Street Fighter as a franchise has been very important to me. Seems sort of weird when put that way, what does the ‘importance’ of a game about outrageous characters battling one another in a fictional tournament say about a person? You can paint it either way I suppose. Standing now at the end of the latest iteration, you will forgive me if I spend some time waxing poetical. I’ve played almost every version of SF there is to be played, and standing at it’s fourth proper update, I think that with Ultra Street Fighter IV Capcom may have, with time, care, and community involvement, created the penultimate Street Fighter experience.
Release Date: Aug 5, 2014
Consoles: PC PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360
It’s a pop culture reference now, and yes, like Street Fighter is at times (particularly the backstory… Hugo’s motivations have something to do with Potatoes?) a little bit silly, but the naming conventions are a function of what has become a uniquely Street Fighter notion. Appropriate too. All of the suffixes and prefixes that get added along the way make the heart of a Street Fighter glad inside, it’s got character, it lets you know that, even if you missed a game or two in between, if you can do a quarter circle forward + punch you’ll be just fine. But it’s also a mark of improvement, those notches in the wall marking progress. Balance, roster expansion, mechanical tweaks, the ever dreaded ‘nerf’ of this or that favorite character. The beauty in Street Fighter is in its evolution, which leads directly to …
This is one of the things that belongs in the ‘important to me’ bit I mentioned. Long before crowd sourcing, long before the Brony movement, heck, before the Browncoats screamed for more of the show Firefly and got Serenity made, the power of a community was made clear to me through Street Fighter. There was a time when Street Fighter was ‘dead’, or, at the very least ‘dormant’. Prior to the resurrection through SFIV, Street Fighter hadn’t had a major release since the Alpha days. For me, it was a Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition cabinet at the work place that brought me into the fold. Something about the game drew folks in and it wasn’t long until rivalries were developing and tournaments organized, all the while the competition made us all more determined to improve. At the time the scene was… diminished… outside of local communities, but it was there, and it at least hadn’t forgotten Street Fighter. We knew what the world remembered with the first installment of Street Fighter IV, that something in its DNA creates passion, creates rabid fans. SFIV wouldn’t have gotten made without the community, both their rallying cries for a return to the Streets, and in a very literal sense. With Street Fighter Capcom has long looked to the community for critical feedback, but whether they were looking or not, the community had feedback to give, millions upon millions of games worth. We feel a certain ownership with Street Fighter, and part of that comes with a population keen on balance and quality, to say nothing in thorough testing through countless matches. Which brings us back to the idea of Street Fighter, and just why it has to be an Ultra this, or an Arcade that. Ultra Street Fighter IV is the sum result of a 6 year accumulation of data from a massive game testing experiment. Working out the kinks and flaws in a way that no studio based game testing operation could hope to compete with, fighters play and fighters talk. Capcom Listens. This is part of what makes an update, characterized but some tag at the front or back of Street Fighter IV, worth getting. Honed and directed by the experiences of its players, it’s not just a further refined gaming experience, but one that’s evolving at our fingertips. Another thing being the community that comes packaged with the game. If you’ve never watched footage of an Evo event, you should. These are the people you are playing against, and like a certain wandering warrior, they’re eager to meet new challengers and see what you’re made of. They can be harsh, they’ll leave you bruised, battered and tested, but they’re there to make you better… and you them.
In addition to character tweaks and all around rebalancing, we have a gang of new wardrobe options, about which I’m ambivalent. Sometimes costumes are awesome little additions that add some flavor, Zangief’s ‘Haggar’ and ‘Robo-gief’ as great examples, other times… Well, let’s just say that this time around its ‘Summer Vacation’, I’ll let you be the judge. Five new characters round the grand total to 44 fighters. While some will argue that Rolento, Elena, Poison and Hugo (four of the five) were already in Street Fighter X Tekken , I’d argue that hardly counts. The moves are different, and most importantly, it’s a X Tekken game… doesn’t count. For me personally, Zangief and Hugo were my dudes, and they’ve never been on the same roster (again, X Tekken doesn’t count). And while those argue happy folks will also suggest that Decapre (one of Bison’s ‘Dolls’) is just another Cammy clone, I’d recommend they try her out first (plus the mask is pretty cool).
Ultra Combo Doubles are for those that like Chocolate AND Vanilla. For slightly less damage each, players can have both of their Ultra moves at their disposal, rather than either or. Red Focus Attack is a focus with an additional input (mp+mk+lp) that absorbs more than one hit. And Delayed Standing allows players to, big surprise, delay their standup, adding another element to the wake-up game. Also added are Online training and Elimination Mode. Online Training, borrowed from X Tekken, lets folks train together online, Elimination mode is a three on three team battle. While Edition Select Mode lets players pick characters from whichever SFIV edition they please.
I firmly believe that no gaming catalogue is complete without Street Fighter, but I’m the first to admit bias. As has been the case in every other version of Street Fighter, each successive update has improved and refined the experience. Personally, with the expanded roster, fixes, the added mechanics and modes (particularly Online Training, this is super helpful) Ultra Street Fighter IV is the purest distillation of the Street Fighter experience so far. Get Hype!
Super Street Fighter IV is available now for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360