‘Street Fighter X Tekken’ reminds us of that bathtub scene in Billy Madison when Adam Sandler pits a bottle of shampoo and conditioner in a deathmatch. It’s nearly as ridiculous a proposition — and somehow just as fitting — to pit the two-dimensional, projectile-happy Street Fighters against the 3D shuffle-meisters from the world of Tekken.

If you’ve ever spent your days wondering whether the likes of Ken, Ryu and Guile could hang with Heihachi, Nina and Kazuya, this is the game for you. Somehow the developers managed to make warriors from both colliding worlds play exactly as you thought they would in your daydreams on the subject. This hybrid includes mixes and matches, taking the best of both worlds to meld them into a gigantic Voltron of awesome just waiting to rip your throat out.

Before we get into specifics, let’s address that wacky title. In order to preserve your street cred, be sure to pronounce it ‘Street Fighter CROSS Tekken’ rather than ‘Street Fighter ECKS Tekken,’ which will make the game store clerks stare at you like a grandma poking around for a Yu-Gi-Oh game for the kid her daughter is too busy to take care of. We’re not sure, but we assume they call this game “cross” because the brutal online community is all but ready to virtually nail you to one if you’re a noob who dares to test your non-existent skills. We were lucky to button-mash in a few hits every now and then, content with escaping without getting “perfected.”

Offline, the game makes its share of adjustments to adapt to common folk. You can program a pair of finger-breaking combos to a pair of simple button presses that activates them at the price of siphoning off your “Cross Gauge.” Also, when you’re totally getting owned by your enemy, the game takes pity on you and allows you to don brief superpowers that allow you to do more damage and actually have half a chance of winning before the mode wears off and you’re rendered a lifeless husk.

Taking on the tag-team sensibilities of Tekken Tag Tournament and ‘Marvel vs. Capcom,’ you choose two fighters and juggle them at will, allowing each to take a breather each time he takes a health-threatening beatdown. If just one of your fighters eats it, you lose the round. The setup leads to frantic adjustments and huge swings in momentum. You can tweak the odds in your favor by adding assist gems that grant you skill bonuses, meticulously road-testing your loadouts to tune your team to precision.

Or you can just play like us by spamming the same button combos that allow you to beat the computer on the easiest difficulty level, cursing at the screen when you inevitably lose because you’re playing like an idiot.

The stout mechanics make the game sing like your sister in the shower, but Capcom deserves a hadouken upside the head for its cold-hearted move to lock of a ton of characters (Blanka, Cody, Dudley, Elena, Guy, Sakura, Alisa Bosconovitch, Bryan Fury, Christie Monteiro, Jack, Lars Alexandersson and Lei Wulong) on the disc, probably — but hopefully not — with plans charge you to use them sometime down the line. In a slightly less annoying move, Capcom has granted the PS3 a few bonus characters: Toro, Kuro and Cole, while promising free downloads of Mega Man and Pac-Man March 13, shutting the Xbox out of such love.

Such penny-pinching scroogery makes us want to dislike the game, but we simply can’t because it won’t let us stop playing. Maybe if we just love the game harder we can get it to change its bad-boy ways.

Rating: 8.5/10

Street Fighter X Tekken ($60), is available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was developed and published by Capcom. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

Read Phil Villarreal’s blog at becauseitoldyouso.com and follow him on Twitter:@philvillarreal

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