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Street Fighter and Tekken: Brilliance-in-the-Making or a Giant Cash Cow?

Street Fighter IV Screenshot - 788657

We’ve seen a lot of crossovers in the game industry, but gamers all over the world were stunned when Capcom announced that it entered a joint venture with Namco Bandai to produce two Street Fighter and Tekken crossovers. The first, Street Fighter x Tekken (the “x” is pronounced “cross”), is a Capcom-developed Street Fighter-style video game that appears to use the engine that powers Super Street Fighter IV. The second, Tekken x Street Fighter, is a Namco Bandai-developed fighting game that will, as you can imagine, bring many of our favorite Street Fighter characters to the world of Tekken.

In the debut trailer at this year’s Comic-Con, Street Fighter x Tekken looked slick, fast, and ultra-competitive.

This announcement comes after the hotly anticipated Mortal Kombat throwback, which will return the series to its side-scrolling and super-gory roots. But while Ed Boon has the chance to reignite the fighting genre next year, Capcom has already lit the flame with the release of Street Fighter IV and its Super follow-up. SSFIV’s gameplay is a beautiful re-creation of the classic Street Fighter II formula, with better controls, quicker gameplay, and cooler combos. The character lineup is top-notch, and the replay value is through the roof – if players didn’t know any better, they’d swear they were at an arcade.

Both of the current-gen Street Fighter games have shipped and sold millions of copies worldwide, paving the way for other throwbacks – including Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Street Fighter x Tekken, however, is by no means a “throwback.” In fact, it could very well be a flash-forward glimpse into future of the fighting genre.

But is this a good thing? Do we really want our fighting games to step into each other’s territory? Let’s find out.

Round One: Street Fighter and Tekken

Capcom and Namco Bandai made the right choice in deciding to develop two completely different crossovers. If only one was designed, the developers would have had to pick a side – either the Tekken or Street Fighter gameplay style would have won out, because you ultimately cannot have both.

That brings us to an interesting question: how will both games play when converted to the other side?

If the gameplay footage (leaked from Comic-Con) is any indication, Tekken will do quite well in the Street Fighter universe. Capcom is likely to create a new projectile attack (or several) for each Tekken character. And instead of merely converting old Tekken combos to work with the six-button Street Fighter layout, I suspect that the developers will produce a series of combos that are mechanically different from anything Tekken fans have seen before. Visually, however, you can expect many of the attack moves to have a similar, if not identical, appearance.

On the flip side, when Street Fighter arrives in Tekken land, the developers will have to reconstruct Ryu and company to work in a more realistic setting. Tekken uses only four buttons; Street Fighter uses six. Tekken has denser gravity (juggles are possible but they are not the norm) than Street Fighter, and it’s not big on projectile attacks. Thus, Namco Bandai is likely to keep the classic Street Fighter moves while eliminating or diminishing some of the projectile effects. Ex: if Guile is featured in the game, there’s a good chance his Flash Kick move will be brought over with only minor graphical adjustments. His Sonic Boom projectile attack, however, may be removed or altered visually. If the latter adjustment is made, expect him to throw a physical object, instead of merely tossing a spinning blast that could not exist in the Tekken realm.

All in all, this sounds pretty exciting. While I was initially concerned about Street Fighter x Tekken, I’m encouraged by the development (and no doubt marketing) decision to design two different crossover games.

But if these games are successful, where will the industry take us next?

Round Two: Street Fighter and SoulCalibur

I’m tempted to start this round by shouting, “No! No! No!” Hey, would you look at that? I just did.

In all seriousness, while it seems that Capcom has come up with a clever way to blend Street Fighter and Tekken together, I have serious concerns about a crossover of any kind involving SoulCalibur. In SoulCalibur, you have weapons, the eight-way run, and an entirely different dimension of speed and gravity. This game is nothing like Tekken, Street Fighter, BlazBlue, Mortal Kombat, or any other fighter except for the awful (and retired) Mace: The Dark Age series.

To merge SoulCalibur with Street Fighter, the developers would have to convert the weapons to match the Marvel vs. Capcom format (where weapons are light, exaggerated, and mostly used for projectile attacks). Alternatively, they could give weapons to each of the Street Fighter characters and apply the eight-way run. But then Ken, Ryu, E. Honda, Chun-Li and the gang would lose their identity and become nothing more than aesthetically-challenged SoulCalibur characters. What would be the point of that?

If there’s a great way to pull this off, then by all means developers, do it. But at this point, I don’t see how that’s possible.

Round Three: Mortal Kombat and…!?

“Who’s gonna cave?” That’s the question Warner Bros. Interactive Studios execs need to ask all interested parties. “Will it be you, Namco Bandai? Or you, Capcom? How about DC Comics: are you finally interested in coming over to our side?”

If none of them will – if they don’t realize that blood, gore, and ultra-hardcore gameplay are a part of the Mortal Kombat franchise – then a crossover should never be developed. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe took away those things and nearly killed the series in the process. If it weren’t for Ed Boon’s determination (and the value WBIE saw in the brand), Mortal Kombat would have retired the moment Midway closed its doors.

However, let’s suppose that the world is perfect for a day and every fighting game developer is willing to do whatever it takes to join forces with Mortal Kombat. Which game should get the crossover?

Street Fighter. I would love to say Tekken, because I think its development team could learn a lot from Ed Boon. But mechanically and visually, no two games are better suited for each other than Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Imagine the joy of using Zangief to rip off Sub-Zero’s head. Kung Lao’s razor-sharp hat could be used to slice the arms and legs off E. Honda and Chun-Li. For an extra gory fatality, M. Bison could push his entire body through the chest of his opponent and come out the other side.

Mortal Kombat’s combos and juggles would work really well in Street Fighter, and vice versa. Both games love projectiles, move at a similar speed, and are best in 2D (side-scrolling) form.

Now that I think about it, I’m starting to wonder why this game hasn’t already been developed.

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Louis Bedigian
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