It’s been a long time since Capcom released the divisive Street Fighter X Tekken, a landmark in terms of crossover fighting games that pitted two absolute giants against one another. It was perhaps the crossover that nobody expected would ever have happened yet it did and despite such a fantasy becoming a very real, er…reality, gamers still moaned about it. There was good reason to be disappointed too: the gem power-up system and “Pandora” ability were both superflous mechanics that could be ignored entirely and felt like weak attempts to add some form of additional depth. Worse still, the game shipped with a small DLC-related scandal whereby it was discovered that the code for fifteen or so additional characters was already locked away on the disc. Today, we are usually unfazed by a publisher planning DLC before a game has even been released but when SFxT hit the shelves, the issue was a hot one that rubbed a lot of fans up the wrong way.
All of this was before Tekken fans had to get to grips with their favourite characters now existing in a 2D game and with radically different movesets and inputs to match. The game felt fine if you were a Street Fighter IV player but somewhat alien if you were used to Namco’s series and were hopping into the crossover to follow your favourite characters.
I personally really enjoyed Street Fighter X Tekken. The game played very well in my opinion which was no surprise given how similar to Street Fighter IV it felt. I enjoyed the spectacle of an amazing crossover that I had never believed possible and there were some fantastic remixes of classic tunes thrown in for good measure. Yes, the DLC strategy was a massive mis-step and to this day I haven’t bought the additional characters (though they come as standard on the Vita edition) but it was a lot of fun and very competent to boot. Go and play it, damn it!
Anyway, as much as I enjoyed Street Fighter X Tekken, I was FAR more excited for Namco’s promised version of the crossover, imaginatively titled Tekken X Street Fighter (wow…see what they did there?). How would Ryu and co. look in Tekken‘s highly detailed 3D world? More importantly, how on earth would projectiles, anti-air attacks and super moves translate to a 3D fighting game without unbalancing the world of Tekken? So many questions and unfortunately, so few answers as of 2017. Let’s remember that the game was initially announced in 2010 and in that time, all we have had are a few promotional images and periodic promises that the game is “still happening” or is coming along in development.
Let us take a look at a rough timeline accounting for what we know so far…
- Tekken X Street Fighter announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2010
- March 2012 – poll released on Namco’s Tekken Facebook page, asking fans which characters they would like to see in the game. 55 Tekken characters and 66 Street Fighter faces are available to vote for with voters having a choice of 5 from each franchise. Harada later clarifies that the poll results will not define the final roster but will be used in conjuction with other research to determine what the character select screen will look like.
- April 2012 – Tekken X Street Fighter confirmed to be around 10% complete.
- 2014 San Diego Comic-Con – Namco/Harada confirm that the game is still in development and the reason for a lack of information is due to parent company Bandai-Namco waiting for the ideal time to market the crossover so as not to conflict with the release of solo releases such as Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V.
- 2015 – development of the game reported to have come far along. At the end of 2015, Street Fighter‘s Akuma is revealed as a guest character for Tekken 7.
- April 2016 – Tekken X Street Fighter officially “on hold”. Polygon models and gameplay systems are reported to be complete but the game is on-hold so as not to split the communities behind both franchises.
So what IS happening? It’s been seven years since the game was first announced and it’s difficult to tell whether it will ever actually happen or if Namco are – for some reason – prolonging making a statement that officially announces the cancellation of the crossover. I find it odd that they haven’t simply binned the game by now rather than keeping it on hold while tiding fans over with scraps of information and promises that Tekken X Street Fighter is still happening.
Revealing Akuma as a guest character in Tekken 7 was what I believed to be a major moment. This was huge news, especially given how Namco went as far as to officially weave Akuma into the Tekken canon, writing him into the main Mishima storyline where he has apparently been involved from the very beginning. More interestingly, was Akuma a test to see how well Street Fighter characters would integrate into the Tekken universe? I certainly believed so and even considered the possibility of the standalone crossover game being canned in favour of releasing a stack of Street Fighter characters as a DLC expansion of sorts for Tekken 7. The idea seemed to make more financial sense than persevering with a full-on crossover release.
But then, something else happened that blew my theory out of the water. Namco announced another guest star…a non–Street Fighter guest fighter in the form of SNK’s Geese Howard. Suddenly, instead of this being a pure Namco/Capcom relationship, it looked like Namco were opening up the floor for guest characters in general. Akuma appearing in a Tekken game no longer looked like a ‘test’ of sorts but the first of a possible wave of outsiders entering the King of Iron Fist tournament. And so it has proven to be. At the time of me bashing this article out, Namco have just announced Noctis from Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy XV as the next guest fighter! This is a LOT more random and unexpected than Akuma or Geese so I can now honestly say that I have no idea what any of this means, if anything at all. This is now likely to be Namco simply raising the profile of its flagship fighter and drawing in new players as other publishers have done before. Let us not forget that Namco themselves have already made this move in the past with Soul Calibur II featuring Link/Spawn/Heihachi (depending on which console you owned the game for) and reportedly intending to host Final Fantasy VII‘s Cloud Strife in the PS2 version before various obstacles scuppered what would have been a real nerdgasm moment.
(on a side-note, I’m not sure what I think about Noctis after watching his reveal trailer. I’m all for guest characters but a sword in Tekken? Hmm…I’ll have a dedicated post for Tekken 7‘s guest character DLC soon perhaps)
So what do I think about all of this? Well, I would be very surprised if Tekken X Street Fighter actually happens at this point. With Namco and Capcom working so closely together these days, it SHOULD be easy but I’m always highly sceptical of any game seeing the light of day when it has dwelled in the dreaded “Development Hell” for so, so long. I’m no expert on videogame development but with the pace that both hardware and software evolves at these days, wouldn’t the completed assets be out of date before they can be utilised? The reveal of Geese and Noctis puts paid to my theory of a full-on Street Fighter invasion of Tekken 7 so…I don’t know. This has been one of my most eagerly anticipated games ever since the initial announcement but I am also keeping my hopes firmly under control because games in development for this long usually get canned or turn out to be disappointments (Duke Nukem Forever, I’m looking at YOU). Given the consistent high quality of the Tekken franchise on a technical and aesthetic level however, I refuse to believe that a finished product from Namco would be scrappy.
One thing is for sure though: it has been a great couple of console generations for fans of fighting games and the scene hasn’t been more alive since the 90’s. Yes there is a lot of crap out there and perhaps a lot less soul than the likes of 3rd Strike, Capcom Vs SNK and Soul Calibur II managed to possess but hey, at least there are fighting games for us to play. We can only hope that Tekken X Street Fighter turns up fashionably late to the party rather than shying out.