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Super Street Fighter IV Review

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Super Street Fighter IV is a great fighting game that uses just about every feature the 3DS offers.

 You can keep it classy in pro mode or assign supers and specials to the touch screen in lite mode.
The Nintendo 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV is a great portable version of a great fighting game. It also might be the most fully featured 3DS game available alongside the new handheld's launch, offering support for almost every major system-level item that the 3DS has to offer, like StreetPass, Play Coins, and online support. And though none of them are as successful as a joystick and two rows of three buttons, Capcom has included a lot of different control options in an attempt to cater to a large number of players of varying skill levels. The catch there is that some of the control options make not-so-welcome changes to the way the game plays, potentially impacting the quality of the versus experience.

SSFIV on the Nintendo 3DS has almost all of the features found in the console versions of the game. There's a trial mode to let you bang out combos, you can set a player icon and title, you can fight through the arcade mode and get interrupted with online fight requests, and so on. Even the achievement system from the other versions make it over here via a custom list of medals that you can unlock. It has all 35 of the characters, and they even get a couple of the alternate costumes that required an extra purchase on the 360 and PS3. You can play through the arcade mode and get the same type of intro images and conclusions that you saw on consoles, and, well, you get the idea. The only missing features come on the online side, where you can match up against other players and fight them, but the tournament options and large lobbies found on consoles aren't here.

New features are also included, like 500 character figurines that you can unlock via a spinning wheel. Each of these figures has a level, number of hit points, and other statistics associated with them. It's your job to assemble a strong team of five figures, which make up your StreetPass team. Then, at least in theory, you just walk around your hometown with your 3DS in sleep mode, and whenever you encounter another player that's doing the same thing, you'll exchange team data and a completely passive battle will occur. When you launch the game, any StreetPass battles you've engaged in are posted to a log, and you'll earn additional figure points--which are used to purchase more figures--for winning those battles. You can also earn figure points by simply playing the game in any other mode, or you can exchange a Play Coin for one spin of the figure-unlocking wheel. It's a basic system, but it integrates quite nicely with the handheld's various passive features.

 There are 500 little figures to collect and use for StreetPass battles.
Super Street Fighter IV is best played on a six-button controller, with all six buttons on the face of the device. The 3DS, by default, sets things up like they were on the Super Nintendo, with your hard punch and kick buttons on the shoulders. It's less than ideal, but usually works well enough. The game also puts four large buttons on the touch screen that can be assigned in a variety of ways. In the default "lite" control scheme, special moves are mapped to these buttons, so your super or ultra combo is always a button press away, as are two special moves. You can configure exactly what you want on those buttons, so if you'd rather have push-button access to all three speeds of Ryu's fireball, that's an option, as well. The configuration is saved on a per-character basis, letting you set up each fighter just the way you like. You can also enable auto-blocking, which works as advertised. If someone throws an attack in your direction and you're not in the middle of attacking or recovering, you'll block it. The catch is that the damage is temporarily shown on your life meter, almost as if you absorbed the blow with a focus attack. The life slowly restores to your meter, but if you're hit with an actual attack, all of that potential energy is drained. This helps keep players honest and prevents the auto-blocking from getting too powerful.

In the pro control setting, you can only place multi-button combinations onto those touch screen buttons. By default it'll let you pull off a focus attack or push all three punch or kick buttons simultaneously. But the rest of the game plays as it did on consoles. You'll have to execute all of the moves on your own, something that isn't too tough to do with the system's D-pad, though my big left hand certainly cramped up a bit after putting some serious time in with the game.

The big control problem in the 3DS version of this game is that the lite mode breaks the rules of the game, allowing for balance-changing situations that would be impossible under normal circumstances. Specifically, charge moves--Guile's flash kick, for example--can be executed without them charging first. Without the need to hold down for a moment before rising up into a flash kick, Guile can follow his sonic boom projectile in and, if the other player decides to jump over the projectile, Guile can flash kick them right out of the air, no questions asked. This gets frustrating when you take the game online.

When you attempt to find an online opponent, the default option lets players with either control scheme intermingle, and you don't know ahead of time if the other player is using auto-block or which attacks they have mapped to the touch screen. But it's easy to tell once a fight has begun, as players flash whenever an auto-block is performed. I've played quite a bit of Street Fighter over the years, but the way moves can come up without being charged is forcing me to unlearn the rules of the game, something that'll probably make me worse at playing the game on consoles in the long run. And even though dismantling these players isn't all that hard once you know what to expect, it's just no fun to fight Guile after Guile, knowing that they just intend to execute standing flash kicks whenever possible. Now, you can filter your searches to ensure that you're only matched up with pro mode players, but in my experience, almost no one is playing that way. I found exactly one taker when searching specifically for pro mode players... and he quit after I beat him once. Frustrating. 

 The console version's achievement system comes over in the form of medals.
Visually, SSFIV looks great and makes good use of the platform's 3D option. The backgrounds sink into the screen effectively, giving a great sense of depth while also not causing the same sort of swimmy stomach that some 3D games can. Of course, the impact of 3D on your constitution will vary, so if you don't want to deal with it at all, you can always disable it. While the backgrounds do look great, they're also completely static. All of that movement from the console versions of the game is gone, so the hippo won't walk up to you over the course of a match, and you can't dragon punch the wing off of that plane. Even without those animations, though, the game still looks great. In an attempt to emphasize the 3D capabilities of the display, Capcom has included a "3D view" option that gives you a sort of over-the-shoulder camera angle on the fight. In a game that places such value on knowing how much space is between you and the other fighter, playing around with the camera angle seems like a misguided feature that detracts from the experience. But it's optional and worth looking at once or twice, just to see how the 3D makes it all look.

Getting into online matches quickly and easily is probably Super Street Fighter IV's strongest component. It even seems to be faster and more reliable than its console counterparts, with none of the "unable to join session" errors that plague Capcom's other fighting games, but once a rush of domestic players get their hands on the system, it's anyone's guess about how that will change. It's just a bit disappointing that most of those online matches are slightly marred by the way the lite mode allows players to perform tasks that would be impossible under normal circumstances. But even with that caveat, the numerous features and options make Super Street Fighter IV one of the best games available at the launch of the 3DS.     Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
58 Comments
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Posted by MacGeorge

YES! 

Posted by MooseyMcMan

As always, Jeff, nice review. 

Moderator
Posted by cstrang

It's a review review.

Posted by drag

Links to this review are a bit screwy.

Posted by Hyperfludd

I wasn't really going to pick this up considering I have the console version (and the fact that I'm so used to MvC3's super fast pace) but thanks to a deal I got from a friend, I can essentially have one 3DS game free. I think I'll use that for this. Thanks for the review, Jeff.

Posted by abdo

Great first review, and a great game it seems. Hope that all coming 3DS games are just as good.

Posted by MrKlorox

I love review reviews!

Posted by KuribosShoe

Awesome, I knew my choice of street fighter for my launch game would be well founded.

Posted by Synthballs

Kinda wanting this. I like fighting games but suck at em. This looks like its aimed at me.

Posted by craigbo180

I accidentally commented on the review of regular ass street fighter...

Posted by Underachiever007

Finally, a review review.

Posted by Sayishere

buying this on launch

Posted by Video_Game_King

I'm guessing he reviewed his own review of the game. If he didn't, he should.

Posted by Enigma777

Why should I get this when I have SSF4? I doubt I'd want to play a game as involved as SF on the go. Not to mention the lack of fighting stick support (granted that would look ridiculous).

Posted by CookieMonster

I love reviews of reviews. 

Posted by NickLott

I'd like to hear the about the online situation a couple months down the road if it's still hard to find anyone playing without assists.

Posted by TheKing

Picking this and Pilot Wings us Sunday with my 3DS.

Posted by ThePhantomnaut

GO GET 3D PAID.

Posted by JackSukeru

Actually, since I didn't pick up SSFIV anyway, I'm a little interested in getting this.

Posted by LordAndrew

Review review? Aw, sounds like I missed something fun.

Edited by Contro

The Custom section in the online mode is there for a reason, but I hear what your saying, I would have liked to have seen the Pro mode better defined in the online arena. It is still early days, wait till seasoned payers mix in. What they've done for it's accessibility does makes sense, I can understand Capcom's decision, even as a old SF fan who prefers it raw. A Nintendo platform is a great place for the franchise to grow among younger players, in order to create the next generation of fans. And lets not forget where it all started at home - Super Nintendo.

Posted by Brendan

I probably won't be picking this up when I get my 3DS (because I totally caved and decided to buy one day 1 when I found out I could get it for like 70% off by selling all the DS stuff I'll never use again), but it looks like a solid version nonetheless.  Good review Jeffrey.

Posted by Mr_PORC

Thanks for the review Jeff, a good thorough one as usual. 
Only problem I have: how can you make not finding pro players online the biggest flaw of a game that hasn't been released yet. Hell, even the system hasn't! Any chance you'd give the review an update, say, about a month after the game's out? I think by then your appreciation of the online mode could be much more accurate. 
But again, thanks for the review, can't wait to try the game for myself!

Posted by JJOR64

Seems like a solid version of the game.  Will stick with the console version though.

Online
Posted by Animasta
@Mr_PORC said:
" Thanks for the review Jeff, a good thorough one as usual.  Only problem I have: how can you make not finding pro players online the biggest flaw of a game that hasn't been released yet. Hell, even the system hasn't! Any chance you'd give the review an update, say, about a month after the game's out? I think by then your appreciation of the online mode could be much more accurate.  But again, thanks for the review, can't wait to try the game for myself! "
Japanese players have it you know
Posted by LordAndrew

Okay, online sounds fine. I know what to look out for, and there's sure to be more people playing pro mode once the game is released. Online play was my main concern, but reading the reviews it looks like that turned out fine. I'll probably get this game at launch.

Posted by LordAndrew
@Laketown said:
" @Mr_PORC said:
" Thanks for the review Jeff, a good thorough one as usual.  Only problem I have: how can you make not finding pro players online the biggest flaw of a game that hasn't been released yet. Hell, even the system hasn't! Any chance you'd give the review an update, say, about a month after the game's out? I think by then your appreciation of the online mode could be much more accurate.  But again, thanks for the review, can't wait to try the game for myself! "
Japanese players have it you know "
Can you play against them with the North American version? Jeff doesn't mention anything about that in the review.
Posted by Mr_PORC
@Laketown: 
I know, but online gaming overseas sure ain't the same connection-wise (I should know, I live in Europe).
Posted by GalacticPunt
@JJOR64 said:
" Seems like a solid version of the game.  Will stick with the console version though. "
3DS players can breathe a sigh of relief.  You were obliterating everyone with E. Honda on TNT!
Posted by Mechanized

Looks good, but I already have the PS3 version and playing this on the go has no appeal to me. All that's left is 3D and unfortunately that's not enough to justify buying the game again. Maybe if they added a few new characters or a survival/team battle mode. But alas.

Posted by Korne

Jeff has been reviewing a lot of games lately... puting the rest of the crew to shame. 
Also, why are we getting reviews of SSF4 and not Okamiden or Ghost Trick?
Posted by LiquidSwords

Sounds awesome! Great review Jeff!

Posted by Eversoranimus

Didn't play the console version so this should be a good pick up when I get the 3ds, thanks Jeff.

Posted by OllyOxenFree
@LordAndrew said:
" @Laketown said:
" @Mr_PORC said:
" Thanks for the review Jeff, a good thorough one as usual.  Only problem I have: how can you make not finding pro players online the biggest flaw of a game that hasn't been released yet. Hell, even the system hasn't! Any chance you'd give the review an update, say, about a month after the game's out? I think by then your appreciation of the online mode could be much more accurate.  But again, thanks for the review, can't wait to try the game for myself! "
Japanese players have it you know "
Can you play against them with the North American version? Jeff doesn't mention anything about that in the review. "
He has mentioned that he has played against Japanese players so yes. Worldwide Street Fightin', baby.
Posted by LordAndrew
@Korne said:
" Also, why are we getting reviews of SSF4 and not Okamiden or Ghost Trick? "
Because it's Street Fighter, and it's also a 3DS launch title.
Posted by detectivepbert

God damn it, another 4/5?!?!?  How are we supposed to compare games and decide which ones to play.   

Posted by Korne
@LordAndrew said:
" @Korne said:
" Also, why are we getting reviews of SSF4 and not Okamiden or Ghost Trick? "
Because it's Street Fighter, and it's also a 3DS launch title. "
But it's a port of a game that was an expansion to a game... and pretty much plays like those games (with some tweaks that seem to undermind what makes those games so good). On the other hand, we have a sequel to the best adventure game of the past 5 years that we never thought we would get, and an excellent Story/Puzzle game from the developers of the Ace Attorney series.
Posted by Scribbly

That gamebreaking thing for charge moves seems like a glaring oversight, I hope they patch it so the whole online is not people scrubbing Guile.

Posted by BBQBram

Getting this tomorrow. That's right, europe gets it's earlier!

Posted by AlisterCat
@Korne said:
" Jeff has been reviewing a lot of games lately... puting the rest of the crew to shame. Also, why are we getting reviews of SSF4 and not Okamiden or Ghost Trick? "
He's a secret. You will never be getting a review of Ghost Trick from Giant Bomb. There will be Okamiden coverage.
Posted by Scarabus

Being able to execute charge moves instantly is probably not as game breaking as you'd think. I could argue that charge moves are faster to execute than shoto-type quarter circles because good players are always charging -- to release the attack at the flick of a wrist at any possible moment.
So for most situations you could always do this, except this game makes it easier control-wise.

Posted by Kjellm87

4 stars is a relief, gettingit

Posted by dudeglove

Yet another reason why Guile is shit. Isn't there at least a cool down timer on the special move touchscreen buttons in lite? I'm pretty sure Bleach on the DS had something of the sort.

Posted by LangarN

even on the iphone version you had to charge.. thats weird

Posted by SuperSambo
@Korne said:
" @LordAndrew said:
" @Korne said:
" Also, why are we getting reviews of SSF4 and not Okamiden or Ghost Trick? "
Because it's Street Fighter, and it's also a 3DS launch title. "
But it's a port of a game that was an expansion to a game... and pretty much plays like those games (with some tweaks that seem to undermind what makes those games so good). On the other hand, we have a sequel to the best adventure game of the past 5 years that we never thought we would get, and an excellent Story/Puzzle game from the developers of the Ace Attorney series. "
I am an average gamer. I want to know how the 3DS games are, and I have no interest in the two games you mentioned.
 
Why cover two obscure games that have no wide spread appeal when you can cover launch games of an anticipated product that will bring pages views?
Online
Posted by Korne
@SuperSambo said: 
I am an average gamer. I want to know how the 3DS games are, and I have no interest in the two games you mentioned.  Why cover two obscure games that have no wide spread appeal when you can cover launch games of an anticipated product that will bring pages views? "
I can see this argument against Ghost Trick, since it is more of a novel with puzzle gameplay splitting up the major story elements, but Okamiden is a whole other beast. You can call Okami obscure, but it out Zelda-ed Twilight Princess. It is one of the better looking games, one of the better playing games, and the one of the funnest games of the last generation. So what I am saying is it should have wide spread appeal. By not getting the coverage it needs, it is destined to fall to a pretty good port of a game that was released years ago.
Posted by LordAndrew
@SuperSambo said:
" Why cover two obscure games that have no wide spread appeal when you can cover launch games of an anticipated product that will bring pages views? "
Okamiden and Ghost Trick are the biggest recent DS releases. Giant Bomb has uploaded four videos of Okamiden. They've also uploaded eight videos of Ghost Trick, one of which is a Quick Look. Giant Bomb obviously does believe those games appeal to their users. The 3DS launch just happens to be bigger. If Giant Bomb had bothered to review more than fifteen games this year, those games may have indeed been reviewed.
 
Remember, Giant Bomb didn't even review Red Dead Redemption, one of the biggest games of last year and winner of multiple Game of the Year awards.
Posted by AxleBro

i feel like guile on lite will be the most broken thing ever, it will be like that video of the pc version of the game modded to where guile threw sonic booms without charging.... totally mapping those buttons to spam sonic booms, too awesome of a thing not to break. this can totally be used to lock people in block stun since guile recovers so fast from sonic booms, sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- sonic boo- KO

Posted by SolracFB

The charge thing is crazy and should be patched. Otherwise this will end up like MarioKart on the DS where snaking was so abused it eventually made the game not fun to play online. They can keep the option to map a special, super or ultra to a soft button if they want, but there is no reason not to require a charge first. In the iPhone version supers and ultras can be executed just by tapping their meters, but charge characters still need to charge before tapping the meter. Why did they change that??

Posted by mithhunter55

Good review Jeff

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