Street Fighter X Tekken Preview (PS3)

I feel a little bad about one aspect of Street Fighter X Tekken. I’ve always been a Street Fighter fan and have particularly fallen in love with the series again in the last few years – Street Fighter IV revived the franchise on a wider scale but for me personally was a watershed moment in gaming.

Characters from across the Street Fighter universe who’ve never met before face off...
But I barely know who half of these other guys and girls on the character roster are. The last Tekken I played properly was probably Tekken 2, and I’ve never actually owned an entry in the series – only played friends copies. For the first bit of my couple of hours with the latest build of Street Fighter X Tekken at Capcom’s Gamer’s Day in London, I deliberately pick the familiar. The good news is those characters I am familiar with feel great. Chun-Li and Cammy make a great tag team, of course, and with Chun-Li reverting back to her Street Fighter III: Third Strike move execution style, I’m suddenly more at home with her again.

Playing with characters I’m familiar with allows me to get more to grips with the core systems that drive the game quickly and easily. Street Fighter IV’s Focus Attack is gone, with pressing the buttons that’d trigger that, medium punch and kick, causing your characters to tag out. In a nice touch voice acting has been recorded so characters will actually call out for their ally to replace them verbally, though when you tag in this manner has to be carefully managed – the incoming character is vulnerable for a time after tagging in.

Hammering that button mid-combo allows characters to switch in a much more safe manner, allowing you to potentially switch in a new character while an already executed move is in process. This allows for basic tag combos, though the game outright prevents massive combo moves in the vein of Marvel vs Capcom. At its core this is still Street Fighter – the situation resets often, fireball wars still appear to be totally fair game and zoning and the control of space is still vitally important. It’s a game about managing your super meter, carefully tagging, and keeping an eye on that health bar – because if one of your two chosen characters bites it, you lose.

The game also boasts a ‘simple combo’ for those who might struggle making their own, activated by hitting Light, Medium, Hard, Hard – though any combination of punches and kicks as long as they’re the correct strength seems to link and work well enough. Hitting this combo automatically tags to the next person where you can follow up with something basic – but again, your opponent can’t be juggled forever.
But unlikely cross-series match-ups also come to life!
As mentioned earlier super meter can be spent in one of several ways – it can be used to tag mid-combo, but EX attacks from Street Fighter IV also make a return, costing one third of the meter in return for a powered-up special move. Two stocks of the meter can bust out a super move – familiar moves for the Street Fighter cast and all-new moves for the Tekken folks – though all three stocks is where the truly interesting mechanics unlock.

With three stocks you can either trigger a powered-up super move which calls in both members of your team for one big cinematic combo or alternatively trigger a mode which brings your ally onto the screen. This turns the battle into a 2 on 1 uphill struggle for your opponent for a while. I couldn’t quite get a handle on quite how this worked with only one controller, though Capcom reps told me how this mode worked was still in the works. What is set in stone is that if you’re playing the game’s four-player tag mode this actually allows both players to work together on screen at once. A four player Smash Bros style mode with all four characters on screen at once also exists, but wasn’t playable.

After spending a good chunk of time flicking back and forth between different characters I’ve been familiar with in past Street Fighter games, I finally ventured over to the Tekken side. I decided to check out Tekken’s resident fat dude Bob first – and it’s striking how differently the Tekken cast play. Tekken is a four-button fighter while Street Fighter uses six, but the Tekken characters have been designed so they can actually be controlled using four buttons like in their native game. Touches like this should go a long way to make Tekken fans feel at home, and I’m told – but wouldn’t know – that some key combos that Tekken fans will remember even work right off the bat here.

Tekken characters have had their signature moves from the more simplistic title turned into more traditional Street Fighter moves, and they often begin to resemble counterparts in Street Fighter. Tekken’s Julia has picked up a forward dash punch move and a kick-based uppercut that remind me of the overpowered Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition powerhouse Yang, for instance. The important thing is that the Tekken cast do feel markedly different to the Street Fighter cast, though. Despite picking up some of the more unique elements of Street Fighter gameplay, the team at Capcom have clearly been very careful to tie-in enough key elements of Tekken to make sure that this game feels like home for fans of the Namco fighter as well.

Some of the touches are small and not even related to gameplay – Tekken characters all speak in their home tongue, for instance, whilst Ryu, despite being Japanese, speaks in English in the English version of the game. As such Street Fighter characters have localized voices as normal, but the Tekken cast all only speak in their real mother tongue. Touches like this show a real reverence from the team at Capcom for what the Namco guys have created.

Some Tekken characters even get their own projectiles!

My demo session is over and I walk away from Street Fighter X Tekken even more excited than I was before. Something clicked here – I was finally able to integrate Tekken characters into my teams successfully, and was soon mixing teams – Ryu and Yoshimitsu, Cammy and Julia – and creating some cool-looking combos already. Capcom are clearly building something different and special here – and with even more new systems yet to be announced.

Most Anticipated Feature: Getting a proper 2-on-2 match going with a friend and tagging out to them in real time!

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