Super Street Fighter IV Review (Xbox 360)

Posted by Jim Cook, May 03, 2010 05:02

Capcom was clearly treading on dangerous ground by making this game; there was a great deal of skepticism that they were about to turn Street Fighter IV into a series of incremental updates just like SF II did. But Super Street Fighter IV proves Capcom has learned their lesson, and far from releasing a modest update that adds only a few new features and characters they went to great lengths to make sure this version of their popular 2D fighting game truly is super. With ten new characters, various balance adjustments to the returning cast, an improved soundtrack, and a more versatile set of online modes it’s obvious this isn’t a cheap and easy cash-in; it’s a very welcome improvement to what was already a good game.

Like most Street Fighter titles, this one is a 2D fighter (though it maintains the 3D graphics of regular SF IV) that revolves around two characters trading punches, kicks, throws, energy fireballs, and so on until one character runs out of health. It’s a classic formula, and when done well it still works today. Super Street Fighter IV is not focused on reinventing the series, but rather taking what regular SF IV did right and making it even better, as well as trying to improve on its flaws. The developers succeeded to varying degrees, resulting in a very fun game.

Perhaps the most important addition to Super is the new characters. Most of them are actually making return appearances from other Street Fighter titles, though they have been adjusted in various ways to be more suitable for this game. They cover an impressive variety, ranging from heavy grapplers like T. Hawk to highly mobile close-combat attackers like Guy and several play-styles in between. It remains to be seen how effective they will be in high-level play, but most of them are fun to play so far. Despite adjustments, it seems that players familiar with a character’s older version will be able to play them fairly intuitively in Super and follow their same basic strategies; they aren’t exact matches (and shouldn’t be), but it’s more likely you’ll be learning subtle changes rather than effectively adjusting to a whole new character.

Thankfully, not all of the new characters are simply taken from previous games. Two of them, Hakan and Juri, are wholly new for Super SF IV. Juri primarily fights with a variety of kicks, some of which move her in interesting ways or are built on focusing the opponent to guess which move you’re actually doing. Hakan is perhaps the more interesting of the two; he’s a heavy grappler like Zangief and T. Hawk, but differs from them in that he’s an oil wrestler and his effectiveness as a fighter depends on whether he gets a chance to apply oil or not. Without oil, he’s slow, lacks range, and is otherwise pretty underwhelming. But if he finds a moment to safely oil up, he becomes much more dangerous and gains more options to use; some of these are demonstrated in this article.

Another major change is that each character now has two Ultra attacks, but can only choose one for the current match. Several characters benefit from this in that they can select either a high-damage attack, or one that is inferior but is of a move type they otherwise have no access to and could be useful in certain situations. Others have what appear to be a series of trade-offs between them so that your Ultra of choice is a matter of personal preference, while a few others regretably seem to have one good Ultra and one bad one. Counter-style Ultras in particular may fall into the latter category; they may not be truly useless, but they have so many drawbacks to their use that I cannot imagine why anyone would pick a Counter Ultra over their character’s other choice. Yet aside from this the mechanic of being able to pick one of two Ultra attacks is a very good idea, and should add some variety to matches.

Among various balance adjustments, one will notice that most characters in Super Street Fighter IV do less damage than before. This has the obvious consequence that fights take longer to complete, but this is a good thing and prevents a single combo from overly influencing the match’s outcome. Other balance changes are more subtle and it may be some time before their full effects are known, but for now matches in Super SF IV seem to be more enjoyable than those in the previous game.

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Our Rating for Super Street Fighter IV Review (Xbox 360)
9.0 Replay
Several new characters ensure that if you have a good group to play with, this game will bring you back again and again.
8.0 Graphics
Obviously similar to the visuals of Street Fighter IV, though the new stages look great and have lots of detail.
9.0 Sound
Excellent remixes of each characters’ classic theme have been included, and once unlocked they make a great addition to the normal stage-specific music.
9.5 Gameplay
Balance changes and selectable Ultras make the matches more interesting, and the new characters are all very fun to use.
9.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
Great for local multiplayer, and online play is certainly at least playable in most conditions. The new modes for online play are interesting and well done.
9.5 Overall
A significant improvement over the original, Super Street Fighter IV adds lots of new content and comes at a nice $40 price tag. It’s well worth picking up!

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