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Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition hands-on

Let’s face facts: people just don’t seem to dig fighting games on portables. There are plenty of valid reasons for this – control issues, difficulty finding competition, etc. – but that hasn’t stopped developers from trying their damnedest to make a great portable fighting experience. The most prolific entrant in the field of portable pummeling is the Street Fighter series, which now comes to the table with Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, designed expressly with the 3DS audience in mind.

But let’s get one thing straight from the get-go: SSFIV 3D probably isn’t going to win many fans from the super-hardcore tournament player crowd. Many elements of the game have been retooled with the portability, 3D display and generally less-hardcore Nintendo audience in mind. For starters, SSFIV 3D offers two different vantage modes: the traditional 2D plane display, and a special three-quarters view that takes full advantage of the console’s 3D display. While this mode certainly looks cool and is fun to tackle the CPU in, devout fighting game fans will find that its alterations to things like character spacing will put them off their game.

In addition, SSFIV 3D also gives fighting noobs the option to execute certain high-powered, harder-to-execute skills like Ultra Combos by simply touching certain panels on the bottom screen. These features clearly aren’t meant for high-level Street Fighting practitioners – they’re for new, less experienced fighting fans.

But SSFIV 3D also has some creative functionality that makes use of some of the 3DS’s other unique design aspects. Wireless versus matches can be played locally or over a Wi-Fi connection, and players can spectate ongoing matches if they don’t feel like getting their chops busted. Players can also allow the game to be downloaded to a pal’s DS if they don’t have their own game card (though we don’t yet know how this will restrict its functionality). There’s also a “figure collection” mode that lets you exchange information with other SSFIV 3D players while the 3DS is in sleep mode, collecting player data and special 3D “figures” of SFIV characters you can play mini-games with.

As for the core game itself, it’s a very solid port. While the framerate and audio quality of the game take a noticeable hit, the overall pace of the fighting is spot-on, and the special moves are surprisingly easy to execute with the standard control options. Unfortunately, the two characters introduced in Super SFIV Arcade Edition, Yun and Yang, weren’t selectable in the build we played, leading us to believe that they probably won’t be putting in an appearance here. But considering how well the core game has made the transition to the 3D format – and how cleverly implemented much of the new functionality is – it’s not a huge sacrifice for what looks to be one of the most enjoyable portable fighting games yet.

Jan 11, 2011