Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition Playtest: Finally A “Tool”

By Ishaan . May 1, 2011 . 4:48pm

Once upon a time, back when the original Street Fighter IV was first announced, the project’s producer, Yoshinori Ono, would refer to it not as a game, but as a “tool”. In interviews he gave and public presentations he conducted, Ono continually stressed that Street Fighter IV was designed to be something players could “use” to learn how to play fighting games.


Whether or not Street Fighter IV achieved that goal in particular is rather subjective. While the game was relatively easy to grasp at its most basic level, comparing a Hadouken to using a screw driver would have been stretching it. For starters, rotating a screw driver over and over until your screw is in place is a far easier and more instinctive process than the set of button inputs required for a Hadouken (quarter circle forward + Punch).


Hadoukens were just the tip of a very tall iceberg, too. There were also Spinning Bird Kicks, Flying Powerbombs, Oicho Throws and what-have-you, each with their own inputs. This was a case where one would have to learn to use the tools themselves before being able to apply them. The key difference between a Hadouken and a screw driver in this regard, however, is that we’re used to using our hands and fingers in certain ways, and not so much in others. Learning to use a screw driver is a relatively simple prospect; tools have been part of civilization since the days of neanderthals. Street Fighter hasn’t.


People can often understand what a tool is meant for simply by looking at it, holding it in their hands, or — best of all — being given the chance apply it to some cause. Since you can’t hold a Hadouken, the only way to understand what to do with it is to use it (quarter circle forward + Punch).


This is where Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition comes in. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition adds something to the game that the console versions couldn’t: touch control. 3D Edition has two kinds of 3DS-exclusive touch-control options that work in tandem with regular buttons. The touch controls make use of four customizable digital buttons displayed on the Nintendo 3DS touch screen. There are two types of touch controls: “Pro” and “Lite”.


The Pro feature allows you to map any of the game’s six offensive buttons (the three punches and kicks) to the four digital buttons on the touchscreen. This allows you to, say, forego the use of the L/R shoulder buttons and opt to assign the L/R moves — the high punch and kick, by default — to the touchscreen instead. Or perhaps you’d prefer to have all three punches on the touchscreen. Or all three kicks. Or two punches and one kick. Controls in Pro mode are freely customizable, and since shoulder buttons aren’t easy for everyone to adapt to, this option by itself is rather nice to have.



The Lite controls are what really make the game, though. Using the Lite controls, you can assign not only punches and kicks to the touch screen, but also special moves. Instead of performing a “quarter circle forward + Punch” motion each time, you can simply assign a Hadouken (of Weak, Medium or Heavy level) to a touch screen button. You can also do it with a Spinning Bird Kick or a Flying Powerbomb or an Oichi Throw.


What this effectively does is actually turn the Hadouken into a tool that you can start using right away. You tap the button and a Hadouken comes out (it’s like magic!). All of a sudden, you’re not worrying about how to use the tool — instead, you’re more focused on the different ways in which it can be used. You could use it to do damage to your opponent. You could use it to instigate them into jumping. You could use it to defend against their Hadouken. You could even perform a Hadouken and “cancel” it into another attack by quickly tapping the second attack on the touch screen.


For players that aren’t the most adept at fighting games, the Lite controls finally do turn Street Fighter into a “tool” that’s more about timing and thinking than about struggling to learn to use it. Lite controls also come with the added benefit of allowing you to try out characters that you haven’t tried before. I’ve never been a fan of the “charge” variety of characters, but with Lite controls, I don’t find them nearly as frustrating to play as.


Super Street IV 3D Edition has a very competent online mode that complements the Lite controls nicely. There’s an abundance of opponents to play against over the Internet, and I’ve come across many, many players that have beaten me up over and over again, teaching me something of value about timing and using your moves smartly each time. One Ryu player in particular made me want to keep fighting him, despite the fact that I only ever managed to beat him once, just because I’d learn a little something about fighting against Ryu each time I faced him. The best part was that I could try out different strategies in each new match with relative ease, largely in part due to the Lite controls.


Lite controls also have an interesting side-effect on certain moves. For instance, I find that assigning a hurricane kick to the touch screen will allow Sakura to perform the move just as she’s lifting off from her jump, which I’ve never been able to do on the console versions. Some might call this “game-breaking,” but then again, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition isn’t a replacement for the console versions of the game — just a different, equally fun way to play. Personally, I view it as a supplement to the console versions; a “trainer” or “coach” of sorts, if you will.


Food for thought:

1. Using the 3D effect in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition makes a great difference to the game’s visual quality. While it certainly doesn’t look bad in 2D mode, raising the 3D slider up even a tiny notch (so the 3D effect isn’t “turned off”) makes the game more saturated and colourful, and individual objects tend to stand out better.


2. Keep in mind that you also have the option of filtering online opponents depending on whether or not you want to face Lite players, so there’s room for the more traditional-minded player, too.


[Update: Edited the line pertaining to Sakura’s hurricane kick for clarity.]

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  • Ace

    This is an interesting Easy mode for new comers…

  • KHSoraKeyBlade

    The only thing I hated about the touch control was how much it is spammed online, I know I could simply change the rules but I myself find it easier to use the super/ultra combo technique. It’s really annoying when I come up against someone and all they do is spam hadouken or whatever other move, blocking is obviously key but you still do get hurt :/ Nevertheless I really enjoy this game :D

  • nyobzoo

    touch controls….hello broken, no charge, Guile :(

    • Exkaiser

      Freed from the restraints of charging, Guile is here to ruin our days.

      This is why I switched to not fighting people using Lite controls online. So many Guiles.

    • also honda

  • PrinceHeir

    im actually beginning to like fighting games on handheld. with Tekken dark resurrection and 6, Blazblue CT and CS 2, Dead or Alive Dimension, and now this.

    sure it might not be competitive compared to their console versions, but having to beat your opponents on the go is definitely refreshing :)

    as for SSFIV 3DS. might get it. i don’t mind the casual mode on handhelds. the lite is a cool feature for players who are not into fighting games.

    how does internet play from 3DS work? is it only 1 region depending on the game?

    • The online’s pretty good! You can play with people across the world. Something I did notice, though, is that it’s easier to find opponents by allowing other players to challenge you while you’re playing Arcade mode. I usually tend to have a constant stream of people challenging me to fights whenever I do this.

      • PrinceHeir

        oh so it’s kinda like in the arcades except in online. fighting AI opponents while waiting to be challenged huh? cool

        im guessing it’s only wireless play no? can the PSP even do this? i don’t know how to play online in the PSP but the 3DS seems to promote this feature well.

        • Wireless play? Not sure what you mean, sorry… If you’re asking if you can play both over Wi-Fi and local wireless, yea, you can. :)

          PSP can very much do online multiplayer, but I think developers in general have ignored that aspect of it. We asked Team Ninja why there was no DOA on PSP, and their reply was that they felt they’d have to sacrifice online play, so there’s definitely some sort of obstacle there that hasn’t been entirely publicized.

          For the record, the only PSP game I’ve played online is Wipeout Pulse, and that worked pretty well.

          • PrinceHeir

            yeah that’s it :D

            can you also play locally via wifi?

            i see, well i played a bit of wipeout pure it was fun ^^

            i saw at youtube that you can play your PSP games online via PS3, it seems handhelds are evolving more as time goes on :D

  • Exkaiser

    I’m not that good yet, myself, but I’ve been playing in pro mode. Having all three punches/kicks mapped to the right touch screen buttons definitely makes ultra combos a lot more comfortable to use without making them cheap.

    In the alpha games, I would usually just forgo high-level Supers since I find it awkward to throw the shoulder buttons into inputs like that.

    “For instance, I find that assigning a hurricane kick to the touch screen and using it right as I’m jumping will allow Sakura to perform the move in mid-air. Some might call this ‘game-breaking’…” Hm? I use Sakura’s midair shunpukyaku all the time.

    • Well, more like you can make it go in an arc now, from ground to really high in the air to ground again, rather than strictly starting the move up either in the ground or in the air. Somewhere in between that I’ve never found possible on the non-3DS versions.

      I’ve updated the line for clarity so people aren’t confused. :)

      • Exkaiser

        Ah, alright, that makes more sense!

      • Istillduno

        That was always possible, the trick is to do the motion on the ground quickly adding an up direction in the way you want to go and pressing the button just as your character leaves the ground, the game stores the imput for the special for a short time allowing you to do it close to the ground.

        This is probably why most ariel specials aren’t overheads.

        A better example of lite input changing the actual gameplay would be with charge characters, the charge time on the moves is there to balence out how good they are and there is no way to get round the charge time without lite controls. (Buffering whilst comboing doesn’t count as getting round it since it still imposes restrictions on what you can do whilst you combo)

        Also I think lite controls actualy hinder player’s development more than it helps them, stuff that is inntegeral to any level of gameplay beyond throwing stuff out and hoping the other guy doesn’t block like buffering a special so it comes out after a normal and focus attack dash canceling are much more intuitive doing the normal motions since your hands aren’t having to dance around between the touch screen and buttons.

        Also learning the moves really isn’t that hard, the common hadouken is something most competant gamers will pick up in minutes (seen plenty of people pick up their first fighting game and throw them out wth ease after a round or two) and even the more complicated moves aren’t that much harder as long as you have a good d-pad. (ie. Most official products which aren’t the 360 or first gen psp pad.)

  • eilegz

    i hope that they will release a free AE update or any kind of DLC in a future

  • As someone who was never good at Capcom fighters, I was able to approach SSF43D and just have fun without the competitive feel I have with fighters (DOA and Smash Bros are more my forte). It’s just plain fun and I can really get into liking the characters from a franchise I couldn’t ever get into.

    On another note, I really enjoyed reading this review. Props to Ishaan because it was extremely well written. As someone of the tail end of earning a BA in English, I had fun analyzing it. Since I’ve been drowning in the studies in rhetoric and style, I can respect that you used the context of Ono’s quote of SF4 being a tool and using that as the theme of this review. There’s no better way of stating the functions of the Lite controls than “you’re not worrying about how to use the tool — instead, you’re more focused on the different ways in which it can be used.” Brilliant line. Gaming journalism can use more reviews such as this. Thanks for seeing the game in my eyes.

    …I’m gonna quit procrastinating my final paper now.

    • Thanks! Reading this made my day. :)

      Like you, I love fighting games but I’m not very good at them. I have no problems with super moves, basic combos, things like Focus Attacks in SFIV and the like, but the minute we get into techniques like dash-canceling or long combos or “mix-ups,” I find it really hard to keep up.

      I’m a big, big fan of how Ono views fighting games in general, especially his emphasis on the “tool” approach. The problem for me is, I think SFIV, despite how approachable it may be, felt like a tool for the more elite player, rather than people like us that actually have a lot to learn about the basics themselves. Seeing Super IV 3D finally address this makes me so happy.

  • xflame10

    these screens are all crappy quality the game look much better in action :P just sayin.

  • YsyDoesIt

    Admittedly, I am Terrible at Capcom fighters (san Capcom vs SNK). This game, however, has such an awesome capacity for pick-up-and-play casuals that makes this game, especially with an WiFi hotspot near by, almost feel like a portable arcade wherever I go. I’m eager to play new people I’ve never met before, be it casuals, beginners, intermediates, and pros alike (the latter giving quarter-less demonstrations of how awesome you *could* be).

    I am curious about one thing though and would welcome an answer from the knowing:

    Attempting the challenges for each character, I find I have a hard time completing even the simplest combos (ex. Standing M Punch > Crouching M Punch). This gets to be mildly discouraging only because I know I’m not totally inept at fighters. Is this strict timing a staple of Street Fighter IV through arcade/console iterations or is it perhaps some strange translation to the 3DS’s buttons? Or me? Which I can handle. ;D

    • I don’t think it’s just you…I have a really hard time doing some of the simpler Challenge Mode combos, too, hahaha. In fact, Standing Medium > Crouching Medium is precisely the type that I keep trying over and over and over…

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