Street Fighter IV Impressions vs. Street Fighter III : New gizmos, Gadgets gazette Blog

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Street Fighter IV Impressions vs. Street Fighter III

Street fighter iv impressionsTwo days prior to my hands-on experience with Street Fighter IV, we held an impromptu Street Fighter III: Third Strike tournament at the offices of Massive Black. My Elena versus Crecente's Ryu wasn't so much a contest as it was a total bloodletting. (Ultimately, though, the Massive Black guys made the three Kotaku editors look like scrubs.) In Crecente's defense, he was more transfixed with Street Fighter II Champion Edition and largely ended his love affair there. I, on the other hand, latched on to every arcade release, through Super Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alphas I-III and all three iterations of Street Fighter III.

But the entry in the series that Street Fighter IV is largely modeled after, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, was the one that I actually spent the least amount of time with.

Regardless of my familiarity with that entry, jumping into a game of IV was like riding a bike. Sure, the bike was being kicked at by those already more experienced with the newest Street Fighter, and I was saddled with Crimson Viper for my first taste—she's overpowered at this point if I can take take on serious players while reading her move set from the cabinet—but much of the timing felt comfortably familiar.

And while timing, move sets and character rosters may have shifted considerably over the past seventeen years—each properly numbered sequel has its own inherent "feel"—there was much about Street Fighter IV that appealed to the gameplay nostalgic within.

It's hard when seeing Street Fighter IV in person for the first time not be wowed by what proper 3D could do for the series. Seeing Dhalsim, my default, with realistically rubbery extremities helped put aside my 2D purist moaning. Capcom's smart camera work for some of the game's more dramatic moves—say a Final Atomic Buster from Zangief or Houyoku Sen from Chun-Li—add a level of reward for pulling off a successful "ultra move."

The 3D engine adds some lovely effects to many of the characters super moves. Chun-Li's jellyfish-like projectile, for example, looks, well, even more jellyfish-like in three dimensions. Gorgeous lighting effects from Viper's electric attacks cast spooky blue light upon herself and her opponents. Dhalsim's fireballs, however, look wispy and meek.

As I find myself playing more Street Fighter III: Third Strike than anything else in the series these days, it was harder to adjust to the newer, more offense oriented play style. But coming to grips with a lack of parries and adjusting to the new Revenge moves, which add an exciting layer of strategy to IV, I found myself almost dreading going back to III's rules.

One thing I did like about Street Fighter III was its wacky cast of characters, regardless of how clunky characters like Q or flat out bizarre fighters like Twelve turned out to be. But that doesn't mean I'm not a fan of the meat and potatoes offerings on hand for IV. I hope Ono and crew do look beyond the second game in the series for inspiration. Whatever happened to Geki, anyway? And can we get a decent version of Poison to play around with?

I can understand producer Yoshinori Ono's wishes to bring Street Fighter back to the masses after the dwindling appeal of Street Fighter III. As someone who could never compete on a competitive Third Strike level, my best fighting game years well behind me, I appreciate what Capcom is trying to do with IV. It appears to have a welcoming surface, full of big, bright, memorable characters with an impressive depth for hardcore veterans.

My hands-on time with Street Fighter IV, painfully brief as it may have been, certainly made the wait for the console versions that much more distressing. It may not have been exactly what I wanted, as far as a jump from Street Fighter III, but it turns out I may have been wanting the wrong thing. This is a solid fighter, one that I'll be keeping even closer tabs on than before.

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