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Creating a satisfying fighting game experience on a touch device is tricky -- especially when you factor in the technical and mechanical prowess of a legendary series like Street Fighter. Genre fans have had to make serious concessions to enjoy their favorite brawlers on a touch screen (virtual joysticks are quite the hurdle during complex combos), but the relatively simplistic approach of recent console mash-up Street Fighter X Tekken translates well to a touch-based format. The result is a fun and easy-to-play fighter with satisfying mechanics, though nearly every other aspect of this high-profile iteration adopts a contradictory tone.
Like Street Fighter IV Volt before it, Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile takes the six-button format of its console counterpart and streamlines it down to four virtual inputs: punch, kick, special, and swap. Whereas a traditional Hadoken (fireball) command requires a quarter-circle forward plus punch, the mobile version requires one button press. Such simplification is a necessary refinement that, thanks to some creative tweaking by Capcom, still offers a surprisingly deep move set. It’s a shame, then, that all of the combo-teaching trials are initially locked, so casual players looking to learn the ropes of what is supposed to be a more casual-oriented fighter are immediately disenchanted.
Even the competitive aspect is soured by an emphasis on microtransactions. Empowering Pandora Boxes can be purchasedwith cash if you don’t feel like earning SP through fighting, meaning big spenders have an advantage. Every online battle requires a credit, which is retained only if you win. Lose too much, and you’ll either have to buy your way back in or wait several hours for another free credit to generate. Considering how horribly laggy the online fighting is compared to the previous Street Fighter mobile game, this credit system rubs salt in a wound that shouldn’t exist.
The bottom line. Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile is the smoothest and prettiest touch-based fighting game yet, but egregious obstacles to ultimately laggy online multiplayer seriously mar the overall experience.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 5.0 or later
Inputs are intuitive and responsive; simplistic yet deep. Graphics and frame rate are impressive.
Playing ranked matches requires credits. Online battles are laggy. Only 10 fighters.