To grasp the appeal of Street Fighter and its subsequent sequels, you need to understand the mindset of your general hardcore fighting game fan. For instance, when they see someone on the street crouching, their thought process is: medium jumping kick, crouching light punch, standing medium into a two-in-one dragon punch. It’s a rough life, and does not do much to help in the fight against those who believe video games have ill-effects on the player.
The engine, with the tweaks and complexities introduced over the years, has changed little, hence why the mindset remains the same. Those combos still work. It has become instinctive, bringing about merchandise such as t-shirts with nothing more than a fireball motion on it. What Street Fighter does not earn enough credit for it its versatility.
The engine allows for staggering diversity, from the seemingly legitimate Makoto to the absurdly wacky Hakan, the latter a Turkish oil wrestler (!) who must douse himself with oil before reaching full strength.
Despite his bizarre appearance, completely asinine move set, and illogical brawling, Hakan fits. Part of that is the familiar Capcom style and another part is the openness of the Street Fighter universe itself. The final part is about learning, and realizing that yes, using your oiled up body to propel someone across the screen is not only effective, it’s satisfying. It is the urge to figure out how the developers have managed to yet again fit something so goofy into a tightly wound, precise franchise, and still make it work.
Hakan is brutally difficult to use and master, yet that is the challenge and eventual satisfaction. The other newcomer, Juri, is easier and familiar. Bringing forth the last few new challengers, T. Hawk and Dee Jay, is also aided by fantastic balancing. The Street Fighter IV engine works even without the complexities of Street Fighter III.
With the added time afforded by this Super update, Capcom has instilled additional fan service. The inclusion of Final Fight veterans Cody and Guy leads to numerous references to the original game, including the poor Mad Gear member wondering why you smashed up his car in the bonus stage when you use one of those two.
Also, the music… Not much can be said about the simply awe-inspiring closing credits theme, filled with remixes of classic Street Fighter themes aided by heavy drums. If anything, it proves these timeless themes still work, adding flair as well during rival matches. Hearing Ryu’s iconic music kick in as he battles Gouken is gaming intensity perfection, carried over into the new eight-player online endless mode that should have been in IV in the first place.
Super Street Fighter IV does not radically alter the landscape or the formula. In some ways, that’s great, as the mindset of a fighting game fan might change from a simple combo into oil wrestling tactics with disastrous results… eww. In other ways, it is simply building on what seemed like perfection, a goal that seems unattainable, yet here is a franchise that continues to do so with every entry.
Super Street Fighter IV is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Alcohol Reference, Suggestive Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3.