Super Street Fighter IV // PS3

April 27, 2010

Judging by a price tag of £22.70 on UK retailer Amazon (at the time of writing) for the full retail version of Super Street Fighter IV, you could be forgiven for thinking Capcom are trying to pre-empt and diffuse consumer ire over an update to the release of Street Fighter IV just over 14 months ago with a bargain basement offer. Whilst a vastly reduced price is obviously welcome, they needn’t have worried. Super Street Fighter IV is absolutely stuffed to bursting with new features – characters, stages, ultras, game modes – which fully justfies another retail release instead of a bloated DLC package. Fans of the series that snapped up the original last February will want to do so again, and newcomers tempted by the price will be rewarded with the definitive current-gen version of a legendary beat ’em up.

The most obvious change in SSFIV is the character roster. All of the characters that appeared in the original are now unlocked from the very start. Those without the time (or patience) to play through Arcade mode again and again no longer have to miss out on some of the more powerful characters, such as S.I.N. overlord Seth, cannabilized together from special moves from the original World Warriors, and fiery-haired Akuma, with his unblockable Ultra Combo. The variety of characters is now immense; along with the new characters introduced in this edition, SSFIV now boasts 35 fighters. Each of them has also been blessed with a second Ultra Combo, and players decide which Ultra they would like to take into a match after they have selected the Colour and Costume they want to use for their chosen combatant. Easily the most entertaining moments of a fight, Ultra Combos are now even more fun with the addition of a second choice.

It’s the ten new characters that are the major draw here, of course, and Capcom have assembled an exotic bunch, pieced together from old favourites from the Street Fighter II era (T. Hawk and Deejay), several fighters from the Street Fighter III series (Dudley, Ibuki and Makoto), a few originally from Final Fight (Guy and Cody), a Muay-Thai boxer from the Alpha series (Adon) and two brand-new, madcap creations (Juri and Hakan). Far from derivatives of existing fighters, an accusation that could perhaps be levelled at a few fighters in the canon (I’m looking at you Dan, Sakura, Akuma and Gouken), these new fighters vary wildly in fighting style and will need continued practice to master.

Blue-haired Turkish wrestler Hakan was the first one to be given a whirl, and it didn’t take long for this crazy bastard to put a big grin on my face. The first time he up-ends a barrel of oil over himself during a match you know he isn’t cut from the same cloth as the other fighters and his special and Ultra moves, in which he grabs his opponents and spins them round his slippery, oily frame are unique and suprisingly powerful. Some of his moves are tricky to pull off, requiring 360 degree analogue stick spins like Zangief’s spinning piledriver, but Hakan could well become a cult hit. I can’t quite explain why his English voice actor sounds uncannily like Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons, however.

Next up was Dudley, a British gentleman pugilist that provides a counterpoint to rival boxer, US brawler Balrog, and is comprised of a similar move-set. One of his Ultra combos is brutal almost to the point of being slapstick, with big alternate hooks knocking his opponent this way and that in a style that evokes memories of Punch-Out!! on the NES. Ibuki is a ninja schoolgirl on the hunt for boys, who exclaims “Sayonara!” as she applies the finishing suplex to a 27-hit Ultra combo in which she pummels her opponent with a rain of knives. Makoto is another female character, this time with an emphasis on charge moves and lacking a sweep kick – an omission that’s likely to leave her outside my own personal roster of played fighters.

Other additions and improvements to the formula are less eye-catching. There are a number of new stages to fight in, but I couldn’t honestly tell you which are new to this update and which are from last year’s release, with the exception of the delightful African Savanah stage, where enormous hippos roar in the background behind the two fighters. Every character has allegedly been tweaked; some may have had over-powerful moves weakened or weaker moves strengthened, but unless you are a hardcore player or play exclusively with one fighter that has had significant changes, you will likely not notice. Those that clamoured for the old bonus stages from Street Fighter II – destroying a car and breaking a number of barrels – have had their wishes granted, but their inclusion is more a fond nostalgic nod to the series’ roots rather than an integral part of the Arcade mode and their novelty quickly palls.

These are minor grievances, however, and Super Street Fighter IV should be no less regarded because of them. This is the definitive version of Capcom’s beat ’em up legacy, a package so complete that it makes the original Street Fighter IV feel like a proof of concept. Lack of players online before the full launch means I’ve not been able to test out Endless mode or Team Battle mode, but it’s hard to see how experiencing these modes would affect my judgement of SSFIV’s merits. The bottom line is clear – if you never bought Street Fighter IV, this is a must-buy. For those that already snapped up the predecessor, it’s still a must-buy. Hadouken!



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