E3 2011: 10 Thoughts on… Street Fighter X Tekken (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3)

Capcom has crossed over with all sorts of other companies for their games, from SNK with the SNK vs. Capcom fighting and card games to Marvel with the various versus games in their series to Namco with the Japanese only Namco X Capcom turn-based strategy RPG, so it seemed like it was only a matter of time before something like Street Fighter X Tekken made its way into our hands. While Namco Bandai is planning their own Tekken X Street Fighter, based in the Tekken engine, Capcom had their own Street Fighter X Tekken front and center at this year’s E3, ready for serious fighting action. I got a couple chances to really throw down with the game, and even got a chance to grab some video for your amusement, but suffice it to say, this is definitely going to be a game you’ll want to keep an eye on in the near future.

1.) Street Fighter X Tekken looks to be using a modified Street Fighter 4 engine, and for the most part it looks pretty damn good. The animations are fluid at pretty much all times, and the combat looks really nice in motion. Of course, the big deal here is that the Tekken characters look spot-on, by and large, to their Namco-created counterparts. The Street Fighter characters look as they should, of course, but that’s really to be expected, of course, but Capcom really carried the aesthetics of the Tekken characters into the game nicely. You’ll recognize your favorites almost immediately, and the characters blend into the game just fine, so no one looks out of place in the least.

2.) The demo features a total of fourteen total characters, seven each from each franchise. From the Street Fighter side, we get Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile, Abel, Cammy and Sagat; from the Tekken side, we get Kazuya Mishima, Nina Williams, Bob, King, Hwoarang, Julia Chang, and Craig Marduk. Obviously there will be a much larger roster than this, of course, but what’s included is a pretty wide variety of characters from both franchises that showcases how the characters will work on both sides of the equation.

3.) The game mechanics should immediately be friendly to Street Fighter 4 fans at first glance; the game employs the standard six button layout fans would expect, so the game isn’t the simplified experience Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was. You can chain combos together relatively easily, and the game seems, so far, to be based solidly in the Street Fighter 4 system in a way that fans should be able to work with.

4.) That said, the new mechanics that have been added to the game are… weird, to be frank. While the basic combos, combat, and supers all exist as normal, the game adds in three new elements that are different, simply speaking. First off, characters can now, from what I’ve seen, tag from a prone position, which I couldn’t pull off myself unfortunately, which is great strategically if you need to tag out after a brutal beating. Second, the game works off of Tekken Tag rules, meaning that if a character is knocked out, it’s round over, the other person doesn’t tag in to finish. That makes battles a lot more challenging than they would otherwise be, honestly. The third mechanic added to the game involves combo chaining, and works as such: when you land a multi-hit combo, at the end of the hardest hit, you auto-tag in your partner to potentially continue the combo. In theory, this is a neat way of tagging in and out while keeping massive combos going on an opponent, but in practice, if you’ve just tagged out your injured partner it makes no sense to bring them in again. I’m not saying it’s not a bad idea, but it seems largely hard to really control and I couldn’t not do it, is what I’m saying here, so it’ll be interesting to see how that all works.

5.) Matt and I went a round, where Matt tested out Hwoarang and King and I tested Cammy and Bob. Matt informed me that Hwoarang essentially plays as you’d expect; IE he kicks like crazy and can possibly be exploitable as a heavy damage, fast kicking character, though he doesn’t seem to have a lot of long-range avoidance options. In fact, many of the characters from the Tekken side don’t seem to have anything in their repertoire, though Kazuya seems to have an option to slide under fireballs, Nina has a chi-like attack she can fire forward to take fireballs out, and Bob seems to have a forward roll that also combats this, so it’s possible that more experimentation will be needed. King, in contrast, is a great grappling character, comparable to characters like Alex and Zangief, but more user-friendly in most respects, and Matt did surprisingly well with him given he isn’t a Street Fighter fan.

6.) Cammy plays exactly as you’d expect her to, and I was easily pulling out specials and supers with ease. In fact, most of the Street Fighter characters seem to have transitioned to the game more or less intact, as Ken and Ryu came across as being very much similar to their prior versions, as did Guile and Sagat. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, mind you, but it’s worth noting that Street Fighter fans should expect their favorites to play as they’d expect, and not a lot of obvious changes were made to fan favorites on the Capcom side.

7.) So let’s talk about the Tekken characters I played as. Bob comes across as being as quick as ever, though his special moves are awkward to work with and somewhat unsafe, oddly enough. He’s seen a bit of an obvious change as many of his moves come across as unsafe relative to his Tekken 6 incarnation, and while it’s hard to make a good determination from one match, Bob fans will likely spend a good amount of time re-learning the beefy brawler at first.

8.) Kazuya, on the other hand, actually fits in great into the Street Fighter universe, as many of his moves are ready-made for this sort of game and it’s easy to pick him up and play without an issue. His spinning kick is a good bit more unsafe than your standard hurricane kick, but this is countered by his dragon punch style move, which allows him to close distances better than a normal DP would, from what testing I was able to work out. He’s likely to be a good character for beginners to learn the ropes with Tekken characters, though I don’t think he’ll be a top-tier character in the end.

9.) Julia Chang also comes across as similar to her Tekken incarnation, though she doesn’t seem as high-level as she is in her home franchise. Like one would expect, she’s a very kick-focused character with plenty of solid punch setups, and she has a few worthwhile combos that have been converted into useful special moves, but she seems to be the sort of character who will need some learning time before her full potential comes out, as she felt harder to use than Bob or Kazyua and wasn’t as immediately impressive as Hwoarang, though I still managed to deal some impressive damage with her.

10.) I’m hoping to visit the game later in the week and test out the rest of the characters, but at this point, Street Fighter X Tekken is coming along well enough, if a little bit odd in spots. The game looks and sounds great and Street Fighter fans will find it to be easy enough to pick up. However, the Tekken characters will require a bit of learning to really adjust to, and the auto-tag from combos mechanic is hard to adjust to at first. Most likely the game just requires some practice that one simply cannot devote to it on a convention floor, but this is a game fighting game fans are going to want to pay close attention to, if only to see how everything really irons out.

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