Once upon a time there lived an adorkable gamer girl who enjoyed her fair share of hadoukens, sonic booms, and spinning bird kicks. One day, the young girl strolled into an arcade — back when they still existed outside of malls and movie theatres — and discovered a concept that blew her mind: the fighting game crossover. X-Men vs Street Fighter. Marvel vs Capcom. Such a thing hadn’t been done before but, somehow, mixing Wolverine with Ryu worked like a dream. Ever since then this adorkable gamer girl — haha yes this story was about me — has always wondered, “What will they crossover next?”
The funny thing about Street Fighter X Tekken is that this crossover is something my friends and I would joke about. “Har har, what will they make next? Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat? Street Fighter vs Tekken?” We never, ever thought that the game would happen for real because both franchises seemed too different. Granted, Marvel and Capcom are about as different as fried chicken and scrambled eggs. But the world of Marvel works well in the 2D realm. The few X-Men games I remember playing — particularly the arcade game — was a side scrolling beat-em up. Tossing those characters into another beat-em up setting was not terribly far off.
How could a franchise that’s 3D, has no super meters to fill, has no extra snazzy special moves, has no projectiles to spam, and has no drawn out combos work with something like Street Fighter?
Oddly enough, it works ridiculously well.
If you’re curious about how both Guile and Paul Phoenix fit their hair on the same screen then here’s a bit of back story. A mysterious object flies through space and crash lands onto our humble planet. Researches from all over the world scramble to find out the purpose of the object but can’t seem to figure it out. When people come in contact with what’s being called “Pandora” it releases a great amount of power. This, of course, causes nothing but conflict which can only be settled in sixty second matches between muscular men and agile women.
From what I can gather, “Pandora” isn’t something that merged the two different worlds of Street Fighter and Tekken. It seems like both universes coincide with one another right as the game starts. This makes perfect sense since Street Fighter and Tekken have normal enough characters who can coincide with one another. There isn’t this feeling of, “WTF are you doing here,” when you see Nina Williams landing a kick to the back of Ken Masters’ head, unlike other crossovers like Mortal Kombat vs DC where seeing Scorpion staring down Batman is a bit… weird.
Tag teams consist of two characters which you can cross in whatever way you want, but picking the right combination of fighters will let you play through their story. Mixing Ling Xiaoyu and Cammy, for example, will have you play through the standard plot of “strange object, great power.” However, if you put Ling Xiaoyu and Jin Kazama together you’re granted a more developed storyline for the two characters. Every character in Street Fighter X Tekken has his, or her, own reason for going after Pandora, and playing through the arcade mode reveals what that reason is. This is what makes the game so interesting. Seeing the contrast between a noble hero like Ryu and a smug asshole like Kazuya Mishima makes for an intriguing story. I always knew that the Mishima bloodline was messed up, but putting it up against good spirited characters like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-li really shows the cracks.
Each “correct” team is given an opening cinematic, dialogue between the characters after each victory, a “face your rival” battle, and an ending that shows their reaction to reaching Pandora. The endings actually show the two partners together versus what normally happens with cross fighters — the character you use to deal the final blow gets the ending, leaving the second fighter behind. Some people will say that fighting games don’t need a plot, but some sort of reason behind each battle makes each match feel more fulfilling. Having a reason to play through single player is just as important as having a good time online or against friends.
The gameplay is the perfect example of how a crossover fighter should play. The combat is fun and makes you want to play with every single character on the roster just to see what their fighting style is like. Characters tag in and out of battle flawlessly, whether it be you calling them before your health runs out or doing something snazzy like having them jump in during a combo. Unlike the style of Marvel vs Capcom, all you have to do is knock out one opponent for the match to be over. This is more similar to the Tekken Tag style which forces you to keep track of everyone’s health and know when to pull a character away. Despite the game being done in the standard style of Street Fighter’s 2D the Tekken characters fit right in. It doesn’t feel strange to have the normal 3D fighters in a 2D setting, their combos flow just as well as the Street Fighter cast. Also, seeing the Tekken cast redone in the beautiful art style that Street Fighter IV started is like getting a free scoop of ice cream with a delicious cake. The watercolor style is really top notch and the Mishima family has never looked so bad ass — still dysfunctional, but very much bad ass.
The game features two new mechanics: the Gem System and Pandora Mode. Players can equip up to three gems that will provide different status boosts to your characters. The different types of gems include attack, defense, speed, vitality, assist, and Cross Gauge — the gauge that fills up and lets you perform EX Attacks, Super Arts, and other powerful skills. Pandora Mode is one of those modes that is a double-edged sword. While it might seem like a good idea to sacrifice a nearly dead fighter in favor of more power, if you don’t defeat your opponent within a certain amount of time you automatically lose. It also fits with the general theme of the story mode of Pandora and the power it supposedly comes with — is it worth the price?
Street Fighter X Tekken is perfect for fans of either franchise, hell, it’s perfect for gamers who just like to throw down with fireballs and crazy combos. Of course it’s much more rewarding for gamers who play Street Fighter, Tekken, or both. If you like one franchise over the other that’s no reason not to give this game a shot. Even if you’re a fan of the Tekken style of gameplay the characters work so well in 2D, especially since none of them lose the fighting style Tekken gamers have become accustomed to. Xiaoyu still has her fantastic flurry of combos — whether she be facing her opponent or not — and Hwoarang still comes equipped with those crazy kicks. And King? Don’t get me started with his endless combination of wrestling moves. With future DLC to come after the release of the Vita game, Street Fighter X Tekken is something that will hold its value for quite sometime. Now all that’s left is to wait for the supposed reverse release of Tekken X Street Fighter. Will the Street Fighter characters be able to handle the 3D environment of Tekken? Only time will tell. Until then, grab your controllers and “Cross the Line!”
Final Rating: 9/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: PS3
Time to completion: With one set of tag team partners: 30 minutes or less. With every character? No answer on that yet.
Trophies Earned: 1 so far
Price Bought at: $70 (collector’s edition)
Current Price: $60 (normal), $70 (collectors)
Recommend Purchase Price: Full price if you’re a Street Fighter fan, a Tekken fan, or just a fighting game fan in general. The collectors edition is also pretty nifty for the extra $10: arcade machine bank, mini comic by Udon (who always has amazing art), and some extra gems for the game. If you’re a collector I’d say go for it.
Why you should buy it: If you want a really kick ass fighting game with sick combos, cool characters, and an interesting enough story to hold your interest long enough to want to know what happens to your favorite Street Fighter/Tekken characters. With a decent Arcade Mode, Mission Mode, and trophies awaiting completion of things like Tutorial Mode you won’t get bored if you don’t feel like playing online all the time against other people.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: If you think fighting games are too violent and will warp the minds of young, big-eyed children.