Recently, a newcomer to SRK announced his frustrations with Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. It came as a bit of a surprise, since this player has come a long way from his humble beginnings as a novice. Yet in spite of his rapid progress, he candidly stated something I didn't expect to hear.
The game isn't fun.
Experienced players know there's more to Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition than meets the eye.
This isn't the first time I've come across players lamenting the absence of entertainment value in today's modern fighters. Sentinel ring a bell? The endless complaints about that character's dominant attributes in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, compelled Capcom to release a patch for several gameplay glitches deemed unreasonable, in addition to drastically reducing Sentinel's damage output.
It's safe to assume that we may see something similar with the latest iteration of Street Fighter. Actually, it's not even appropriate to consider it a "new" installment. Arcade Edition is really nothing more than an expansion pack, originally released as an arcade exclusive to keep the scene fresh and exciting. From a casual perspective, its a retread of Super Street Fighter IV with four new characters (Evil Ryu, Oni, Yun, and Yang), but experienced players know there's more than meets the eye.
Shout-outs to character rebalance. Makoto fans will undoubtedly be singing praises now that she's been restored back to her godlike Third Strike glory. Dee Jay, Sakura, and Ken also must have been well-behaved this year, since they were all blessed with either improved damage output, attack recovery, combo options, or a bit of all the above. Meanwhile, other fan favorites weren't so lucky (depending how you look at it). If you've grown accustomed to abusing Cammy's TKCS, Seth's jump-back fierce, or Balrog's ability to "just do it" with randomly pressing any normal, you should know they've all been hit with the nerf hammer. It's a good thing they didn't tinker too much with Chun's abilities, though now I'll have to think twice about trying to style on opponents using Ultra 1. In the past, this attack completely connected, regardless of who you went up against, and now, the final attack with the Ultra completely whiffs in the corner against certain characters, leaving poor Chun defenseless. Yeah, your guess is as good as mine: it's a pointless adjustment.
Like any conventional fighter, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is an entertaining game . . . if you know what you're doing. It's imperative that you extensively research the finer points in this game, especially when you take into account that the twins (Yun and Yang) are extremely broken. They both possess an extensive amount of rush-down and mix-up options that can easily open you up if you're unfamiliar with the frame data and spacing. Third Strike fans are going to be in heaven, though even in the hands of an average player or newcomer these characters still pose a threat. So a word to the wise: don't take the twins for granted or you'll probably regret it.
If you're not particularly fond of Shotos, then the reality of facing against an army of Oni and Evil Ryu opponents isn't going to sit well with you. Oni is quite unlike Akuma in his original form. Yet, despite the lack of vortex options, dive kick, and teleport, he makes it up with a new suite of Gouken-inspired attacks that can create a wealth of mix-up option with damaging results. Evil Ryu, now an all-time favorite for "flowchart players," features an attack style that will seem very familiar to Akuma fans.
Assuming you're already familiar with the Street Fighter concept, you'll find very little has changed over the past 27 years. You have 99 seconds to beat your opponent senseless, or spend a good portion of that time attempting to elude defeat running from one side to the other. Unless you're Vega, I strongly recommend that you focus on getting down the fundamentals (i.e., spacing, execution . . . combos). The movelist isn't quite as complex or extensive as in Mortal Kombat or Tekken, so once you master the ability to perform quarter- and half-circle motions, you'll be one step closer to using about a third of the cast.
With arcades being non-existent throughout the country, it's a safe bet that you'll be investing most of your time playing online with friends or random opponents. With the arrival of the Arcade Edition expansion pack, I had hoped Capcom would offer a bit more flavor to the multiplayer modes, but it seems there was only enough in the budget to sprinkle a tweak or two for Endless Battle and Replay Mode. Every other mode remains unchanged (and sadly, untouched for months by members of the fighting game community).
A host can now personalize his lobby to attract specific players based upon character/skill preference using several preset messages that say things like, "I only play with Chun-Li" or "Looking for players under 1000PP." You can assign your lobby type to play against opponents who desire playing the original Super Street Fighter IV, Arcade Edition, or both. Opponents actively playing Arcade Edition are recognized with a golden diamond and a dogtag imprinted with Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. Conversely, anyone playing on the previous version will be distinguished with a silver tag.
The Replay Channel has now been enhanced with the ability to follow up to five online players at any given time. This is a great feature that helps you keep track of friends or specific top players throughout the globe. You'll receive notifications each time a new match has been uploaded, which can be accessed in your personal Replay Log to view at your leisure for further analysis. I should point out that this feature works in conjunction with Ranked Matches only, so if by some rare chance they play Endless Battle exclusively, YouTube or getting on their Friends List may your only alternatives for learning their tricks of the trade.
The Elite Channel is dedicated specifically to players who maintain a specific PP level, though this metric isn't always the best way to measure "great players," since one can always spend a few hours grinding away online.
Despite Capcom's official stance that this would be the final release for Street Fighter IV, recent reports suggest that additional development isn't out of the question. If that's true, I wouldn't mind seeing an update that rebalances the game - and while they're at it: do more with DLC. I am not just talking about costumes, but how about some new stages, or introducing classic stages from the previous Street Fighter installments? Give us remixed music from underground artists and expand the options. We need incentives to keep coming back, and recycled goods with half-baked ideas won't cut it for much longer.
(Review is based upon the DLC, not the actual retail disc of Super SF4: AE)