Capcom delights in updating each Street Fighter at least three times before hunkering down to create a new version. Diehard fans rationalize the updates, touting new special moves and under-the-hood improvements. The rest of us shake our heads and hold out for the inevitable next version, or open our wallets and migrate with the rest of the herd. Street Fighter X Tekken [$2.99] marks the third Street Fighter to land on mobile devices, but unlike the previous and most excellent second release, Street Fighter IV Volt [$4.99], this one's not so easy to recommend.

Like the flagship console version, SFxT for iphone is a two-on-two fighter. Each player chooses two warriors and lays waste to other tag teams using a flurry of combos, special moves, and tag-team attacks. The roster is one of SFxT's weak spots. Volt currently offers a staggering 22 fighters from which to choose. SFxT includes 10, leaving fans of either series with a mere five familiar faces and an anorexic roster. To be fair, Capcom added to Volt's roster over time and they'll likely do the same thing for this game. Or, more likely, you'll have yet another release to add to the army of Street Fighter icons littering your Home screen.

As in previous mobile iterations, SFxT players duke it out using a simplified interface: One punch, one kick, an X button to swap fighters, and a Special button for special moves like fireballs. The streamlined interface benefits both the novice and the pro player looking for on-the-go action away from his fight stick. Novices can tap buttons arbitrarily to string together moves, while veterans can still outperform button mashers by relying on precise execution to pull out longer, flashier combos, or disable simple moves and input specials using the tried-and-true mix of joystick movements and button presses.

Besides tag-team play, SFxT throws a few more elements into the mix. After choosing their team, players choose a Pandora's Box, a powerful but temporary upgrade that sacrifices their partner and a compelling risk-reward mechanic for desperate situations. Gems, another new addition, are awarded in a random roulette-style game triggered when players perform a tag move. Depending on where the wheel stops, you might receive a boost to an in-game stat such as attack, or nothing at all. You're not punished for missing out on a power-up, so the off-chance of netting one is a good way to reinforce using tag attacks, maneuvers that experienced players will want to weave into their strategies.

Technically, the game makes a few minor improvements. Animations are as fluid as ever, characters boast significant detail and crispness. Unlike Street Fighter IV Volt's frozen-in-time environments, all SFxT backgrounds are animated, injecting some liveliness into fights and taking mobile games one step closer to providing a full-on console experience.

SFxT deviates from Volt in other, less fortunate ways. In Volt, players can enter ranked or unranked Wi-Fi matches. SFxT features only ranked and Bluetooth battles, forcing players to put their win-loss record on the line if they want to challenge opponents outside their living rooms. Crippling lag lowers ranked mode's stock even further, as matches outside your home country are often unplayable. More significantly, partaking in ranked battles requires credits. If you want to throw down online, you must either wait for the timer in the upper corner of your screen to expire and grant you a single credit, or buy gold as an in-app purchase and put it toward more credits.

SFxT's most egregious in-app purchase might be a deal breaker for hardcore fighting fans: At any time, players can buy gold and use it to upgrade their Pandora's Box. Honest players can swear off the store and earn points toward upgrades by playing the game, but inevitably they'll run up against players who dropped a Ben Franklin on upgrades. Pay-to-win upgrades don't break the game; skilled players can and usually will come out on top. But their mere existence does tip the balance away from Street Fighter's traditional reliance on skill (and spamming fireballs).

There's no denying that SFxT is a fun game. Like its predecessors, it runs smooth as butter, features a fighting system responsive and robust enough to nearly emulate playing on a stick, and it's a helluva lotta fun to look at. But Capcom's nickel-and-dime multiplayer decisions and the paper-thin roster make it an appetizer to Street Fighter IV Volt's seven-course feast.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • chamuscao

    It runs smooth as butter? I don't think so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dlcraddock David Craddock

      I was referring more to the offline modes and did mention the awful lag, but I can see how that line isn't clear.

  • witedahlia

    A very fair review, thank you. I was waiting for this game for a long time, and I like it, but it's only fair to point out the weaknesses.

  • mushbee

    It's a nice game

  • jar0d

    I would love if capcom would put some more love (I know, even more love) into volt or completely redesign and resell it with better graphics (animated backgrounds, please s better iOS-worthy menu).

    • Trencez

      Yea indeed Capcom should rework on volt and add morr char and ....why not iap outfit

  • Hehateme78

    Fair review and rating because of the 2 major flaws (character roster, online log). Don't listen to these fools about volt, this is on another level graphically and w/ gameplay! The simple buttons makes people like me, one's who are not SF experts, feel like an expert and thus keeps me playing. Anyone could master Ryu in this using a mere directional buttton and special play button! With simple button option, you need not complain about not having a controller to feel at home w/ this! The iap online addittion doesn't even bother me like I thought it would when I read the ratings because there are a lot more inexperienced players online than on Volt. You know Capcom is going to add characters (please Blanka) so all they need to fix is the online lag which honestly can get annoying as hell! Very seldom did I indulge in Volt and SF IV but I can't put this down and for the 1st time since I was 15 at the arcade in the mall, I feel like a SF competitor! This is a must buy if you even remotely gave a sh*t about SF as a kid!!!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/PIIJ2Z5LKKU6C34GXWUMGQ2KUU Chuk! The Beast!

      This is NOT a good fighting game Volt is superior to this game in everyway possible, what are you smoking?

      • King08

        This game is better XD

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/H4IPX2ZKLU4MPT5GSZSMEKW7PY hey you

    just got the game because i loved tekken and this is the first tekken i've seen for iphone. i like the game (though not as much as tekken) for its tekken chars and feel. never was a big fan of sf so i don't know the chars at all. i DO know that online play is lag city and no matter who i play, they always spam the damn fireballs. back up shoot back up shoot... seriously? but all in all, i like passing the free time playing.

  • David Garcia

    Just wanted to let everyone know that this game runs on iPhone 3GS running iOS 5 :) I don't know why apple says it won't run when it runs fine with no lag and clean graphics so game on 3GS gamers!
    P.S
    Shadow guardian is another game that says it won't run on the iPhone 3GS but it runs fine with no lag also both sf x t and sg have both been confirmed as working ;)

STREET FIGHTER X TEKKEN MOBILE  Reviewed by David Craddock on . Rating: 3.5