The “Super” in Super Street Fighter IV equates to ten additional characters, including two originals, a few balancing tweaks, some new Ultra Combos, and a few new game modes. At its core, SSFIV utilizes the same fighting mechanics and visual presentation as the last game in the series. A few characters have been fine-tuned, most notably Cammy, who is now a bit easier to play with, and Sagat, who is noticeably less dominant this time around, but for the most part, players’ techniques from the previous game will still be just as effective here. Each character has also received a new Ultra Combo, adding an extra layer of depth and strategy to fights. Instead of having both Ultra Combos available at all times, though, players need to select their finisher of choice before the fight starts. The minor tweaks make most characters feel more satisfying to use, and for the super-hardcore fighters out there, the tiny timing differences will equate to countless hours of re-learning characters’ every nuance. The only conspicuously untweaked issue I could find was Fei Long’s Ultra Combo, which doesn’t always juggle opponents properly, but overall, the slight changes make the fighting action incrementally better.
SSFIV’s biggest selling point is its upgraded roster. Whereas Street Fighter IV featured 25 playable characters, Super ups the count to 35. Eight existing Street Fighter characters join the fray, ranging from Super Street Fighter II characters like Dee Jay and T. Hawk, to Alpha characters like Adon, Cody, and Guy, to SFIII characters like Makoto, Dudley, and Ibuki. The Street Fighter series has such a large and varied line-up that no roster would have made everyone happy, but Capcom has done a good job selecting a cast that represents the many corners of the Street Fighter universe. The new characters are well-implemented, and add a good amount of balanced variety to the game. In addition to these returning fighters, two completely new characters also enter the fight: Juri, a sinister South Korean spy and Taekwondo master; and Hakan, a Turkish Yağlı güreş wrestler who covers himself with oil during matches. Juri is a nice, easy to use fighter who specializes in speed, range, and difficult-to-read timing. Hakan, on the other hand, is decidedly a character for experts. His fighting style relies heavily on repeatedly dousing himself with oil during matches, which increases the range and damage of many of his moves. He’s not for button-mashers, but hardcore devotees should find Hakan to be a unique fighter who is worth mastering. It’s also worth noting that Seth, the boss in the Street Fighter IV series, is now playable online, and while he has received a new Ultra Combo, he has been significantly weakened, allowing him to be used as a legitimate online fighter, and making boss battles far less infuriating than before.
Perhaps the biggest complaint about Street Fighter IV was its relatively thin online site. Super Street Fighter IV improves upon this aspect by adding two new game modes, with a third on the way via free DLC. Team Battle Mode pits teams of 2, 3, or 4 against one another, with each player taking on an opponent in one-round combat. It’s a great game mode that allows less skilled players to fight alongside experts and still gain battle points. Endless Battle mode is even more addictive, simulating the experience of putting your quarters up in the arcade by offering winner-stays-on action for up to 8 players. The ability to watch other players’ matches makes this mode significantly more enjoyable than any online mode from its predecessor, and it’s extremely easy to lose hours at a time, even if you lose often and spend most of your time simply watching others battle. A new Replay Mode allows players to save, view, upload, and share footage of their best matches. The system is a bit oddly implemented and slightly clunky, but it’s a nice addition that’s worth checking out, and one that’s sure to improve with future iterations. Those who long for the simple, nostalgic fun of breaking falling barrels and smashing up a car, a la Street Fighter II, will be well served by SSFIV’s Bonus Stages, which, once unlocked, can be played at any time. They aren’t groundbreaking, and most players won’t spend a ton of time on them, but they’re good for a few runs, and offer another diversion for the downtime between epic bouts. An all-new Tournament Mode is on the way, via DLC, but since it’s not in the retail release, it can’t be considered for the review. That being said, a robust 8 or 16-person tournament mode would definitely increase the game’s replayabliity.
By its very nature, Super Street Fighter IV is a whole lot like Street Fighter IV. For experts of the last game, the learning curve for the basic controls of Super is nonexistent, though learning all the new characters will take a while. Players who already spent $60 on the original may balk at re-buying an updated version, but for those who haven’t played 2009’s best fighter, this $40 package is an incredibly good deal. It’s not much different than its predecessor, but it’s better in pretty much every way. The new characters are welcome additions, as are the new game modes, and the small adjustments made to the game’s balance make SSFIV an even more engaging experience. If you weren’t a fan of the original IV, there’s really nothing here to sway you, but for fans of tight, accessible fighting action with a great deal of depth, it’s an excellent bargain, and a game that many are sure to be playing five years from now.