Super Street Fighter IV Preview

Super Hyper Street Fighter Alpha Turbo HD EX Remix: Champion Edition

Capcom, following its successful Street Fighter IV preview booth from last year’s Wondercon, waved the flag of the video game industry once more at this year’s Comic-Con offshoot above all the rest, with a space the size of eight regular-sized booths. Of course, that’s not too hard when its only competition is a grim rotunda for Dante’s Inferno and a pop-idol stage for Just Dance. Capcom showcased an onslaught of new titles including Mega Man Zero Collection, Monster Hunter Tri, Final Fight: Double Impact, Dead Rising 2, Lost Planet 2, and Street Fighter 4 for iPhone – all titles that look great and will sell well in their own right – as well as a Capcom store where I purchased a pristine Okami art/coffee-table book. But nothing compared to the throngs of nerds hording around the plasma monitors and arcade sticks for Super Street Fighter IV.

[image1]Much has already been revealed about this Super-sized sequel already, by none other than Capcom, who has deliberately released each of the ten new characters in a well-timed flurry of trailers and press releases. Every main Street Fighter era has been given attention: T.Hawk and Dee Jay complete the cast from Super Street Fighter II; Dudley, Makoto, and Ibuki from Street Fighter III; Guy and Cody (who, in a nice touch, has a knife pick-up off the ground) from Final Fight/Street Fighter Alpha 3; and two newcomers, a Taekwondo South Korean woman named Juri who works for S.I.N. and a red-skinned Turkish oil wrestler named Hakan who can become so slippery that he can propel his victims into the sky using only the force from a bearhug. (I’m sure there’s an uncomfortable joke somewhere in there…)

Two new old-school rivalry battles can be chosen – Ken vs. Ryu and Guile vs. M. Bison – though I can’t wait to see regular match-ups between Adon vs. Sagat and Balrog vs. Dudley. Also bringing back the Street Fighter flavor are the classic barrel and car-smash mini-games, which from which I’ve seen so far, only require you to spam one or two moves. So I hope that they are scaled to the difficulty setting, like the basketball parry mini-game in SFIII.

More important than the fuller cast is the rebalanced gameplay, or in other words, ‘nerfing’ Sagat and the AI for Seth, and ‘buffing’ everyone else. I’ll leave it up to the Shoryuken forumites and other Street Fighter diehards who believe that sentences like “1+0 like Gief’s would be gdlk” actually make sense, to dissect and analyze every variable and frame of animation. So if you want an in-depth investigation about priority, juggling, combo strings, resets, cancels, and recovery time, there’s another place for that.

[image2]But even to the casual player, the adjustments should be noticeable, particularly with the new option to choose one of two ultra moves for each character. Sure, Street Fighter III had a choice of three (wait for “Hyper Street Fighter IV”, I suppose), but by giving previously low-tier characters one better ultra and high-tier characters one mediocre ultra (Sagat’s new fireball ultra is as threatening as a neutered tiger cub), the playing field as been leveled substantially. At the same time, it allows competitive players to choose the appropriate ultra against a certain opponent. And hey, they brought back Ryu’s jaw-breaking metsu shoryuken.

Though combat isn’t visually faster, it certainly feels swifter and lighter. Focus attacks are slightly quicker, which will lead to less turtling and more dashing. Expect to see more focus attack canceling for dodge and feint strategies from veteran players, if we haven’t seen them enough already.

A handful of few stages have been added, though not enough for there to be a “hometown stage” for every new character: a Korean urban street, a village in India in caravan-filled street, an African savannah reminiscent of Elena’s stage in SFIII, a collapsing variant of the S.I.N. laboratory, and a construction site in Metro City with Hugo of Street Fighter III and a statue of Mike Haggar in the background. I also haven’t heard anything about a revised soundtrack, above the roar of the crowd (let’s hope they get rid of boy pop “Indestructible” bleh), but the announcer now has a deeper Marvel vs. Capcom voice with a high chorus sound effect.

[image3]On the online end, there will be Team Battle Mode for up to 4-vs.-4 play, an Endless Battle Mode where one player remains champion until a player on the queue can claim the throne (the loser goes to the end of the queue), and a tweaked Replay Mode which does what it says. Anything to bring the arcade experience closer to home and to foster team-based competition is a worthy addition.

A side-note: The Mad Catz arcade sticks for the game will be sold separately for $150 a pop and come in either white or black for both platforms. There doesn’t seem there are any substantial differences between it and the standard arcade sticks from the original Street Fighter IV, so feel free to pick either one.

As much as I would have liked to see Evil Ryu, Yun, Yang, Alex, Elena, Rolento, and Sean (again, wait for the “Hyper” edition… you know it’s coming), Super Street Fighter IV looks to be the game that will satisfy the entire fanbase. Plans have been announced for an arcade version in Japan, but none yet in America, so look for it to strike first on the Xbox 360 and PS3, on April 27 for $39.99.

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