After not having a true sequel in almost 10 years, Street Fighter IV single-handedly reinvigorated the then-dying fighting game genre and breathed new air into its tournament scene. Originally, Street Fighter IV was a experiment. Capcom wanted to test the waters to see if fans would support the game, and a year has come and gone since then. After seeing Street Fighter IV’s success and gathering information from top players, Capcom has released Super Street Fighter IV , a rebalanced game with loads of new content. This new game will also help keep the tournament scene fresh. While the hardcore fans will buy this game in a heartbeat, does Super warrant a purchase from those who bought the original?
One of the strong topics that has been hotly debated among gamers on Super, is whether or not the game should have been released as DLC. I think not, and I’d like to explain why this game could not have been sold as DLC. First and foremost, this is a complete overhaul. While the core gameplay remains the same, there are new additions in every area, from character tweaks to improvement in online play.
Compared to other sequels in the fighting game genre, which may offer 3 or 4 new characters at most, Super Street Fighter IV offers more new content than most other true sequels. While the game offers a tremendous value, it should be apparent that offering all the changes as DLC would be too large, and the changes to the online play alone, do warrant a new disk. Finally, because of the large size of the Street Fighter tournament scene, selling new characters as DLC would have caused a huge uproar in the gaming community. It would be unfair for players to be forced to pay for new characters if they want to stay on top of the tournament scene. By offering everything at once, the game remains fair and open to every player who wants to compete, instead of just those players who can afford to spend the most on DLC.
Ten new warriors boost the total roster from twenty-five to thirty-five characters. The new characters range from super fast, aggressive fighters to strong, hulking, brawlers. Eight of the ten are classic characters pulled from past Street Fighter games, while only two are completely new. This is not actually a bad thing, since part of Street Fighter IV’s appeal was bringing back some classic characters and reworking them to fit in a modern game. First, there’s Dee Jay and T Hawk, which finally complete the cast from Super Street Fighter II. Guy, Cody, and Adon represent the Street Fighter Alpha series, and Ibuki, Dudley and Makoto represent Street Fighter III. Each character retains all their signature moves and combos, and fit surprisingly well into Street Fighter IV’s engine. It is quite an impressive feat when you consider the missing things, like Alpha’s custom combos or SFIII’s parrying.
The two new characters, Hakan and Juri, both offer very unique gameplay. Juri is a Korean Tae-Kwon-Do fighter who relies exclusively on kicks. She is a very fast fighter who relies heavily on long combo strings and juggles. Hakan, on the other hand, is a very bizarre grappler. He is a Turkish oil wrestler who needs to be oiled up to be at his most effective. With oil, his moves do more damage and gain new properties, and his grabs gain tremendous range. Without the oil, he is far less effective. Finally, his ultras are hilarious to watch, which likely makes Hakan the new favorite fighter among players who like to embarrass their opponents.
In case you weren’t interested in any of the new characters, the returning ones each get a new ultra that can dramatically alter their play style, and adds an extra layer of strategy when you select your character. Besides adding new options and strategies, the new ultras are visually impressive, many of them are very creative and fall in line with the spirit of the characters.
Along with the new characters and ultras, Capcom looked at data collected from tournaments and sought opinions from top players. This information, combined with the development team’s own observations, was used to make changes to the characters. Each character has received buffs and nerfs that help them and make certain matchups more even. A number of things that were considered unfair, such as Ryu being able use his ultra after a traded shoryuken, or Sagat’s obscene damage output, have been either removed or toned down.
While it is impossible to please every player, only time and tournament results, as well as the millions of players searching to learn everything they can about the game, will be able to show if the development team’s efforts were a step in the right direction in making Super Street Fighter IV the most balanced Street Fighter game to date.
Overall the game is faster paced, with an almost �turbo� feel to it. Many of the new characters are designed to be aggressive, and defensive ability has been decreased to discourage turtling, which was a common complaint from the first game, often stemming from the infamously overpowered Sagat and his ability to win a match while never approaching.
Online multiplayer has been completely overhauled. The lobby system has been rebuilt from the ground up, making it much easier to find matches and invite players. New modes include Team and Endless Battle. The first divides players up into teams of 2 to 4 players who proceed to duke it out elimination style, similar to the King of Fighters series. The latter is a rotation mode, where the winner plays until he loses, after which he is thrown into the bottom of the list to wait his turn to fight again. At first, I thought this mode was pointless, because the benefit of playing online is always having people to play. Why would I want to wait? But after trying it out, I can understand why it became a very popular mode. It helps to recreate the classic feeling of being in a living room of friends. People not playing can watch the current match while waiting their turn and commentating through their headsets.
Also reworked is the ranking system, with players now earning Player Points and Battle Points. Player Points are the total points earned from Ranked Battles, while Battle Points are tied to a particular character. This new system encourages players to use new characters online while not worrying about losing with characters they are not so familiar with.
For those who would rather play against the computer, there have been a few tweaks to the arcade mode. First and foremost, you don’t need to play through it to unlock characters, as all of them are unlocked from the get-go. There is a new mode entitled �Easiest�, which is a new level that outclasses the �Very Easy� setting in its lack of difficulty. It is a nice touch, for your friends that furiously mash buttons, to enjoy the story mode without breaking a sweat or getting frustrated with the final boss Seth.
Finally, new opening and ending movies round out the arcade mode. The openings are more stills with voiceovers, while the endings offer fully animated cut scenes. They’re not much of an improvement over the originals, but they are better animated now and many pick up right where the previous endings left off. Street Fighter has never placed a large emphasis on its story, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The new cut scenes show a better effort than the previous game, to say the least.
As for the graphics, the game still uses the same models from the previous game. However, everything from the menus to the stage select screen has been redone, and new artwork has been drawn, too. All of the new characters, many of them making the transition from 2D to 3D for the first time, are very faithful to their original designs, and have an incredible level of detail, from the stitching in their clothes, to the expressions on their faces when they are taking Ryu’s new Metsu Shoryuken to the face. Tons of new music has been added, and there are new remixes of the classic character themes, plus an unlockable option to select the songs for any stage.
The new stages are fun and creative, with my favorite being the construction yard pulled from Final Fight’s Metro City, complete with a Haggar statue and Hugo in the background. It is yet another nod to Street Fighter’s history, and adds a really nice touch to the presentation. I wish that there was also a return to character-themed stages, such as Ryu’s dojo or Honda’s bathhouse. Instead, the stages featured in the game are pretty generic, but hopefully this can be solved with future DLC.
Speaking of DLC, new costumes are for sale, and will be released in packs of 5 every week. When all are released, you can buy them all at a bulk discount. For those who want to fight in style, Capcom is ready for you to give them your money. For those who shelled out for the extra costumes in the previous game, don’t worry, because they will carry over to Super Street Fighter IV . Also, as a bonus to players with a Street Fighter IV save, 2 new colors will be unlocked right from the start. One is a watercolor that makes the colors and lines stand out, while the other gives the characters a hand drawn look, similar to how the characters look in the opening cinematic. Thankfully, not everything will cost you money. Capcom will also be adding a free downloadable tournament mode in June, which will allow you to set up brackets of up to 8 players online.
Does this game warrant a purchase even if you have the original? Yes, it does! And does it warrant a purchase if you have never played Street Fighter IV? Hell, yes, it does! If you are into fighting games and you missed out on round 1, there is little reason to miss out on round 2.
Capcom has made a tremendous effort to make the best fighting game on the market even better. Right now, is a wonderful time for fighting game fans as Capcom and other developers are listening very closely to ensure their games are fun and balanced. Aside from a few very minor complaints, this game is a classic mixture of old and new, and at only $39.99, there is no reason to miss out on this great fighting game.
- Kyle McClusky
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