The fight is everything.
If Street Fighter IV is an ice cream vendor selling me vanilla for $6 after I asked for cookies ‘n cream, then Super Street Fighter IV is the ice cream vendor selling me cookies ‘n cream for $4 right after I’ve just eaten the blasted vanilla. Sure, it was good vanilla ice cream; however, I would still turn to him and make him the focus of my squinty, suspicious glare. But no really, he says, I’ve just made a batch, the cookies are merely upgrades to the vanilla, and here, watch me sprinkle some special chocolate yum-yums all over the… Screw you, I say! Screw you and your stupid shenanigans! Now gimme the cookies ‘n cream!
[image1]Anger at Capcom is only fair at this point, and people can argue whether Super Street Fighter IV should have just been downloadable content. I hold the opinion that DLC can separate online communities between those who have it and those who don’t. Still, this title is definitely worth the reduced $40 price tag – the character rebalancing, the ten extra characters, the new Ultra combo, the improved multiplayer settings – so if you’re reading this article for a straight-on recommendation, then go ahead and add this to your collection or queue right now (and stop reading).
Compared to Street Fighter IV, Super is pretty much the same thing with much fancier ingredients, kookiness included. Experts who know how to “zone” will still be called “spammers” by those who have no idea what it means. E. Honda is still the only sumo wrestler who has six-pack abs. Ryu and Ken seem to be
embracing fighting in the menu background. Teenage girls still come up to Sagat’s waist. All of the fighters probably spend a load on airplane tickets just getting from fight to fight. Oh, and down, forward, down, forward, triple punch, ouchy, ouchy, ouchy.
Most of the additions, however, can be described as fixes, or more appropriately, features that the original should have had in the first place. Adding ten new characters is certainly a lot – Dudley, Makoto, and Ibuki from SFIII; Cody, Adon, and Guy from Alpha; T. Hawk and Dee Jay from SSFII; and two new characters, the red-skinned oil wrestler Hakan and the sadistic, “Sailor Moon villain” Tae Kwon Do practitioner Juri. Then again, the 25-man roster for the original had room to grow, so the new additions are satisfying but expected. (Yun, Yang, Evil Ryu, Elena, and Rolento are not there… possible DLC… just sayin’.)
The character rebalancing is also substantial for both casual fans and veterans. The A.I. for the final boss, Seth, has been broadened so that he actually matches the ‘Easiest’ difficulty setting instead of teleporting behind you and then throwing you every ten seconds. Of course, he’s also apparently harder on the ‘Hardest’ difficulty setting as well. But Street Fighter IV is supposed to welcome newcomers and this change does that, while making sure that Achievements/Trophies are awarded to those who play on Medium or higher.
[image2]Veterans will notice the subtle ‘nerfs’ and ‘buffs’ in the name of tier compression, or in layman terms, weakening the stronger characters like Ryu, Zangief, and Sagat while strengthening weaker characters like Dan, Rose, and Guile. (In fact, don’t be surprised if Guile becomes a new favorite due to the recent video of Street Fighter expert Daigo playing Guile with his shortened Sonic Boom charge.) In a nod to Street Fighter III, much of the rebalancing was done through the inclusion of an Ultra Combo II for all characters, giving low-tier characters a more powerful and useful option. (Abel’s Breathless is ridiculous.) Thankfully, none of these changes will change the tiers too much, though all match-ups should be tight enough that every character has a better fighting chance.
This bodes well for the vastly improved online modes, replete with online lobbies, Team Battles, Endless Battles (king of the hill style), and the ability to mute players if need be (thank you). The Replay Channel, dubbed “Street Fighter TV” by Capcom insiders, allows you not only to record your epic matches, but also to watch replays from a thick database, especially videos between high-ranking opponents for techniques and combos. You can even use slo-mo, view input data, and make a viewing party. And you’ll know which ones to watch because the best players will have near the highest Battle Points (and matching letter grade) for a specific fighter or the highest Player Points for an overall ranking.
The enhancements don’t stop there, either. Every character is unlocked from the beginning, so you don’t have to spend several days unlocking everyone. The nostalgic car and barrel smashing bonus stages have returned, though they’re too easy and not scaled to the difficulty setting. A handful of stages have been added, with props going to the African Solar Eclipse and Construction Site. You can unlock an option to listen to arranged music previously reserved for Rival Battles for all fights, and the intro song isn’t the irritating “Indestructible” Justin Timberlake crap from before (though SFIII: Third Strike‘s soundtrack is still superior). Even better, fighting feels slightly swifter, about one star or so if we’re going by traditional SF units.
Super fails to address several nagging omissions in the original title, and even includes some mishaps of its own. It’s understood that stories in Street Fighter are simple to the point of mental numbness, but the stories found here are generally trivial, generic, unmemorable, and poorly animated in the intro sequences – usually just still frames with a bunch of zooming in and out. Worse, the gallery for viewing intros and endings has bewilderingly disappeared. Losing a match in Arcade mode also still goes without a rematch function, so you have to spend about twenty seconds of unnecessary loading time each time you lose.
[image3]Trial mode has been streamlined and the input data shortcut makes it easier, but it would have been better if you could play a demonstration of the Trial combo string just to get the correct timing down (without using YouTube). For some reason, turning down the BGM to 0 still doesn’t shut the music completely off, and somehow the BGM also controls the volume of the voices in cut-scenes. Non-online system direction controls for damage ratio, speed ratio, guard damage, and super meter growth would have been good standard additions as well. Finally, unlocking all of the costume colors and taunts by selecting each character about eighteen times is just a chore.
It’s understandable if you think Capcom should’ve gotten the $60 Street Fighter IV right the first time, so we don’t have to pay another $40 for the Super version. The only thing you get for having SFIV data are brush-like graphical filters for each character, though Capcom has announced a free Tournament mode as DLC to release on June 15th, 2010. But it can also be argued that without the original Street Fighter IV, the Super version would never be, and with all the new additions, encouraging everyone to get the superior version in its entirety is better than splitting the fanbase with multiple DLC add-ons. It’s unfortunate that Street Fighter IV steals much of the would-be impact and innovation from Super Street Fighter IV, but when all is said and done, SSFIV is the best modern fighter in video games today.