Last week an email pinged into my inbox from Alex, ‘Street Fighter X Tekken launch party, London, Thursday… anyone?’ it read. The words ‘party’ and ‘London’ are a special code which can be translated as ‘this one is for you, Tuffcub’ so I quickly fire off an acceptance reply.
There is one, miniscule, itsy-bitsy problem. The one and only time I have played Street Fighter was on the ZX Spectrum with a one button joystick and I have yet to sample the delights of the Tekken series. Yes, I know, I’m a terrible, terrible person but my knowledge of fighting games is usually limited to Kano & Zangief fan fiction.
I know a little about Street Fighter and can name the main characters, but Tekken is a mystery – is that weird one with a fighting bear? Or is it a panda? Or lizard? Oh dear, I need help, time to have a word with TSA’s fighting game hero, Isaac.
Another email is sent and Isaac responds with a flabbergasting amount of information and questions I should ask about USB sticks, gems and custom layouts. He certainly knows his fighting games but sadly does not mention how to perform a flamethrower uppercut or bird spinning leg kick.
But wait – there is glimmer of hope!
Exactly what I need, a training mode that will teach me how to kick someone in the face whilst doing a handstand. Soon I will be a master of Street Fighter X Tekken; you will cringe with terror as I extend Dhalsim’s arms to give Chun Li a tickle in the unmentionables!
Wednesday night rolls round and I find myself walking through East London, an area which I rarely venture to due to the huge amount of fop haired media types who troll about in skinny jeans and quaff Mexican bubble tea. The venue for tonight’s slugfest is a bar called ‘Camp’ - insert your own joke here – and as I walk to the entrance I see the party is in full swing and there are a dozen or so units running the game.
After signing in and receiving a glittery wrist band – appropriate for a place called Camp I guess – I locate the bar and grab one of the Tekken inspired cocktails before sitting down in front of Street Fighter X Tekken. The unit consists of two screens facing away from each other, each with two huge pro fighting joysticks attached.
Not a good start. All the shoulder triggers are mapped to huge buttons on the side of the stick and the labels are tiny. I eventually manage to locate the correct controls and scroll down to the training option and press the butto –
“Hang on a sec mate, let me set this up for you,” says the well-meaning PR person and takes the stick out on my hands.
He presses a few buttons, amends a few options and then smiles, “OK, let me get the other guy ready.”
Wait. What other guy?
I peer over the screen and watch a young man crack his knuckles, limbering up for big fight.
I begin to panic and suddenly I am ten years old, running out on to the school football pitch for my first P.E. lesson at ‘big school’. Teams are chosen and I’m assigned ‘left back’ but I have no idea what that is, or for that matter how to play football. I don’t like football, why has the P.E. teacher assumed everyone knows how to play? Oh god this is going to be terrible, I don’t know what the offside rule is, how to pass or what a 4-4-2 formation is. This is going to be hell!
I blink and it’s 2012 once more. In front of me there is a matrix of characters from Street Fighter and Tekken with a couple of characters I recognise, so I pick Dhalsim and Sagat and the fight begins.
I begin to pummel every button at once and pounce around the screen like kitten chasing a laser pointer. My fighting skills are also kitten-like and my opponent starts to glow red as his fighters (both from Tekken – no idea) proceed to smash Sagat in to the floor. Game over.
Match two begins and more button smashing ensues. I do try and work out some of the moves by holding a bumper button and pressing a few others but I can’t seem to perform anything other than kicks and punches. Back to the button mashing then and… I win.
How did that happen? I have no idea. Buoyed my success I decide to swap my fight team and choose the ‘big bear combo’ of Zangief and the actual bear from Tekken. Kuma? Puma? Something like that. The game loads, the characters deliver their pre-fight one liners and we’re off.
What can I tell you about my hands on time with Street Fighter X Tekken? Well there are a lot of characters, all who have excellent slow motion animations when they are beaten. There is a real bear and couple of fat guys who have extremely well animated moobs which jiggle about during the cut scenes.
There are lots of muscled men and quite a few ladies with skimpy clothes. Oh, and a sort of green dragon type bloke.
The animation is smooth and slick and there are plenty of humorous antics occurring in the background of the game including a velicorapter with boxing gloves and a bloke from the U.N. getting squeezed in the hands of a giant robot. These were pleasant distractions to watch as my character’s head was smashed into the ground for the twentieth time. The sound effects and music could be amazing but as I was sat next to the DJ was who was playing hipster East London tunes I couldn’t hear a thing.
One thing I can highly recommend is the Street Fighter X Tekken cocktails that were available, but as they were created especially for that evening you will never get to taste one. But they were very, very nice.
After my fifteenth defeat I graciously pass the fight stick to the young lady who has been watching me lose and trying hard not to laugh, down the last of my beverage and head for the door.
Judging by the smiling faces from everyone else playing the game, Street Fighter X Tekken is rather good and if it’s anything like the cocktails, I am inclined to agree with them – just don’t ask me to perform a fireball.