Monday, July 4, 2011

Street Fighter IV Series

Skip toward 2007, and outside of crossover franchises and anniversary editons, the 2D fighter had become a strictly hobbyist venture. Seen as a genre that had had its glory and at the end of its mass popularity. What changed that? Street Fighter 2, you say? Hold on.....

Yes, it was another installment of Street Fighter 2, this time Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the download-only Playstation Network and XBoX Live Arcade. What came was rebalanced touchup, updated mechanics, glossier animation and online play. Surfing on a wave of nostalgia and still relevant gameplay, the release saw a record in download sales, reaching 250,000 altogether. A success, no doubt. To such an extent, it convinced Capcom that there may just be a market for the 2D Fighter afterall...

Debuting in 2009, revised mechanics, bringing it close to being an offspring of SSF2T and SFA games. Not quite as breakneck as the former but not as subdued and defensive as the latter, instead finding its niche somewhere between. Canonically set right after Street Fighter 2 and quite a while before Street Fighter 3, it sports a wealth of familiar faces in its cast, most prominently Street Fighter 2, with the odd sprinkle of fresh blood here and there.

The gameplay is familiar as the day at this stage, but their appearance and indeed the whole franchise's, get an upheaval, staying on 2D plane but ditching hand drawn sprites in favour of high-definition 3D models. It introduces the Focus Attack as well, which is SF4's answer to the parry system, where if a player holds down two punch buttons and meditates for a number of seconds, they can take a one hit and deliver an unblockable attack should it be executed successfully. SF4 also debuts the Ultra,or Revenge, combo, which is similar to the Super attack described above, but is somewhat more powerful and is reserved for when one's suffered a requisite amount of damage and thus can deliver an Ultra Combo in an attempt to equalize the state of play.

Street Fighter 4 and its revisions have catapulted the 2D fighter back into the mainstream once more, and its influence cannot be understated. Its resurgence can attributed to its familiarity to the players of SF2 yore, with the gameplay having more in common with Street Fighter 2 than anything else and its improvements were in areas easier to digest than SF3's, be they graphical or mechanical, bringing innovation without isolating. It also holds up quite well aesthetically with most modern, premium offerings and its appeal is pretty timeless, speaking to the strength of SFII's worth, and how it fails to feel antiquated even these 20 odd years later.

Released: Street Fighter IV '09, Super Street Fighter IV '10, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition '11.

Available on:

Street Fighter IV- Arcade, Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, iOS.
Super Street Fighter IV- PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Technically iOS (As SFIV: Volt)
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition- Arcade, Windows, PS3, Xbox 360.

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