Street Fighter X Tekken: Hopefully More than Just a Clash of Iconic Games

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Fighting game noobs beware: your button-mashing days are over…probably.

With Street Fighter X Tekken just over two months shy of its debut across major gaming platforms, gamers around the world are already taking sides – it’s an unofficial Team Tekken versus Team Street Fighter fanboy faceoff. The merger of the two iconic fighting titles isn’t the only thing Capcom’s upcoming game has going for it, however, as it also boasts the potential to one-up the entire fighting game genre with the GEM system.

Revamping the fighting game standard might be a bit of an overstatement, but the GEM system can at least leave its mark in the genre. While not an entirely original concept, Street Fighter X Tekken’s GEM system is unique in how it’s used. Among 57 standard gems, 5 are Assist GEMs that constantly provide assistance to the players using them in exchange for a handicap in other areas of gameplay, and 52 are Boost GEMs that boost one of five statistics like attack or defence if the characters encounter the conditions that trigger them. Players can choose three different GEMs to equip before a fight.

That doesn’t sound like much in theory, but in practice it might make all the difference. Take the standard Assist GEM “Easy Input” for instance. It allows players to make use of their characters’ special moves with fewer controls than they would otherwise have to combine. So instead of a down + forward + X + O, all a player has to do is a forward + X (this is not a specific move example, noobs).

In contrast, all of the Boost GEMs increase points in certain statistics of characters. With Boost GEMs, the player needs to clear a condition for the GEMs to be triggered. Let’s say you have a defence Boost GEM equipped and it is triggered when your character is hit a certain number of times. If while playing you are cornered into a multiple hit combo and your defence Boost GEM kicks in, it increases defence points for your character by a certain amount, reducing damage incurred.

The premise is simple enough; it’s the strategic element that adds depth to an otherwise straightforward fighting game. It also provides real world assistance (as with the Easy Input Assist GEM)and in-game fighting boosts at the same time. Will this take away from the simplistic allure of the genre? It depends.

Personally I’ve found it refreshing to bash demons in Devil May Cry right after a ridiculously difficult level in Splinter Cell. The run and gun (and slash) gameplay in Devil May Cry reflects the unassuming game formula of most fighting titles, Street Fighter and Tekken especially. The problem is – and I’ve encountered this many times before myself – is when button-mashing noobs can chain accidentally awesome combos on you despite your “mastery” of the fighting game you’re playing.

“Mastery” of a fighting game or game character is itself a dubious concept, especially if the game lacks certain technical depth and digresses into a competition of repetition and cheap shots. I loved Mortal Kombat 3 on the SNES, and I could wipe the floor with anyone using Noob Saibot, but after endless fights where I use three to four variations of the same old moves and specials, it just gets old.

This is the case, I’ve found, with a number of fighting games with few exceptions. This is exactly why Street Fighter X Tekken might be the next biggest thing in fighting games not only because you can finally get to match Ryu against Kazuya, but also because it incorporates technical depth lacking in most of the previous Street Fighter and Tekken titles. The GEM system could potentially launch both titular fighting games into the ranks of cult-hits-turned-mainstream-trends like Guilty Gear and technically masterful fighting games like the Soul Series.

This may be my personal preference, but Guilty Gear, particularly games after Guilty Gear XX (or X2), presented a lot of technical fighting with Tension Attacks and Teching. While Street Fighter enthusiasts were chaining together repetitive Hadukens, Guilty Gear X2 players were mastering Selective Teching and Instant Kills. Tekken could have gotten to the next level, but the depth of technical gameplay remained subpar, at least compared to the weapon-based unique techniques in Soul Calibur titles. Soul Calibur is the closest you can get to a Devil May Cry two-player versus mode, minus the demonic speed. I recall some of my gaming buddies staring each other’s characters down for a full minute, feeling each other out and sometimes even feinting moves, and then unleashing hits, grabs, counters, and critical finishes in a few seconds.

It’s undeniable that Street Fighter X Tekken is already a highly anticipated game owing to its combination of characters alone (despite some griping from hardcore gamers about the character lineup announcements), but can the game go beyond that and become intensely involving and technically challenging? Is the GEM system even worth the hype?

I would say yes, it is. It is neither a novel feature nor an exceedingly bold one, and many players would probably even ignore it completely at first, but it’s one buzzing trend that’s worth keeping an eye on. In the end it will meet one of two fates: fighting game fame or lame.

Here’s to hoping it doesn’t fizzle out into oblivion.

I’m G Dino, a freelance content writing specialist. I write myriad sorts of Web content on various topics for many different people and companies. I enjoy doing what I do as much as I love learning on the job. When I’m not writing for a living, I’m writing for leisure. When I’m not writing for leisure, I’m reading or gaming for inspiration. When I’m not doing either, I hatch schemes to change or destroy the world.
  • Zakkmichaels

    So the soul series is an instant classic but Tekken and street fighter, the highest selling fighting games in the world, are “cult hits”? they are some of the most iconic games in history, especially in Asia, soul calibur 4 sold just over 2 million copy’s while Tekken sold over 3 million, and what’s this crap about Tekken having no depth, you’ve obviously never played the game before, street fighter’s depth is a little trickier to catch but still exist, and you have the nerve to make fun of n00bs.

    • Dude, what are you talking about?

      I hate quoting myself, but in your case (and for your benefit), I will have to.

      First point: I never said that the Soul Series is an “instant hit.” I said that the series in its entirety was (and I quote) “technically masterful.” The very first game, Soul Edge, was pretty decent, but I would not consider it an instant hit. As the series of Soul games evolved and designers added in more technical gameplay elements, it turned into something better.

      Second point: I never said that Tekken and Street Fighter were “cult hits” – anyone claiming this has been living under a rock for quite some time. What I DID say was (and again, I quote)  “The GEM system could potentially launch both titular fighting games into the ranks of cult-hits-turned-mainstream-trends like Guilty Gear…”. Let me go through that again: “…cult-hits-turned-mainstream-trends LIKE Guilty Gear…” GUILTY GEAR, dude. NOT Tekken and Street Fighter. The very first Guilty Gear was known for its sprite based graphics, but was received lukewarmly and only became a cult classic. As later Guilty Gear games were released it streadily slipped into the mainstream bandwagon.

      Third point: I stated multiple times in the article that Tekken and Street Fighter were icons in their genre through words like:
       – ICONIC (“… merger of the two iconic fighting titles  …”)
      and
       – TITULAR (“…potentially launch both titular fighting games…”)

      And other implications that aren’t necessary anyway because everyone knows these freakin’ titles and their contributions to the fighting game genre.

      Fourth point: I NEVER said Tekken (and Street Fighter for that matter) had NO depth. I said it lacked technical depth. Let me repeat that: it LACKED TECHNICAL depth. Here’s the quote from the article: “…it incorporates technical depth lacking in most of the previous Street Fighter and Tekken…” LACKING, not ABSENT.

      Oh and by the way, I played almost every Street Fighter game there ever was (not much of the collaborations though like Marvel Vs Capcom, et al) across all consoles in every gaming platform generation. I also played every version of Tekken there is, except for Tekken Tag.

      I appreciate the feedback but if you actually read the article properly, there would have been no need for your comment. Anything else?

      • Zakkmichaels

        Thanks for clearing those things up for me, it makes ALOT more sense now, compared to what I thought you were saying. (damn dyslexia)

        • Zakkmichaels

          Although your first and fourth points are arguable.

          • Zakkmichaels

            And you second and third points are pretty much the same thing.

          • Yes, it’s just my personal opinion. 🙂

  • Tekken and Street Fighter cult classics while guilty gear is mainstream?

    Only in a perfect world my friend.

    • Ahm, please read my reply to the comment below yours. Thanks.

      • Zakkmichaels

        I got to admit, the way you wrote it makes it seem like sf and Tekken ARE cult hits turning mainstream instead of saying they WERE cult hits that turned mainstream. But, it could of just been user error ( and I promise this is my last comment, don’t want to take too much of the comment board up)

        • They weren’t cult hits turned mainstream. Guilty Gear was, and that’s what the longish “cult-hits-turned-mainstream-trend” was there for. If I dumb down that sentence:

          “The GEM system could potentially launch both titular fighting games into the ranks of cult-hits-turned-mainstream-trends like Guilty Gear and technically masterful fighting games like the Soul Series.”

          It really is just:

          “The system could potentially launch both games into the level of Guilty Gear and the Soul Series.”

          And to qualify what I mean by “level,” just read the next paragraph. I mean technical fighting level (LOL, I said it anyway).

          Great, we’re talking about sentence semantics instead of the GEM system possibly turning Street Fighter X Tekken into something else. 🙂
          Anyway. Don’t worry man, this is MY comment board. *evil laugh*

  • Street Fighter x Tekken was originally promoted as simply SFIV with new characters, but the gem system now changes that.

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