When I was a young man, I was good at three things.
The first was fighting at punk and hardcore concerts with other angry/bored/nihilistic teens in the sleepy town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The second was playing Capcom VS. SNK 2, a cross-over title featuring characters from Street Fighter and King of Fighters. The third was playing Tekken Tag Tournament by Namco.
As soon as I booted up Street Fighter X Tekken Vita I regressed several years. The prospect of duking it out with a massive roster of characters from across two fighting game titans overwhelmed me like a dragon punch made of flaming aeroplanes. When I recovered from the blow, I was 16.
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So why have I been left a little underwhelmed by the whole experience?
It's no reflection on the core premise, or even the systems of the game. For your money you're getting a stack of characters, a whole heap of stages in which to pit them against one another, and a decent selection of modes.
Single-player is the typical arcade-style offering, in which you select two heroes (or villains) from a diverse roster of Namco and Capcom franchises. Want to take the World Warrior and his red suit-adorned best bud to victory? Go for it. Fancy combining a Mokojin-straddling Pac-Man with Jin Kazama for a bit of variety? Fill your boots.
Aside from the tag-team element, wherein you can trade places with your partner to avoid losing a round and call him in for special combination attacks, it's business as usual for Capcom's fighters. If you've played Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition then you know what to expect.
If you haven't, then cast your mind back to Street Fighter II. It's that well-weighted, combo-driven 2D scrapping, but in three dimensions. Super combos are on-hand to dish out serious damage in a spectacular fashion, there are throws to cancel, cross-ups to be had, parries to learn.
For the Namco characters - specifically those from Tekken - the six-button setup initially feels strange. When you've put as much time as I have into learning Ling Xiaoyu's moves in a traditional Tekken game, it's hard to break the mindset of wanting to fight with just the four buttons.
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And this is where most of my issues with the game stem from. It doesn't feel like Capcom's pugilists going up against Namco's on a level playing field - it's a Street Fighter party that the folks from Tekken have gatecrashed.
Still, if you can get past this there's plenty to see and do. Though the story isn't nearly as smartly created as Mortal Kombat's, it's a decent enough narrative to please fans. When you're not battling through the story you can take the game online against friends and randoms. The technical performance varies, but it's usually solid enough.
If you're getting your ass handed to you, you can always jump into the Training mode which features Trials (win a match under specific perameters) and Missions (perform specific sequences of moves).
These tutorial variants aren't as deep as, say, a BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, but they're sufficient to help you catch up.
I suppose I expected more from Street Fighter X Tekken Vita. The ever so off-kilter fighting is as intense as you want to get, and the plethora of characters and numerous modes will keep you playing for a good long while. It's a quality package, but one that squanders its potential to truly mix the two styles of gameplay found in both series.
Ultimately, its title is misleading: it should be called Street Fighter: Tekken Edition.
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