Since launch Street Fighter 4 has gained high review scores accompanied by bombastic sales numbers. A good amount of VFers already gave in, bought SF4, and returned disappointedly without ever quite leaving the VF scene. Capcom’s hype – also caused by their now-matured, original SF2 players – is taking hold of the more hardcore VF player base.
I asked VF veterans whether Street Fighter 4 is worth a VFer’s cash. And Konjou Akira, who we know from VFDC, US gatherings, and his blog, answered.
What follows is Konjou’s opinion in his very own words.
I don’t think Street Fighter 4 is worth the cash of a hardcore VF fanatic. Unlike most people who know the Street Fighter franchise, I knew the franchise in its origin (Street Fighter) before it’s evolution as the 2-D king of fighting games. Fifteen years ago when I first saw the original Street Fighter at the arcades with its pressure-sensitive punch and kick buttons I was blown away by the concept of how hard you hit the buttons made the difference of how hard your character would strike his opponents. I don’t think many people even remember this version of the machine before it adapted the six button layout. The game was short lived due to its unbalanced damaging system and lack of character variety. That all changed when Street Fighter 2 debuted at arcades all across America. I can’t explain how many hours of my life was dedicated to this game nor the amount of money I spent on it. I remember as a kid even when I had no money I would still go to the arcade to watch the game anyway in hopes of learning something new about it.
As time went on we saw Street Fighter take on many forms, but somehow remaining close to the core of what made it so special. During the same time that Street Fighter was evolving we saw many new fighters come on to the scene offering great new and innovative ideas. We saw games such as Mortal Kombat which has a simplex system, but an awesome feature that allow you to humiliate your opponent by killing him at the end of the match with – what Midway called – a Fatality. Another game which I thought was awesome was Primal Rage. This was another game from Midway who was surfing on the success of the blood and gore wave that Mortal Kombat invented. Primal Rage also features a similar fatality system which was widely accepted, but the game was short lived due to its very complex fighting system. I don’t think during that time the gaming world was reading for a game that require you to constantly press and hold anywhere from 2 to 3 buttons just to get an attack out. Capcom, being a very strong competitor, knew they had to step up their game. And that they did.
Many years later with all these new fighting games and street fighter clones such as Fighters History competing for 2-D supremacy we saw Capcom introduce another Street Fighter game that change the whole playing field. Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo came onto the gaming scene like a massive earth quake that shattered the land all across American. If you played games back then during those times then I am sure Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo was at the top of the list. It completely set the standard of 2-D fighters, but what it also started that most people didn’t notice was Capcom’s brain washing.
If you compare the Street Fighter 2 series with Street Fighter 4: in my opinion, it’s exactly the same. I perfectly understand that this is what Capcom was trying to achieve, but the fact that they are calling this new and innovative is just wrong. A fierce punch still looks like a fierce punch 15 years ago and the same high Tiger shot, low Tiger shot, “oh they jumped!”… Tiger uppercut setup from 15 years ago still works. In my opinion they could have just called this anything but Street Fighter 4 and it would have been fine. I perfectly understand that Capcom was reaching out to its veterans to bring them back to the arcades and also trying to give the newcomers a chance to experience what made this game so great. I really tip my hat to Capcom because they got it right… they hit the nail right on the head.
In terms of innovation though, I don’t understand how they can call the Focus system new. All they did was take tidbits from two of their most popular systems. In the past years Capcom introduced the Custom Combo system which was greatly accepted by Street Fighter fanatics and veterans like me. It was a very simple system that allows anyone the ability to pull off some pretty cool-ass combos. I think this is what started the whole combo era that the new generation of gamers loves so much. I think games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK 2 proves that. Ten years ago Capcom bought some real innovation to the table when they introduced Street Fighter 3’s Parry system. A system that was accepted with mixed feelings by the veterans players. I would think a lot of them didn’t like it because the normal same old repetitive Hadouken, Shoryuken strategy no longer worked. Some veterans stuck it out and ending up liking it. As time went by, Capcom eventually tweaked the system by giving players the ability to use it from a blocked state. While it was difficult to do it from a block state it was still nice to have the option for anyone who wanted to dig deeper into the game mechanics. I don’t think there has ever been a balanced Street Fighter game, but the Parry system did its best to even the playing field for a lot of characters. The Focus attack seemed to have combined these two features into one allowing combo fanatics to use it to cancel moves so they can continue a combo while also allowing the user to use it as a simplified form of Street Fighter 3’s Parry system to stop their opponent’s next attack (granted it’s a single attack or special attack without armor breaking properties). Is this innovative? I seriously think not!
Like I said, if you look at the overall goal that Capcom was trying to accomplish I think that they have reached it. All across America fans of the series are flocking to arcades and once again proudly placing their quarter down on the machine calling “NEXT!”
As a hardcore Virtua Fighter fan I can say that Street Fighter 4 just doesn’t offer enough to make me want to invest serious time into it. It’s still the same old thing from 15 years ago with the exception of the Gears Of War style graphics that Capcom has used to detour people from seeing that this game is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The best thing that came out of Street Fighter 4 was the AWESOME tournament edition controller that was produced by Madcatz, thanks to Seth Killian. I think hiring Seth Killian as the community spokesperson is the best thing that Capcom could have ever done. Honestly I wish Sega or any other company for that matter would look into making a similar move. If Sega needs a spokesperson for the United States I strongly recommend they reach out to our very own Gerald Abraham aka LA Akira. He would be the perfect person for the job as he is fluent in English and Japanese and has a fairly decent understanding of how the business works. The other great thing that came out of Street Fighter 4 is that damn catch theme song from Exile – The Next Door… “Indestructible! I won’t let anybody break me down… Indestructible! Nothing is gonna stop me now… Indestructible! ”
Next up: Leonard McCoy tells why he traded in Street Fighter 4 after only 3 days of playing.