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GR: What does the series fundamentally offer the player that other games - both fighters and not - don't, and how does it balance its appeal between hardcore player and newcomer so well?
DS: As I said before, Street Fighter revolutionized arcades by being the first to capture everyone’s attention with a one-on-one forum of competition. Even almost 20 years later, we have precious few games that scratch that same itch without introducing a bunch of extra stuff that gets in the way of real competition. There are actually a lot of great turn-based games, but the fast pace of Street Fighter gives it a fun-factor that’s hard to match. StarCraft scratches most of the same itch as Street Fighter I think, but I personally always had trouble dividing my attention between all the things that go on during a game of StarCraft. In Street Fighter, all your attention is focused deeply on the details right in front of you, all on one screen.
One thing that Street Fighter specifically offers over other similar games is very refined tuning. If you look at the recovery time for throwing a fireball and compare that to the hang time of a jump, it’s tuned just right relative to human reaction times. It’s right on the edge where some players will have an advantage with good reaction time, but other players can make up for it with good guessing. Another example is the startup time plus recovery time for a fireball compared with the charge time of Guile’s Sonic Boom. You can throw a fireball at will, but a Sonic Boom requires around 55 frames of holding back on the joystick first. Even though Guile’s Sonic Boom has HALF the recovery of Ryu’s fireball, Guile still can’t throw another one until just about the same time Ryu can throw another fireball. It’s very, very finely tuned and those are the sort of things I am not touching at all in the HD Remix game.
As for newcomers vs. experts, I think a lot of the answer is in the level of complexity SF has. SFII characters have about 30 moves, which I think is a magic number. When you go too much above that (like the 200+ in some 3D games) it feels really overwhelming. But when you go lower, you lose too much expressive power, and the experts need to have enough moves (“words”) to express nuances in their attacks (their “arguments” so to speak).