Ultra Street Fighter IV
Arcade Edition 2012 lasted for over two years — the longest out of any version of Street Fighter IV — and for a while it seemed unlikely that Capcom would release another update. Tournaments still continued to rise in prominence as streaming grew in popularity and the publisher took a more active role through special events like the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Tournament and the Capcom Cup. The community also grappled with longstanding issues like sexism, collusion, bracket floating, and unreliable payouts. Fans wanted more, so the developers gave them more. The result is Ultra Street Fighter IV, a new $15 upgrade, as well as the Capcom Pro Tour, which builds upon its earlier efforts by instituting a points system that will determine who makes it to this year’s finals in December.
Above: You have to admire Poison: She not only rose from the streets of Metro City to become a ring promoter, but she also somehow knows how to throw fireballs without any training. She could even use them back in the forgotten 3D brawler Final Fight Revenge.
Image Credit: Capcom
Street Fighter X Tekken came out after Version 2012, and it became a solid, rewarding fighter after several patches. But early gameplay problems, an unnecessary Gem System, and fan backlash over Capcom’s dowloadable content practices suffocated its chances to grow in the competitive scene. Still, the game featured Poison, Hugo, Rolento, and Elena — characters who people have requested for years — so the developers imported them as well as a handful of stages over to Ultra SF4. It actually works out well. Final Fight alum Poison has a versatile moveset that she gained by purchasing a whip and watching bootleg footage of Ryu and Fei Long, but she didn’t fit in well at all in a game built around high-damage tag-team combos.
Above: Rolento demonstrates the new EX Focus Attack or “Red Focus” mechanic.
Image Credit: Capcom
Out of the four SFxT newcomers, fans have clamored for Rolento the most. This soldier was a challenging boss in Final Fight, but he really rose into prominence in the Street Fighter Alpha series and Capcom vs. SNK 2 thanks to his multiple jump angles and his high-priority baton strikes. He’ll be a challenge to use, however, since his lower damage and poor escape options balance out his mobility.
Kenya’s capoeira queen also makes her long-awaited appearance in the SF4 series. Elena focuses on fast ground movement and tricky high/low mixups that she can employ from a fairly far range thanks to her long legs. These can lead to great rewards once she conditions her opponent to block. In this prerelease tournament [above], Justin Wong patiently pushes England’s Ryan Hart into the corner where his Sagat has to take risks to escape.
Ultra Street Fighter IV also adds the most game-changing mechanics to the series yet. Ultra Combo Double enables warriors like Blanka, who have two good Ultra Combos, to use both of them in the same match at the cost of reduced damage. EX Focus Attack uses half the super meter to absorb an infinite number of hits as well as opens up new combo possibilities. Capcom fixed air attacks that created unblockable situations (well, not all of them), but also added the capability to delay your warrior’s wakeup. These additions will hopefully place emphasis back on classic fundamentals and outwitting your opponent, as well as give perennial SF4 underdogs more options.
Above: The Street Fighter Alpha games explored Cammy’s past as a Shadaloo Doll, but she clearly escaped before she learned the crazy stuff.
Image Credit: Capcom
Capcom also announced a new character for the update and spent the better part of the year teasing who it was. She’s a woman. She appeared in comic books before. She’s speedy. Fans had wild guesses like Gouken’s daughter or R. Mika’s wrestling partner, but they expected more than Decapre, the blatant Cammy clone the company revealed at Atlanta’s Final Found tournament. Disappointment aside, M. Bison’s masked assassin is actually an interesting addition with charge-based moves, fast strikes, and scary teleport mixups. If only she wasn’t the centerpiece of an extended guessing game that hid how, despite having so many additions on paper, USF4 doesn’t have much in terms of 100% new content.
This update is also represents Capcom’s largest attempt to gain fan input on balance changes as it hosted demos at major tournaments throughout development. For example, Ken now has a faster walkspeed and gains improved attacks to emphasize his persona as the aggressive counterpart to Ryu. The biggest change, however, was the team’s decision to nerf invincible moves like Ken’s Shoryuken. Previously, players could use Focus Cancels to make these techniques safe and maintain their offense without much risk. Now doing so is more punishable, forcing players to think before they uppercut.
Above: Hugo will do whatever it takes to squish you with his massive body.
Image Credit: Capcom
So, is the game more balanced than before? If you can gleam anything from this article, it’s that the perception of who is great changes over time, and the developers can only do so much to anticipate imbalances. The console version of USF4 has already removed a planned improvement to Dhalsim’s medium kick that made it extremely difficult for the screen-covering heavyweight Hugo to get near him in the arcade version. But you don’t pick Hugo because of matchup numbers or tier lists, do you? You pick that German monster because his gargantuan power will leave the other guy fuming. Hugo is in your soul!
So pick who you have fun with. Your World Warrior is going to have things about them you don’t like or have enemies that have a hard time overcoming, but you should use someone you like if you’re going to spend the time and energy it takes to get even remotely good in this game. The tool that will improve your skill the most isn’t who you play as, but your attitude.
Founded in Japan in 1979 as a manufacturer and distributor of electronic game machines. Since then, Capcom has expanded in all areas of the videogame industry and has offices in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; Sunnyvale, California; London, En... read more »
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