Street Fighter X Tekken Vita Review
Game: Street Fighter X Tekken Vita
Available on: PlayStation Vita Only
I’ve said it before, but I feel I have to mention it again, 2012 has been a killer year for fans of fighting games. Look at all of the bangers we have checked out this year at GodisaGeek.com. Go on, do it. See? Loads of them. We have even been looking at some of them more than once. Cast your minds back to March when we were getting all emotional about Biggie Smalls and thoroughly enjoying Street Fighter X Tekken, Capcom’s first-rate, bags o’ fun crossover with the Mishima Corporation. I am aware that the game has its critics – particularly in the competitive scene where it is regarded as being unbalanced and not suited to tournament play – but it is an extremely accessible effort that is terrific fun to play with friends or with players of a similar skill level online. With an absolute stack of playable characters, taking in beautifully reimagined Capcom designs of Tekken favourites, and some lovely multi-layered backdrops, it was full of bombast, colour and humour. Sure, Street Fighter IV may be a more rounded game, but it was great fun seeing Capcom and Namco finally mix it up in some fighting action.
Back then, I knew that there would eventually be a Vita version – we had even seen footage of it – and I was very much looking forward to taking one of my favourite games of the year with me on the move. That time has arrived, and I am pleased to say that Vita owners have been served up another kick-ass fighting treat to go with the stellar BlazBlue and Marvel Vs. Capcom titles they have already been able to enjoy.
For the Vita incarnation of their latest Vs. thrill-fest, Capcom promised cross platform battles, and a perfectly scaled down version of its big console counterpart in the palm of your hand. They have definitely accomplished this, making only a few graphical compromises (some of the backgrounds have a bit less movement, for example, yet nowhere near the amount of omitted animation that the 3DS version of Street Fighter IV suffered) whilst adding a ton of new stuff, some of which works well, some of which is completely unnecessary and, at times, bonkers.
All of the modes from the console version are present, along with all of the characters, including the twelve new ones that have recently been offered as DLC. This means that you get to take control of two more Final Fight stalwarts in Guy and knife-wielding convict Cody, and annoyingly Street Fighter-esque, projectile flinging Alisa Bosconovitch, amongst others. Mokujin-Mech-riding Namco icon Pac Man is still there, as well as the superb Bad Boxart Mega Man, which still raised a chuckle second time around. You get the brilliant Dan Hibiki tutorial mode, complete with Terry Bogard piss-taking. The Trials are present and correct for every character, and the rock-hard Missions are also included in exactly the same fashion as previously.
Gameplay wise, the game has not changed from the last time we reviewed it, it is exactly the same tag team brawling experience.
So, what is new? There is a new Endless-style mode called Burst Kumite which, like recent Namco offerings, features battles with CPU-controlled approximations of people you have met in online battles. Once you progress far enough in the game, you can tinker with parameters when playing Burst Kumite, such as being able to fight in a constant Pandora state. It is a surprisingly good place to test your skills out before venturing online, or to use as a venue to grind out some of the Trophies in the game that ask you to carry out a set number of specific actions, such as achieving a “Perfect” victory 30 times, or carrying out 50 Cross Arts during matches.
As a game with six attack buttons as standard being played on a device with two touch interfaces and less buttons than a control pad or arcade stick, there has also been some tinkering with the controls, including an entirely new way to play. Any attack button, or combination of buttons, can be mapped to the four face buttons and two shoulder buttons, however, there are also four areas of the touchscreen that can be designated as buttons too, and you have the option to change their size or position on the screen. Putting all four of the virtual buttons on the top screen to use is far from practical, however, I found it was very handy to map commands on the two buttons furthest to the right, quite close to the actual face buttons themselves. In a situation when you have to obscure part of the display with fingers, there are always going to be issues, but on the whole I have experienced very few issues. The rear touch “buttons” on the other hand are not ideal, there is very little space to manoeuvre when you are holding the console, so accidental button presses are inevitable and I avoided mapping anything to the rear of the Vita because of this.
Casual Style is Capcom’s new touch-related way to play Street Fighter X Tekken, and is a messy option that’s best avoided. Removing the use of the main face buttons entirely, it requires a combination of taps, flicks and touch gestures to make your character attack, with things like blocking and movement taken care of by the CPU. Boiling a complex, rewarding fighter down to what is effectively an on-rails touchscreen free-for-all was never going to amount to a fun experience, it is a confusing, silly mess. An Augmented Reality feature is another somewhat tacked-on gimmick which allows you to take a picture using one of the dual cameras and then insert one of the game characters into the finished shot. If you really, really need to see Ryu in full hadoken pose standing on top of your microwave or living room rug, then this is definitely the addition to the Street Fighter universe you have been waiting for.
Cross platform play, and indeed online matchups on the move, has been one of the big selling points for the Vita conversion of Street Fighter X Tekken. I am pleased to report that this is an area that Capcom have excelled themselves in, with all of the online matchmaking features of the console version in place, including the mental Scramble mode. There are absolutely no issues whatsoever whether you are battling a PlayStation 3 user or another Vita owner. So far I have had no problems with lag in the few dozen Ranked matches I have played, and have been very impressed with how well the lobbies and options have been implemented. As usual, you can leave Fight Request on during Arcade Mode (or Battle Kumite mode) and while away your time until some scrub challenges you to a duel, or set up an Endless lobby where you can play winner stays on with a group of friends or people from the internet. A Battle Log records your last few fights to play back and watch, and you can upload replays, and watch other fight replays from around the globe. Winning matches online unlocks “KO Monuments”, in-game trophies which capture your opponent’s character in the precise moment you finish them off and turn them into a little statue. I hope to one day look back upon my hundreds of KO Monuments, and wistfully recall the moment in time I put a player called something akin “xxCODxxMASTRxx” away with a perfectly timed Super Art to the face.
VERDICT: For your money you get the most character-laden version of Street Fighter X Tekken yet, a brilliant handheld conversion that is perfect for playing on the go. The whole thing is held together with some cracking touchscreen menus, a wealth of character customisation options, plenty of planned and already-available downloadable content, and a couple of interesting additions; some good, some bad. Whether or not you will want to pick this up if you already own the PS3 version is entirely dependent on how much portability means to you. Some may also be put off by the control setup, touchscreen stuff in fighting games is not for everyone, and given the way that the game cannot really be played effectively without using all six of the main buttons, which can make the triple-button Super Art/Pandora presses tricky to pull off without some help. As with plenty of Vita games, the daft modes incorporating AR and touchy feely nonsense could have been jettisoned in favour of something more worthwhile. As it stands, this completes a hat-trick of first class fighting games for the Vita, and is a game that has taken up an extraordinary amount of my time since I downloaded it.