The best portable fighting game experience to date.
I have to admit: I was only interested in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition for the Nintendo 3DS simply because it was the biggest launch game for the portable. I’m a fan of the series, but not a serious fanatic. I needed something to play besides the built-in games. A multiplayer fighting game as my handheld’s first purchase? It just didn’t make sense. I wasn’t expecting much depth, even after reading Ryan’s preview, and I knew I wasn’t going to be playing it for too much longer once Zelda and anything else noteworthy releases.
Holy shit, was I wrong. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition isn’t just the best portable fighting game, it may be one of the best online multiplayer fighting games I’ve experienced yet.
Name: Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
It’s a massive accomplishment. Capcom has managed to fit everything that the HD console versions of SSFIV have into a tiny little cartridge no bigger than a stamp. Not only that, but they’ve added some new modes, new control options, and a whole new dimension. This isn’t a throwaway port. The characters are all there and are all unlocked from the start; their alternate costumes and colors in tow. And thanks to the improved heft of the 3DS’s processors, they all look extremely good on the small screen. The bonus stages, challenge modes, trials, and more all make the same leap onto the diminutive device.
One of the best features of SSFIV3D is that it maintains the online multiplayer experience that makes the console versions so good. The connection is good, as is the ability to create lobbies for random battles and friends (granted you’ve added their 3DS Friend Codes). Even though the handheld just launched and the relative amount of SSFIV3D owners is probably still pretty low, I had no issues with finding battles, even at odd hours of the night. Just like SSFIV on consoles, the online experience includes battle points and ranks, which allows you to face-off with the competition anytime and anywhere. Although the experience lacks a leaderboard, the online multiplayer is still solid.
I did, however, have my ass handed to me almost every time. I know. Blaming the controls is a common excuse for a loss, but it really is the only major hang-up with the game. In actuality, it’s not even the game’s fault; the 3DS has horrible shoulder buttons that are too small and don’t quite press in well. In order to push them while trying to pull off a special move or a combo, I have to contort my hands, often jarring the 3DS and causing the screen to go haywire in view. This is completely a fault of Nintendo’s design and not Capcom’s efforts, and a future 3DS design might fix the issue. Luckily, Capcom has remedied this in a novel way by including four programmable touch screen buttons. These can be programmed to be single button presses (Pro) or special moves and combos (Lite), executing them effortlessly. Before you panic, know that multiplayer can be set to use one or the other so that it’s not an unfair advantage. Personally, I found it to be a great way to alleviate the control issue.
Touch control scheme aside, there are also several other new features that make this more than a rehash. Firstly, it’d be remiss not to mention the 3D visuals. The menus are designed to look like layers floating on top of each other, with various levels of transparency and drop shadow. It’s a classic look. The actual battles look like epic dioramas played out with action figures. Dropping Guile in a battle versus Bison almost feels like playing with GI Joes. It’s a very cool effect. Even more cool is the Dynamic Mode view. This over-the-shoulder vantage point re-orients the screen to a perspective from behind the fighter. It makes judging distances for moves even more important, and is a welcome and great idea for a fighting game. In fact, I felt that with the 3D slider turned all the way up and the effect to the max I was able to pull off my first online win as I judged the distance between the fighters better than my opponent did.
Street Fighter also now utilizes the 3DS’s Streetpass functionality. Teams of Street Fighter figurines are arranged, and as compatible 3DSes pass each other the data is exchanged and battles take place, where more figurines can be won or traded and even leveled up. I was only able to try it once thus far, passing through a Gamestop, but my team was clobbered. It’s a nice little social experience that gives me a smile when it randomly takes place.
Super Street Fighter IV 3D is more than just a compliment to the console versions, it’s a full version of Super Street Fighter IV. Barring a few hardware issues, the game is near-perfect. I went from picking it up because I felt that I had to, to enjoying it so much that I’ll be playing it for a long, long time after launch. This isn’t just a great fighting game on a handheld device, it’s the greatest fighting game on a handheld device, and may even be one of the best fighting games on any device over the last few years. I can’t recommend this more.
Who should buy/play this:
Everyone who bought a Nintendo 3DS
This review of Super Street Fighter IV was based on a copy of the game purchased by the reviewer. The single-player mode was completed with several characters, several of the training and Bonus modes were played, and several online multiplayer matches were completed.