There’s something weirdly unsettling about Street Fighter X Tekken.
Mario and Sonic may have started the ‘life-long enemies-turned-incestual playbuddies’ genre, but for a generation weened on playground fights over which of the two console fighters reigned supreme, booting up the game for the first time feels like you’ve walked in on your parents watching 2 Girls 1 Cup.
It’s odd, unsettling and feels more than a little weird.
Unlike that apologetically weird analogy however, Street Fighter X Tekken swiftly subverts expectations, and weirdness turns to wrist-numbing enjoyment in mere minutes.
Just to make it clear, the disturbing analogy part of the review stopped just before ‘wrist-numbing’.
The most important part of the title is the positioning of the franchises. For this is very much a Street Fighter game including Tekken characters – yet while the styles undoubtedly jar individually, Capcom have done a remarkable job of integrating the characters and fighting styles. Tekken is just as important as Street Fighter, it’s just been subtly and expertly sculpted to fit into their world (and don’t worry Tekken fans, there’s also a Tekken X Street Fighter on the cards).
First up, the control system is going to be a little alien to Tekken fans. Out goes the ‘left punch/right punch’ system in favour of the old-fashioned six-button combo-gobbling set-up.
The tag-team two-character mechanic and new ‘gem’ system bring the six-button face-slapping to life, energising both games with its flexibility of character and combos, and dazzling with the nuance of its super-moves. In less waffly terms, there’s a real balance, ebb and flow to the way in which you balance your team of two to inflict maximum damage, while the power-up gem system can be as newbie button-mashing or as expert-friendly layered as you’d like.
Either way, the fast, fluid and consistently entertaining core gameplay is set-up to ensure fun for franchise fans and first-timers.
The visuals are pretty stunning (hefty, cartoony and eye-popping all at the same time), while the character line-up (comprising of five generations of characters from both games) is unsurprisingly superb. Throwing Jin and Ryu together for a fireball/face-crumpling punchathon is a nerdy delight, and with over 35 characters to choose from (not including the forthcoming DLC), there’s more than enough variety to make it a worthwhile purchase for fans of either.
While the Arcade mode is as straight-forward, solid and occasionally bonkers as you’d expect, the jewel in the crown is the multiplayer. Not only do you have standard local and online Versus modes, but you’re given the option of having two people control one tag-team. As much fun as kicking the face off your opponents is, there’s something satisfyingly co-operative about working with another human being to string together ultra-combos.
Overall, Street Fighter X Tekken is far more fun than most had expected, marrying the very best of both worlds to deliver the reigning champion of console beat-em-ups.
Tekken X Street Fighter and Namco, it’s your move.
Street Fighter X Tekken is out now and available on Xbox 360 and PS3.