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Let’s get it out of the way, unless you already enjoy Super Street Fighter IV, there’s nothing in Arcade Edition that’s likely to change your mind. Unless you’ve got a fetish for Dragonball Z and X-treme skating twins in Kung-Fu shirts. Then you’re in business.
So what does AE bring to the table? First off, four new characters: the previously mentioned twins from Street Fighter 3, Yun and Yang, sporadic “What If?” character Evil Ryu, and the brand new Oni. AE also brings a batch of subtle tweaks for the existing cast, and some upgrades to the online replay function for those of you that are allergic to YouTube.
Above: Ryu after an enchillada platter
For 95% of potential AE customers, the characters are what matters here. If you’re serious about the game, you’ll have hours of fun grinding out combos and figuring out the new characters online as you get ruthlessly beat down by players who’ve decided to stick to their already familiar favorites. Let’s have a look:
Yun and Yang play similarly to their 3rd Strike counterparts, using strong pressure tactics to get in and combos for the bulk of their damage output. That said, both of them are surprisingly strong overall, with plenty of options for getting around projectiles and getting in close while playing mind games with their opponents. Both their special and normal moves are great, and can easily be strung together into combos. Even in you're bad at combos, Yun and Yang are excellent characters.
Above: SSJ Akuma
Evil Ryu and Oni aren't quite as versatile, but for players who like Ryu styled characters, they'll offer a change of pace. Oni is a strange mix of Akuma and Gouken’s moves, though as a character he defintely falls closer to Gouken's playstyle. He’s also the only character in the game with an airdash-like move, though it’s situational and not easy to use. Evil Ryu plays exactly as you’d expect, a more aggressive Ryu with Akuma elements. As is the standard with the Akuma-esque “dark/evil” characters, they’ve both got good damage output offset by sub-par health.
Above: Get used to seeing this win screen
AE has been in Japanese arcades for a little under a year now, and preliminary reports from the pros suggest that Yang, and especially Yun, are head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. As for the existing cast, the tweaks have hit some characters harder than others, Fei Long is now considered excellent, and Makoto and Guy have been given a selection of buffs that have made them more powerful. Generally, projectile heavy characters have taken a hit in AE, as almost every character has good options for getting around fireballs.
While Capcom did a nice job giving the lower ranked characters some much needed attention, some changes seem to have been handed out at random. It’s impossible to see what kind of impact these changes will have on the game down the road, but as of right now, many players have been left a little mystified by some of the alterations.
Above: What a dive kick looks like in Australia
The somewhat confusing nature of this DLC also requires a little explanation. Because it makes changes to every character in the game, Arcade Edition is considered a stand-alone entry. This means that when looking for match ups, the game matches Super Edition players to Super Edition players and AE players to AE players. AE players can still play against Super players online, but the game will temporarily revert itself to Super Edition. That means people still playing Super will not be able to play against Yun/Yang/E. Ryu/Oni or the tweaked AE characters online at all. AE players can also manually revert the game to Super Edition on the fly. Phew. If all of this is sounding a little confusing, apologies, but AE isn't making it easy for new players.
Above: Three! Three Yangs! Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah.
Capcom has clearly banked on the fact that AE will likely only appeal to hardcore fans that are still playing SSFIV. As a result, they’ve included nothing at all for beginner players, or gamers looking for single player content. It may be a little late in the game's cycle to expect these changes, but franchises like Mortal Kombat and BlazBlue do a far better job of helping new players evolve from button mashing. The absence of any in-game tutorials for the changes and new characters means that it’s time once again to fire up the browser and check out YouTube, Shoryuken.com, and other fighting game community sites to figure everything out.
AE’s biggest shortcoming though, is its lack of content for the new characters. There are no new Trials in AE for either the new characters or the existing cast, and little touches, like the lack of rival cut scenes for the new characters are missing. It’s a pretty lazy corner cut on Capcom’s part, and makes it clear that this content was ported directly from the arcade with no additional features for consoles.
Above: Chun-Li is not a skateboard
Then again, it’s called Arcade Edition for a reason, and its focus is solely on giving the player vs. player competition a shot in the arm. At $14.99/1200MS Points, it’ll definitely give hardcore players their money’s worth. In fact, AE is an exceptional bargain when you consider $14.99 is roughly the cost of 4 SSF4 costume packs or 3 MVC3 DLC characters. The $39.99 for the disc version is too expensive though, and is hard to recommend unless you're an Amish farmer who doesn't have an internet connection, and in that case you almost certainly wouldn't have a console/PC to play it on anyway.
If you’re still playing SSF4 online, AE is a no-brainer, and the de facto new standard for the game, for better or for worse. If you’re looking for any kind of single player content or a chance to get your foot in the door though, you can safely pass on this update.
June 8th, 2011