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Street Fighter x Tekken hands-on preview

It’s nearly been a year since Street Fighter x Tekken made itssurprise debutduring Comic-Con 2010, and since then Capcom’s let few details slip through the cracks. Now, we finally have new information as well as hands-on impressions of the crossover fighter that pits two former rivals against each other.

Above: The first trailer, showcasing the game’s liquid-y art style

At first glance, SFxT is extremely reminiscent of Street Fighter IV; the character models and animations look quite similar to their SFIV counterparts, so you’d be forgiven for confusing the two while passing by. But the moment you choose a team of fighters and dive in, it’s immediately apparent this is a smart blend of two completely different play styles, one that takes pieces of both and creates something totally new.

Above: Ryu executing a powerful forward kick that bounces Kazuya off the side of the screen

The Tekken cast has always operated in a 4-button world, and heavily relied on juggle combos that bounce opponents off the floor. Meanwhile, Street Fighter prefers a 6-button layout and revolves around projectile attacks and jumping cross-ups. SFxT meets in the middle by converting the Tekken cast into a 6-button, jump-friendly environment while retaining some of the juggle concepts. To help ease Tekken vets into this new system, Capcom’s hand-picked several classic 4-button combos from the Tekken games and mapped them to the corresponding buttons in SFxT. The idea is you’ll try out those reliable oldies to warm up, then scoot your fingers over to see how the two extra attack buttons can really advance your skill set.

Above: Tekken players can somewhat stick to their 4-button safe zone, but will need to explore the brave new 6-button world to survive

On the other side, Street Fighter characters now have to contend with attacks that bounce opponents off the floor and against the walls, setting up long strings of juggle hits that were never possible in the SF universe. When you see SF and Tekken characters interacting in this new setup, it instantly feels new, yet retains just enough familiarity to prevent total confusion. That said, it’s really bizarre to see Kazuya jump in with a deep fierce, or Ken axe-kick someone into the floor and juggle them for a few more hits; that weirdness alone makes it worth a look.

There’s one other key addition – hitting both fierce attack buttons executes a launcher move similar to the Marvel vs Capcom series. If it connects, the camera pulls in quickly to show the hit close-up, then tosses the enemy skyward. In that split second, you can tag in your partner and continue the assault before the opponent hits the ground. This one move will no doubt become a staple for the entire game, as it’s neither SF nor Tekken, but something new; it’s not even too similar to the launcher in MvC, as it’s not followed by a five-story leap into the sky or aerial combo.

Above: Not sure how Nina is holding that pose…

While we’re talking about differences from MvC, it’s worth noting that when one character loses all his health, the round is over. In MvC, the next character in your team would simply tag in and resume the battle, but here you’ll have to keep a watchful eye on health and tag to stay alive; additionally, characters do not regain health while tagged out.

The current roster boasts five characters from either world; Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Guile and Abel from SF, and Kazuya, Nina, King, Marduk and Bob from Tekken. I’m a big King fan, so I chose him and Ryu (for comparison to SF) and proceeded to get my ass handed to me. Apparently King’s string throws were one of the more complicated conversions, meaning I’d need to sit down and really dissect how he’s changed in SFxT. Conversely, Nina and Kazuya felt closer to their 3D counterparts, but will still require some lengthier hands-on time to fully understand.

Above: King and Guile squaring off. So effing bizarre

Ryu was obviously a quick study. His typical moves work as they should, but now the EX shoryuken has an extra hit and comes out a bit flashier than before. Ultra combos are also in effect, as is a super meter along the bottom of the screen. Again, SF fans will feel slightly more at home with all these familiar features, but rest assured this isn’t SFIV with a sprinkle of Tekken thrown in.

The game’s still quite a ways out, so the full roster and full feature set are still to come. However, even with this brief look at an incomplete version it’s clear this is going to have some meat to it. Will it please fans of both series? We won’t know that until it launches in 2012. Until then, we’ve got a gameplay trailer to ponder as well - check it for examples of juggles and other Tekken-esque elements invading the usual Street Fighter rule set.