Fighting games have traditionally been one arena of player-vs-player engagement where pyre skill wins the day. Sure, characters like Street Fighter's Dhalsim throw off the balance with his long reach, but generally the genre's big titles are tuned to the point where reflexes and training can equal things out.
Street Fighter x Tekken might be changing all of that. Today, at a panel at New York Comic-Con, Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono introduced the game's all-new Gem System.
After launching Street Fighter IV, Ono said he'd wanted to increase the fanbase but said that it still seems it's only the most elite, fanatical players who gravitate towards the fighting genre. The Gem System came about as a way to deal with issues that crop up constantly in bouts, like mirror matches, throw escapes, skill disparity. Gems buff your attributes—speed up, stronger defense, more powerful attacks—but will be visible to your opponent above your super meter. You'll be able to equip up to five and they'll have certain conditions that trigger their activation, like getting hit by five normal attacks or three supers in a row. Ono described the mechanic as "Street Fighter meets Magic the Gathering"
The other news revealed at the panel was the launch dates of March 6 and 9 next year for North America and Europe, respectively. Rufus–the chubby, ponytailed character from the Street Fighter franchise will be joining the warriors on the SFxT roster. Ono emphasized that the jointly-developed title is about tag-based fighting and talked up new features that focus on that. The game will allow for two players on each tag team—as opposed to one player playing as each tag team—and will also have a four-player Scramble Battle, which will be a battle royale, where the last man standing wins.
The Gem System represents a radical shift from how fighting games usually operate. In fact, the announcement was met by some grumbling by attendees. One shout of "No power-ups!" rang out during the presentation and reveals of auto-block and auto throw-escape gems were met with boos. Capcom's Seth Killian assured the audience that it wasn't what they were fearing and showed that certain gems will use up the super meter, meaning that they won't grant players inexhaustible defenses. A demo of the auto-block and auto throw-escape gems pit a novice gamer named Kathleen against the more experienced Killian and she was able to win.
But, gems will be a pre-order enticement, too, with certain ones being only available for buyers who reserve the game at specific retailers. However, the biggest caveat to remember is that gem use is optional and you'll apparently be able to filter out gem users in online matchmaking if you want to.