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PS Vita Review: Street Fighter x Tekken

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Video games used to come with manuals. The Vita says otherwise, and instead leaves a slot open in the case for a slip of paper vaunting free downloadable content, perceived value that’s more or less an unnecessary inconvenience. Street Fighter x Tekken came out in March on consoles, yet here it is on a handheld still pushing free DLC in the package, and paid materials in the PS Store. It’s baffling why consumers need to deal with 12-digit codes that should have been accessible from the card by default, and how there are financially motivated things still separate from the core product.

The issue with manuals – or lack thereof – stands too. SFxT is ported with with touch screen and touch pad features, none of which is expanded upon within the 18-part tutorial. Punching bag Dan Hibiki rattles off lines to players as they learn the ins and outs of Cross Attacks and counters, neglecting the hardware specific functionality.

With experimentation, the touch screen’s – and touch pad’s – purpose is to layer the front screen in boxes, four of them, which can be assigned any number of functional attack. The right hand portion of the screen becomes a divided tapping ground where the claustrophobic buttons of the Vita (for six-button fighters anyway) can be alleviated. SFxT is obsessive about multi-button combinations for specials, swapping, and more, making it arduous to play straight. Touch screen use is smart, well balanced, and ready to be turned off if the situation necessitates it. The rear touch pad is especially prone to sliding fingers, and is best killed despite the chance to gain two additional function keys.

At Vita launch, Capcom pumped out Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a high resolution darling of the lineup that pushed the Vita’s prowess. With time, Capcom has learned. SFxT is better refined, and backgrounds are no longer static. The only loss are some backdrop animation routines and changing landscapes between rounds. All of the other elements are intact. Character models are stout, losing only a layer of texture that would have been imperceptible at standard fighting distance.

Despite the DLC business gaffes that soured the fanbase and the general gaming public, SFxT remains a sophisticated gem of a fighter. Combo strings executed with growing damage strikes (light to medium to fierce) are latched onto by newcomers, Tekken characters push onto the roster cleanly, and the zaniness of both franchises is celebrated. On paper, the mix is an absurdest fantasy, and in execution, a precision technical rumbler with plenty of aggression. Hurricane kicks have never landed with such ferocity or brutality, fierce attacks are fiery negotiators, and slick combos feel as natural as they do clean.

Heavier load times and an obsession with super color saturation are mild complaints, but certainly justified. Skin appears to be irradiated, as if someone left an aging tube television’s color maxed out. Given the Vita’s otherwise dense and subtle screen calibration, this one is all on Capcom.

The full suite of modes, options, and customization remain without casualties. It’s a smooth transition to lesser hardware. Rather stupidly, all of the color tweaking and icon selections must be done with the touch screen despite the rest of the menus functioning fine with the buttons. There’s an even a pop-up warning players of the touch focus in this single area of the back-end. Nothing is gained short of screen smudging.

Online play can run ragged across the planet, but safely in the localized area, matches ran with few hiccups. Most dips in quality were contained to the between round animation sequences; fights themselves were precise. Lobbies are identical to the console, with team ups possible and voice chat cross-console. PS3 players are now opened up to Vita newcomers within this arena, a nice optional touch that ensures a community even if the Vita edition doesn’t find an audience. Given the struggle with hardware sales, it’s probably best to leave the PS3 option in multiplayer turned on.

Street Fighter x Tekken is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Alcohol Reference, Crude Humor, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3, Xbox 360.


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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.