Thursday, March 08, 2012

Preview: Street Fighter X Tekken

Both Capcom’s Street Fighter and Namco-Bandai’s Tekken have had legions of fans, across the globe, for decades now. Followers of either one are as devout as any football, hockey or basketball fan, but what if the two worlds were to collide? Ultimately they are both arcade style beat-em-ups, but devotees would argue that is where the similarity stops. So with the imminent arrival of Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken, the greatest war in the history of fighting games is about to commence!

Street Fighter and Tekken series’ stalwarts Ryu, Chun-Li, Kazuya Mishima and Nina Williams will headline a memorable cast of your favourite fighters in a tag battle dream match for the ages! Street Fighter X Tekken (SFXT) is a 2 vs. 2 tag teambased fighting game where players can freely tag in and out between partners.

SFXT delivers the ultimate tag team match up featuring 38 iconic characters from each franchise – one of the most robust character line ups in fighting game history! With the addition of new gameplay mechanics, the acclaimed fighting engine from Street Fighter IV has been refined to suit the needs of both Street Fighter and Tekken players alike. The powerpacked game also sees the introduction of the innovative Gem system, a strategic new way to customise and enhance the fighting experience!

The game promises to marry the styles of both a 2D and 3D fighting game for a fresh take on the genre, and fans from each series will also be able to play with either Street Fighter’s traditional 6 button layout or Tekken’s 4 button layout. Players who are new to either series will also be able to join in on the fun with an easy-to-understand battle system that promises excitement and countless hours of fun.

But why listen to me when you can hear from the game developer himself, the legendary Ono-san, the Producer of the Street Fighter series.

How will this differ to the announced Tekken x Street Fighter?
It’s funny, but I actually don’t have any idea as to what kind of game Tekken x Street Fighter will be [laugh]. True story, but the producer of the game at Namco- Bandai, Harada-san, called me just a few weeks ago and asked me for a roster list of Street Fighter characters. That just goes to show the pace at which they are working at. It might be 2018 before that game comes out, so we hope that fans will enjoy Street Fighter x Tekken in the meantime.

What style of gameplay can we expect from SFXT?
Well first off you will notice that this is tag battle game, so it will be important to utilise your partner effectively during fights. We have a wide variety of gameplay mechanics, such as the Cross Rush, Switch Canceling, Pandora Mode, Charge Moves, Ex Moves, Super Arts, Cross Arts, Cross Assault, and of course, the Gem system. The Gem system in particular is a revolutionary part of the game, which allows for an unprecedented amount of character customisation. There is a lot for fans to learn and enjoy!

How has CAPCOM and NAMCO worked together?
Namco gave us a lot of freedom in creating Street Fighter x Tekken, so it was a very collaborative process. We would ask them for advice and help at certain times during the development process, but they never tried to change our direction, or stop us from doing certain things. We really appreciate the freedom they gave us, and we will do the same for them when they make Tekken X Street Fighter.

How big was the development team?
This development team was bigger than the one that worked on Street Fighter IV, so even I’m not sure how large it was in the end. Just looking at the battle engine and production staff, we had at least a hundred people working on the project at any given time. For a Capcom fighting game, this is a huge number of staff, and definitely the largest we had up until this time. But since we are still working on the VITA and PC versions of the game, the number of staff might continue to increase.

How many characters will there be, and from each franchise?
We have a huge roster of characters; 38 in total, not including the exclusive guest characters. There will be 19 from the Street Fighter universe, and 19 from the Tekken universe. In terms of exclusive characters, the PS3/VITA versions of the game will have the SCE Japan mascots, Toro and Kuro, as well as Megaman, Pacman, and also Cole from Infamous.

How will each move be executed – four or six button configuration?
Street Fighter X Tekken is a 6 button fighting game. However, we realise that Tekken players come from a 4 button background. So Tekken characters have a lot of moves, and some of them have been turned into Street Fighter-like special commands, but they also possess a lot of the same 4 button combos as in the Tekken series. We hope that Tekken players will have an easier time making the transition between games as a result.

To what extent do you focus on tag team gameplay?
We put a huge focus on the tag team gameplay aspect. In this game, if one of your characters loses their entire lifebar, you will lose the round. So it is not like the Versus series, where you can just fight until the last character, and not really worry about that kind of thing. In this game, we want players to manage both characters equally, and really think about the kind of team synergy that they can create, as tag team combos are also a really big part of the gameplay.

What online options are made available?
All of the online options in Street Fighter IV are in Street Fighter X Tekken, but we have also added a lot of new online features. In this game you will be able to have tag battles with other people online in a variety of ways. You can either play 1 v. 1 with someone else online, or you can even play 2 v. 2 through the new “Pair Play Battle” mode. In this mode, each player controls a different tag team character, so if you aren’t very good at the game yet you can pair up with someone stronger! Finally, the “Scramble Mode” lets 4 players on 2 teams duke it out on screen at the same time, resulting in a fun party game that can be enjoyed by a lot of people at once. You can also train online with friends, while waiting for fight requests, so we think players will really take advantage of this features.

Will there be any exclusive DLC?
We can’t say anything about this at this time.

Is there any kind of plot to explain how the two universes joined?
In this title, the Street Fighter and Tekken universes exist in the same world. The premise is that a giant meteorite falls from the sky, and a mysterious box, Pandora, is discovered from within the rubble. Pandora has tremendous power locked within it, and thus Shadaloo and the Mishima Zaibatsu set their sights on obtaining it. As for how the story develops, you’ll just have to play the game to find out! [laugh]

How long has this game been in development?
I first talked to Namco-Bandai’s Haradasan about the project in 2009, but we didn’t actually start development until the end of the year. From then on we developed the game at a rapid pace and revealed the first playable demo on stage at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con. It really feels like we made the game at a whirlwind pace.

Is this the first time CAPCOM and NAMCO have joined forces?
We’ve never had a collaboration on this level before. However, our two companies did make a game together called Namco X Capcom in the past. At the time we did not involve the SF or TK teams, however, so we weren’t really involved with that development process.

Can we expect any other partnerships?
I’ve always said that I’d like to do a Marvel vs. DC game [laugh]. That would probably be the ultimate crossover, not only from a development standpoint, but a fan standpoint as well. Realistically, it’s probably nigh-impossible, but I’d like to keep on dreaming for now that it could happen one day!

What were the biggest challenges in development?
A lot of people ask us this question, and to be honest, we were really worried about the 2D/3D difference at first as well. Both franchises are very different as you are aware, even though they are both technically “fighting games”. However, Namco-Bandai gave us the creative freedom to create the game as we saw fit, which made the conversion process of the Tekken characters a lot easier. In addition, we found that even though Tekken was a 3D game, a lot of the gameplay still utilised 2D elements. These two points together helped make the creation of the game a lot less difficult than we initially imagined.

What elements are you most proud of in the game?
I’m most proud of the finished product as a whole. This was a project that we could not have done in the 20th century, and finally in 2012 the game will be out for everyone to enjoy. We brought the two hottest 2D and 3D fighting game franchises together and created this dream matchup. That achievement alone is what makes me glad to be working on fighting games in this day and age.

  • Michael Gordon is editor of Charged Middle East magazine, a leading Dubai-based gadgets and games title that provides news, reviews and features on the latest home and consumer electronics. For more about the magazine, visit its Facebook page after the jump. Check out this article and many more in the March issue.