"Why isn't your game called Street Fighter Vs. Tekken?" I asked Street Fighter X Tekken producer Yoshinori Ono last week in Miami.
That "X" is pronounced "cross."
"We were trying to make it a much more adversarial kind of title," he replied through a translator. "What we saw with the old Vs. games, like 'X-Men vs. Street Fighter is that the 'Vs.' would insinuate that they're fighting against each other. But right there in the title screen, Cyclops and Ryu are shaking hands. They kind of hijacked the 'Vs.' for that and they've had kind of a friendly feel about them. Marvel characters don't hate all Capcom characters and vice versa.
"This time, we wanted to really differentiate and say the Tekken and Street Fighter guys don't get along. They want to kick each other's butts. Namco and Capcom are competitors, not friends in completely different fields like Capcom and Marvel. It was an effort to come up with a new brand to show this is a serious, aggressive fight. And we're not actually going to shake hands on the title screen…"
Okay, it's on — or at least they want us to think it is.
Here's how it works:
Street Fighter X Tekken is being created solely by Capcom, with no input from Namco, Ono told me. The counterpart game, Tekken X Capcom, is being made by Namco, with no input from Capcom.
The Capcom game is a tag fighting game, pitting pairs of Street Fighter characters against pairs of Tekken characters. It's 2D, drawn in a style similar to Street Fighter IV. So far, Ono has revealed five characters from each side: Ryu, Ken, Abel, Guile and Chun-Li from Street Fighter; Nina, Kazuya, Marduk, King and Bob from Tekken.
The Street Fighter fighters control like Street Fighter characters, using the mix of stick and six-button controls familiar to fans of the series. The Tekken characters will also control like Street Fighter characters, though Ono explained that their series' four-button combo system will be available for the Tekken characters in this game. Those four-button combos will me mapped to the d-pad. (Images of the controls in this post were snapped during Ono's presentation; Capcom representatives cautioned that the controls are not final, and I can confirm that they certainly don't represent all of the fighting moves for any of the displayed characters.)
We were shown two environments for the game, one set near a bunch of dinosaurs in homage to Capcom's Dino Crisis game. Another was set near a wrecked Capcom office with mechs nearby, a reference to the Capcom fighting game Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness. We didn't see any Tekken stages.
There will be some sort of storyline, though nothing that sounds terribly deep. "A lot of it is driven by greed," Ono teased, referring to the motivations of characters on both sides. "They're looking out for number one, and these guys are looking to profit."
Ono likes to play up the rivalry, as he did when the game was revealed last summer. Back then he was snooping into his Namco rival's hotel room, Tweeting about all his pranks. It's hard to say how real the rivalry is, if it's all marketing or what. If it was real, one might expect Ono to tilt the scales in favor of his guys.
"I'm tempted to put some hidden command in the title screen that instantly kills all the Tekken characters and gets to the credits," he said, "But in all seriousness, if you look at the trailer, it starts with Kazyua's foot to Ryu's head. I think that shows where we're taking this. They're on a very equal footing. They're going to punch each other hard. They're going to fight hardcore. And the Street Fighter characters do not have any special advantages."
Ono promised that more characters for the game will be revealed at E3. He told me that "no one is blacklisted." Anyone from these series can be in the game. Anyone in these series can be summoned by the game's creators to beat up the other side.
Street Fighter X Tekken will be released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC next year.