Fighting games on portable devices are notorious for being gimped ports. It wasn’t until recently, with the releases of BlazBlue, Tekken, and Soul Calibur for the PSP, did portable versions even come close to matching their console counterparts. And then there’s Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition for the Nintendo 3DS. Not only does it have nearly every feature from the console version, Capcom also opened up the gameplay to a new audience with intuitive touch screen controls, all without making major compromises to the core mechanics. That’s not to say that the transition was perfect. Some sacrifices had to be made. Despite that, this is easily the most impressive launch title for the 3DS.
As with the console version of Super Street Fighter IV, 3D Edition features 35 playable characters to choose from, all of which are unlocked right from the start. That’s 10 more than what was included in the original SFIV released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2009.[drop]To recap, the newcomers include Dee Jay and T.Hawk from Super Street Fighter II Turbo; Guy, Adon, and Cody from Street Fighter Alpha; Makoto, Dudley, and Ibuki from Street Fighter III; with Juri and Hakan making their series debut. Super SFIV also gives the entire roster a secondary Ultra combo, which essentially adds a new layer of depth to each character. All of the balance changes, new stages, and gameplay modes have made their way to the 3DS. Even the first two sets of alternate costumes, which are available as DLC for the PS3 and Xbox 360, have been included in the package.
All of the modes you’d expect from a fighting game are intact. Arcade mode still includes prologue and epilogue movies for each character. The story itself isn’t all that worthwhile, but it’s still nice to have. In versus mode, you can fight against another player locally, battle against an AI, watch the computer fight itself, and even spectate local matches. Training mode has all the options from the console version and you can still record and play back commands. The 3DS version supports networks play via wifi as well, but we’ll get more into that later.
Challenge mode also makes the jump to the 3DS. If you ever wanted to beat up a car or break barrels, then this mode is for you. The bonus stages don’t really serve a purpose aside from breaking up the action. The most important addition is the Trial mode. Each character has 24 trials to complete. The challenges range from doing a special move to actually performing a full combo. While some of the trials are not practical by any means, it does give players an idea of what each character is capable of.
For whatever reason, there are no visual aids for any of the trials. It also would have been nice if players could see the inputs for each challenge without having to pause the game. Sometimes you just see the words “target combo” and you’re expected to know what that means. It makes no sense.
For those new to the game, Super Street Fighter IV is a six button fighter. There are three punch buttons and three kick buttons at your disposal, with light, medium, and heavy variations. It’s crucial to know that special moves have unique traits depending on the button used. Unlike Marvel vs. Capcom 3, you can’t create combos by just pressing a bunch of buttons. Super Street Fighter IV is a methodical fighter that requires a lot of precision. Sometimes you need to link attacks together within a single frame of animation. This makes the game a bit difficult for newcomers.
There are two meters to keep track of – one for Supers and one for Ultras. As you deal damage, take damage, and perform special moves, you are building toward your Super meter. When all four bars are filled, you can do a Super combo. Alternatively, you can do an enhanced version of a special move in exchange for one bar of your meter. These attacks are referred to as EX moves. The revenge meter, as the name implies, only fills up when you’re on the receiving end of pain. You can unleash an Ultra combo once the meter is at least at fifty percent. These moves are mostly cinematic and are great for making comebacks.
The biggest addition to the SFIV series is the inclusion of the Focus Attack. To activate this move, all you need to do is press medium punch and medium kick simultaneously. The first level simply acts as a normal attack. It can also lead into a crumple state if used as a counter hit, which allows you to follow up with another move. A level 2 Focus Attack is activated by holding the buttons until your character flashes. Hitting an opponent with this version will always lead into a crumple state. To perform a Level 3 focus attack you need to hold both buttons for the full duration of the animation. This results in an unblockable attack that crumples the opponent.
Focus Attacks can be used to cancel certain moves or specials in exchange for two bars of your Super meter. This allows you to correct a mistake or create combos that were once impossible to do. During the animation of a focus attack you’re able to absorb a single hit from your opponent without taking damage. Instead, you receive “white damage”, which recovers over time. Some moves can actually break through the armor of a focus attack, making it difficult to abuse. As you can tell, it’s a complex mechanic that changes the dynamic of the game.