4th May 2010 - A year after Capcom’s smash reboot of the Street Fighter franchise, Super Street Fighter IV is released on the 29th April on XBOX360 and Playstation 3. Building upon the success that was Street Fighter IV last year, Super Street Fighter IV follows in Capcom’s tradition of releasing small revamps, starting from the multiple iterations of Street Fighter II, then the Alpha series and finally with Street Fighter III. This time round Super Street Fighter IV adds ten new playable characters, two bonus stages, more stages and a revamped online multiplayer mode.
The core Street Fighter IV battle system is kept mostly intact with slight balance tweaks for the existing characters. The main addition is a second selectable Ultra for each character, similar to how Street Fighter III handled super arts. The addition of ten new characters creates new matchups to learn, different fighting styles to master and a better online experience. Interestingly, the Playstation 3 version this time around loads faster than the XBOX 360 version even without the optional hard drive install and with the install, loading between fights is brisk.
The single player experience has reworked introductory cut scenes and the car and barrel bonus stages from the good old Street Fighter II days have returned. New rivals for the original Street Fighter IV cast have been added and secret bosses remain when you complete the game fulfilling various conditions. The anime starting and ending screens aren’t that much better than the original Street Fighter IV ones but you probably will be skipping through them anyway. With a large and varied roster, each character is unique with their fighting style and nothing feels cloned or similar when compared to another character. The two new characters to the franchise are Juri, a South Korean Taekwondo fighter and Hakan, a Turkish Oil Wrestler. Some may dismiss Hakan as a joke character (especially after seeing his ultras) but with the addition of damage buff moves in Super Street Fighter IV, Hakan’s “oiling” up move increases his threat greatly. Juri’s gameplay relies heavily on her kick based moves with some great combo damage capability but is a bit fragile so is a bit of a glass cannon. From the Street Fighter III series Makoto, Dudley and Ibuki have been added and play similarly to their SF3 versions though tweaked to fit into the whole Street Fighter IV way of semi “back to basics” system. From Street Fighter Alpha series Adon, Cody and Guy have been added and those familiar with them from previous games should be at home with their SF4 incarnations. If anything their links and combos are slightly series to execute so fans should be happy.
Trial mode has been reworked with all trials automatically accessible and you no longer need to do a pre-requisite challenge before you can continue with the harder ones. Time attack and survival mode have been removed and the training mode is the same as before.
The multiplayer options have been improved, player matches has been dropped and a new mode called Endless Battle adds the same functionality of player matches and then some. Players can now create lobbies for up to 8 people with a round robin order of playing with the winner staying on, just like being at the arcade. In fact, when paired up with the single player arcade request mode (where you can be interrupted by online challengers) you can really simulate being at the arcades and with the new region filter, you can be sure only fellow Australians (which is more likely to give you a reasonable online experience) interrupt you. A neat feature for the Playstation 3 version is that you are able to invite everyone inside a chat room you belong in to your session, making inviting all your friends much easier and chat rooms much more useful. Writing messages whilst in game though is a very laggy and slow experience, especially when the action is going. The best thing is that while you are waiting in line you can watch other people play in a fairly lag free environment. New options available are Team Battles where you can fight 2 on 2, 3 on 3 or 4 on 4. The host can assign who gets put on what teams and order of play gets automatically assigned then players can confirm.
Currently missing is the tournament feature but Capcom has promised that will be released in June but ranked battles is still available with a new twist. Ranking Battles award both Player Points and Battle Points. Player points are an overall indication of your ranking whilst battle points are specific to the character you are playing. So those who switch mains or experiment online no longer have to worry about being penalized by trying something new since battle points are character specific though player points will get deducted and given out when you lose. The upload feature from Street Fighter IV is still present, beating people in a higher class than you (represented by letter categories) will start unlocking the replay feature.
The replay channel is improved this time round, more categories is available to find matches involving specific characters or you can even create your own search criteria. Playback of replays is similar to the original Street Fighter IV functionality but you no longer “rate” videos like in the Playstation 3 version of SF4 but you can see the attack data and input data just like in training mode, enabling you to see how they execute all the combos you are watching online.
Super Street Fighter IV looks very similar to the original version though the new background stages definitely have received more eye candy. The African equinox stage definitely looks very pretty and there are much more background objects to break, smash and destroy. All the new characters remain faithful to their original incarnations, Hakan’s characterization is a little bit clichéd, especially with the handlebar moustache but his ultra scenes are funny to watch the first few times. Character animations as usual look very smooth and the new ultra cut scenes look decent, though some received more elaborate and more exciting ultras than others.
All the menu screens got a visual facelift and the HUD also received some minor tweaks, with the ultra bars now showing what your ultra is called when you execute them. The introductory cut scenes also got revamp but the opening and ending movies for each character’s stories are just still anime pictures with voice over’s disappointingly though being a fighting game, you aren’t expecting that much in terms of characterization or plot were you? Overall, Super Street Fighter IV looks great, the frame rate is rock solid (as it needs to be) and navigating between menus and loading times are all snappy and fuss free.
Characters seem to shout battle quips at the beginning of the fight and during rival battles, they seem to have a variety of taunts and exchange comments more often which is great. Capcom added the functionality to change the background music to an Arrange mode, meaning that you can hear the character specific background music (reserved for Rival battles in normal SF4) during normal rounds, which not only sounds great, but adds more musical variety, especially since the existing stages didn’t get new musical tracks.
Voice acting is ok though not fantastic and some characters have better English voices than their Japanese counter parts. A good feature carrying over from vanilla SF4 is the ability to select between Japanese and English character voices on a per character basis and some well known anime voice actors were recruited for the Japanese voices. For those with a 5.1 setup you can really hear the difference, with character voices coming from specific sides based on their screen position and the bass really kicks in during special/ultra finishes.
Super Street Fighter IV is the definitive Street Fighter experience right now (until Capcom decide they want to make Super Street Fighter IV Turbo that is!) and priced at $79.95 (and more often at $69), is roughly half to ¾ the original price of Street Fighter IV with much more content. Super Street Fighter IV is definitely an incremental upgrade and depending on how much you enjoyed the original version, it may be difficult to justify buying what is essentially nearly a full priced expansion pack. The improved online play, expansion of character roster and all characters unlocked from the get go are welcome improvements. This is the version to buy if you did not buy Street Fighter IV last year and a definite buy if you have picked up the resurging Street Fighter competition bug or loved the original. With more focus on DLC for this iteration, expect more costume packs to purchase and the possibility of new characters through DLC.
This is a definite must buy for any fan of the Street Fighter series and if you bought an arcade stick last year, you should definitely add this to your collection. With the resurgence of competitive Street Fighter play in Australia and a much improved online mode, Super Street Fighter IV keeps things fresh with more characters to learn and play with. This is an easy game to pick up but offers a lot of depth to master and playing with others is enjoyable and facilitated well with its various online options. The Playstation 3 has a slight edge over the XBOX 360 version in terms of loading times but both options have smooth frame rates. Judging on Street Fighter IV, the Australian Xbox live community is bigger in number with smoother online experience compared to the Playstation 3 PSN community, with some lag overhead being added to online matches unfortunately. On the plus side for the PS3, tournament level arcade sticks are much easier to get hold of compared to Xbox 360 sticks.
AAG SCORE: 9.0/10
+ 35 playable characters unlocked from the start
+ Improved online multiplayer gameplay modes, player lobbies.
+ Character rebalancing making lesser used SF4 characters more competitive
- Makes Street Fighter IV redundant, online players must buy the new game to upgrade
- In game messaging is slow and difficult to type while watching online fights.
- Expensive expansion of the original game.
Reviewed and Written By Danny Yee