Game: Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
Developers: Dimps, Capcom
Available on: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Street Fighter IV has been wildly successful, reigniting in many fans a dormant love for the one-on-one fighter, reinvigorating the franchise and creating a vibrant online community for like-minded battlers. Naturally, as is de-rigueur for Capcom and their fighters, it received a pseudo-sequel which added a load of new characters, four new stage backdrops, and, in the case of the home versions, improved ways of playing online.
That was Super Street Fighter IV, a game that was rightly lauded upon release in 2010. The new characters were varied, well designed and fun, and old faces such as Cody and Dudley returned to the fray in SFIV form. Also, the rest of the characters in the line-up were given tweaks to balance things out more appropriately. A lot of mechanical edits were made, meaning that in some cases it was easier to chain attacks together than before, and an option was included to enable players to choose between different Ultra finishing moves prior to each bout. These included the odds-evening “revenge” moves that allowed more or less every one of the combatants to have a reasonable chance mounting a comeback during a fight.
Super Street Fighter IV took an already excellent product and improved on it in almost every way imaginable. It was loved by the core audiences in the arcades and online lobbies, yet also managed to be both accessible and good value for money, even if you owned the original game. Yet despite this seemingly comprehensive update, Capcom saw fit to produce yet another instalment, making further alterations and adding four new characters to the arcade version of Super Street Fighter IV over time, before announcing a summer 2011 home console and PC release for Super Street Fighter IV – Arcade Edition.
Available either as downloadable content for owners of the original Super Street Fighter IV, or a stand alone product for those that do not, Arcade Edition is here. And Capcom have made it clear that this is it as far as Street Fighter IV is concerned: this will be the final update and the last title in the series. But is it worth purchasing at all? That would probably depend on just how much of a fan you are of the preceding games, and whether the changes that have been made are going to affect your gaming experience.
The most obvious change is the addition of four new characters, one of whom has not appeared in playable form previously in the series. The first of these is Evil Ryu, an alternative version of the series’ hero who has been altered by the same “surge of murderous intent” that gives his nemesis Akuma the hump. Far more than just a palette swap, Evil Ryu plays like a mashup of Akuma and ordinary Ryu. He is equipped with high powered attacks, including a brutal new special move: a wheel kick that does some serious overhead damage in EX-mode. Joining him is Oni, who looks like an even nastier, more demonic version of Akuma, who has a bunch of tasty new moves. As well as powerful variations on the trusty Hadouken fireball and teleportation, blood-thirsty Oni can also air-dash (a first for the series), access a dropping splash move and an excellent lunging punch. He is also able to carry out one of his Raging Demon Super combos whilst in the air.
Joining these two spiteful bastards are Yun and Yang, kung-fu twins who return from the Street Fighter III universe. Both can be utterly devastating in the right hands, with super-quick movesets that include a diving kick attack shared by both siblings. Yang can teleport and has a move that allows him to roll through fireballs, whilst Yun has a blinding double kick to deter aerial attackers. Yun also boasts some very nice combo potential, particularly his cracking Genai Super move, which creates a trail of shadow-Yuns that follow him and duplicate his attacks, allowing some grand but annoying juggling!
As well as the four new additions, Capcom have made a number of changes to the existing characters to help balance things out and in some cases, improve the control method. M.Bison’s Psycho Punisher Ultra move, for example, is now triggered using a more familiar charge motion, more in keeping with his existing repertoire. Only the most die-hard fans will notice a lot of the changes that are afoot, but there are certainly no complaints from this reviewer, having spent a good few hours working through the 39 fighters in attendance.
Online play is a much improved by a Replay Channel, which includes the Elite Channel, a satisfying and educational tool that allows players to watch the very latest replays between the best players on the internet. Watching two masters at work has always been a thrilling experience with any one-on-one fighter, and now you don’t have to go all the way to YouTube to see a hard-core throwdown. You can subscribe to the replay videos of up to five other players, and you are also able to select replays and watch them with your own online friends.
And that, kids, is about it. What changes have been made are good ones: new characters always freshen things up, the replay modes are great and there are some logical alterations to the existing roster. With this is mind, at 1200 Microsoft points for owners of the original game, the additions represent something of a bargain. Somewhat disappointing, however, is the lack of any Trial missions for the new characters, the lack of any new character costumes, stages or fruity banter at the celebrated “Fight Your Rival!” interludes.
VERDICT: As DLC goes, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition is a great package. As a standalone game, you are advised to proceed with caution, as even if you do not own the original it is likely going to be cheaper to grab that first and then purchase the add-ons after the event.
Capcom have added more depth and produced arguably the definitive version of their excellent Street Fighter IV universe. Old hands will relish investigating the myriad minor changes and nuances on offer, as well as developing their skills with the new bods, one of whom we feel is going to be particularly popular with high ranking players. Newbies to the game: fill your boots. This is easily the best one-on-one fighter available this generation. It will be intriguing to see what Capcom come up with next in this invigorated genre.