For the most part fighting games all function on definitives. Press a button and your on screen character responds with a specific attack, over a specific number of frames, and deals a specific amount of damage.
Much like pieces in a chess game, characters all have particular capabilities, strengths and weakness that are set in stone. A good player knows these and plays to strengths while compensating for weaknesses.
Adhering to rigid frameworks has governed the dynamics of fighting games for years now, and as a result they've changed very little over time. Sure, there's been some fiddling with the formula here and there, paving the way for exciting new variations such as the 'Vs' and 'Tag' series, but for the most part the core principles have remained intact. That is until Street Fighter X Tekken came along.
While comeback mechanics such as Street Fighter IV's Ultra Combos and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3's X-Factor have deviated from the blueprint ever so slightly, Street Fighter X Tekken's Gem system tears up the rulebook by fundamentally changing the very DNA of fighting games.
But before we get to Gems, let's brush up on the basics...
As the name suggests Street Fighter X Tekken sees Capcom's and Namco Bandai's premiere fighting franchises come to blows in a high-octane crossover brawl. Players pair up two fighters from a sizable cast of iconic faces and then go toe-to-toe in 2 v 2 tag team battles.
The impressive character roster includes the likes of Ryu; Ken; Guile; Abel; and Chun-Li repping the World Warriors, and Kazuya; King; Law; Bob and Xiaoyu hailing from the King of Iron Fist Tournament.
Impressively, Capcom's designers seem to have managed to preserve the divergent play styles of the two franchises without giving one group an edge over the other. Capcom's cast can still launch fireballs across the screen but Tekken's fighters have a few of their own tricks to keep them on level ground.
Mechanically, the game revolves around juggling characters using the 'magic series' of inputs. The simple combo command is executed by pressing the light, medium and hard attacks in succession, while a second press of a hard attack pops the poor victim up and into a juggle state. At this point your secondary character rushes in allowing you to pick up where you partner left off.
Figure out how and when in the chain to throw in a special move and which combinations can extend the barrage of attacks and you'll up the damage. All you have to do is bring deplete one characters life completely and its round over.
Mainstays such as powered up EX attacks and Super Arts also make a return, along with a new Cross Arts mechanic, but have been simplified to a single quarter circle-forward and either two or three simultaneous button inputs.
Things get a little more complicated with Cross Assault, which summons both characters onto the screen at once, and the Pandora Mode, which sacrifices your on-screen character to give your partner a significant strength boost for a short period. However, these risky mechanics are still quite easy to pull off, they just require you to put some thought and practice into how they're used.