Super Street Fighter IV

  • by Heidi Kemps
  • April 26, 2010 09:56 AM PST

A stellar upgrade to an already solid fighter, Super Street Fighter IV makes a great brawler even better, boasting 10 new characters, various balancing tweaks, and plenty of worthwhile gameplay flourishes.

Fighting game fans have long been used to the necessary evil of the upgrade. A game comes out, people find a multitude of exploits and bugs, and designers step in to release a new version that adds fixes while also throwing in a few extra characters or modes to sweeten the deal. Back in the old days of cartridges, these minor upgrades could run $70 or more. The Super NES alone had three different versions of Street Fighter II, for example, forcing gamers to spend extra money in order to get the latest version.

It's a much harder sell these days, but when it comes to fighting games, there is still room for improvement. Take Street Fighter IV, for instance: while it was a terrific addition to the franchise, it was apparent that the balance was a little off. Certain characters were overpowered, leading to lopsided matchups, and many of the "console exclusive" characters like Rose and Gen were weak compared to their peers. As any fighting-game fan will tell you, nothing sucks more than investing time in a character only to realize that their chances of surviving heavy competition are slim. Fortunately, Super Street Fighter IV proves that you can upgrade a product and still justify the price tag. While many gamers will scoff at paying another $40 for an update, it's a terrific value for what you get: serious rebalancing, 10 new characters, new online play modes, and lots of little touch-ups and flourishes.

Super Street Fighter IV

DeeJay smothers Rufus with an EX attack, which is an alternate version of a standard special move.

It's fair to point out that eight of the new combatants aren't actually "new," as most gamers will remember them from previous Street Fighter titles. However, their presence on the roster is still much appreciated. Grappler T. Hawk and speedy Rastafarian DeeJay complete the New Challengers from Super Street Fighter II, while Muay Thai master Adon, convict Cody, and urban ninja Guy bolster the presence of the SF Alpha cast. The elegant boxer Dudley, tomboy martial master Makoto, and schoolgirl shinobi Ibuki also drop in from fan-favorite SFIII: Third Strike. Finally, two all-new members join the cast: tricky, psychotic Juri and the delightfully bizarre grappler Hakan. Despite some similarities between some of the characters, every fighter still manages to be unique: Balrog, for example, plays very differently from fellow boxer Dudley. The two new additions, Juri and Hakan, are especially interesting in this regard: Juri employs tricky mind games that can be used to keep to keep the opponent guessing her next move, while Hakan is not what you would typically expect out of a grappler character. He's fairly speedy with the ability to "oil up" and significantly expand the reach of his damaging throws. They both add something unique and fun to the SF paradigm, making them wonderful additions to the cast.

The retooled gameplay modes are also satisfying, with the standard one-player arcade mode receiving new story scenes for the characters as well as the inclusion of old-school bonus stages. New challenge mode goals are also available for learning combos and other advanced techniques, and the training mode remains very robust. Online play has also been expanded with two new modes: the arcade-style "Infinite Battle" mode (where one player fights everyone in a group until someone beats him and takes his place) and the "Team Battle" tournament setup (where players can form teams of up to four members each and fight each other round robin-style).

Super Street Fighter IV

Ibuki's super combo consists of a deadly barrage of kunai, a ninja weapon; the only defensive option Guy has at his disposal is a well-timed block.

Perhaps most exciting to devout fighting-game fans is the "Replay Channel," where players can upload, download, share replays of their matches recorded online, and view highly detailed statistics like player controller input data to studiously analyze their bouts. A glaring oversight, however, is the inability to record replays of local versus matches, which means you won't be able to save all those awesome bouts you had at the local SSFIV tournament.

But those tournaments, as well as matches in general, are going to play out much differently thanks to some of the rebalancing Capcom did for this update. Notorious powerhouses like Sagat have lost certain skill properties or been tweaked to deal less damage, while formerly lower-tiered cast members have had their capabilities buffed a few notches. While very few members of the old SFIV cast have all-new regular or special moves, they all get an added dash of variety by means of one additional Ultra Combo to choose from before a match starts, some of which are incredibly cool and painful to watch.

Super Street Fighter IV

Newcomer Hakan douses himself in oil to gain an upperhand; we don't know if the oil is scented or not.

Super Street Fighter IV is just more of a good thing and fans of the original have plenty of reasons to invest in it. But seasoned players who didn't care for the original SFIV won't have any reason to like the update because, despite the improvements and additions, the fundamental gameplay hasn't changed; it might have familiar faces from Alpha and Third Strike, but the presence of those characters won't magically transform Street Fighter IV into a different game. So it boils down to this: if you loved Street Fighter IV, Super is an absolute must-buy; if you didn't, you can save your money for something else. And of course, if you didn't buy SFIV the first time around, consider this $40 package the "definitive" version of the title.

PROS: New characters add significantly to the game; balance tweaks and more online options make competitive play more worthwhile; the replay system is incredibly robust.
CONS: The inability to record local match replays is disappointing, as is the lack of the catchy "Indestructible" theme from the original SFIV.

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Zerochan

This was originally a print review, so I had to leave a few things off due to space restraints. But if you want to know in more technical detail why I was reluctant to give it a 5/5, my friend David Cabrera addresses some of SSFIV's lingering issues: http://subatomicbrainfreeze.typepad.com/subatomic_brainfreeze/2010/04/super-street-fighter-iv-complaint-post.html

I agree wholeheartedly with all of his points.

S4NDM4N_v2

Ya I was reading about the balance tweaks. I might have to pick this up

Hakan looks hilarious

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