In 2009 the fighting game genre was reborn by Capcom’s flagship title Street Fighter IV. The six million copies sold from this series alone made it only natural to create a crossover game to end all crossover games. Working with Tekken and Soul Calibur developer, and longtime rival Namco, the unlikely bedfellows announced that they would each be making games featuring characters from both houses’ respective series thrown together. Street Fighter X Tekken is Capcom’s contribution to this venture with the Namco version has yet to begin development.
The promotion for this game was unprecedented. The developers, in conjunction with online gaming behemoth IGN, created the reality show Cross Assault. Contestants squared off against each other with the prize being $25,000 to the winner. Never has a development company put so much advertising dollars behind one game. If their intention was to transcend the barrier between video gamers and the broader, reality television market – with the infighting and drama that viewers demand – then they succeeded. After all, it’s not often that the video game community comes under fire for sexual harassment, as occurred on Cross Assault. Scratch that, it’s actually all the time, but it is rare than anyone actually bothers to report on it.
Despite such issues, the game was released to the public this March. Unfortunately, no amount of pre-release hype could help the game, and it landed with a thud as a prime example of poor game design and horrible, internal decision-making.
Let’s start with the game itself. The player is able to pick two characters to battle in a tag-team format. You have characters from each game on separate sides of the screen. This alone is fine if it was not for the console exclusivity issue. The PlayStation currently features five additional characters (Megaman, Pac-man, Toro, Kuro, and Cole) while the Xbox 360 version has none. Certain features were also removed for Xbox 360 release, such as the enjoyable local co-op online, which gives two players the ability to play others online simultaneously.
While the console issues in and of themselves have caused many to not purchase the game, there are unfortunately gameplay issues that render the game to be almost unplayable. Almost everyone plays online. Whether you are on Xbox Live or the Playstation Network there is always a reason to go online and play with buddies or against other players from around the world. People generally enjoy that with any game that promotes direct competition.
With those games there are often, what they call in competitive circles, sound cues that help players know what to expect coming at them from the opposition. The primary issue with Street Fighter x Tekken is that there are severe sound delays during online play that cripple the defensive side of your play.
During gameplay, the sound can be cut off or heavily delayed leaving any player confused as to if they are having sound issues related to their own hardware or software. Capcom has acknowledged the issue but stated that the net code being used, while it causes sound issues, was designed for better gameplay. These issues would turn off any casual player and that has been reflected in the sales of the game, which have yet to reach the one million mark globally.
In fairness, the game does try to implement a few new ideas to what is by now a done-to-death genre. Of course, we speak about the Gem system. This in-game system allows players to increase their characters statistics and give each character abilities it would not normally have, thereby customizing the character to each individual’s tastes and style of play. For example, a player can have a Gem that can increase their speed or even block all attacks from the opposing player.
While many competitive players have greeted this system with disdain, the idea itself is fairly original and quite fun to mess about with casually. Capcom even added the ability to remove gems, despite it being a daunting and cumbersome task to do so. We do enjoy the idea but it speaks to the biggest issue that the game has, downloadable content.
A lot of games have downloadable content. For most games the idea of adding extra costumes, characters, and even features is great. Where Capcom made a mistake, however, was putting this on this disk instead of making it truly downloadable. As of today, twelve characters, several costumes, and hundreds of gems are hidden on the disk with the purpose of being unlocked later. The company really looked bad when several hackers eventually cracked the game and it was revealed to have everything already on the disk.
With all the characters revealed, Capcom announced the price of the characters – $20! – and stated they will not be released until the third quarter of this year when the PS Vita releases its version. No one minds paying for the content; it is paying for content that is already on the disk and being forced to wait three plus months to utilize it that is causing many issues for consumers.
As stated, the game released to lackluster sales considering the success of previous titles and the rabid nature of the inbuilt fan base. That said, it sometimes takes a situation like this to help developers realize the mistakes they are making. In the end, as a game, it falls short of in the crucial area that distinguishes a truly great fighting game – gameplay. The game is riddled with glitches, infinities, and design flaws that just lead to an overall poor experience for the player.
Online play is not worth the time due to the aforementioned issues, some characters people enjoy won’t be released for another few months, and many features that would be interesting have limited scope (such as the color selections for individual characters). Capcom seemed to have made this game strictly to make money off its consumers. The response to that, hopefully, has shown that the discerning consumer knows better than to purchase a title as cynically designed as this.