Games: Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Review

You’d think that messing with something as near-perfect as Street Fighter IV would create as many problems as it solved, but Capcom have always appeared to be one step ahead of the pack in that department. Last year’s Super Street Fighter IV was not only a great introduction to a new set of characters, but also a re-balanced and re-tweaked game that felt even more like the definitive article. New characters appear again in the new Arcade Edition, but for hardcore fans it’ll be the under-the-bonnet refinements that will probably compel the most. And if you’re a PC owner, this is SSFIV’s debut. And you shouldn’t even think about missing it.

The gameplay changes aren’t clandestine amendments either, and when you boot up the game you can read through a detailed ‘Updated Information’ section that lets you know exactly what has changed. In addition, if (for example) you have online friends who don’t own this new version, you can easily switch the game over to the previous iteration via the option menu. That said, the two games are cross-compatible online (following a recent patch) so you’ll still be able to do battle with players of both versions, although the new characters are for Arcade Edition players only.

The new characters blend in perfectly, as expected. Evil Ryu, Yun and Yang have all been seen in previous games – and the latter pair are still as lightning-fast and geared towards offensive play as ever – but the solitary (true) newcomer is Oni who is basically the non-evil incarnation of Akuma (with a little bit of Gouken thrown in) with a little more meat on his bones and slightly less power overall. Evil Ryu resembles his less-satanic counterpart quite a bit – and his move-set is more-or-less identical – but the kicker is that he shares much of Akuma’s blunt, thunderous power.

If you’re a relentless completist – and games like Street Fighter do tend to invite such people – then you’ll be happy to hear that new titles and icons (as well as trophies and achievements) have also been added. Another welcome addition – perhaps inspired by the recent Mortal Kombat reboot – is that you now can name your online ‘Endless Battle’ lobbies, and SSFIV’s extensive replay theatre has been expanded too, with a new ‘Elite’ option that allows you to watch clips of the world’s finest players in action. It’s daunting, to be sure… but also fascinating and resoundingly addictive.

In addition to this, you can also keep tabs on up to five individual players via the mode; which is spectacularly helpful if you’re focusing on perfecting one character in particular. As far as fundamental shifts go – in the power and priority of certain moves and characters – it’s a little too early to acknowledge all of them. But it’s readily apparent that two of the most powerful characters in the last game – Sagat and Zangief – have been noticeably dulled, which makes the battlefield feel a heck of a lot more even than it did previously.

How much you get out of the new Arcade Edition of Super Street Fighter IV depends on how much you put into it, and if you’re an intermittent, casual player who tends to enjoy a previous iteration primarily offline, then it isn’t essential by any means. New characters aside the gameplay tweaks aren’t hugely drastic but if you’re a hardcore disciple, then this is a no-brainer; and all you need to know is that the wealth of covert nips and tucks have only improved things. And if you’re a newcomer, then the Arcade Edition is definitely the version to get. And if you’re a PC gamer? This is beyond essential.

Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is out now on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.

Watch the Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition trailer here: