Review by SuperPhillip
"Don't Just Take It Outside-- Take It Anywhere."
The Nintendo 3DS's launch was pretty lackluster in terms of games. You had a watered-down version of Pilotwings set on only one island, a content-deprived doggone shame in Nintendogs + Cats, a game that would make you want to shout "mayday" in Steel Diver, and several third-party offerings that make you realize why third-parties generally do so poorly on Nintendo systems. Thankfully there was one diamond in the rough, in the desert of despair, in the forlorn abyss-- and it was from Capcom. Capcom loves porting games to as many platforms as possible, and this trend and tradition continued with Street Fighter IV. Armed with all of the original content, DLC, and features of its console brethren plus special 3DS-exclusive goodies, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition was the launch title to seek out at the 3DS's arrival.
Arcade mode is the meat and potatoes of the game, and that is where most of your single-player action will take place. It is made up of eight rounds (ten if you choose to select the two bonus rounds of demolishing a car with your fists and taking out a series of rolling barrels in a distillery). The seventh battle is always one against your character's rival, and the last fight is against the boss character of the game, Seth. There is no single unified story in Super Street Fighter IV, and that bit of knowledge holds true for the handheld version. All that is linked between each of the 35 individual and unique characters is that S.I.N., a division of the sinister organization known as Shadaloo, is holding a martial arts tournament and each fighter desires to stand tall and achieve victory. Nonetheless, each character has their own means, methods, and reasons for entering the tournament as well as side stories. For instance, series veteran Ken Masters is about to become a father for the first time while comic relief and major talker Rufus is for some reason after Masters, seeing him as his rival. Meanwhile, Dhalsim is in the tournament as a way to save his struggling African village. Each fighter's arcade journey starts and ends with an anime cutscene. The latter cutscene is animated more than the opening one, but both remain gorgeous to look at even if they don't appear in stereoscopic 3D.
What does appear in stereoscopic 3D are the menus and battles that take place in Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. There are over 20 arenas in the game such as airfields, volcanoes, city streets, skyscrapers, ports, bays, jungles, drive-ins, and much more. Unlike the console versions the backgrounds in the 3DS installment are entirely devoid of motion. There are no onlookers cheering you on, grass wavering in the wind, or any other type of movement. This is either because the 3DS isn't powerful enough or the game was rushed out for launch. This is the only part of 3D Edition that comes off as rushed if so. Regardless, the 3D effect is nice and pronounced, the cel-shaded characters look incredible, and the option to play with the exclusive over-the-shoulder perspective really puts you into the fights. For sound, the voice acting is quite good if sometimes heavy-handed, and the music fits each stage wonderfully.
Combat in Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is made for beginners as well as pros. You can easily customize the bottom screen's four windows and tap them to automatically perform your fighter's moves. You can set any move to the four windows from Shoryukens to Hadoukens to setting your fighter's Super and Ultra Combos. This makes the game much more inviting to fighting game neophytes like myself who have trouble remembering and inputting button combinations to pull off moves. However, it's important to note that the touch screen is entirely optional. You can completely ignore it if you so wish to do so. Additionally there is an option to set auto-blocking for each character. I had to use it as even on the easiest of difficulties my butt was getting kicked left and right and up and down. The rival battles are particularly challenging and sometimes for the wrong reasons. The AI, I swear, can read your moves better than you can.
The game makes use of all of the 3DS's buttons. You can opt to use the circle pad or the d-pad to move your fighter around. The Y and B buttons are used for light punches and kicks, the X and A buttons for medium-strength punches and kicks, and the shoulder buttons are utilized for heavy attacks. Tapping both the light buttons initiates a throw, used to thwart always blocking opponents like myself. If your opponent taps the buttons at the same time, they dodge your throw attempt.
As you do battle your revenge gauge rises as you attack and as you are attacked. When all four bars are filled you can perform a Super Combo or decide to use EX attacks which extinguish a bar of your revenge gauge. You can also use devastating Ultra Combos when you gauge is at maximum to either clinch a victory a snatch a win from the jaws of defeat.
Outside of Arcade Mode there's a wide range of features to try out. Each character has a Trial Mode to play through. Each trial has you inputting a series of button presses to perform a move or series of actions on a dummy character. There's also hundreds of titles and profile pictures to unlock, medals to earn for completing various tasks (think achievements/trophies), and 500 figurines to collect either through using points accumulated through arcade mode to spin a roulette wheel to win new ones, through StreetPass battles, or through trading via local wireless connection between two 3DS systems.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition was also the first 3DS game to support online Wi-Fi play. You earn battle points (BP) for wins which give you higher ranks. You can choose to allow open invitationals to fight as you progress through Arcade Mode or you can opt to duke it out with friends or random strangers on your own schedule. Depending on how far away contenders are the lag varies. I have multiple matches where the lag was completely absent while other contests were hard to play with how much slowdown there was. Of course, if online play isn't your strong suit, you can always battle locally with friends assuming they have 3DS systems of their own.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is an excellent fighter for a platform that is quickly becoming synonymous with the genre. What with Tekken, Dead or Alive, and Blazblue on the handheld, the 3DS is already blowing away its predecessor in the genre. As for the game, the touch screen controls and beginner options allow for even those without fighting game finesse to enjoy the game without the need for studying and memorizing all of those strenuous button combos while those who wish to forgo said touch controls can do so easily. The 3D is quite good and looks sensational on the 3DS's screen, the inclusion of all of the DLC from the console versions in the form of additional costumes is much appreciated, and the game is well suited for the Nintendo 3DS. Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is an approachable and accessible fighter that both pros and novices can pick up, play, and pulverize with.
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/14/12, Updated 02/15/12
Game Release: Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition (US, 03/27/11)
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