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Super Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360) artwork

Super Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360) review

"The original Street Fighter IV was already a great fighting game. Featuring 25 different characters, including fan favourites like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li, it brought the Street Fighter series to the modern day with luscious 3D environments (despite the game still being played on a 2D plane) and tweaks to the fighting system. Though it was simple enough for a beginner to jump into and enjoy – special moves, as always, were generally easy to perform from Ryu’s trademark Hadouken fireb..."

The original Street Fighter IV was already a great fighting game. Featuring 25 different characters, including fan favourites like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li, it brought the Street Fighter series to the modern day with luscious 3D environments (despite the game still being played on a 2D plane) and tweaks to the fighting system. Though it was simple enough for a beginner to jump into and enjoy – special moves, as always, were generally easy to perform from Ryu’s trademark Hadouken fireball to E. Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap – there was still plenty for more advanced players to master.

For starters, each character played radically differently, even Akuma and Gouken who both had similar fighting styles to Ryu and Ken. They all had their strengths and weaknesses, and learning what they were and efficiently using that knowledge in battle took some time. Some were faster than others; some were more suited to aggressive play; some had useful “pokes”, quick normal attacks that could help with spacing or deal unexpected damage; and some had great “rushdown” or “zoning” tools that could keep pressure on or safely distance themselves from the opponent respectively. This was just scratching the surface, because everyone had their own quirks. Akuma may have had a lot of tricks at his disposal, but his low vitality made combos against him particularly hurtful. Guile had strong normal attacks but only two special moves, one of which – his Flash Kick – having a painfully long recovery time that could be punished easily if blocked. The variety in the 25 characters was such that each match-up was different from the next, and this lent itself towards making Street Fighter IV a compelling game.

That wasn’t all. Focus attacks could soak up attacks and temporarily immobilise your opponent, but most likely only veterans would use its “dash cancel” property to significantly shorten another move’s recovery time, maybe to continue an ongoing combo. Super and Ultra Combos, if you were good enough, could be linked to regular combos, dealing major damage to your opponent with no chance for them to block. Often, matches turned into intense mind games. EX moves, more powerful variants of special moves, were a great way to mix up your game and stop being too predictable; some even gave opportunities to juggle your opponent with enough practice. But practising is one thing; actually applying your attacks and tactics at the right time is another. You only had to go online to see the massive gulf in skill. This was another of its great appeals: you could always improve.

Capcom also took large strives to improve, because Super Street Fighter IV is indisputably the version to get, available at a reduced price. They made enough major changes that it now renders last year’s title completely redundant.

The inclusion of ten new warriors is the most noteworthy difference, bringing the number of featured characters up to an extremely impressive 35. Two are completely new to the Street Fighter series. Juri is a seductive South Korean kick-master. She can put pressure on her opponent with her fast dash, handy normal attacks, and her kick-centric special moves. Hakan is a grappler from Turkey who excels at close range, much like Zangief. More agile than his Russian counterpart, he can pour oil over himself to slide further along the ground. His EX Oil Slide move goes through projectiles, a nice way to close in on a fireball-happy nemesis. The other eight are returning characters. The additions of Jamaican musician Dee Jay and Native American T. Hawk ensure that everyone from Super Street Fighter II is now playable in Super Street Fighter IV, while the Alpha series brings over Adon, Cody, and Guy. From Street Fighter III, there’s Dudley, Ibuki, and Makoto.

The best part about this fuller cast, though, is that no one feels overpowered, partly because Capcom focused a lot of their energy in rebalancing the existing characters. Sagat, widely seen as one of the strongest before, has received some nerfs. For example, his Tiger Knee move now does less damage and takes longer to recover from. On the other hand, weaker characters like Guile and Rose have had small buffs; Guile’s Sonic Booms now take slightly less time to charge, which allows him to more ably compete in fireball wars, while Rose can follow up Soul Reflect by catching the airborne opponent with Soul Throw. These may all seem like insignificant tweaks, and they probably are for the casual player, but I’ve been playing at an intermediate level for a while now, and I’ve noticed previously poor match-ups to be more manageable. It’s not perfect; the likes of Dan and Fei Long could have done with some more upgrades, but it’s still the most balanced fighting game I’ve ever played.

Another change is that each character now has two Ultra Combos instead of one; the original fighters retain their Street Fighter IV Ultra, while having a new second one. However, only one Ultra can be chosen to be used at the character select screen, and because the two are usually notably different, a little thought must go into which Ultra complements your fighting style more. A few are particularly interesting. Hakan’s second Ultra sees him lie on his back. If his opponent was in the middle of a jump and lands on the red-skinned warrior, Hakan will grab onto them and perform a highly damaging combo. It is an intriguing anti-air counter that could backfire if timed incorrectly. Cammy and Fei Long have similarly passive second Ultras but rely on the opponent performing an attack on them instead. Juri’s first Ultra, Feng Shui Engine, also stands out and can be deadly in the right hands. For a period of time, it lets her chain combos that would otherwise be impossible.

More significantly, the online component has been overhauled. Before, you could only jump into a Ranked or Player Match. In Super Street Fighter IV, there are three different online modes. There’s Endless Battle, where up to eight players can lobby together. Two players enter a fight, the rest watch, and the winner stays on. There’s Team Battle, once again involving up to eight players, but who are this time split into two teams. After each match, the player that wins faces the next player in the opposing team until one team is wiped out. And then, you have your typical Ranked Match, where you are matched up with someone at your approximate skill level as you battle for ranking points and climb the leaderboards. Both Endless Battle and Team Battle are unranked, and are great for trying out new things against other competent human players, while Ranked is best for sharpening up your game.

In Street Fighter IV, a lot of online players were content on sticking with Ryu, Ken, or Akuma, and it became pretty tiresome. However, this time around, there seems to be much more variety, even in Ranked encounters. Ryu and Ken are still the most popular, but I’ve come across each character at least once online, even including a couple of Crimson Vipers and Gens. Perhaps it’s because there are two separate ranking systems, “Battle Points” (an indication of how good you are with a particular character) and “Player Points” (an indication of how good you are overall). Or, maybe it’s because there’s an Xbox 360 achievement encouraging experimentation with new fighters called “From C to Shining C”, which requires you to rank up all characters online to C Rank. Either way, it certainly makes playing online a more enjoyable experience, and it helps that the matchmaking has been improved; it’s now easier to find a match.

Super Street Fighter IV gives even more. There’s the neat option to save replays of your past online matches, so you can review where you went wrong after defeats. There are a handful of new stages, including one in the safari overlooked by a beautiful solar eclipse, bringing the total up to 19. And there’s a revamped Trial mode, where you have to complete a series of 24 moves and combos for each character. The Trials do a nice job in showing a character’s potential, but they only show what buttons need to be pressed. Given that a lot of the harder combos require exact timing and/or advanced techniques that newer players probably haven’t grasped yet (like the focus attack dash cancel), the instructions could’ve been more informative. The game also unlocks two extra colours for each character if you have a Street Fighter IV save file stored, but these are a bit of a disappointment as they don’t look that great.

Regardless, if you loved playing the original, especially online, you should seriously consider Super Street Fighter IV. Yes, it’s based on a game that only came out a little more than a year ago, but improvements in every key department make this iteration the only one that matters. I’ve clocked up way more time on Super Street Fighter IV than I ever did on the vanilla version, and I’m still playing it. It’s that much better.

Rating: 9/10

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Featured community review by Ben (June 12, 2010)

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EmP posted June 13, 2010:

This is a fantastically through review. It makes me wonder just how much time you've sunk into both games. My money is on lots!

Nice to see useless, useless T. Hawk get another shot at relevance. £5 says he blows it.
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Ben posted June 13, 2010:

Thanks! I have a few friends who are also into Street Fighter, so there's a rivalry going on between us, and that inspires me to get better. Super Street Fighter IV is definitely the game I've played most this year, more than Final Fantasy XIII, so I've been very into it. Nostalgia makes the Street Fighter II stuff still my favourite in the series, though.

T. Hawk was bad in Super II, but believe it or not, he's actually competent in Super IV! That definitely surprised me.
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aschultz posted June 15, 2010:

(rotw notes:)

This is definitely one of the better reviews I've read from you, possibly the best, and if you use words like "utilising" (USING!! Sorry, a pet peeve) and maybe focusing on the arithmetic too much.

The inclusion of ten new warriors is the most noteworthy difference, bringing the number of characters up to an extremely impressive 35. Two of the ten are completely new to the Street Fighter series.

"SSF4 pulls all SF4's characters, adds two new to the SF series, and brings back eight stragglers from SF2 and 3 that didn't make it into 4. Impressively, this fuller cast is better balanced than SF4." (X is nerfed, etc.) Maybe the description of the trials is too tangled, too. And saying "It's a bummer that it's the same game at the core..." when you've shown 1) it added a lot and 2) you liked SF4, seems counterproductive at the end. Don't apologize for what's not there. The only bummer seems to be wondering how you wasted time with SF4.

Still, the major positive is that I've read other reviews that veer into FAQ territory in genres I like better (though they may need the semi-FAQ treatment less,) but this one held my interest better, and that is saying a lot. It gave a view of how a player like me would be able to enjoy the game and learn quickly. That's no small task.
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Ben posted June 16, 2010:

Thanks, Aschultz! I enjoyed writing this review, and I'm glad and relieved it turned out well. I did have a few worries like "How accessible is the review to non-Street Fighter IV players?" and "Am I going into too much detail?", but I'm happy with what I ended up with, and I don't feel like that very often.

I appreciate the negatives, too; I particularly agree that the "It's a bummer..." statement is a bit odd. I hope to get around slightly touching up the review in the next few days.

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