Defining the competitive line
Following the many playtests, leaks, and months of a handful of arcades housing the actual arcade version of Super Street Fighter IV, the latest (and possibly final) iteration of Street Fighter IV now arrives onto consoles. Unlike the transition from Street Fighter IV to Super Street Fighter IV with its major overhaul in interface and features in addition to expanding, Arcade Edition is more of like icing on top of Super with a focus on tuning. Players who can't get enough of the games and seek more competition should be able to enjoy this amazing, if partially flawed, expansion while newbies and casual players should pass on the download and maybe wait for the physical release.
From Super, Arcade Edition adds four more characters into the fray totaling in a massive set of 39. Three will be familiar to fans while a new fighter makes his debut in Arcade Edition.
Consumed by the Satsui no Hadou once again, Evil Ryu returns to the Street Fighter canon ever since Street Fighter Alpha 2 and 3. His playstyle is still reminiscent of combining various aspects of regular Ryu and Akuma. While Evil Ryu has the same movesets as his normal self including the traditional fireballs and dragon punches, he is capable of teleporting, flame fireballs, and doing combos like Akuma. Adding to Evil Ryu's arsenal is an axe kick that really helps in performing powerful combos. He also bears a raging demon as a super combo while he can either pick a chargeable fireball or have powerful dragon punch strikes for ultra combos. Akuma players should be home with Evil Ryu but will have to deal with the lack of air fireballs and having the same stamina and stun rankings.
Even if Akuma has had a recurring expansion of himself as the powerful Shin Akuma, it was not until now with a new conversion by the name of Kuruoshiki Oni (or Oni for short). Akuma players might also be able to try Oni with ease. His normal fireballs for example disappear across the screen unless charged and instead of a flame fireball, it's electric. Oni also has a similar hurricane kick and dragon punch approach to Akuma. He can even perform a raging demon in the air. What makes Oni unique though is a different set of moves that can be comparable to Gouken's own array. Oni can air dash away, towards, or even above an enemy and he can also do a fast air to ground pound attack. Another move is his slash attack and if used correctly, players can cross-up enemies and then perform one of his ultra combos that can be used horizontally; also vertically, or during mid-air in other situations. Oni's second ultra is probably the most visually stunning out of all in the game and is better left seen. His utilities are really good for those who want to create mixups and traps but will have to stay consistently offensive.
The last of the bunch are the brothers Yun and Yang from the Street Fighter III games. For those experienced in playing or fighting at least one of them in the previous games including Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike will know that they are very good even with completely different movesets. Yun is no exception especially after his dominance in the 3rd Strike tier list. His capabilities are to be feared once again thanks to dive kicks and combos that can pressure exceptionally. For those who fall for his Genei-Jin super combo will have to deal with effective juggle combos. Yang ain't no slouch either thanks to his multi-slash ground game and poking tactics. In comparison to every new character in Arcade Edition (and possibly even the rest of the cast), the Chinese twins are the most effective.
That said, new characters also mean move and performance changes to existing ones. The modifications in comparison to both original and Super Street Fighter IV can be divisive. Some characters such as Ken improved overall to fair much better against particular matchups while others like Guile and E. Honda worsened in a questionable level. It's not all black and white though as even boosts like Zangief's additional range in his command throw are dubious. If your character received the shaft and prefer still playing as them, you will have to work a bit harder when fighting but expect the win to be more rewarding.
One of the last things to help coincide with the release of Arcade Edition is the updated Replay Theater. Now players can check out a special channel dedicated to top ranked players' recent replays. They can follow up to five of their favorite players' saved replays around the world into their own personal channel for future viewing. The follow feature expands to the leaderboards which received a small but detailed upgrade where they can check out any player and see their most recent saved game. In game, stat information including placement with a currently used character is also displayed.
A snag that might turn off players is the lack of trials for the new characters. When selecting the mode, it reverts back to Super. It's an unfortunate consequence for those who might not know the new characters. They will have to look for videos on the internet and hope for the best.
With all of this new content, do they justify the $15 USD download? Despite being questionable in character refinement and lacking in introducing new players to the additional fighters, there is enough content to enjoy over. Casual players might as well save money until a possible price drop in the future or sell their copy of Super and buy the physical version of Arcade Edition. For those who want to keep up with the competition and train for Evolution in Las Vegas or just for their local effort, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is an absolutely necessary download.