Saving Street Fighter: Yoshi Ono on Building Street Fighter IV
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  Saving Street Fighter: Yoshi Ono on Building Street Fighter IV
by Brandon Sheffield
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September 26, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

A thing that I found to be a problem with people trying to make 2D fighting games in 3D in the past is that there's too much focus on finishing animation -- like, making sure that the entire punch goes all the way through and comes back, instead of just snapping back so that it's more functional than visual. Where was the balance for you?

YO: That's a really good question. Like you said, we couldn't possibly do it the way we did it in Street Fighter III. What happened with Street Fighter IV was at the beginning, the way that characters get punched or kicked or the return motion of their fist or foot... we left that at 60 frames, moving really smoothly, and left all of the animation in there.


So a fist would go forward in five frames, then return in five frames. Even though the timing was the same as the ordinary 2D Street Fighter, it looked really weird, and it kind of gave the visual impression that it was moving too slowly or too smooth.

So basically, the adjustment that we've made is that when you first throw a punch, you have that 60 frames per second polygon smoothness, but when it pulls back, we've deliberately skipping large amounts of frames, as opposed to a smooth movement. .

I think one of the first games that actually did it somewhat effectively and made it feel like a 2D game was Arc System Works' Battle Fantasia, even though it's a very recent game. Have you played that one?

YO: Yeah, I'm actually very familiar with it. I even went to the location tests of that game, back when it was very early in development.

What do you think?

YO: The cool thing about Battle Fantasia is because the characters are done in a super-deformed art style, it doesn't feel weird that the animation works the way that it does. It works really well, and looks really good with that art style.

Our fear was that with Street Fighter IV, because our characters are taller and more human-proportioned that it might look funky, with frame skipping, and a look that's more choppy.

What we learned through development was that no, it's not going to look weird. It's actually going to feel really good. Battle Fantasia was part of what made us realize that, I think.

I really like the El Fuerte character. Although he's actually a wrestling character, the way that he moves around the screen and the arc of his jumps and stuff really reminds me of Kyo's fighting style [from SNK's King Of Fighters series], which is somewhat counter to the Shotokan [i.e. Ken and Ryu in Capcom's Street Fighter series]. Was that anywhere in your design decision for him? It feels like the arc to some of his specials is just perfect to get over the attacks of the Shotos, and over fireballs or middle kicks at the peak.

YO: The fact that you even noticed that in playing it for such a short time is really impressive. I guess you're really a fighting player. I didn't expect questions like this until much later after the game came out.

But the fact that we'd done it at 16:9 this time made it so that we had to adjust the jump arcs even moreso than you would normally have to. It would be troublesome if all the jumps were too strong.

Characters that are specifically suited for jumping -- El Fuerte, and Crimson Viper is kind of a jump-centered character -- we really spent a lot of time adjusting their arcs to decide, "Should they be able to jump over Sonic Booms? Should they be able to jump over a Hadoken? What angle do you need to launch them at in order for that to happen?" So yeah, thanks for noticing that. Some characters are very specifically designed to counter those kind of projectile attacks.

That's one of the reasons why I really liked the Capcom vs. SNK series, because you actually have those Kyo- and SNK-style characters versus the Shotokan characters, and you can actually compare them. I'm glad that it's happening again within a Capcom game.

YO: You're making me really happy, because even at all the other interviews I've done at GDC and other events, no one's actually gotten that deep into the fighting game essence. I'm happy to hear you mentioning stuff like this.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

Hélder Gomes Filho
26 Sep 2008 at 9:37 am PST
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Good article!

It remembers me that when appeared Street Fighter II and MK I tought it to be great, and I played those games, I knew how to do the most simple (but exploitable moves), but when expert players started to show up, I got: Oh man, I have no idea how to play this thing, I will not play anymore.

And in fact I stopped playing those games, with the notable exception of Virtua Fighter series (simple and lovely gameplay!) and Soul Calibur 3 (that people that live with me has, and I play sometimes, it is a good game, simple and not overly complex, altough I avoid playing it when expert players are around...)

Even the MK series got harder and harder to play, in fact I could not ever beat the second character on easy mode on MK2 unless using spammer characters...

The Shaolin Monks MK game, altough it does not look like MK, it was one of the few games from the series that got my attention again.

I hope that it works with Street Fighter IV! A game where I can play, and not get easily beaten by the pros :P (not that I do not get beaten, but do not happen like when I tried to play Guilty Gear with a friend of mine, and he launched me on air and I only landed after being dead...)

27 Sep 2008 at 3:16 am PST
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He seems like a smart guy and I expect Street Fighter 4 to be the way he wants it to be gameplay-wise. But I strongly disagree with his comment on the animations of Street Fighter 3 feeling weird and the animations of 4 being better.

I think Street Fighter 4 has a big problem when it comes to animations and it's not only the way the transitions are done. Animations don't match with flying arcs especially when hit. And even pre-packaged ones like Abel's big throw look extremely stiff and wrong.

I will still buy the game and it could end up being the best 2D fighter yet but the animations already bug me.

Jordan Carr
27 Sep 2008 at 8:37 am PST
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Hélder Gomes Filho, You can't make it past the second fight in MKII without cheap-move spamming?

Then it sounds like you should play an RPG or something that does not require reflexes, timing, or skill.

I mean seriously, my sister beat MKII back during out boring childhood summers. For fun.

Rosso Mak
27 Sep 2008 at 9:39 am PST
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Don't mind Jordan.He is just telling U that he is not that into fighting games but loves to give comment on something.

I would like say something on the 'SF3 is ahead of its time' comment Ono said in the interview.

I think if 'SF3 is ahead of its time' , then the right time would never come. The problem SF3 had was the plan they use on balancing the game was not that right. The fault was not the parrying system;it is the push this parrying too hard in the first installment. I think it should make it nearly useless at first and push EX special move instead of parrying in the first SF3.EX special move give a easy solution to every character to deal with some problem beginners often face but not easy to solve. Just let parrying be there and leave it alone at first, and put more importance on this after people feel familiar with its existence and basic usage like deflecting projectiles. The lukewarm result SF3 series got also was also caused by many balancing fault in the first installment of SF3.

On SF4, I don't agree that the approach currently used in the game can bring forth a chance for the beginners. Look at the gauges! Life bar, super and Ultra. Hardcore love the maths behind these but beginners killed by these without knowing what happened. This turn-off a lot of amateur.

Finn Haverkamp
27 Sep 2008 at 10:44 am PST
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Great interview. And answers. Fighting games require extremely intricate design and fine-tuning. I imagine designing them is quite the challenge.

60 Hertz
29 Sep 2008 at 7:57 pm PST
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El Fuerte reminds me of El Blaze - anyhoo great interview!

29 Sep 2008 at 8:05 pm PST
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Good stuff! Waiting for a KOF12 interview now! Hop to it!

i play winner
29 Sep 2008 at 8:24 pm PST
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There is more going on screen with Halo, Final Fantasy and these other "casual" games than Street Fighter IV. The life gauges, Ultras and whatever is not what is going to prove to be a hurdle for casuals; once again it is the gameplay system that will be the real barrier. People keep saying that this is a "rewind to Street Fighter II" but its really only SF2 on the surface.

Ive had 2 months to play this game heavily in the arcade, and I was able to attend some location tests (if thats what you want to call them, GDC and Evolution) here in the states over the past year. So, I have had some time with SFIV and I'll say the gameplay system is much more complicated in IV than it is in SF3: 3s. This is the biggest misconception about SFIV, that it is some sort of dumbed down street fighter for the masses. You all are in for a big surprise.

Look, with parries it was just a tap forward or down. With Street Fighter 4 so much goes into the Focus Attack system most people wont even really know where to begin. To do the most damaging combos you have to utilize then Focus Attack Dash Cancel and I'll say its much more difficult to do something like that compared to a parry into super or something.

With that being said this is a real good interview, I really enjoyed it!


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