Review: Street Fighter x Tekken

9 03 2012

As previously mentioned, this looks to be a very populous year in terms of fighting games, but the premier offering thus far has to be Capcom’s new crossover title, Street Fighter x Tekken which pits two of the world’s most enduring fighting franchises against each other in a once-in-a-lifetime dream battle.

SFxT represents the first of a pair of games which is the result of a collaborative effort between the two companies, and this game represents Capcom’s interpretation, and thus much more closely resembles traditional Street Fighter gameplay than Tekken’s 3D environment. That said, the Tekken characters have all made an impressively faithful transition to the 6-button 2D style and an entire 50% of the game’s cast of about 38 characters are all “new” to the 2D battlefield. On the whole they have done a great job porting the Tekken cast to the Street Fighter system while still retaining many of their signature moves and overall style of each of the characters, and several modifications to the Tekken warriors’ arsenal have been granted to allow them to integrate well and be competent and powerful in the new environment. The cast of characters on both sides are well represented, but mostly defaults to the flagship cast over truly unusual inclusions, but I suppose that should be expected for the first meeting of these two historical franchises.

I was instantly attracted to the Tekken characters because they represented effectively new blood to the Street Fighter format and had incredible depth to explore. However, beginning players may be frustrated using the Tekken characters at first because most players lack knowledge of those characters’ “game plan” to be effective in the 2D arena. Losing repeatedly to Hadoken, Shoryuken, and j.FK will be very discouraging but learning the individual tools to counter and dismantle the older-than-time strategies of the Shotokan and other SF veterans is one of the game’s internal Everests; a difficult climb but a satisfying challenge to master.

In terms of general gameplay, I feel that it is best described as a hybrid/middle-ground between SFIV and MvC3. Basics like footsies and positioning are still integral to play, but lengthy and damaging combos increase the lethality of openings and opportunities. This helps to reinforce the marriage of the two different game styles, with the fundamentals of Street Fighter and the “dead in 2 combos” high stakes of Tekken. Seasoned players of Street Fighter will comfortably adjust to the game, yet it is different enough to warrant new approaches and perspectives and also has an incredible depth of new mechanics to explore and master. There are several aspects of play that warrant some of the game’s nuanced aspects, like utilizing switch mechanics effectively, but these too will quickly become second nature to perceptive and dedicated players. I find this middle-ground gameplay refreshing and compelling; it features both strong fundamentals to reward tactical, disciplined play as well as the flashiness to entertain and freedom to experiment.

SFxT’s included modes may be among the most robust offerings yet from Capcom. The ability to play with 4 players simultaneously in tag-team format is a great inclusion and is natural to the game’s basic play rather than a forced addition, and also is a blast. The online modes also seem to be servicable, and even includes features such as saving replays.

Sadly, it appears that the 360 version of the game is notably inferior in several areas, first of which being the exclusion of 5 console specific characters on the PS3, second being the inability to do team-play locally on Xbox Live.

Overall, SFxT is shaping up for me to be one of the most enjoyable releases of the past many years, cherry picking some of the great aspects from recent and historical releases into a new format that scratches the right spot. It is a game that deserved to be decent and it definitely “crossed the line.”

As for the DLC debacle…that is an article for another day.





“Fan”-ning the Flames: “Mega Man” in Street Fighter x Tekken

27 01 2012

I do enjoy a good troll once in a while and the particularly epic series of trolling from Capcom over the still-recent Megaman hullabaloo has been good for several chuckles and shakes of the head. However the latest development in this series of trolling has perhaps gouged a little too deep, even for the amused observer, and unearthed a lot of interesting questions about how companies should handle their own intellectual property.

For those who have not been following the Megaman fallout closely, I will give you a brief, abridged timeline of the key events that lead up to the current debacle:

1987-2009: Megaman, a.k.a. Rockman, is one of the most well known and beloved franchises in the history of video games, selling around 29 million copies over the life of the franchise worldwide. The iconic “blue bomber” has starred in a long running series of games, side series, spinoff games, and even his own animated series. Fans eagerly await the upcoming Megaman Legends 3, the anticipated new entry in a highly popular spinoff series.

2010: Keiji Inafune, lead producer of the Megaman series for over 22 years, announces his departure from Capcom due to what is speculated to be “creative differences.”

2011: Trolling begins. Development on Megaman Legends 3 is suspended indefinitely. The long awaited Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is released, with the iconic Megaman being conspicuously absent from the cast, although his partner Zero is included, as well as Tron Bonne from the Legends line of games.

Late 2011: Despite huge volume of fan requests, Megaman is still absent from the follow up Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which introduced 12 new characters to the roster. DLC costumes for various characters are teasing acknowledgements and “tributes” to Megaman.

2012: 25th anniversary of the franchise. Proclaiming that “this is my destiny!”, “Mega Man” is announced for the upcoming crossover fighting game Street Fighter x Tekken and he looks like this:

This is my destiny!

At this point I think it is apparent to anyone what Capcom is up to. Petty revenge certainly comes to mind as a way of getting back at Inafune for bailing on the company by way of mistreating his beloved creation. But it is also a pretty flagrant F U to the fans, who have been clamoring for the inclusion of the classic character in some of the more significant releases by the company which are meant to showcase their “mascot” characters. What is baffling is how a company can blatantly snub one of its most enduring fanbases in such a backhanded way. It makes one wonder who calls the shots in the higher tiers at Capcom and what exactly is going through their mind when they sign off on such things.
The interesting question that ultimately emerges is this: How much respect does a company owe to their own intellectual property? Some companies will often make a mockery of their less successful or unpopular experiments as a way of sweeping them under the rug or “apologizing,” but that is clearly not the case in this instance; Megaman is one of the flagship franchises that put Capcom where it is today, even before the heyday of Street Fighter and the like. What they are doing is effectively holding their own character hostage and further alienating a disenchanted fanbase that represents a sizable amount of their support over the years. Is it permissible? Is it ethical? Is it business smart? We see that you know what you are doing Capcom, but with what end in mind? What will become of the Blue Bomber?

Big questions: If you create a something successful that millions of people love, how beholden are you to the IP and to your fans?