Street Fighter and Tekken are two of the biggest fighting game franchises around. They are also highly competitive and difficult to master on a higher level.
This article will examine how difficult each game is and determine which is harder Tekken or Street Fighter?
In order to determine the difficulty level of a fighting game, we need to examine how the game is actually played.
This involves looking at certain gameplay mechanics like moves, combos, and the overall fighting game system.
We will also examine how easy the game is for beginners. Whether beginners can just pick up and play the game or need to invest more time.
Finally, I think it will be good to look at the competitive scene for each game, as well as how the online systems fair.
It’s worth noting that I will be looking at the latest iterations of each game. So, at the time of writing, this is Street Fighter V and Tekken 7.
With these measures in place let’s look at the overall gameplay system first.
Tekken and Street Fighter are two fundamentally different fighting games. One is a 3D fighter and the other is a 2D fighter.
I won’t go into the differences between a 2D and 3D fighter here as I cover that in another article. But the main takeaway is that these games have different mechanics which dictate their difficulty level.
Let’s look at each game in turn.
Which is the harder control system?
Street fighter’s control system can be a bit daunting at first because of the range of motions needed to perform certain moves. For example, performing a Shoryuken dragon punch can be a bit awkward for users who have never played a fighting game before, especially on pad.
Once you get past that, however, the Street Fighter control system can be pretty easy to navigate. One advantage it has is consistency with all characters. For example, most characters will have moves that can be performed with the same motion as other characters albeit with different moves.
This makes it easier to pick up multiple characters as performing their moves will require similar motions. In addition, performing V-moves is pretty much the same button input for all characters.
At first glance, Tekken’s simpler control scheme may appeal more to beginners. It’s true, that a beginner may well mash out moves and gain the upper hand through pure luck. On-Street Fighter, this is more difficult to do.
However, as you play the game more and get better at it, you realize how complex the control scheme actually is. Nearly every character has access to hundreds of moves that need to be learned and remembered. This can take days or even weeks to be competent at a basic level.
The additional 3D element of moving side to side also adds another layer of complexity that can be difficult to grasp for a beginner.
So I would say that overall, Tekken has the more difficult control system.
There really is no contest here. As I mentioned, each character in Tekken has access to hundreds of different unique moves. For example, King alone has over 200 moves!
In reality, you won’t use every move that a character has but learning the key ones can still take time and require patience.
Characters in Street Fighter generally have access to only a handful of special moves and attacks. Learning all the character’s moves, whilst taking time to master, can easily be learned in a couple of hours or less in SFV.
Therefore, Tekken takes this round.
How difficult is it to actually pull off moves? Both Street Fighter and Tekken have specific timings for moves and combos.
Executing moves in SFV can sometimes be tricky. This is dependant on certain characters. For instance, Dhalsim’s instant air gale is difficult to pull off, especially on a conventional controller, and requires patience and time to learn.
Similarly, there are certain combos that require 1 frame links for some characters, that being said, these combos aren’t usually optimal.
Overall, however, SFV has a pretty lenient system when it comes to pulling off certain moves. For example, the traditional Dragon Punch can be performed almost by accident because of input leniency.
In addition, most of the optimal combos for each character are usually 3 frames or more and are relatively easy to execute compared to Tekken.
Speaking of Tekken, let’s firstly talk about one of the hardest techniques to master in the game: Korean Backdashing. This, for a beginner at least, can be ridiculously difficult to execute and takes weeks or even months of practice to get right.
In addition, the combos in Tekken are mostly juggle combos that require subtle timing to perform correctly. On top of that, you also have to learn combos for specific situations such as the wall or if the opponent’s back is turned.
All of this adds layers of complexity to the game which can be daunting for beginners.
Pick up and play
How easy is it for a complete noob to just pick up a controller and start doing moves and combos? interestingly, I performed a little experiment to test exactly this scenario.
My partner, who has never played a fighting game before, offered to help me in this experiment. She would play both SFV and Tekken and I would see how long it would take her to grasp the basic fundamentals of the game and perform a very basic combo.
First, she played SFV. This was a bit of a disaster to say the least. Whilst she understood how to perform basic attacks like light punch and kick etc, performing special moves was an issue.
My other half just couldn’t get the idea of inputting some kind of motion on a controller and then pressing a button.
After a bit of frustration, she was able to finally perform a hadoken and then shortly after that a very basic 2 hit combo.
Tekken was a little bit different. In fact, she was able to grasp the fundamentals of doing a move pretty quickly. This is probably because there’s no motion to be input, only a combination of directional buttons and attacks.
After demonstrating a basic combo with Lily, my partner was quickly able to perform a basic 3 hit juggle combo.
So what does this experiment prove? quite simply that Tekken is the easier game to pick up and play.
How competitive is online play for both games? is there a good mix of competitive players online? or is it mostly just noobs? Now I’m not the best player in any of these games, but being platinum in SFV and purple rank in Tekken 7, I think I can, at least, give a fair answer to these questions.
Firstly, I would like to point out that there are many variables when it comes to online play and this is my own opinion so should be taken with a pinch of salt.
I want to look at how the online rankings for each game are distributed. For this, I will need to first determine what I consider a ‘good’ rank. In other what would make a decent player? The reason for this is to determine how difficult it is to become good at the game.
If there is a higher percentage of players who are good, that generally means that it is easier to become a decent player and hence the overall game is therefore easier.
Looking firstly at SFV, I would consider a good player to be at least platinum or higher. Taken from this Reddit post the percentage of platinum players is around 5%.
What does this mean? this means that the amount of players that are platinum or higher across the entire SFV online players is 5%.
Similarly, I would consider a good player in Tekken 7 to be in the red ranks so Genbu or higher. According to esport tales, the percentage of players Genbu or higher is 4.4%.
This means that there are fewer people in Tekken 7 who are ‘good’ than there are in SFV. Therefore, it is more difficult in Tekken 7’s online play to get to a decent level.
Which is harder Tekken or Street Fighter?
Overall, based on the above criteria, Tekken 7 is the harder game. This shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve played both games, as I have, extensively.
There are a number of other factors which I haven’t gone into detail about regarding why Tekken is harder than Street Fighter. This includes studying frame data, sidestepping, Oki, and spacing to name a few.
You have, of course, these mechanisms in Street Fighter as well, but on a higher level, they become so much more important in a game like Tekken.
Whilst it’s true that Tekken is probably the easier game to pick and play, on a competitive level, there’s a lot to manage.
Remember, I’m not saying that Tekken is the better game. Far from it. I love both of these games but they are very different. One is a 2D fighter and the other is a 3D fighter. Therefore, I think it’s unfair to make that comparison.
In the end, however, it doesn’t really matter which is the harder game. As long as you are enjoying what you play and enjoy the challenge then that’s all that matters.