Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile Review

Released on consoles earlier this year, Street Fighter X Tekken was a game that sounded bizarre on paper. Here are two major fighting game franchises, each with a distinct take on the genre, coming together. It could have turned out like oil and water, but the developers did a great job of gelling them together. Now the crossover has come to iOS in a mobile port that’s also very well done, but it’s not without its flaws.

If you’re an iOS-loving Street Fighter fan, then you probably know what to expect from Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile. Like the iOS port of Street Fighter IV, this is a downsized version of the console original, with significantly fewer fighters and an excellently simplified default control system. But like Street Fighter IV Volt, the focus here is on online play.

At the start of each game you pick two fighters: a main one whose life bar counts, and a secondary one you can bring in for a limited amount of time. Note that the tag team set-up isn’t like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, where each character counts equally. Here you can tag in your secondary character, but instead of a life bar they have a timer that drains whether they’re hit or not. Being hit drains their bar, too, but even if you play flawlessly with your secondary character, they’ll still have to be swapped out when their bar reaches zero. You win or lose the match based on the health of the primary characters.

Having a bad day, Paul?

Like in most fighting games, Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile sports a single-player arcade mode that lets you play against the computer. Beating the game this way unlocks character-specific trial modes that let you hone your skills as the various fighters. These are helpful, especially for the non-hardcore crowd. However, the real meat of the game is in the online multiplayer mode.

Online matches are “ranked,” meaning that your stats are stored on a server, and each match contributes to your place on the leaderboard. Finding an opponent is easy and usually pretty quick. The game connects you to a random player, you each choose your fighters, and then you brawl. The winner gets bragging rights and the lion’s share of the experience points, which let you level up, boost your bonuses, and place higher on the leader board.

Unfortunately, the online play comes with a couple of serious caveats. First, most of the online matches we played suffered from noticeable latency issues. This ranged from some semi-annoying dropped frames to a downright slow-motion effect, which is exactly the opposite of the intense, reflex-driven experience both franchises are known for. When the connection was good, the online matches were incredibly tense and fun. But only a fraction of the matches we played were latency-free. For a game so focused on its online mode, these connection issues are a major problem.

Nina in her camouflage suit.

Also annoying is that you can’t play online matches against your friends. Every online fight is ranked, so to maintain the integrity of the leaderboards, every match-up is random. Friendly Bluetooth matches are available, but we wish they provided a way to play non-ranked friendly matches online.

Another thing that’ll drive some people nuts is that playing online matches requires coins. You can have up to three coins at any given time, and you only lose a coin if you lose an online match. So if you’re a pro and you keep winning, you can play online indefinitely. But if you run out of coins, you either have to wait a few hours for a new coin to appear automatically, or buy coins using the in-game currency.

And then there’s the issue of the roster. Unlike the console version of the game, which boasts 55 characters, the iOS version only has 10: five from Street Fighter (including Hugo of all people) and five from Tekken. However, we’re hopeful they’ll pad out the roster out with future updates, because that’s what they did with Street Fighter IV for iOS. But at present, the line-up is thin.

On the plus side, the graphics are terrific, with 3D character models and smooth animation (at least when you’re not playing a laggy online match). The game also comes with a handful of backgrounds, each of which look great and are nicely animated. When it’s working smoothly, Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile is a joy to play, with terrific touchscreen controls, and fast-paced, satisfying combat. We’re hopeful that Capcom fixes the lag issues and gives us a fuller roster in the future. In the meantime, this is a worthy download for fighting game fans, but don’t expect a perfect experience.

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