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Just over a year ago our own Dave Houghton gave Street Fighter IV a glowing 10/10, an entirely deserved score for a game that breathed new life not just into the franchise, but an entire dormant genre. This perfect reinvention of Capcom’s most beloved property was a huge hit with critics, casual players and the all-important tournament tweakers that keep the fighting engine churning.
It was such a success that Capcom’s even fallen back into its revisionist ways and prepared a heavily remixed version with 10 new characters, brilliant new online modes and rebalanced gameplay, all for the bargain price of $40. With more content at a lesser price, there’s nothing for us to do but give Super SFIV another stellar recommendation and urge you, whether you have the original or not, to dive in and get addicted all over again.
Above: More depth than the biggest open world you can find
It takes only minutes to learn how to throw fireballs and whip out dizzying Ultra Combos. Even if you barely understand the concepts, it’s still fun to pick characters at random and pass the controller around the room, pumping your fist in the air with each victory and yelling in disbelief at each loss. Conversely, it takes weeks (if not months) to master any one character in a game with 35 uniquely balanced fighters, effectively creating a game that’s as deep as you want to be, and just as fun no matter how much time you invest.
Above: Fun with or without perfectly executed Super Combos and EX moves
On the other hand, the 10 new fighters make an already robust fighting experience even richer, especially if you’re an online player itching for new matchups. In a way, fully understanding each SF character is its own playthrough of a typical game, accounting for at least 20 hours of gameplay to become proficient. So, with even with just 10 new characters, fully exploring them all could take a whole lotta time.
Above: Potentially 700 hours of distinct gameplay
But let’s be honest – no one’s going to master every single character. It’s just comforting to know that each time you pick a new fighter, the whole experience, every counter, feint, EX special and Ultra Combo will be drastically different if you take the time to learn the details. But again, don’t be intimidated – Street Fighter is as demanding as you want it to be, nothing more.
We’ll get into the other differences on the next page, including the Replay Channel, Bonus Stages and a look at the new fighters.
Above: Even a slightly debuffed Makoto can kick (or punch) Dan’s ass (or balls)
The final two were created just for Super SFIV, and both are hellishly fun to play. Let’s take a quick look at both of ‘em, as if you’re still reading these are probably among your chief interests.
Hakan: A bright red Turkish wrestler that has to keep himself covered in oil to put up a decent fight. Once you douse him, his reach greatly extends, enabling you to snatch opponents from a farther distance – an amazing boon for a character who relies on grapples.
Within one minute of playing against or as Hakan you’ll realize how effing silly he is. He squeezes people so hard they splurt out of his arms like a greasy bullet, and his Ultra Combo, well… just check the video.
Right. So, it’s easy to dismiss Hakan as a goof-off character, but Capcom Unity expert and GamesRadar pal Seth Killian has personally vouched for Hakan’s worth, and the tournament star Daigo Umehara appears to have eyed him as a potential interest. So there.
Juri: A sexy, super-slinky taekwondo master that’s also the series’ first Korean fighter. She’s far easier to understand than Hakan, as all her moves both look and handle like Ryu and Ken – fireball and hurricane kick motions execute similar moves, for example. If you want an enjoyable, accessible but new experience right out of the box, give her a shot.
But, as with all characters, there’s more than the initial impression. Her fireballs can be held until the button is released, and depending on which button you used (light, medium or heavy kick), the projectile will travel low, level or upwards. Highly versatile and tricky, plus her hurricane kick equivalent is an awesome way to juggle and sneak in a few extra hits.
Juri also comes with three different counters, one for each punch button. They, along with her three fireball heights, make each fight a substantial guessing game for the other player. Tons of fun.
My only real issue with these modes is that Ranked Match, where you earn most of your Titles, Icons, Battle and Player Points, is still unreliable when it comes to setting up matches. It’s still easier to play arcade mode and turn on the “Fight Request” option and wait for a link. Weird that this wasn’t addressed.
Above: Endless Battle keeps the winner up top, while losers return to the bottom of the list and watch the matches until their turn comes again
Even when you’re done fighting, addicts will have a hard time breaking away from the game thanks to the new Replay Channel, which hoards and filters the best online matches in easily searchable categories. You can upload your own fights (once certain requirements are met), save lists of your favorites and invite other players to watch replays with you, dissecting each match with detail. You can even turn on the player inputs and watch in slo-mo, if you’re that freakish.
This basically makes your PS3 or 360 a dedicated Street Fighter Channel. With a little luck, the need to watch grainy YouTube clips will fade and this will become the standard way to see the next amazing match. Granted you’ll have to own a copy, so maybe this won’t quite trump a website with a billion unique visitors.
Above: “We should probably add bonus stages back in!” “I guess?”
Time Trials and Survivor modes are gone. It’s possible you had your fill of both in SFIV, but then again, there are 10 new characters and maybe some of us are interested in playing some offline battles other than arcade mode. They were already in the first game, why not toss ‘em in again?
And uh, that’s kind of it. There’s barely anything to complain about at all. The fact I have to dig deep and whine about modes and optional bonus stages shows just how solid Super SFIV really is. And to really sweeten the deal, there’s a brand new (and free) tournament mode coming in June that’ll further push the online experience into a community-driven fever.