Fighting games are on the rise these days. After years of hardly any major releases, in 2011 we are looking at 3 major releases for the genre: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, and Mortal Kombat. That’s not including several other quality titles releases this year such as Arcana Heart 3, Blazblue: Continuum Shift II and even, (ugh) Dead or Alive: Dimensions. So why do I have this looming feeling that the genre is going down the same road as the music game genre? It’s because of one title: Street Fighter X Tekken.
Let’s look back when the music genre really took off in the U.S. Back in 2005, Harmonix, a developer known for the very under-appreciated music titles Frequency and Amplitude, had produced a game using the gameplay of their previous music game with a little plastic addition. Guitar Hero allowed players to rock out to some of the most well-known rock songs and unleash their inner rock star. You can say that yes, Harmonix was inspired by Konami’s Guitar Freaks when they implemented the plastic guitar like Guitar Freak did when it was released into Japanese arcades back in 1999. However, I’m one to point out that one of the key factors that prevent most of Konami’s games from really taking off in the U.S. are the song lists, which are heavy on the J-pop. Guitar Hero, on the other hand was heavy on classic rock-n-roll.
Guitar Hero 2 followed becoming an even bigger success in 2006 and it made the jump to the next gen when it was released onto the Xbox 360 in 2007. 2007 was also the year that fans got their first taste of the side-games in the series like Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. This was the first time that fans had to question on whether this was a game that they actually wanted. Was this a Guitar Hero game for the fans or was this simply a quick way to Activision to make money? It became painfully obvious that it was all about the money as over the years Activsion, MTV Games, and even Konami helped over-saturate the music genre ultimately pushing it back into obscurity.
This game didn't help the music genre.
Now why do I think fighting games will go this route? Street Fighter X Tekken. This dream game that people said would never happen is gaining attention from many websites and fans. The question I have to ask is who the game is for? The whole Vs. series from Capcom started with the fact that Capcom created the X-men and Marvel fighting games leading to this amazing idea of having a crossover between the games with the first one being X-Men vs. Street Fighter, and eventually the Vs. series went in its own way to becoming its own entity. However, Street Fighter X Tekken is not a part of the Vs. series, and it’s more like the Capcom vs. SNK series bringing together two huge fighting game companies together with a huge roster of fighting game notables. Yet, that actually made sense because Capcom's and SNK's fighters aren't that different.
Street Fighter and Tekken, on the other hand, are vastly different games. Let’s ignore the obvious difference of 2d vs. 3d: the games are vastly different beyond that. As fun to play as they are, Street Fighter fighting styles are hardly realistic. Fireballs and projectiles aside, they are very different from Tekken, which uses real fighting styles. Both games have a vastly different system from each other with hardly any similarities.
So once again, who is this game for? It’s not for the Street Fighter fans because they’re caught up in the Super Street Fighter 4 AE hype that’s going on right now. It’s also definitely not for the Tekken fans who are patiently awaiting Tekken Tag Tournament 2. You can say it’s for fighting game fans in general, but very few move into 2D fighters if they love 3D fighters and vice versa.
Are you really anticipating this game?
I hate to say it, but no one cares about Street Fighter X Tekken right now. Almost all the major franchises are firing on all cylinders right now, so a game like Street Fighter X Tekken is more of a distraction from all the other major titles right now. It’s cool to look at, seeing Kazuya face off against Ryu for the first time ever is pretty awesome, but would anyone care if this game gets cancelled next week during E3?
I am worried about Street Fighter X Tekken becoming the fighting game equivalent of Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. People will play it, not enjoy it, and begin to think that there are too many fighting games out there. Unless Street Fighter X Tekken becomes a game that can stand on its own as a fighting game. Unless it becomes a worthy addition to any fighting game tournament with a fanbase that will support it, it is going to do more harm than good. Not just that, the follow-up, Tekken vs. Street Fighter could be another hazardous entry leading to the second demise of the fighting game genre if Street Fighter X Tekken ends up being a disappointment.
I’d like to say that I’m probably worrying over nothing, but these things do happen. A genre becomes the Next Big Thing and the companies behind it create too many games too soon that aren’t up to par to the quality of the ones that made it big. Sales then dry up and then before we know it, we're back to another dry spell, and nobody, least of all fighting game fans, wants that.