The PlayStation Vita was lauded at its release as the most powerful handheld ever, a device that put the power of the current generation of consoles in your pocket. And while the lack of games has been a real problem for Sony’s fledgling device, titles like Street Fighter X Tekken prove that the fanfare the handheld received upon release was more than just PR bluster.
It runs without a judder, featuring a ridiculous roster of characters from the Tekken and Street Fighter archives, as well as a couple of classic Namco and Capcom stars thrown in for good measure. This is pocket sized violence at its most impressive, and there’s more than enough content on offer to keep pugilists young and old enthralled.
The game’s story is moot, some sort of magical rock falling from the sky causes a breach in the universe and drags the casts of two of the world’s biggest fighting franchises together at last. What follows is a precisely balanced duel of fists, feet, and fireballs, as you choose a tag team, and take them out to face the rest of the world.
The classic Street Fighter three-kick-three-punch system is in place, albeit supplemented by some touchscreen flourishes. The right side of the screen is split into four invisible blocks, which you can set to do different things when you tap them. The back touchscreen comes into play too, letting you create two more inputs to suit your style of play.
It’s not a perfect system, and if you’re not careful you can find yourself accidentally tapping the screen at the back when you didn’t mean to. The proximity of the D-pad to the left analogue stick means anyone with larger thumbs and a penchant for D-pad play is going to be disappointed as well.
These are minor niggles though, and don’t detract too much from what is a remarkably tight fighting experience. The two-on-two battles are as smooth as they were on the home console version and, if anything, the slightly simplified inputs for super moves feel more at home on a portable system.
The multiplayer experience is every bit as robust as you’d expect from a Capcom brawler, with replay options, ranked matches, and fight requests all present and correct. You can even fight with players on PS3, although some of them might be using fight sticks, which can make the bouts a little one sided.
Where the 3DS version of Street Fighter 4 felt like a compromise, this feels like a game that’s thriving on a new system. From the clever tutorials to challenge mode and beyond, there’s an attention to detail here that shows Capcom were set from the start on making as honest a port of Street Fighter X Tekken as possible.
If you’ve ever hankered to go street fighting on an actual street then, short of risking life and limb, this is the game you’ve been waiting for. It’s fast, fluid, and in spite of a new control niggles, stands as a fine portable version of one of this generation’s best fighting mash-ups.
By Harry Slater
Format: PS Vita