which alter a character’s attack power, defense, or speed, with a wide variety of effects for both. Sadly, there is no non-Gem mode available, much to many fans’ dismay. As for the Pandora itself and how it functions in game? You input Down, Down and MP+MK to activate it. It boosts all your attributes, greatly, but it comes with a price—you can only trigger it when one teammate is down to ¼ health (indicated by their health bar flashing red), it sacrifices said character, and you only have ten seconds to finish off your opponent…if you can’t, you lose the round. It’s meant to be used in a do-or-die situation, and not to run through your opponent at the start of the round.
                Like all crossovers, there isn’t a single player anywhere who is universally satisfied with who was included and who wasn’t. And the ones who are teamed up together raises questions about their motivations. There are some that are givens (Ryu and Ken? There’s a supposed connection to the Satsui no Hadou, and when Ryu goes to check it out, Ken follows out of concern for his friend; Jin and Xiaoyu? Jin thinks Pandora can quash the Devil Gene, but Xiaoyu is worried he might get himself destroyed in the process), some that don’t fit with their histories (M. Bison and Juri? She works with him—despite him killing her family and gouging her left eye—to find Pandora, but getting to it will also entail a race to see who can backstab the other first; Steve and Hwoarang? They were in the finals of a minor fighting tournament, when their match was interrupted and they want to settle this whole Pandora stuff first before finishing their fight), while some do make sense after a bit (Julia and Bob? Julia wants to study Pandora’s secrets but needs some extra manpower to back her up on her travels; Zangief and Rufus? They’re the new World’s Greatest Tag Team and your arguments are void).
                The biggest problem with the game has been the DLC. In the days leading up to the release, it was known that there would be twelve characters available for DLC at a later time—six for each franchise. But the shit really hit the fan when early copies of the game were hacked and it was revealed that the DLC characters are already on the game disc. That deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball could see the writing on the wall here—charging money to unlock data that’s written onto the disc itself. If we were downloading it whole cloth straight from the servers, it might be a little more reasonable. But this? In a time in human history where the average smart phone is technologically superior to the craft that landed on the goddamn moon, this is unacceptable. And don’t try to call it a patch, either; those are much smaller in comparison, and are the developers’ way of correcting mistakes in the game or the coding (though, needless to say, this is a very large mistake on their part…). It gets worse; two of the five PS3 “exclusive” characters are also on the Xbox version—Pac Man (who’s piloting a Mokujin-like power suit) and Mega Man…a.k.a. “Bad Box-Art Mega Man.” Originally, Bad Box-Art Mega Man was a joke suggested by series creator Keiji Inafune himself. The “joke” loses its humor real quick when you recall Capcom’s recent actions—Keiji left Capcom; Mega Man gets snubbed from Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (both version) despite routinely being in the top 3 in popularity polls; Mega Man Legends 3 gets cancelled; they gave this version of Mega Man the Legends’ back story; Capcom essentially pisses all over the legacy of perhaps its most popular franchises, as well as one of the most beloved game series in gaming history. It’s not a good time to be a Mega Man fan, in other words.
                Aside from new models for the Tekken characters and the new/DLC Street Fighter characters, the character models are lifted straight from the Street Fighter IV games, and it shows. Not only is Ogre modeled on Seth from SFIV, but Kazuya in the first trailer had a lot of his poses taken straight from the Sagat model. The rest of the graphics are serviceable, and the backgrounds contain plenty of references to other games from each company. The “Mad Gear Hideout” stage is a love letter to Final Fight fans, with various minor baddies living it up, before Sodom shows up and starts partying…and then Haggar arrives and sends everyone else packing. Dan Hibiki, who was killed in the first trailer by Kazuya, reappears in the tutorial mode to teach new players how to fight, and explains the game’s mechanics.
                There are a few tracks that stand out on the game’s soundtrack, but overall it’s about average. When you arrive at the rival battle stage in Arcade Mode, you fight to a wonderful remix of either the Tekken Tag Tournament or the Super Street Fighter IV themes, again, dependent on the franchise of said rivals. The Bison/Juri battle theme has audio cues from both characters’ themes, and sounds very deep and stunning, very fitting for the battle with them. The Jin/Xiaoyu battle theme borrows from Jin’s Tekken 5 ending, as well as his Tekken 3 theme, and makes very good use of pipe organs to make a very chilling track. The Mad Gear Hideout stage also takes audio cues from the Final Fight games, which change after each round. Some stages have more than one “area” to them, which you move to after the first round; they are typically rearrangements of the first round theme, though. Aside from those, the music, while not falling flat, does little to impress. Even more peculiar, of the real song themes for the series, only “Honest Eyes” by Black Tide can be found in the game—and only in the opening trailer. My guess is that they’re saving Hollywood Undead’s “My Town” for Tekken X Street Fighter.
                Street Fighter X Tekken isn’t a bad game, but given the build-up preceding its release, it’s more than a little disappointing. The rosters, music and game play have problems, and the DLC debacle left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. At this point, the enjoyment of the game would mostly be based on the player’s own level of enjoyment against other players—online or otherwise. At this time, Tekken X Street Fighter is less than 25% done, and when it comes out, we can only hope that Namco won’t make the same mistakes as Capcom.

Ari Rockefeller

When he is not training Pokémon and being the very best, the Master of the Written Word churns out convention, video game, anime and movie reviews like clockwork. No one is more productive and dangerous with a pen and paper (or, in this case, a keyboard).

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