Street Fighter IV

2010-12-12 17:25:06

Street Fighter IV, now here's a force on the gaming community. This game grew up on the streets, in places many people probably haven't even been to in ages, an arcade. When I was a kid every mall had one, a room that had no overhead lights, where there only light came from the game cabinets themselves. A place so noisy you could only barely hear the squeal of 80's hair bands playing on the overhead. These were great places for kids, they were a place where a gamer could become a local "star". While it was not impossible for a couple of people to watch someone own at pacman or galaga, these were usually players waiting their turn on the device or relatives of the gamer, not adoring fans.

Fighting games were a totally different realm however, and Street Fighter was the first one to be popular enough to generate a community, and promote players to infamy at their local arcade. While the original Street Fighter was not the best graphically or competitively, Street Fighter II and its myriad of spin offs and sequels definitely set the bar for competitive fighting. It was always hard to go to the arcade and find a Street fighter game cabinet that wasn't being dominated by someone with at least 4 people swarmed around the console placing their tokens on the dashboard of the cabinet to indicate their place in line. To get to play anything more than 3 rounds maximum you had to win, and the great thing for the winner is as long as people challenged him, he could play as long as he could keep on winning. Whereas most arcade titles have a means to limit play either through a victory condition, or a timer that will eventually run out, the only way to leave the cabinet once competition started showing up to challenge you was to lose. Unfortunately it gave the hardcore fighters an advantage as they could easily line up for combat, take over the cabinet and not let go for the rest of the day, giving them more experience with the cabinet as well, meaning casual players and players who did not show up before the crowds were out of luck in terms of getting any practice in.

Thankfully for those individuals the games came out for the consoles as well. One of the first fighting games I played on console was Street fighter II Turbo on the SNES. this spinoff would develop into long hours spend mastering the game on SNES, and of course local neighborhood tournaments. This was also the sign of the beginning of the end for the Arcade.

But that was then, this is now, and many fighting games have sold their souls to the 3D gods and pissed off their market share. Mortal Kombat did that for me, and lost me up until their revival with MK vs DC which I reviewed earlier. However despite the reboot MK vs DC still feels different than the games of my youth. Street Fighter IV has taken a different path. I lost sight of Street fighter a little after Super Street Fighter Alpha. There has been a variety of editions to come out since and a majority of them were either on consoles I never owned or Arcade editions. However Capcom has stayed true to the roots of SF and has kept the title 2D in terms of the game environment, the graphics might have become rendered and 3d, but the environment is 2 axis only. Keeping it simple allowed them to focus on game mechanics like guard and guard break, focus attacks, and a variety of other additions that strengthen the abilities of a veteran, while not necessarily snatching 100% victory from those outside the knowledge of these things.

When I first picked up the controller and played SFIV I felt like I was 13 again, playing SFII, all my old favorites where still here, looking almost untouched since their original appearances. all of their moves intact, sliding off the controller the same as they always had. Playing SF is like riding a bicycle, once you learn you can pick it back up at any time. While I didn't win my first battle, I became hooked again. 

I knew however that Super Street Fighter IV was on the horizon so I rented SFIV and held back practicing with the characters I had access to, and unlocking everything in SFIV. Once SSFIV came out I purchased and became obsessed. Nostalgia Aside however, the game is very strong and has a lot going for it.

First off for a new player just entering the series, or perhaps an old player not in touch with some of the nuances that make hardcore vets smoke newbies to the ground, there is the training area. Here you can pick a character and are given an ever increasingly difficult array of challenges to pull off. These challenges start with the characters super moves, and then moves into combos of increasing difficulty until you swear your fingers are about to fall off. you can't advance until it's done right and there is no time limit so you can practice practice practice until you've mastered the art.

Secondly, there's the multiplayer. Online Multiplayer is tough to pull off in fighter games, Soul Calibur IV revealed this to us with it's horrible netcode resulting in a lot of lagged out 3d fighting that just never felt good. SFIV has less to worry about than a 3d fighter in terms of data needing to be sent, and the game does a good job of matching people up based on bandwidth, so aside from those hardcore dorks with their lagswitches, you'll rarely encounter the lag demon during online play.

Being able to invite players into private rooms is also great, making it feel like playing SF in a living room together on the couch. Of course only 2 people can play at a time while the others watch, but the game does a good job of managing idle time, and making sure everyone is fairly given a turn. 

Capcom ultimately did its fans a remarkable service with this game. The only bad thing I can say about it is the final boss Seth, is one of the cheapest bosses I have fought in a fighting game, he basically has the best moves of all the best fighters in the series, and has moves that can tear your health down in short order. The only boss I can say I've had harder times beating is the boss at the end of Dead or Alive 3. 

Reason Result
Start 10
Feels like it did when I was 13, almost nothing feels that way anymore. +5
Multiplayer that works in a fighting game? impossible you say? impossible this! +3
Training Scenarios that teach the game mechanics in a meaningful and easy to learn way? Fuck yes! +5
Final Boss that is controller snappingly cheap? -3
Final Total 20/10

There you go. 20/10 One of the highest scores given on this site. This game is epic, and if you are an old school gamer and haven't bitten the bait that this game dangles in front of you, what are you doing with yourself?! get this game! get online and let me shoryuken your ass a few times.