Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
Release Date: 03/27/11
This being the third release in three years of Street Fighter IV, between the initial console release about two years ago and the console release of the “Super”Â version this time last year, the magic is kind of gone at this point. Street Fighter IV was a fine game at the time, if a little flawed, and Super Street Fighter IV was still a little flawed, but featured a whole lot more content all in all. A third release in a two year span of time, on its face, isn’t even remotely impressive, especially when it’s a direct port of Super Street Fighter IV, all told. Further, hand-held versions of fighting games, unless the games are designed for said hand-held, are often underwhelming, due to aesthetic cuts and the generally poorer controls the handheld consoles offer relative to arcade sticks and specialty pads and whatnot. Capcom, as it turns out, appears to have anticipated this sort of a reaction, as Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition actually incorporates a lot of additional content beyond that of both games, to a point where it’s the most robust game of the franchise in a lot of respects. It doesn’t quite escape the negatives of both the original games and the console itself, unfortunately, but it’s a rather good attempt at attempting to convert such a game to a handheld device, and should please fans well enough to be worth a look.
As with its console counterparts, there’s still a pretty involved story being told here, by way of both in-game confrontations and animated cinematics, but the gist of it is that a hugely powerful big bad by the name of Seth has apparently become a huge name in the world of crime, and has decided to host a fighting tournament to analyze fighters so as to learn their secrets and emulate them, in hopes of becoming the greatest fighter ever. The concept is as new and exciting now as it was last year and the year before, which is to say not very, but it works, so whatever. The storylines are once again as good as before, and the cutscenes are the same as those of the console release, so for those who didn’t play Super Street Fighter IV they’ll be neat, but everyone else can skip them. Overall, the story is as good as it ever was, and the end result is still fine, if not exciting or anything. The game modes here, however, are actually fairly robust, as you’re getting most of the gameplay options from Super Street Fighter IV, as well as some new 3DS exclusive gameplay modes. You’re given the standard Arcade and Versus Modes you’d expect, as well as a Training Mode to learn your characters and their moves. There’s also Challenge Mode, which offers various Trials to complete, which require you to perform various moves and combos with each of the characters, as well as the Car Crusher and Barrel Buster mini-games that pop up in Arcade Mode, should you wish to play around with those. You can also take the game online, in Versus and 3D Versus matches, and there is now a local 3D Versus option, which places the camera on an angle behind the player, to showcase the 3D visuals offered in the game, should you want to do so. The game also allows you to collect Figures by spending points and trading with friends, and you can have them battle one another via the StreetPass system in the 3DS, which is a pretty neat concept that’s interestingly executed. This release seems to lack the ability to review unlocked cutscenes and such, and doesn’t seem to have any sort of leaderboard tracking or tournament options, but given that this is a handheld release, this is mostly forgivable, and the added content largely makes up for that.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is a good looking game, and at first glance it seems to hang nicely with its console brethren, though as you play you’ll notice that some cuts were made to achieve this thing. The character models look nice, mostly, in close-ups, and they animate well in battle, so the fights are exciting to watch and as flashy and vibrant as ever. Further, each character has multiple different costume options beyond those of the console release immediately available, in a nice addition. However, it’s obvious after a while that some of the textures didn’t handle the transition well and appear to be painted on, the backgrounds are almost completely static across the board, which is kind of weird, and clipping issues still pop up here and there. Given that this is a handheld release, however, it’s pretty nice looking all around, and the cuts to get the game to run on the 3DS are understandable, as the end result is still pretty swank. Aurally, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is still impressive, though not quite as much so as its console brethren. The music is one part remixes of the older tunes and one part all-new tracks, and most all of the tunes in the game are fantastic and compliment the action in the game nicely. The voice acting is still generally good to great across the board, for new characters and old, as the English voice cast are generally set well and sound fine all around. The sound effects are still quite nice, and really compliment the game well, the game also features little touches, aurally, that make it a good bit more interesting than it first seems (like rivals trash-talking each other DURING a fight, for example). However, the remixed music from the console release and the Japanese voices from both console releases appear to have been excised, as there’s no obvious way to unlock them and they’re not available as options, though, again, given the medium in question, this is somewhat forgivable.
As far as the 3D effects are concerned, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition makes fine use of the technology, though it makes its best use of the tech when playing in 3D Mode. As noted, the camera is focused behind and to the left or right of the player in this mode, which really shows off the 3D effects of the system well, as the perspective is set appropriately to see projectiles flying around and your opponent move around and such. When using 3D visuals in normal battles, they still look nice, but don’t pop as much as they do in 3D Mode, mostly because the battles are confined to the 2D plane. You’ll see some interesting effects when using Ultra moves with 3D turned on, mind you, but outside of that, normal battles don’t make the best use of the effect. It also bears noting that the 3D seems like it could throw off your timing in fights a little, as it can take some adjusting to the effect before you’ll be ready to really throw down at the top of your game in either mode, and it can be hard to follow battles while using the effect. The 3D looks very nice in motion, absolutely, but it doesn’t seem particularly fight friendly all around, making it kind of a novelty item more than something that adds to the experience, all around.
Being as how this is the third release of Street Fighter IV in some capacity or another, I’m going to try and condense the basics of the game from the previous reviews as best I can, but for those who’ve played the games before, most of this will be old hat. The game world is based entirely on a 2D plane of movement, meaning that left and right move forward and backward, up jumps and down ducks. Your characters all have three punches and three kicks to work with (or, in the case of Balrog, six punches), each of which is either weak, medium, or strong in power. Depending on the character, pressing these buttons in combination with different directions allows you to perform additional different moves, and these moves can be chained together in combinations, which are called “combos”Â. Further, every character has special moves that are done by way of performing specific motions with the control pad/stick and pressing a button. The majority of special moves are either accomplished via roll motions (down-down forward-forward and punch to do a fireball) or charge motions (charge back, then press forward and punch for a Sonic Boom), though there are plenty of other types of motions for you to learn. All of the characters also have Super Moves, which are essentially powerful moves or combinations of moves that deal a sizable amount of damage. These moves are done by performing more complex controller motions and pressing a button, and these moves also require you to have a fully charged Super Bar to be used. Said bar is charged by dealing and receiving damage in battle, which means it’s charging pretty much all the time in a fight, and when it’s full, you’re free to use it as needed. Every fight in the game essentially comes down to two characters using these moves and abilities to pummel their opponents into unconsciousness as needed, over one, three or five rounds, to determine who is, in fact, the better fighter.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition also employs a mechanic called the Ultra Combo system. Basically, as you take damage in battle, your Revenge Meter (which is located to the left or right of your Super Meter) fills up. When it fills up about halfway, that means you can unleash your Ultra Combo, which is essentially another, more cinematic, more powerful Super Move. This can considerably turn the tide of any battle when used right; Super Moves are essentially only available from about the second round of battle onward, while Ultra Combos can be used after only a few seconds of getting pummeled, and assuming they hit, they can turn things in your favor quickly. Of course, hitting an opponent with an Ultra Combo essentially means that you’ve just given THEM an Ultra Combo to use, but such is the ebb and flow of Super Street Fighter IV. Next up, we have Focus Attacks, which are essentially parries/counter-attacks; by pressing Medium Punch and Medium Kick together, you essentially enter into a Focus state, and should an enemy hit you, you won’t react to it (though you will take the damage from the move). By releasing the buttons, you then deal out a return strike, which regains you some life and knocks your opponent out, more or less. Then we have EX Attacks; by doing a regular move and pressing all of the punch/kick buttons, you instead perform an EX move, at the cost of one block of your Super Meter. These moves can deal more damage or carry other lovely side-effects, making them useful in most combat situations, especially if you’re not concerned about using a Super Move.
There are other, small differences and changes here and there throughout the game as well. For one, instead of offering no dashing option (as it was in older games in the series) or a full dash option (as is provided in other games), Super Street Fighter IV allows you to hop backwards and forwards with a double-tap in a direction, allowing you to close the gap or put some distance between you and an opponent as needed. Grabbing opponents is no longer as simple as walking up to them and pressing forward and strong punch; instead, you now have to press both weak attacks and forward to perform said grab. Conversely, grabs are now a good bit more… powerful than they used to be as a result; despite the fact that attempting a grab and failing will in fact leave you wide open to a counter-attack, successful grabs can interrupt Super and Ultra Moves in the most humiliating and awesome way imaginable, if you can time them right. Also, pretty much every character has been busted down to one Super Move, though in Super Street Fighter IV, the characters have been given two Ultra Moves, though in a Street Fighter III twist, you must select which of the two you want to use in battle before starting. There are two exceptions to the above, in Gen, because he has one Super and One Ultra per fighting style, and Dan, because he still has his Super Taunt, but this still essentially means that players who used to rely on a specific Super Move will find themselves without in many cases.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition also offers up numerous alternative play modes outside of the local Arcade and local Versus Modes, as with its console brethren. Online play is mostly stable through WiFi connections, so long as the internet in the area and the WiFi signal are both good, though players of differing connection speeds will have a problem, as one would expect. The option for players to jump in as a “New Challenger”Â while you’re playing in Arcade Mode still exists, though, obviously, it only works when you actually have a way to access someone to challenge. You can, as always, disable this if you want, but it’s still a neat idea and brings the whole arcade feeling home, which some players will appreciate quite a bit. The Trial Mode will teach you various combinations and such, making it a worthwhile inclusion, as are the bonus games you can play, though you can turn them off in Arcade Mode if you’d rather not be bothered playing around with them. You can still customize a player tag with a picture and a tag line unlocked from doing various things in the game as you see fit, and you can still review your own personal play records any time you want right from the main menu whenever you wish. You’ve also still got a whopping thirty five characters to choose from, as with the console games, giving you a pretty wide variety of fighters to play with, and for the most part, most of the important content has been kept in the transition from the console to the 3DS.
Still with me? Okay. Let’s talk about what Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition specifically brings to the table.
The most interesting addition to the game is the Figure Collection. When you start the game, you’ll have one figure of every character, at level one, as well as an option to unlock more. Unlocking more is done with Figure Points, or FP, which can be earned by turning in Play Coins from the 3DS or by winning regular or Figure battles. You simply dump two hundred points into the Figure Slots, push the button, and boom, you’ve got a new figure to add to your collection, ready to go. Figures are ranked from Level One to Level Seven, with each level determining their base stats in HP, AT, SC and UC. The game isn’t super clear on what these things mean, but it isn’t hard to guess that HP means Health, AT means Attack Power, and SC and UC refer to their Super Combo and Ultra Combo meters (and presumably imply that they start battles with so much of that bar already filled). You can then build a team of five figures, no more or less, up to a maximum of twenty level points, no more, to compete with other people through StreetPass. Their Figure layout will be downloaded to your 3DS, as will yours to theirs, and the teams can be put against one another in simulated battles, which can win you FP (and I mean a LOT of FP) to spend on new characters. You can also enter passwords from various locations (mostly Capcom, it seems) for new Figures as well. The mode seems to work exclusively through StreetPass, unfortunately, so if you don’t live in a more populated area or have a lot of gamers around you, it might take you some time to really do anything with this mode, but it’s cute fun all in all that gives the game some excellent replay value.
The three biggest additions to the game are Lite controls, Touch Screen buttons, and 3D Mode. Lite controls are, literally, simplified controls for less skilled players, allowing players to set moves to specific buttons, both on the pad and touch screen, allowing them to pull off complicated moves at the touch of a button. This is certainly abusable, but for newer or weaker players it’s not a bad idea. The Touch Screen buttons seem to be a way for the console to attempt to work around the limited buttons available on the console, as you can set up to four buttons in Lite and Pro mode to various functions, such as special moves for Lite and throw or three punches/kicks in Pro, as needed, allowing you to have more options available than what the default buttons would allow. 3D Mode, as noted, allows you to fight from an angled Punch-Out! sort of view, and while you’ll almost exclusively use it while using the 3D effects in the game, it’s an interesting gameplay mode that makes good use of the technology and adds something to the experience beyond what the consoles offer. It’s a little weird to adjust to, certainly, but it’s not impossible to work with and it’s a fun novelty that players should have some fun with if nothing else. There are also some novel minor additions, such as the option to allow players who don’t have the game to play against you with Download Play (restricting their character choice to Ryu, unfortunately) and the option to use “Channel Live!”Â to watch local players battle it out if you wish, and while these aren’t huge additions, they’re novel add-ons that are nice to have.
Throughout the game, the CPU difficulty is also reasonably balanced, as it was with the prior games; playing through the game on the easiest difficulty setting, while not exactly a cakewalk when playing with characters you are unskilled with or don’t like, is surprisingly not all that bad, and it’s not hard to get through Medium with a character you’re skilled with, even without mastering all of the intricacies of the game. Anything beyond Medium is still liable to beat you like you stole something, of course, but at that point, you’re kind of asking for it. The game also, by and large, still FEELS like Street Fighter, which is about the highest praise I can really give it; a player who knows and likes the series should be able to slip right into the game and start playing with their favorite characters with little to no difficulty, and should be able to do quite well even WITHOUT learning all of the intricacies of the product. New players should also be able to pick the game up nicely, thanks to the Training and Challenge modes and the ability to find players online based on their skill levels relative to your own. For those who owned the original game, you’ll also be able to use your downloaded costumes if you had any in this game, and you’ll even get some custom character colors for being a loyal fan, which is always a nice addition, even if it’s a small one.
Having said all of that, in general and about Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition in specific, the game still suffers from the issues of its predecessors, as well as a few new ones all its own. The character balance is still somewhat suspect, as some characters still seem somewhat overpowered when compared to others unless you’re a high-tier player, and some characters still seem significantly more playable than others. This can be exploited somewhat in Lite Mode when playing online, as unskilled players will find themselves being obliterated by cheap players who spam specific attacks because the mode allows it. Yes, the obvious choice is to then move up to Pro Mode and leave all of that behind, but as a learning curve, it’s not so wonderful, and most low tier players will find it annoying, to be polite. The core gameplay is still as unoriginal as ever, and still obviously borrows from other Capcom fighting games, Ultra Moves are still somewhat overpowered in a lot of respects, and so on. This is all subjective, none of it is new, and it’s all pretty cut and dry. These, by themselves, are fairly minor complaints, and do little to diminish the experience, as the game is still rather good, all in all, and if you’re a fan you won’t mind or care about these things.
However, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is also problematic on its own, largely due to the medium of play and how, in some respects, it simply doesn’t work. We’ve touched on how the 3D mechanic isn’t really conducive to normal play and how the 3D Mode isn’t likely going to be anything but a novelty, but another thing that players may take issue with is the fact that the timing on combos and such feels different during play. Basically, Super Street Fighter IV has some fairly specific timing for some combinations, where pressing the next button in the sequence a second early or late ends up with you not getting the next hit, and the difference between good players and bad players comes down, partially, to mastering the timing. Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition feels somewhat off from its console counterparts in this regard at first, which means there’s somewhat of a learning curve to the game, which for good players will be a mild nuisance, for mediocre players will be frustrating, and for bad players… probably won’t matter at all, actually. The Touch Screen buttons, while a nice idea, also don’t work out as intended, as they’re spaced out from the main buttons enough that using them when using Pro controls takes some doing, and you’ll, again, have to spend a good amount of time getting used to them. The biggest issue, of course, is that the 3DS simply doesn’t feel like the right medium for this sort of a game. The spacing of the buttons and layout of the system itself makes for a somewhat cramped playing space, which is unfriendly when trying to perform involved combinations, and if you’re an arcade stick user it’s actually worse, as the analog stick feels too loose and the D-pad isn’t friendly to work with at first. Again, the dedicated player can work around these issues and even become very skilled at handheld play, but one wonders what the point is when the console version is readily available and likely is easier to work with for them.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is pretty much as good as a 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV was really likely to be, to be honest, as it’s a fairly faithful port of the console game with most of the features intact and some enjoyable new options, and while it’s not without flaw, it’s surprisingly solid all in all. The storylines are all intact and there are plenty of play modes, old and new, to have fun with, and the game looks and sounds about as good as one can possibly expect. The gameplay has mostly held up in the transition to the portable format, with some new elements, such as Lite and Pro controls and Touch Screen buttons, to make it a little more accessible than one would first suspect. There are also plenty of gameplay modes, old and new, to play with, Figure Mode is a neat little gimmick that adds life to the game, and the ability to play online and off against others adds some life to the long term value of the game. Old issues, such as character and gameplay balance and lack of originality, are still here, but are compounded a bit by some awkward 3DS specific control and gameplay issues, between the exploitable Lite Mode, some minor timing changes, and the general awkwardness of playing the game on a compressed controller. There are also no leaderboards or tournament options, the 3D mechanics and gameplay modes aren’t conducive to competitive play, and the Figure Mode can be limiting at first if you live in less populated areas due to its integration into StreetPass. Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is better than it likely had any right being, given the medium in question, and it’s a fun time for casual players and fans of the game, but it’s not going to supplant the console versions any time soon and is, at best, a fun and enjoyable, if somewhat flawed, diversion.
Story/Game Modes: GREAT
Balance: ABOVE AVERAGE
Final Score: GOOD GAME.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is a generally fine adaptation of Super Street Fighter IV to the 3DS, and while it’s not likely to supplant the console versions as anyone’s favorite version, and it’s not without its flaws, it’s good enough that fighting game fans would have some fun with it. The character stories and gameplay modes from Super Street Fighter IV have made the transition mostly intact, and the game looks and sounds pretty good, though, obviously, not as good as its console counterpart. The gameplay holds up well on the handheld system, featuring the same Street Fighter mechanics one expects, along with new elements, like Lite and Pro Controls and Touch Screen buttons, to make the transition easier for players. There are a lot of different gameplay modes to work with, both solo and with others, as well as the surprisingly interesting Figure Mode and some solid online play that all help to keep the game interesting long into its lifespan. The game still retains the issues of its predecessors, such as some subjective character and gameplay balance issues and a notable lack of original thought, and some odd 3DS specific control and gameplay problems creep up here and there as well, thanks to some timing changes, the awkwardness of the 3DS design for fighting games, and the exploitability of Lite Mode. Further, the 3D mechanics and game modes aren’t really going to interest more competitive players as they don’t work so well for that kind of play, there are no leaderboards or tournament game modes, and Figure Mode isn’t as fun as it could be in less populated areas due to its StreetPass integration. Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is generally a fine portable translation of Super Street Fighter IV, despite its flaws, and while it’s not going to convince anyone to give up on the console games, it’s a solid port that should be fun for casual and diehard fans of the series all in all, as once you get past its flaws, it’s fun and interesting enough to be one of the better launch titles for the 3DS.