Street Fighter X Tekken is finally here, earning an impressive score of 8/10 in our review. But as Capcom and Namco's iconic fighters clash for the first time, there are lots of new systems and mechanics to learn.
Not sure who to pick? Can't tell your Cross Rush from your Cross Assault? Have no fear - we've gathered advice from the gaming grandmaster behind it all, Yoshinori Ono. Read on to hear his five pointers on how to get started.
1. Don't treat it like a pure Street Fighter title (or a pure Tekken game)
"It's like Street Fighter, but it's not Street Fighter. It's like Tekken, but it's not Tekken," explains Ono. "That would be the best way to describe the game. We tried to take the best points and essence from both franchises and mold them together as seamlessly as possible. So we couldn't just take the characters from both franchises and transplant them into each other's game; we had to create a brand new game where they could both co-exist as equals, and the final result is the festival of Street Fighter X Tekken as you see it today."
Naturally this is primarily Capcom's game, so Street Fighter veterans are likely to feel at home before their Tekken-based counterparts.
"Tekken players might feel a bit out of place when they pick up their characters in Street Fighter X Tekken for the first time. This is because the game engine is something brand new, so of course the movement, flow, and nuances of the characters will feel different for the first 10 or so minutes.
"However we feel that from the 11th minute onward, Tekken players will be able to see how the characters still carry the same essence, even in a new game system. Tekken players will also be able to rely on a lot of the same 4 button combos, as well as stance change commands for their characters, as we tried to make the transition process as smooth as possible. So it's really all about getting used to the new engine, and that shouldn't take more than 10 minutes."
2. Learn how to Cross Rush first, and work from there
Okay, you've accepted the fact that the game is half Street Fighter, half Tekken. You're now faced with a great swathe of mechanics to learn. So, which is the most important technique to learn first?
"It's definitely the Cross Rush," says Ono. "As a universal combo that all characters share, it forms the basis of the tag battle system. It is pretty simple to execute; just press Light, Medium, Heavy, Heavy, and you can do it. Hopefully this simple command will also make the game more accessible for newcomers as well, and the fact that it looks pretty cool doesn't hurt either."
After you've mastered the Cross Rush, you can move onto the game's other mechanics. In the long run, you'll need to learn them all.
"The most important thing is to utilise all of the fighting mechanics we've put into the game equally. Cross Rush, Switch Cancels, Charge Moves, EX Moves, Super Arts, Cross Arts, Cross Assault, these are just some of the things we have implemented into the system for players to learn, and they all play a role within the greater strategy of the game. So of course learning your combos and spacing is important, but to really achieve the highest level of play in this game, you will need to master all of the options available to you.
"We hope this will lead to a lot of research and time spent figuring out strategies on the players' side."
3. Pick the right team
Naturally, it'll take dedication and hard work to master everything the game has to offer. But before you begin to train, first you've got to settle on the right pairing. If you're stuck for inspiration, here are a few suggestions:
"For Street Fighter characters, we recommend the traditional Ryu/Ken team, or Chun-li/Cammy. For the Tekken side, it's a bit more subjective, as the Tekken characters have never been in this kind of 2D setting before, but King/Marduk is a really interesting team. Asuka/Lili is also a very speedy team, which makes them easy to play in this game engine.
The other thing to bear in mind is that this isn't like Marvel vs Capcom 3: if either of your fighters get knocked out, you lose the round. In MVC3, players often favour one character as their lead, but here it may be better to treat both scrappers as equals.
"This game engine was more inspired by the Tekken Tag Tournament series, so it is more similar to that than the MvC series," says Ono. "The tag aspect of the game works in a different way, so it's hard to say which strategy is better, because the games are very different. We hope players will find out what works best for them when playing the game."
4. Be patient with the Gems system
Each character in your team has three slots to be kitted out with Gems that will help you to gain an edge in battle. Assist Gems are passive, while Boost Gems only confer their boons after you fulfil certain conditions - like connecting with a set number of normal moves. So, what's the key to getting the most out of this system?
"Trial and error, for the most part!" laughs Ono. "Each Gem has different activation conditions, as well as merits and demerits, so it's up to the players to find out what works best for themselves. The player's style, personality, strengths, and weaknesses all play a part, so it will take a lot of experimentation. Different Gems work well in different situations, so players will also have to use different combinations to react. There are a lot of possibilities within the game system.
5. Watch how the experts play
Ono's final tip is a classic piece of advice, one that's applicable to pretty much every serious fighter: once you've learned the basics, the best way to improve your game is to watch how the experts do it:
"We live in an age now where match videos are available through the internet on video sharing sites, replay channels, and live streaming sites," he says. "My advice to new players is to watch match videos of more experienced players, and try to analyse their gameplay. If it's a player you really like, try to copy their style and see if it works for you. By having players whose game you follow and respect in the community, it provides a lot of motivation and guidance for you to get better, and is definitely a short cut to levelling up your game.
"Finally, we have implemented a very robust Tutorial mode, and Trial mode into SFxTK, which we hope new players will take advantage of as well."