Street Fighter X Tekken

Year: 2012
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Fighting
Review Date: 3/31/12
Rating: ****

You've got to love the Japanese and their wacky use of the English language. This is actually pronounced "Street Fighter CROSS Tekken," whatever that means. As the title implies, this game brings together characters from both the "Street Fighter" series and the "Tekken" series to fight over an extraterrestrial artifact that landed in Antarctica. The artifact is a mysterious box called Pandora, and it brings out violent tendencies in whoever is near it. How convenient. The gameplay consists of 2-on-2 tag team matches, utilizing primarily Street Fighter mechanics. That said, it's nice to see the Tekken characters actually being responsive for a change. The roster boasts a hefty 38 characters to choose from (19 from each respective franchise) with a decent range of variety. Sadly, there are only ten female characters represented, and they include fan favorites Chun-Li, Cammy, Ling Xiaoyu, and Nina Williams. The game's greatest triumph is the inclusion of the infamous and controversial Poison from "Final Fight", while the biggest disappointment is the absence of Jun Kazama. I was hoping that she would make a special appearance since the game is outside of canon and continuity for both series. It's also unfortunate that nearly all of the female characters have ridiculously large breasts.

Presentation wise, the game looks great and has the best soundtrack I've ever heard in a "Street Fighter" game. The soundtrack is so good, in fact, that Capcom hasn't even released it in the US, which means that you can only get a copy through your favorite Asian import dealer. The water color and ink style of "Street Fighter IV" (2009) is still present, but harsh textures make the characters less attractive than they could be. Fortunately, the pacing has been tightened up from SF-IV and the omni-present announcer isn't nearly as annoying, but load times are still a bear. The controls use the standard six button "Street Fighter" layout, and it takes time to learn all of the various moves, counters, special moves, extra special moves, cross moves, and cross counters. There are also performance gems that you can equip to boost your offensive or defensive power. That, coupled with having to master at least two characters' move sets is way too much to deal with for a casual player such as myself. Fortunately, the difficulty curve is nicely balanced, and it's actually playable on the easiest setting. There's a lot of depth here if you want it, but it's equally enjoyable to just stick with basic tactics. The amusingly cocky Dan shows up in the tutorial mode to show you the ropes, but the onscreen text and icons are so small that you can't read them without a 60" HD TV. I guess that's what gamers are expected to have these days. Thankfully, there's an instruction booklet that covers most of what you need to know, which is increasingly rare these days.

Surprisingly, the game does a really good job of blending the campiness of "Street Fighter" with the absurdity of "Tekken", and none of it is taken very seriously. The default teams have their own unique storylines and cutscenes, all of which are equally silly. Interestingly, Julia and Bob make the most endearing team and I was genuinely moved by their characterizations. An additional twelve characters can be purchased in a DLC character pack for $20, but unless one of your favorites is in the bunch, it's probably not worth it. Overall, "Street Fighter X Tekken" is a fun and solid stand-alone fighting game that's easy to learn and hard to master. While it's not as engaging and endearing as many other fighting games, it's a consistently entertaining diversion.