Earlier this year, when I originally reviewed
Street Fighter x Tekken (SFxT) for the Xbox 360, I really enjoyed the game. In fact, I still do. As the months have passed and despite rave critical reviews throughout the industry, the fighting game universe hasn’t been nearly as appreciative of the game. It isn’t as popular in the competitive scene as I predicted back in March and the larger tournaments have eliminated it from their line-ups for 2013. There is a still a loyal fanbase for the game and Capcom has moved forward with its plans to bring it to Sony’s Vita.
For the most part, the Vita version of the game is exactly the same game as its console sibling. The game features all of the same gameplay mechanics established in the original such as the various EX attacks, Super Arts, the Gem System, and the various Cross Gauge related mechanics. All of the original modes of play are here as well. You have all of the characters from the base-PS3 version of the game (including Cole, Pac-Man, and the Sony cats), as well as all of the DLC characters that were released after the game’s launch. As great as it is to have such a robust roster, the inclusion of these characters comes with a little catch.
Despite being announced for inclusion in the handheld version of the game before the console version launched, the DLC characters aren’t included in the game from the start. They are likely on the card itself, but you will need to redeem a code and download them from the PlayStation Store before they show up in the game; Capcom is also stating that the code required to redeem them will not be included permanently in the game and is a bonus to those who buy it early in its lifespan. Didn’t we learn anything from the entire DLC debacle that haunted the game previously? I guess not.
Either way, the gang is all here for the portable battle. There is no sense in me covering ground that we already touched on in my original review
; you can read it to find out how I feel about the new combo systems and various gameplay mechanics that are exclusive to this game. I still consider them all to be solid and a great asset to the fighting game scene. While it may seem like a good thing that the same gameplay has been ported directly from the main game to the portable level, it ends up being the titles biggest drawback.
The interface of the Vita, proves to be this game’s biggest downfall. The problem lies in the button layout of the Vita itself. SFxT is designed to be played with a full, 6 button arcade layout; on the consoles an actual arcade stick was preferable, but standard controllers could suffice thanks to the extra buttons that could be mapped to things suck as all three punches or kicks. Since the Vita only has the four face buttons and two shoulder ones, that isn’t an option here. As a result you are left with either trying to trigger all three of your punch or kick buttons simultaneously, which isn’t comfortable given the system’s design, or mapping the combination of the three to an area of the touch panel. The latter option is the default used be the game and too be honest, it is more uncomfortable then hitting all of them simultaneously.
There is just no good way to accomplish this task which is a necessity in this game. As a matter of fact, I found the default setting of the touch panel controls to impair my ability to play the game. My hands aren’t large by any means, but I do occasionally find myself triggering the touch panels on accident, particularly the rear one. When these are mapped to attacks, they can really throw a monkey wrench into your gameplay during the heat of battle. Thankfully, you can turn this feature off in the game’s option mode which became a necessity over time.
Fortunately, despite this giant step backwards, the game takes some forward as well in terms of the new and improved features added to this release. The integration of the system’s front touch panels may not work well in the actual fighting portion of the game, but I find it to be a blessing in the interface areas of the other modes. Things such as the character customization options are much more accessible thanks to the ability to touch the colors and costume pieces rather than cycling through them with a directional pad. Character customization, as a whole, is just a lot more enjoyable this time around and it begs to be put to use. Your customizations can also be shared using the system’s NEAR functionality, which is becoming a standard on the platform.
The NEAR functionality as well as the networking options of the Vita in general also lend to a couple of the other new features added to the game. In addition to sharing character customizations with those around you, you can now easily hook up with local players for matches and replay sharing as well, just by being in their general vicinity. Granted, this isn’t useful unless you physically have other players around you but it is a nice option to have.
As superficial as it sounds, one of my biggest criticisms of the original game was the lack of a gallery mode to view the various art and assets of the title. With all of the fantastic images and movies used throughout the game, I really wished that players had a means of viewing them at will; now you can! All of the various movies, music, and imagery that you see throughout the game can be unlocked and viewed through a gallery option which features the same touch controls that I mentioned for the customization mode. The gallery mode also gives you the ability to take augmented reality pictures using the game’s characters. This is nothing more than a novelty, but something that fans will definitely enjoy as they can pose with their favorite fighters and create some hilarious images.
Online play with the game seems to have been improved over the console version, although these changes will likely impact the other ports as well since the Vita and the Ps3 can play each other online. I found this to be both a blessing and a curse as I was glad to find a lively community still battling it out online, but they ultimately destroyed me within seconds. I am just going to take this chance to blame that on the interface of the system (obviously a joke). As you defeat players online now, you will also unlock these small collectible statues of the game which you can browse at will like the gallery. Again, this isn’t anything huge in terms of features, but it is a nice addition that fans like myself will appreciate.
Seven months later, Street Fighter x Tekken is still a great addition to the fighting game genre. Especially in terms of the portable market. However, the impact that it once had on me isn’t as profound as it was when I first played the game last March. The Vita version has everything that I loved about the original release and then some, but thanks to the limited control options it is harder to enjoy all that it has to offer. Is it too much to ask for a patch to add all of this content to the home versions?