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.]