Street Fighter X Tekken Preview
Did you know it's pronounced Street Fighter "Cross" Tekken? I didn't either until I found out during a hands-on demo at the 2011 Penny-Arcade Expo. I also found out that despite the inter-breeding of the two series, Street Fighter is clearly the dominant gene, as one would suspect from its time in the Capcom development lab.
When I scrolled through the fighter list, I was actually a little bit disappointed not to find Paul, my Tekken go-to guy. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised, as the game combines two enormous rosters into a medium-sized one. Of course, both Ken and Ryu were in, as were Cammy and Chun Li. I also recognized Tekken fighters Hwoarang, Nina, King and Julia. In all I counted about 20 fighters (I think the current official count is like 23), and it's likely that more will be announced between now and the game's March 2012 release.
For my first match, I chose Marduk and Abel, two fighters with whom I have limited experience. As a result, most of my time was spent analyzing the awesome play of my opponent. Now, he mostly smoked me with jumping fierce-punch, shoryuken combos (a Ken player, how novel!), but I could see him trying to figure out the combo-tag system, wherein he would tag in his second player for even more combo!
My life bar being only so long, I thought he might run out of beatdown, but to both our wonder and cheer, he managed to convert one of his cherished punch + shoryuken combos into an all-out two character rave - on Abel's face. I never managed to execute this maneuver myself, though it appeared to take a decent Street Fighter player about three tries against an utterly outclassed opponent.
For my next match, I picked Hwoarang and Nina, two characters I know well. Two things stood out to me over all others: this being a Street Fighter game, you'll have to get used to playing Tekken characters like Street Fighter characters. That is, you tend to jump in to set up combos, rather than feint or counter a la Tekken. This aside, I did pull off a neat lean-back-then-lunge-in with a lazy quarter-cirle motion as Nina, and Hwoarang's kicking combo was still mighty feisty, though his Hunting Hawk seemed far less devastating here than in its native Namco-developed environment.
The stages themselves were interesting - part of a fine graphical bundle. I believe I fought in a broken down amusement park, and indeed, between rounds part of the stage collapsed, depositing the fighters to the ground where they continued their fisticuffs. The graphics were fine otherwise. I am still far from tired of Street Fighter IV quality fighting game graphics, and that's what I saw on display in Street Fighter X Tekken. Nothing really amazed me, though Nina has never looked quite so scandalous.
Overall, I suspect the most lethal combos in Street Fighter X Tekken will be in the irresistible brand combo. That said, I only got to play for a half an hour, and that's an awfully limited amount of time to try and figure out exactly how the Tekken system fits within Street Fighter's. Our quarters are already up on the screen to learn more (painfully), and when we discover new facets of this dynamic fighter, you'll be the first to hear the blow-by-blow.