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It was around this time two years ago where fans were sitting down for a Capcom panel at San Diego Comic-Con eager to know what is next from the famed Japanese publisher. Then there is a surprise trailer they showed off with Ryu going one on one with Kazuya from the Tekken franchise on the Street Fighter IV engine. It wasn’t just another fighting game as Chun-Li and Nina join in the fray when Ryu and Kazuya activated their team supers, now called cross arts. Street Fighter X Tekken’s debut trailer answered the age old question of when fighters from these two universes will finally clash. That dream came a reality with this 2v2 fighter. Namco Bandai followed suit announcing Tekken X Street Fighter, which is going to be made by the Tekken team. We haven’t heard much since that original announcement, but it is still coming. Back to Street Fighter X Tekken though where fans are instantly hyped for this game to be the next big thing for the fighting genre.
Early builds of the game showed promise with the core 2v2 fighting being the main draw at Captivate 2011 and E3 that same year. It was going to be as the fighting game community termed it, a real honest fighting game by Capcom with no gimmicks and comeback mechanics. Fighters can tag themselves in manually, switch cancelling during a move on hit or block, or by a combo with a launcher. By the time Comic-Con 2010 rolled around, that is when the game took a downward turn. Remember what I just said about the game having no gimmicks and no comeback mechanics at the time? Capcom, in modern fighting game fashion this generation, decided to announce new system after new system over time that it became too much for both hardcore and casual players. First off was Pandora, which tied around to the game’s storyline in some way, but not as much. Pandora allows players to sacrifice their partners to give their current fighter boosts in speed and damage along with infinite meter for a limited time before dying themselves. It was coined as a last chance mechanic when players have low health. At first, players and fans called Pandora, the comeback mechanic for the game after seeing ultra combos in the Street Fighter IV series and x-factor in the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 games.
Then there was Street Fighter X Tekken’s most controversial gameplay feature, the gem system. Capcom originally proposed this as a chance for newcomers to go toe and toe against experienced players with gems that have speed, damage, and defense boosts for example. Plus, there are gems that allow fighters to automatically tech throws or block attacks with a cost of some meter. What Capcom didn’t realize is how these gems are more useful to tournament-level players than newcomers as the system as whole ended up as a failure. In addition to its gameplay failures, it took too much time to set up characters’ gems and that was why they weren’t seen that much in tournaments by the fighting game community. Later builds of the game at the Tokyo Game Show 2011 and CES 2012 had gems and Pandora in along with new characters that were revealed, but it was too early to tell at the time whether or not they are useful gameplay mechanics.
Capcom also crammed in numerous modes both offline and online for the game making it their most feature-heavy fighting game yet. They ranged from having four players fight together regular 2v2 style or all at the same time with Scramble Mode. Plus training mode was available with another player online as well. Even with Pandora and the gem system, this was also their best attempt of attracting newcomers to fighting games, especially for those who think the genre as a whole is daunting to play against people with better skills.
The game finally came out on March 6, 2012 and it was a hit with the mainstream press out of the gate and here on Player Affinity. For the first few weeks, even the targeted audience was enjoying it especially after players getting tired of Street Fighter IV and wanted something new in that vein. As the first two months rolled on with the game, we started to see the game’s flaws come out by the fighting game community after local tournaments and certain majors. The timer was the main issue as fights tend to run out the clock most of the time. The timer itself was a little faster than other recent fighters, but what also factored to the issue is how big the stages were and the damage output by characters being lower than what people thought. As more weeks and months gone by, certain tactics were the way to go as well such as standing jab pressure by characters that had good standing jabs, Rufus’s dive kick (later nerfed in a patch), and Ryu/Ken’s mid-air hurricane kicks. The damage output players came up with also didn’t evolve right away as we still resort to combo tactics we have when the game first came out from launcher combos to switch cancel combos that don’t do much damage and cost more meter than it should. Lastly, the roster didn’t end up as balanced as we thought. Despite Capcom’s great effort with making Tekken characters playable in a Street Fighter game, most of them just has to do more work getting into range compared to the Street Fighter cast. Since this is a Street Fighter game at its core, most of that cast is better to go with than the Tekken cast.
Besides the game’s gameplay flaws, there was also a situation involving the DLC characters. Capcom has been no stranger to locking certain content on disc to be later used as downloadable content, whether free or paid. What they always underestimate is how good hackers can be with situations like this. When hackers were able to find out what the locked on-disc content was for Street Fighter X Tekken, they were twelve new characters later to be released for a fee on consoles and available right away on the upcoming Playstation Vita version. PS3 exclusive characters Mega Man and Pac-Man were also locked away on the 360 disc, but Capcom has said that they still don’t plan to release those two for Xbox 360 folks. The on-disc situation as a whole was pretty bad for Capcom exposing their ways of them handling downloadable content for their games then and now. They have been the #1 company on that train while other publishers/developers work on DLC after the game is done than before. The on-disc content debate itself can be saved for another day, but for Capcom, this was another nail in the coffin for Street Fighter X Tekken.
After disappointing sales according to Capcom’s expectations and claims that the game is “dead” to the fighting game community, what is the future for Street Fighter X Tekken and can the game still be fixed? The game’s producer, Yoshinoro Ono, stepped off from the project to work on new things at Capcom and if there was someone to blame for the game’s failures, it was him. He basically took the fall for the game, and a new producer, Tomoaki Ayano, took his place on patching up the current game and finishing the Vita version (pictured above). Capcom was nice enough to announce that the twelve DLC characters (Christie, Lei, Bryan, Jack-X, Lars, Alisa, Blanka, Sakura, Dudley, Elena, Guy, and Cody) will be released earlier than intended next Tuesday on consoles for $20 dollars or 1600 Microsoft Points. Originally we would have to wait till the Vita version comes out on October 23 to get access to them. The game will also be patched next week with some gameplay buffs and nerfs for certain characters, but Ayano has said they will address the timer issue in a later patch that hopefully comes out sooner than later. There are also Capcom’s Street Fighter 25th anniversary tournaments that start this weekend at Austin, TX as Street Fighter X Tekken is the headliner game in hopes of bringing in players to compete with a grand prize being a new Scion at the finale in San Francisco.
Are the new characters, patches, and series of tournaments enough to fix Street Fighter X Tekken? The answer honestly is both yes and no. Personally, I say no because the damage has already been done to the game being bad to the fans that matters most, which is the fighting game community. The game pretty much has become a joke to most of them and it is often made fun of during streams that have it on. Plus, it didn’t receive the proper spotlight the game originally was meant to get at the Evolution Championship Series earlier this month. The format there was 2v2 and the finals were only the top four teams because of the reception the game has been getting in recent months. However, there is a chance that the new characters and patches bring new life to the game along with the tournaments bringing lots of players in because of the big prizes. That chance is slim if players are not satisfied with the new changes/characters and Capcom’s tourneys getting low turnouts. The disappointing sales have also put a damper on Capcom’s fighting game efforts for the future even though there’s still hope of a new Darkstalkers game after numerous teases. There is a potential future for Street Fighter X Tekken, but personally I would not bet on it being a good one.