If you’ve been jonesing for the good old days of 2-D video game ring battles, Capcom wants to be your one-stop gaming solution. These gamemakers are without question the champs of crossover titles—in the past, pitting franchise battlers such as The King of Fighters, Marvel superheroes and any number of Japanese anime series against one another. And now with Street Fighter X Tekken they invite Kazuya, Yoshimitsu and many other 3-D brawlers from the Tekken universe to flatten out their muscle-bulging game a bit and step into a 2-D Street Fighter arena.
The Big, the Bad and the … Pac-Man
The two big names in this title are considered to be tops in their class, both with a whole lot of button-mashing history under their belts. Expectations, therefore, have been high for this collision of cultures. And when the game released, reviews were exuberant. A critic from insidegamingdaily.com, for instance, gushed, “Street Fighter X Tekken has given me everything I’ve dreamed of and more from a fighting game.”
Everything and more, in this case, looks quite a bit like this:
Since this is a tag team scrapper, you choose two fighters for each side of the ring from a list of dozens of characters ranging from those old Street Fighter buddies Ken and Ryu to a big bear brawler named Kuma to guest combatants such as Mega Man and even that great-great-great-grandfather of game guys Pac-Man. Up to four players control the characters in the two teams and can quickly substitute into the fight (mid-combo, if necessary) when a partner needs a recharging rest.
Those four player substitution tournaments and the everybody-fight Scramble mode can be an easy way to get the whole gang involved for short, quick bouts. On the other hand, a solo player can still capitalize in a series of fights in the Arcade mode. Starting with a very detailed Training mode, the game takes you through the button-and-trigger combinations that unleash a good number of offensive and defensive moves—including some that are unique to each character. Unlike other fighting games out there, though, the combos here are almost always intuitive, and there’s even an option to assign some of the more complicated ones to a specific button on the controller.
An Assault … on the Eyes
Of course, this is a fighting game, so it’s a whole lotta beatdowns that are being triggered by those easy-to-push buttons. There’s no blood to wipe up, but as tag teams go at each other, the blows land with shock wave reverberations and an energy blast crackle that give the whole shebang a sense of bone-crunching weight. The bouts last until one character is knocked out. Which means there are no deathmatches involved. That’s great. Still, the powerful male and female fighters are pummeled, crushed to the canvas or launched into the air by mighty punches, kicks, throws and even a few weapons or magic attacks.
The Eastern spiritualist Dhalsim, for instance, uses his mystical abilities to levitate and chuck fireballs at his foes. And the female battler Poison lashes out with a riding crop. Frankly, though, her riding crop slashes are far less problematic than the clothes she’s wearing. Or not wearing. A fact that opens the door for a little discussion of the games character assortment:
Many of the fighters waiting to join the fray are über-muscled behemoths. Zangief, for example, is a Mister T on steroids type who sports biceps as big as small cars and enough shaggy chest carpet to make Elvis’ rumpus room jealous. Females’ overblown anime anatomy is equally in your face, especially since they’re so often dressed in very skimpy outfits.
Instead of wearing comfortable workout togs, for instance, Poison dresses in a teensy-tiny formfitting tank top, Daisy Duke short shorts and high heels—a curve-enhancing outfit that the camera’s eye regularly and closely examines. Her sister brawler, Cammy, invites T-rated gamers to gaze in another direction by wearing a high-cut leotard that leaves her backside almost completely exposed. So with each cleavage-baring V-cut top and realistic fleshy jiggle, it becomes more and more clear that the game wants to keep your attention with more than just its flashy fighting moves.
That makes sensuality this well-executed fighter’s biggest issue. And that’s after factoring in the few swear words (“s‑‑‑,” “a‑‑,” “d‑‑n” and “h‑‑‑”) in English and Japanese. Street Fighter X Tekken is creative, colorfully cartoonish and inviting, to be sure. But even in 2-D form that invitation is smudged—almost illegible. If you do make out the RSVP date and location, know that when you arrive, the rest of the party guests won’t be dressed for any sort of moral success.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.