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Yoshinori Ono reassures TVG that Super Street Fighter IV hasn't been dumbed-down for the 3DS...
Imagine our disdain: we sat down to go hands-on with SSFIV 3D Edition at Nintendo's European press event for the 3DS last month only to find that Supers and Ultras had been simplified down to a simple tap of the 3DS' touch screen. As the action unfolded on the top screen, the bottom screen displayed four touch-sensitive panels and, playing as Ryu, these panels were assigned to Hadoken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and both his Super and Ultra special moves - all fully automated. We filled up with anger... 'So you're telling me, Capcom, that I spent sizeable portions of my childhood mastering the subtleties of charge and rotation special moves only to be betrayed by this?!'
It seemed a bit like changing the rules of football by making the goals three times the size and halving the length of the pitch - is there even any point in playing? Dejected, we ambled into a developer roundtable conference with the man, the legend: Yoshinori Ono, Capcom's Producer behind Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV, and now this 3DS Edition:
"With Specials, Supers, and Ultras being simplified down to a tap of the touch-screen, do you think you may be taking away the prime motivating challenge for Street Fighter players?" we asked.
"I guess you're a fan of the Street Fighter series," Ono-san responded. We nodded enthusiastically.
"And actually, with people like you in mind - real fans - we've actually created a mode where you can take that out. And then for online 'Versus' battles, there's actually a mode where only people who have turned off the touch-screen controls can join. So you can search for only those people who have turned them off.
"If you look back at Street Fighter for Super Nintendo - that's only 20 years ago - all these old guys who say, 'My thumb hurts - I can't do the moves any more'," Ono-san continued. "These are the kind of people we're considering and this is why we've added these additional touch-screen controls."
Everybody clapped, and rightly so. We never should have doubted Ono-san and Capcom. After all, the publisher hasn't steered us wrong in the past where gameplay difficulty is concerned. Let the casual gamers have their unfulfilling cake and eat it - all the while, we'll be chowing down on SSFIV 3D Edition's 'Pro' mode (as Capcom has dubbed it) rather than the touch-screen enabled 'Lite' mode. Beyond these changes though, the 3DS Edition actually comes very close to the quality and standard of its bigger brother on consoles. Capcom's art style has certainly been kind in the translation, successfully masking jaggier textures, but the overall appearance of the animations is certainly in the same ball park as what you'd find on the Xbox 360/PS3 versions.
The 3DS' trump card is, of course, its autostereoscopic 3D display, which doesn't stand out (pun unintended) quite as well in SSFIV as it does in some of the other competing 3DS titles. One very obvious reason for this is the game's side-on display which, having originally been styled on classic 2D fighters, was never going to be that conducive to a 3D display. This is presumably why Capcom has added a 'Dynamic' camera option that takes its view from just above and behind the right-hand shoulder of your fighter. With perceivable draw distances between you and your opponent, as well as a stronger sense of entrenchment within the environment itself, it'll come as no surprise that the 3D effects are more convincing from this 'Dynamic' view. Still, it does feel a bit weird playing a fighting game from this perspective and we can't see it becoming hugely popular with hardcore fans.
Where SSFIV 3D Edition does appear to be readying a master-class of the 3DS' hardware, though, is with its Street Pass feature. Street Pass is a form of 'always on' wireless communication that effectively allows the 3DS to play meta-games against other 3DS units nearby without the users even being aware it's happening. In SSFIV's case, players will be able to exchange, trade, and download figurines that will then automatically battle the figurines of other passersby (as long as they have a 3DS and SSFIV, of course) while you're buying a hotdog, for example, or maybe robbing a bank - whatever it is you do when you're out in public effectively. These figurines then earn points and experience with each fight they successfully compete in against a nearby and willing 3DS unit.
But it's the sheer breadth and coverage of SSFIV 3D Edition's features and modes that's really impressive. All the modes from the console versions have made the jump onto the 3DS, as has the existing character list of 35 fighters (all of which are unlocked from the outset alongside Alternative and Super Alternative costumes). Online 'Versus' battles will be available, as will local wireless battles with a game sharing option. Should the host of a game sharing lobby drop-out, then the remaining players can continue playing in the session even if none of them have a cartridge. The 'Dynamic' camera angle is available in these local wireless matches and isn't persistent between each player, so that one can play from the 'Normal' view and the other can use 'Dynamic'. There's even a 'Channel Live' feature that lets players view other live matches from all over the world. Make no mistake, this is one stacked video game.
Capcom has created a version of Super Street Fighter IV for the 3DS that's as close to the home console versions as we possibly could have hoped for, while new features such as the Street Pass figurine battles and 'Dynamic' camera view also make the game feel innovative and well suited to the platform. Street Fighter purists are certain to balk at the prospect of fighting with a handheld console's thumbstick and will be left longing for the control pads they once maligned, but that's an unavoidable problem really. This 3D Edition is undoubtedly going to be one of the must-have titles for the 3DS at launch.
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