Gone are the days of roaming a local arcade to play the throng of would-be challengers and pretenders to the throne of the best local fighting game champion. In its place are home consoles designed to push the power of the arcade. Fighting game franchises have had to keep up or suffer irrelevancy or, worse yet, extinction. The earliest king of the genre, Street Fighter, has had a challenge of sorts: continue forward or go the way of its ride-a-longs of the ’90s. Super Street Fighter IV attempts to continue the tradition with mostly success.
Super SFIV, at its core, is a fighting fan’s dream. A robust engine with plenty of options for either the novice or the advanced, SSFIV makes playing a fighting game easy. Even if you haven’t played since the heyday of SFII, there’s a lot of compelling content here to draw you in and get you started in the world of competitive digital fighting. Various modes are here, ready for a deep dive, and there are more than enough new characters and old stalwarts to make fighting interesting. The general rule of thumb is, if the character was in SFII and its derivatives, SFIII or SF Alpha, there’s a good chance they are available for play in SSFIV.
Fight locales associated with many of the characters are available with a great soundtrack accompanying them. SSFIV does an exceptional job of reminding more experienced fighting enthusiasts of the Street Fighter origins and piquing the curiosity of newer fight fans. The controls also hearken to the old days, so much so that it’s easy to pick up and play and learn about the different systems afforded to each character. Most new characters will play like an older character on the roster so it’s easy to learn the nuance of fighting with a newcomer if you’re experienced with previous SF games. If you aren’t experienced, there’s a great tutorial mode that runs through combo and movesets of each character to teach the basics. That varied level of depth goes a long way toward replay value.
My one gripe out of all the loveliness that is the mixed nostalgia fest of SSFIV is that it’s Capcom being Capcom as usual. For the uninitiated, Capcom gained a reputation in the ’90s for having a solid franchise in Street Fighter II but not being able to count to three. The constant upgrading and reissuing of SFII got old quickly. And, quite frankly, Capcom hasn’t learned its lesson because Street Fighter IV should not have multiple retail versions of its upgrades. Arcade Edition should have been an update that could be bought digitally and downloaded to patch the game up to whatever version Capcom wanted consumers to have. Even when the original version was released, the capability was there. This just screams of cash grab and Capcom being ignorant of tiresome tactics wearing on the fan base. The fact that Ultra Street Fighter IV — one more version beyond this one — exists is proof positive of this.
Other than the fiasco of multiple versions, Capcom has a solid winner on its hands with the fourth entry in the long-running series even as it fades into the background in favor of SFV. If SFV is not your cup of tea, but you want to stay current with the world of Street Fighter, SFIV is a good balance and at the right price now to delve into the world of Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li.