Super Street Fighter IV (Nintendo 3DS) - Review by Chris
Having ended their run of games on the DS on a high note, Capcom now move their attention to Nintendo's next handheld behemoth, the 3DS. And for their first title, they're bringing the highly acclaimed Street Fighter series to a Nintendo console for the first time since the GBA days with an enhanced port of last year's Super Street Fighter IV game, dubbed the 3D Edition. Hoping to take advantage of the multitude of features the console has to offer and bringing some new content with it, have Capcom hit it out of the park straight from the launch with this one or is it more of a constrained effort?
The Street Fighter franchise has been around for a considerable amount of time so gamers should by now be familiar with what the series entails. If not, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition continues the series' proud tradition of offering a high octane fighting experience where you'll have to get to grips with linking combos, blocks, reversals and counters together to take down an opponent in a 1 on 1 battle. The general structure to the fighting hasn't changed much since the Super Nintendo days, and remains just as mentioned earlier with graded difficulty settings in place allowing you to go at your own pace, essential for newcomers, or set the difficulty high for a truly great challenge, for those who're experienced with the workings of the games.
Offering up your typical modes for a fighter, you'll have access to an Arcade mode, allowing you to delve into the back story for your fighter, chosen from a roster of 35 in total, a little as they fight against a sequence of progressively harder opponents before a rival battle and the final boss showdown, a Versus mode, letting you choose a character and either fight again the CPU or against other gamers through local wireless play, Challenge mode, allowing you to take on a large set of challenges for each character, and a Training mode for honing your skills. They're all extremely well designed and very robust but these stereotypical modes don't encompass all that the game has to offer.
New to the series, and exclusive to the 3DS version, are a number of modes. Firstly, there's the 3D Versus mode, which is essentially the Versus mode but it allows you to play the game in the new third person camera view. It's a viewpoint that takes some getting used to and although purists will stick to the tried and tested standard view, it still works well and is certainly an interesting change. This viewpoint extends to the Arcade mode and the online settings if it quickly becomes your preferred viewpoint. Secondly, there's the new Figure Collection option. Here you'll have the ability to spend the points you earn for completing challenges or the Arcade mode on figures of the 35 fighters. These figures, which can range in level from 1 to 7, can then be allocated to your roster of 5 slots and then used for battling through the StreetPass option while your console is in Sleep Mode. With 500 of them in total to collect, including some special ones, it's a fantastic aside to the main gameplay and you'll find yourself carrying your 3DS around with you in the hope of finding opponents and netting yourself some victories.
As mentioned, there are 35 characters in total, with all of the characters from the home console versions making the cross over. There are of course the series favourites such as Guile, Ryu and E. Honda, and those familiar with the workings of those characters will find them incredibly easy to pick up but with such a large roster, there's plenty of room for experimentation as it offers up the right amount of variation with slower, harder hitting fighters, fighters focused more on grapple moves, and faster fighters looking to string together long combos of individually weak moves. Being a newcomer can be daunting then when it comes to finding the character to match your style but the well build Training mode will help you find the right fighter for you and teach you their ins and outs.
While others have left out the option for future titles, Capcom have made sure to make use of the console's improved online connectivity and present the only game which incorporates online multiplayer at launch. While you'd expect some teething issues so early in the life cycle, the net code at use here is silky smooth, making it extremely easy to connect to both friends and random players from all over the world and set up custom, with your own parameters for opponents, or quick matches, all the while battling it out for valuable battle points which increase your ranking. The level of latency you'll experience will depend on where your opponent is, with there being some lag when playing against opponents on other continents but a smoother experience playing against those closer to home. Still, it's still a very robust experience and will ensure you'll keep playing for months.
Fighters have never truly translated over to the handheld spectrum well in the control department, with compromises having to be made to get them to fit. Thankfully, that isn't the case here as the controls are spot on for all characters and attacks, feeling instantly recognisable for those who may have already honed their skills in the home console versions, as the face and shoulder buttons perfectly replicate the other versions. Both the d-pad and the circle pad are available for use during play and while the circle pad does a good enough job of carrying out some of the more complex combo moves, movement in general isn't quite as accurate as you'll often find yourself jumping straight up when you want to be jumping forward to attack or jumping backwards to get to a defensive state. The d-pad takes care of these issues and it works as it should do, which is to say it's great, and purists will really take to it, although it's placement on the unit may cause some slight discomfort.
Capcom have done a brilliant job in recreating the look of the home console versions, with their MT Framework Mobile engine producing easily the best looking 3DS game available at launch. Character models, while being a tiny step behind the other versions, look superb with extremely fluid animation in all moves and combos for all 35 fighters and sporting some extremely high quality textures, something which becomes even more apparent when playing in the 3D camera view which really shows how much work has gone into creating all of the 3D character models in such high quality. Special effects, coming about as a result various attacks, may not be as flashy here but they still manage to look really good.
Stages have taken a step down in quality in comparison to the other consoles, now being static rather than in motion and lacking slightly in terms of fidelity looking slightly blurry in a very small number of instances. The cuts are understandable given the hardware and the developers wanting to, and easily achieving, a solid 60 frames per second frame rate but they still manage to look great with some great layering effects and lighting.
Audio remains largely unchanged from the home console version, with all musical cues, speech fragments and music carrying over to this edition with no drop in quality. It all sounds fantastic coming out of the hardware's tiny speakers and is quite remarkable to have the same level of quality has a home console version on a handheld. The only downside is the announcer's voice which will begin to grate with some people.
Touch screen shortcuts for attacks and combos, allowing for ease of access for gamers new to the series, are only the beginning of usage for the 3DS' features. The 3D effects add a great deal of depth to the stages you're playing making each of the fighters stand out as though the screen itself was a diorama but really, it's not a necessary feature to make use of when playing as it doesn't add anything more than visual flare to an already fantastic looking game. Great use of the consoles connectivity has been made as well, with a figurine fight mode being carried out over StreetPass when passing other gamers with their consoles on sleep mode and SpotPass connectivity allowing the developers to send out codes for special figurines for use in the Streetpass game.
Even though its early days for the hardware, Capcom have easily aimed for and created the best 3DS launch title and undoubtedly the best fighting game to grace a Nintendo handheld to date. Everything from the presentation to the controls to the use of the 3DS' features is exceptional and almost unprecedented for a new piece of hardware. It sets a high benchmark right out of the gate for future titles to be measured against, and not simply fighting games, and although it may provide a high learning curve to get over for newcomers before they can feel at home, this is definitely one of the must have titles for that shiny new 3DS regardless of experience with the series.
Pro: Presentation is superb, controls are spot on, gameplay options are robust, makes great use of the 3DS' features
Con: All fighters unlocked from start is a disappointment, can be very challenging even on the low difficulty settings
Final score: 9