Review: ‘Street Fighter X Tekken’ (Vita) – Portability X Controls

What I have to say about the fundamentals of Street Fighter X Tekken on the Vita doesn’t veer too far from Jason’s review of its console counterparts. Specifically, it’s an excellent melding of two very disparate franchises held together by the infinitely customizable Gems system, featuring an incredibly fun and wildly diverse roster of 2D fighters.

And with Capcom’s port to the handheld, we have what could be considered maybe the “Complete” or “Ultimate” version of the game, packed to the brim with additional features and all of the DLC from the previous releases–which should make it a no-brainer to pick up, right? The thing is, you can play this six-button fighting game using the Vita’s four button and shoulder controls, but why would you want to?

First, the stellar package Capcom has put together for the handheld version of SFXT on the Vita: In addition to the complete lineup of characters (plus the 12 downloadable characters if you received one of the first-run retail copies), this release also includes a code for the previously-released 38 alternate costumes. That’s not a bad way to start off your experience playing the game. Plus, all of that DLC can be shared with your PS3 version of the game, which is quite nice.

The menu layout and basic systems are still the same, with a couple of clever additions. First off, there’s the AR feature that allows you to snap photos of characters from the game and drop them into real-life environments using the Vita camera. While this feels like more of a toy than anything else (this would be the first time I’ve used the Vita camera for anything), it’s not taking away from any other features. Also, online fights will allow you to collect trophies based on your wins along with Near functionality allowing content sharing across the network with other users (presuming you have another Vita owner in the area with SFXT).

Plus, the Gallery Mode featuring all of the game’s sounds, videos, etc. should be a mandatory feature in every fighting game (no idea why it isn’t). Visually, it might not hold a candle to the console counterparts given the lowered poly count, the Vita version is still a pretty sweet looking game with only slight compromised animations.

So far, pretty great.

But then there’s how you’ll actually play SFXT on the Vita where things get a little tricky. It’s by no stretch of the imagination bad–simply a bit awkward, requiring you to sort of rewire how you interface with the controls going into a fight. The default controls scheme has your light and medium punches and kicks on the face buttons of the Vita while the strong attacks are shunted off to the shoulder buttons, a layout which breaks (or at least disrupts) the rhythm of entering combos smoothly on the device. Capcom has offered rear and front touch controls which offer all of the fun of tapping and poking wildly at colored quadrants on your Vita without the benefit of understanding what’s actually going on with the input.

Offering Cross-platform play is a nice bone to throw gamers here (and you can choose whether you want to jump online and fight against other Vita players or mix in PS3 players as well), but it’s not really worth the hassle of trying to take on someone playing a full-throated version of the game with a fight stick or controller.

Capcom put together a wonderful presentation for an excellent fighting game whose controls don’t quite match their chosen platform. If you can acclimate yourself to that (or find a control scheme that works for you in the options), then more power to you–it’s definitely a game worth playing on the go.

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