Street Fighter V — Issue 41

Don’t call it a come­back: SFV cleans up after launch

I’m going to be intense­ly per­son­al for a minute: My life by the time of my mid-30s was not fun. It was a time of change, reboots in near­ly every area (part­ner, career, school again), loss and learn­ing from the mis­takes of my 20s. I’m good now, but it wasn’t with­out strug­gle and pain.
And the old­est entry in the fight game can com­mis­er­ate with me because they know what that time is like. Street Fight­er V is sit­ting at the bar with me, drown­ing its sor­rows because it and the series, too, went through it in its mid-30s and like me is doing much bet­ter than one could expect after the struggle.
SFV didn’t start out as mag­i­cal as it has become. The launch was mired in prob­lems and things just weren’t where they should be. The game’s sto­ry mode didn’t launch along­side the actu­al game and the net­code was ter­ri­ble. But what a dif­fer­ence time makes. 

The sto­ry, while still not as engross­ing as past entries, has improved. It moves the SF world mythos along and makes sense if you know the series’ past. Tak­ing place between Ultra SFIV and SF3: 3rd Strike, Char­lie wakes up in a tomb and is guid­ed to steal an item from Guile, which would help him defeat M. Bison. Third Strike boss Gill dri­ves the plot over­all, tying up the loose ends between SFII and the endgame of 3rd Strike, which is the known end of the series sto­ry­line-wise. I love that Gill is tied into this as it always seemed like he was out of place as the end of SF lore. I nev­er ful­ly under­stood why he was the boss of that tril­o­gy of games except as some­thing new for Cap­com to try because every­one was sick of M. Bison by that point.

While I’m impressed with the sto­ry, I’m more impressed with the pre­sen­ta­tion. Much like its pre­de­ces­sors, SFV looks gor­geous. The back­grounds are beau­ti­ful as are most of the char­ac­ter designs. Even the menus look good. Some­times, when I start the game, I take a sec­ond just to mar­vel at the main menu and how the modes are pre­sent­ed. And let’s talk about the sound­track for a sec­ond. The music is all-around amaz­ing. Every time I get in-game, I dis­cov­er anoth­er track that I feel like I haven’t pre­vi­ous­ly heard, and I fall in love all over again. It’s so good that it’s worth track­ing down and adding to your music collection.

While I love the game, there is a big sec­tion I don’t care for: the play style. I’m an Alpha purist, specif­i­cal­ly SF Alpha 3. That’s my Street Fight­er style and has been for years. How­ev­er, SFV plays kind of stiff — a lot like SFIV — and that’s hard for me to grasp. It’s playable, obvi­ous­ly, but it’s not my style of Street Fight­er play. And that’s OK. It real­ly doesn’t detract from the game’s abil­i­ty to shine or be Street Fight­er, but it’s not my per­son­al pref­er­ence to play. It is a lot of fun to watch being played pro­fes­sion­al­ly, though.

Street Fight­er V has come a long way as the most cur­rent entry in the series. Game ele­ments have got­ten a lot of pol­ish, whether it’s fix­ing the net­code or expand­ing the ros­ter with old favorites and skins allud­ing to long-dor­mant char­ac­ters. It’s now the flag­ship game it should have been, and it’s still rul­ing the fight game roost while every­one waits for the announced Street Fight­er 6. 

Some­times, with the strug­gle comes the rewards and SFV has more than earned its life fight money.

Super Street Fighter II4Q2020 issue

Super fight­ing fun again

Though I play a lot of fight­ing game series, I keep com­ing back to Street Fight­er. I don’t know if it’s out of habit or because I’m com­fort­able with the series’ sys­tems, but I find myself inti­mate­ly famil­iar with the Cap­com cre­ation. It start­ed with Street Fight­er II for SNES, not the arcade. As the series moved along incre­men­tal­ly, so did I and I dis­cov­ered the upgrade. The home port of Super Street Fight­er II for SNES was one of the best and that acco­lade still stands after near­ly 30 years.

Though Cap­com still hadn’t learned to count to three and Super Street Fight­er II reeks of milk­ing the fran­chise for all it was worth, it’s tech­ni­cal­ly a good port. This is the best ver­sion of the arcade expe­ri­ence before Super Tur­bo, and the SNES, despite its prob­lems with cen­sor­ship, is the best ver­sion you’re going to get. Super is where you’re intro­duced to the four new chal­lengers, who add some inter­est­ing ele­ments. Each of their fight­ing styles are already rep­re­sent­ed in the game with oth­er stal­warts, but they’re fun to play, nevertheless.

The music has hit its peak here, too. It’s the same as the orig­i­nal Street Fight­er II and Hyper Fight­ing, but it’s Street Fight­er at peak Street Fight­er. That also applies to the con­trols. It’s the Street Fight­er that you know and love but cleaned up just a tad.

My main gripe with the game is the fact that it’s not Street Fight­er III, which it would have been if not for the insis­tence of Cap­com not count­ing ahead. Cap­com knew it had a win­ner on its hands but repeat­ed­ly milked the fran­chise until there was noth­ing else to wring from it. Super would absolute­ly have been great if not for the fact that Super Tur­bo came a year lat­er and there had already been two oth­er incre­men­tal iter­a­tions of the game pre­vi­ous­ly. That cheap­ens Super to a degree all around. How­ev­er, giv­en that Super Tur­bo did not come home from the arcades for the SNES, Super gets a boost in nos­tal­gic factor.

What you need to take away from SSFII is the refine­ment of the Street Fight­er II expe­ri­ence, and this is where it shines. Every­thing about Street Fight­er II was at peak con­di­tion and refined to a tee with this iter­a­tion. Yes, this is pre-Tur­bo super moves and spe­cials but in a way that makes it the last true unspoiled Street Fight­er II expe­ri­ence. It was so good that lat­er Street Fight­er games attempt to repli­cate this ver­sion with modes that play like Super with no super moves and most, if not all, of its mechan­ics. That’s how you know it’s a defin­ing moment in a series’ lifes­pan. It’s a super fight­ing game for a super sys­tem that still holds up.

Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition — 3Q2018 issue

Father of fight­ing games gets super upgrade

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.