Fusing Street Fighter
's Disparate Styles
Capcom is no stranger to mixing its franchises with other properties, particularly with Street Fighter (e.g. Capcom vs SNK, Marvel vs Capcom series), but its upcoming collaboration with Namco Bandai that has the world warriors mingling with the cast of Tekken will be a new challenge for the publisher.
Street Fighter X Tekken will not just meld the two completely different and well established universes together, it will transmute the aesthetic, movesets, and flow of Tekken's fighters -- who have all thus far been presented primarily in 3D arenas -- into the 2D gameplay of the Street Fighter world.
Capcom's Yoshinori Ono, who produced the Street Fighter IV games and will do the same for this PS3/PS Vita/Xbox 360/PC title (Namco Bandai is working on its own complementary Tekken X Street Fighter 3D game) talked with Gamasutra about how his team is fusing these two fighting styles.
This may be a difficult question, but can you explain the process of taking the Tekken characters and translating their moves into the Street Fighter universe? How did you decide what to keep, and how did you translate the button sequences?
Well, first off, I think it was plain to both teams after a bit of testing that simply moving them right over wouldn't work. At the same time, though, Tekken got its start because the team liked Street Fighter, so in a way, it's a 3D game that operates a lot like a 2D one, on that single plane. So we figured that the feel of the controls, at least, would translate pretty well.
However, the strategy behind Tekken's gameplay is pretty different, and we figured that would be tougher to bring over. So we decided to retain the two control feels -- the Street Fighter one, and the Tekken one -- and bring them to different stages. That way, gamers from both franchises can feel at home and it'll form a complete package. That was the direction we started with.
I just played it, and it feels like the Tekken characters have a different flow to their combo moves. It's very interesting to see how that melds with the Street Fighter universe; it changes how the entire game plays.
It's its own game, of course, but it makes me think of the Street Fighter characters in a whole different way, since the Tekken fighters flow in this new way. I was wondering how you feel about the new shape this takes.
Well as I said, one of the things we're trying to go for with Street Fighter x Tekken is to retain the feel of both the individual games as much as possible. One issue with that, though, is that motions in Tekken are 2D in style, in that they can't be stopped midway -- they always go through the entirety of it.
Meanwhile, Street Fighter has this unique tradition of cancel moves, so even in 3D, characters can very suddenly switch from one motion to a very different one. That's part of the game's inherent feel and fun, but if you brought that to Tekken, the response from gamers would be "Huh, I think that was the right input but that wasn't the result I was expecting."
Of course, this is Street Fighter X Tekken, so a bit of Street Fighter is naturally going to rub off on the Tekken side of things, and vice versa. I think Street Fighter fans are going to feel something different from this, too, like "Huh, this is kind of a new direction." It's a trial-and-error process to ensure that everyone can join the party here, so to speak, no matter where they're from, and it's really our goal too.
Not that I know if this is going to happen, but assuming there's a Street Fighter V or VI in the future, what you see here is not necessarily what you'll see in those hypothetical games. V will probably return to the feel cultivated in III and IV, more of a return to the Street Fighter-y origins. So I don't think this is where all of Capcom is necessarily going in the future.
Talking about players who haven't touched Street Fighter-style controls: The best fighting games are those that teach you by playing them. You start with a basic move set and make new discoveries from there. One of my favorite examples of that is a game called Asuka 120%.
That's a title I wasn't expecting to hear here! (laughs)
This feels like it's moving toward that direction; is that something you're actively thinking about?
First off, my idea of the best possible game is one where you don't have to read a manual or go through a tutorial beforehand. There's a lot behind SF x Tekken that tries to encourage that approach.
You can take the "learning beforehand" approach here if you like, but, for example, if you know Tekken, then you can play the game Tekken-style and really have no problem with it. With that approach, chances are you'll arrive at some limit to your skills, or some point where you say "You know, I bet there's more I can do here."
When that happens, you can go into another mode, a learning mode, which tells you things like "You might want to try doing this with that character instead." It encourages people to naturally expand upon the tactics they bring into battle.
Previous games encouraged more vertical thinking than that, emphasizing accurate button inputs at just the right time, but this game tries to expand on that in a more horizontal direction.
It may not wind up much like Asuka, but with this kind of "party" game, it's set up so you're able to play more with your own unique style and gradually improve your skills based on that. I think it takes a different approach from the standard tutorial modes, and it does it in a much more fun kind of way.
There's also a limit to how much freedom you can give players. King of Fighters XIII, I think, is fantastic, but there are so many different ways you can play it. I see someone else play and it's like "What? You can do that, and cancel that, and now there's three of you? What's happening?" So how deep can you go with that?
I agree that freedom can be a really scary thing in the fighter genre. I think our aim here is similar to KOFXIII in that we want to expand on things and get as many users as possible into it.
Street Fighter has a lot of professional gamers aligned with it these days, and I really appreciate that because it's energized the whole series to the point where it's almost like how it was during the Street Fighter II days. In those days, though, all you had were magazines. It's not like now, with the Internet and YouTube, where if someone discovers something, everyone immediately knows about it and starts imitating it.
The result is that although you have this freedom, you also wind up with this very set-in-stone way of doing things among some gamers, something that I think we've seen with Yun and Yang in the arcade edition. I recognize that that's partly our fault on the development side, but the fact is that, even if you have a lot of freedom, players will always choose the easiest and most effective method in the end.
That's why we're trying to offer some more guidance in the opening stages -- "You can do this, and you can also do this." If we offer just wide-open freedom from the very beginning, I worry that we risk running into the same situation as before.
I spoke to Harada about Tekken's animation style, which is much more showy and has more flow and follow-through than Street Fighter, which has more snap and it's more important to get the move out than to finish the animation. How did you reconcile these two animation styles together?
With that sort of thing, I think the balance will definitely be swinging in the direction of Street Fighter. Like I discussed earlier, we're trying to preserve the feeling of the control from both sides, but as for what you actually see on the screen -- if you're fighting against Ryu, it'd be weird if Ryu started to move around like this.
So the visual results you see from your controls will feel a bit different from Tekken, and that's something that I think is inevitably going to be the case here, no matter how hard we try not to have that. At the very least, though, I want to retain the control feel for Tekken players here, to keep that feeling good.