Capcom Says Ultra Street Fighter IV’s Red Focus Is Meant For Casual Players

By Ishaan . April 15, 2014 . 1:03pm

Recently, Siliconera caught up with Ultra Street Fighter IV assistant producer Tomoaki Ayano to ask him a few questions about the game, and one the topics I brought up was how complicated Street Fighter IV has gotten over its many iterations.


The new Red Focus attack, I suggested, almost serves as this game’s equivalent of Street Fighter III’s parrying mechanic, while the delayed wake-up system adds a further layer of complexity in terms of defensive manoeuvres. Was the game maybe getting a little too complex, given that the original idea behind Street Fighter IV was to adopt a back-to-basics approach?


“I don’t really view the Red Focus system as being all that similar to parrying,” Ayano replied. “It was conceived as a technique to deal with incoming multi-hit attacks via simple button input. We see it as a way to bring more casual users into the fold and reignite interest among players who may have been sitting out of the Street Fighter IV series until now. It might bring the same kind of excitement to matches that parrying did, but we view it as a different beast since it is much simpler to pull off.”


“Now, delayed standing is most certainly intended for a more hardcore crowd,” Ayano admitted. “High level players had noticed some situations in previous iterations of the game in which their options were cut off, so we wanted to open things up a bit and allow them to have some control over their stand timing.”


He added, “I don’t see it as overcomplicating the game so much as offering a nod to both the casual audience and the more hardcore. It feels like we’ve achieved a nice balance between the two with these systems. I’m not actually against complicated systems that deepen a game, but I don’t think that’s what we’ve done here.”


I asked Ayano why the Street Fighter IV series has refrained from implementing an in-depth tutorial that covers the basics of fighting games. Even now, there are so many techniques and concepts—like zoning, for example—that are completely alien to amateur players, and a tutorial could help bridge that gap.


“We’ve taken a different approach with Ultra Street Fighter IV,” Ayano said. “Rather than implementing a traditional tutorial, we’ve added online training mode. You can explore the offline Challenge Mode to see how different moves are performed, but online training is best for practice. The way fighting games are played changes a great deal as the audience figures things out and play styles evolve. By allowing users to train with one another, they can learn about the most up-to-date techniques.”


Finally, another topic we discussed was that of Ryu. Over the years, Ryu has played an important role in helping newcomers accustom themselves with the intricacies of Street Fighter, and perhaps fighting games in general. One of the advantages Ryu has in Street Fighter IV is that his combos are incredibly simple to string together and even his normal moves are great at dealing damage. This makes it very simple for someone that plays Ryu to get better at the game. I asked Ayano why more characters aren’t given similar ease-of-use. Here’s what he said:


“In the West, you call these characters ‘Shotos,’ but we in Japan call them ‘Dougi wearers’ as they generally wear karate gis. Characters like Ryu, Ken, Dan, Akuma, Sakura and Sagat fit the paradigm, even though their costumes differ. Even Poison would fall into this territory as she has a projectile, a forward momentum move, and an anti-air attack (Ryu players will feel right at home with her).


“These types of characters, with an easy to grasp move set and the other qualities you mention make them an integral part of the game, but there’s room for much more variety in the character line up. We try to cater to a varied audience, and the characters themselves cover a lot of thematic territory—the whole concept of the game is to present a diverse cast of characters from around the globe, each with their own style and quirks. So, it’s always been important to us to maintain a stable of many different character types.”


Regarding Ryu himself, Ayano explained, “We have some users who have ideas on how to make Ryu stronger and a contingent of users who have ideas on how to weaken him. Obviously, we can’t go in both directions at once. This is when we return to the main design concept driving this game, which is to achieve an overall game balance that puts all of the characters on an even playing field. We can’t look at each character in a vacuum as they all link up in an intricate web.”

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  • Karysonson

    When are we going to get Street Fighter V?

    • Ninjagoon

      around 2017-2018. When everybody is almost guaranteed to have a PS4/XB1.

      • D. Collins

        Actually Sounds about right to me!

      • Tyler Beale

        And when Capcom will have money, which will happen when they start giving a shit again.

    • Kaitsu

      The real question is, “When are we getting the sequel to Street Fighter 3?”

      • LightSpdAeon

        hopefully that’s what SFV is.

  • psycho_bandaid

    You know, games like Blazblue and P4arena have taught me that all you need for casual players is a good amount of single player content. I have played so much of Arc system works’ fighting games and maybe like 2 matches online. I am definitely no a hardcore fan of the fighting game genre, but I can enjoy a game that is very complex simply because there is plenty to enjoy without playing with other people.

    Maybe someday Capcom will make their fighting games have a worthwhile single player again (Project Justice back on the Dreamcast was pretty good I remember). That would excite me a whole lot more than these gameplay tweaks.

    • AkuLord3

      They don’t have time and money to make fun good single player stuff. Just take challenge mode and our short cutscenes that make no sense in arcade and STUFF IT~ (maybe it will happen when they stop reusing the same game, even if Arcsys has done the same, at least they added in some offline modes and other things.)

      • Tyler Beale

        It’s not like Capcom doesn’t have the time or money (even before they dropped below $150M) to do it – they apparently just don’t feel like it, most likely because they don’t want to upset the professional players. And lately, it seems like when it comes to SF, all they care about ARE the professional players. So much to the point that they don’t care to add modes or epic stories beyond their anime openings and endings (then again, Examu does pretty much the same thing). Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a prime example of that. All we had are the Arcade Mode, Online Mode, Offline VS mode (which was excluded from the Vita version, for some reason), Training, Trials (which basically serves as the tutorial mode for professional players), shitty character endings, and not to mention the business practices.

        I mean, sure, we got Heroes & Heralds mode, but I’d hardly call that a story mode. Hell, I don’t even know exactly what the fuck I’m supposed to do.

        Earlier today, I just finished the story mode for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, and while I feel that it wasn’t quite as climatic as Continuum Shift’s final moments (mostly because they didn’t use the arcade opening right before the final battle, like they did in CS), it still blows anything Capcom has to offer out of the water in terms of sheer content. BB is a prime example of how to do a fighting game correctly (even though CP removed the Music Player, and the main theme selectable as battle BGM, both of which CS had).

        Even though CS EXTEND (on Vita) was my first BB, I know that Makoto, Valkenhyn, and Platinum were all DLC characters. And you know what they did? Rather than concentrate solely on their gameplay mechanics and shit, they actually took the time to add their own stories in Story Mode, and even integrate them into other characters’ stories too, when CSE came out.

        Basically, Capcom just needs to do better and not focus on the pro players. And if pro players have a problem with that, then they just need to #DealWithIt .

        • How could doing better stories offend the pro pro pros and nerds? You don’t make sense. IV like Zero/Alpha 3 is actually a game with many glitches and flaws to be taken too seriously, and after all this is just a game to be played and enjoyed by anyone from anywhere regardless of how much precious time they want or could choose to waste on it in place of doing something more productive.

          • Tyler Beale

            I never said that better stories would offend pro players. I only said that I feel like Capcom isn’t including as much content (compared to other fighters) that appeals to the casual players, like me. Plus, lately, every time they try to add a new gameplay mechanic that is intended for casuals, it seems like we’re seeing quite a few complaints from the pro players, and Capcom has to explain that in articles like this one.

            But, on the other hand, Street Fighter X Tekken apparently failed to please the pro players. Yet, I like (and play) it more than I ever will Street Fighter 4. (though it being on the Vita has a little to do with it, since I like playing my games on my Vita more than my consoles/PC)

          • airco

            >waste on it in place of doing something more productive.
            Look, I know it must seem silly for us to put work into our games, but come, you’re a gamer too. Don’t pretend that the games you waste your time on are any more productive than ours.

        • Kaitsu

          I guess you haven’t been keeping up with Capcom and Street Fighter. The people working on the game right now are professional players.

          And professional players don’t care if they add new modes or not. If you haven’t realized, SSF4AE has a lot of modes, but only 2 are played. That’s Ranked and Endless. Every other mode has no players in it…ever.

          I personally loved the Tournament mode and Team Battle mode, but you know. Those died after a week.

      • LaserVision

        It’s not a time and money thing and unless you’re their accountant you can’t possibly know.

        I agree 100% though that Capcom is just including the same bare bones features as their fighting game ports from the 90s-00s over and over again. It’s a lack of creativity that’s the issue here and it just looks worse because we have more/better options out there.

    • Yan Zhao

      Pretty much. Capcom and their bareboned fighters were never that great for the casual crowd, its only appealing to those who want to eventually become a competent player.

      • Poor reasoning. It is taken too unnecessarily seriously, and to be a “competent player” is a big waste of time, life, savings, opportunities, etc. If they make the game for these people then they just make it for the 10 hyper-nerdy people (Capcom is wasting its time in a big way too) and the rest of the world would simply watch it once a while (if they actually cared and nothing’s good on television) and play other games that are more fulfilling and meaningful.

        • CptPokerface

          It may be a big waste of time to you, and that’s fine. But don’t undermine the efforts of others who honestly find enjoyment and entertainment in seeing how far they can go in learning a game.

          Others could easily find the games you enjoy and spend time with as a big waste of time and life. So who would be right?

          Don’t get me wrong either, as someone who can play fighters fairly well and hold my own against pro-level players, I fully understand that there are people who take the games far too seriously and forget to actually have fun with the game they’re playing. That’s just how it is with competitive gaming. However, there are thousands of players who enjoy playing at a “competent” level and are very level headed and actually enjoy what they do. Generalizing an entire community serves no purpose.

      • BlueTree

        Having started out “casual”, whatever the hell connotation that has… I was drawn to Street Fighter because it was compelling on multiple levels. There might be multiple hour long visual novel story modes now, but I can say that as a kid I thought fondly of games like Street Fighter Alpha 2 and 3, which told me everything I needed to know and drew me into the characters and world of Street Fighter. The story was told elegantly, using the medium as necessary. I respect that to this day, it wasn’t until a time later where I actually found a scene near me, but I can say that given my time not playing competitively, SF had a lot to offer that I only learned to appreciate later.

    • Afternoon Intergalactic

      I agree. I wouldn’t consider myself a pro fighting game player, but P4A’s story/casual elements definitely hooked me into playing anime fighters.

    • AriesWarlock

      You are in the minority, sadly.

    • PreyMantis

      I agree. Just look at Smash Bros. Brawl, it has more single-player content than all SF4 games combined, and that was on a “weak” Wii.

    • Go2hell66

      you’re playing fighting games for all the wrong reasons

      • psycho_bandaid

        nah, its why I play ASW games, played through Mortal Kombat, enjoyed Injustice, but will not touch Street Fighter anymore. If they want casual players in they can make the game as complex and deep as they want. All they need to do is include some single player content. They dont even need to break their heads coming up with a visual novel story like Blazblue. A token story accompanied by a challange tower like in Mortal Kombat, or weapon master mode ala Soul Caliber is plenty.

        I am not against them making a lazer-focused, competitive fighter. All I am saying is that these gameplay tweaks are a waste of time IMO if the aim is to get people that are not competitive to pick up the game. No one who is not already into Street Fighter will read this interview will think “oh wow Red Focus! I am totally going to get this game now!” Meanwhile folks that dont even really like fighting games saw Injustice and thought “evil Superman? I’m in!” or when P4arena was coming casual players were not hyped for game mechanics. They saw a sequel to P4 and offered up their money.

        I wrote a lot, but now that I look at your name and consider our past interactions it has occured to me that your response might have been a little tongue in cheek.

        • BlueTree

          Dude, you totally get it. Meanwhile, I think this stuff goes over the SRK writer’s head at how fundamentally misguided it is that someone could just say this and people would not understand the multitude of reasons why a player would not only not give a damn about “OH MY GOD RED FOCUS”, but how they would also recognize just by playing how many assumptions are being made about their competency.

          People who play games like BlazBlue, regardless of the perceived quality of the story, know that at many levels the developer cares about the user end experience of all interests. No one’s trying to tell them how they should experience the game, they are given options to play that would make them feel as if they hadn’t missed out if they went one way or the other, and that’s a fair design choice.

    • RunningWild1984

      Only single player mode a fighting game needs is training mode.

      • Astrotrain

        Cool story bro.

  • AkuLord3

    So they add all this stuff for casuals but won’t add a tutorial mode to HELP casuals understand the game better for beginners. OH YEAH amazing there guys…really…really REALLY!!! You’re just sooooo “SMART”

    • A little unrelated, but I hate the fact that there’s no frame data in Tekken.

      Injustice really spoiled me there…

    • RunningWild1984

      Most of the fun of fighting games is learning to figure it out yourself. The game shouldn’t have to hold your hand and teach you how to play it, especially in the end everybody has their own style of playing.

      • katamari damacy

        But it also restricts players who don’t play anyone decent. If you never learn the good techniques from more advanced players destroying you with them, you never learn them period.

  • tvrsteve

    Really? Because I still have no idea what Red Focus is supposed to be. Also to someone like me, the terminology used here is like reading a science paper. “Options”? “Wake-up”? “Zoning”? :/

    • BlueTree

      Believe it or not, they said the original Focus Attack was for “more casual players.” I still don’t get how a move that takes two buttons, requires meticulous dexterity and practice to utilize to its fullest extent, and can cost you life when it works is “for casual players”, but I think what Capcom says and what Street Fighter IV does is often very different.

      The idea behind Focus was that “You could not see Parries.” Apparently “tap forward before something hits you” required much more nuance. I don’t even like SF3 and that train of thought still baffles me. But it’s in the old interviews, I tried using Google to find a few, but SF4 is a car crash to me and I just play old stuff now.

      • d3v

        Parries have a much larger timing requirement. Tapping forward alone does not show you a parry. You actually have to time it right for one to come out.

        • BlueTree

          Having to utilize timing isn’t a flaw, even if you want to talk about “larger”, I don’t even know what the hell that’s supposed to mean and I’m not about to assume, so you’ll want to elaborate on that.

          Timing is also something that applies to Focus Attacks. You’re also assuming that parries have to be seen to be understood. Pressing “forward” does not show you a shoryuken, but no one’s going to argue in favor of altering that move to a two button press with super armor.

          I could read a magazine as a 6th grader in Hawaii, and when I went to Toys and Joys in Kapolei, I could press forward and parry a fireball as the magazines I had read and the very instructions on the cabinet had displayed. This was in New Generation back around 1996-1997.

          And back to a person actually having to time a focus attack, what’s your point then in regard to parries? The Parry is a singular defensive mechanic, and while it has option selects that I’d argue are a consequence of such a mechanic, they’re not going to require the same investment as the Focus Attack in terms of performing a combo. Pressing forward or down with the right timing than doing a move is undeniably simpler to having to practice the manual dexterity required of FADC combos, let alone tapping forward as the opponent falls down in the interest of, I’m assuming, fairness.

    • CptPokerface

      Well basically a regular focus attack allowed you to absorb one attack and hit your opponent with an attack that can stun them if charged enough. Red focus is basically a better version of that- it absorbs multiple hits and requires more super meter to use, but is more likely to stun your opponent, but also leaves them with a lot of grey health that can be taken away if they’re hit.

      Im..not seeing how this is supposed to be meant for casual players to utilize correctly but..well capcom is funny like that.

      • d3v

        I think their thinking is more along the lines of “like Daigo’s parry only easier to do”.

        • CptPokerface

          Perhaps, but there’s so much recoverable health left over from a Red Focus, and it costs a significant amount of meter.

          By saying that it’s meant as a draw to casual/newer players, it gives the impression that it’s a crutch they should use until they get better. People are going to throw out random Red Focus attacks, lose a ton of meter, and run the risk of losing a chunk of health even after a successful attack or being hit by an armor breaker during their charge.

          That could very well be their thinking but it just seems very narrow-minded.

          • d3v

            The grey health and meter bit are most likely balancing issues. Having red-focus without those (and focus without the grey health as well) would be too good.

          • CptPokerface

            Exactly..if they really are comparing them to 3S parries then they need to make that distinction because that bit is important. Getting hit after a regular focus attack can be damaging enough, a misplaced red focus can lose the round for someone easily.

            Then again, even though hes saying its intended for casual players(whatever that truly means) , theres no guarantee they would even use it.

        • BlueTree

          Pretty idiotic, yes.

    • airco

      >like reading a science paper
      See, this is why the interviewer asked about the inclusion of a tutorial mode, but I guess we’re looking at many more years of linking to the Sonic Hurricane footsies guide.
      (Then again, if you don’t know what that terminology means, you’re probably not that into fighters to begin with, so I don’t know why you’d be interested in yet another update to a game you don’t play.)

      • tvrsteve

        I’ve played a good 40+ hours of SF4 Arcade Edition and I’m a fan of Arc System Works stuff and 3D fighters. I just don’t follow the tournament scene or watch YouTube FGC stuff so I have no clue what these terms are referring to. I just pick characters, learn their moves and have fun.

        • airco

          I dunno. I’m far from a tournament-calibur player myself, but the idea of having fun with a fighting game without ever wanting to explore the game on a deeper level just seems alien to me, mostly because I feel that fighting games are much more fun when you understand the depth to them. That, and losing to people who understand their depth (most people online do, to an extent) isn’t very fun. Unless you mostly fight against CPU opponents, which I feel just isn’t the same as outsmarting a human opponent. But oh well, diff’rent strokes.

          I’ll go ahead and explain the terminology In case you were curious about it at all, though you’re probably familiar with the concepts themselves. “Options” refers to anything that you or your opponent can do at any given time during a match. Anything from attacking to defending, evading, throwing, or mashing DP counts as an option. Certain options beat out other options, and certain options are unavailable at certain times, so you have to either react to or predict your opponent’s next option based on the current status of a match to gain the upper hand.
          “Wake-up” refers to a character getting up off the ground after being knocked down. This is important in fighters because the player who gets knocked down is temporarily out of commission while his opponent has the opportunity to prepare his next attack. (The act of attacking someone while they wake up is often referred to as “okizeme,” as it’s known in Japanese).

          “Zoning” refers to a character using attacks (often projectiles or other long-reaching attacks) to keep a certain amount of distance between him and the opponent (this distance is, more often than not, “as far the hell away as possible”).

          Again, if you really want to have fun with fighters, I suggest taking the time to research the strategy that goes into it – the Sonic Hurricane footsies guide I mentioned above is a great place to start. If not, that’s cool too, I guess. (´・ω・`)

      • Footsies is for soccer.

        • airco

          if soccer were about footsies then why don’t they call it FOOTball huh ever think about that one genius

    • Shane Guidaboni

      The word “options” is confusing to you?

      • “Options”, “Resets”. Nerdy stuff. “Frame data”. I didn’t know you needed to know that to actually win even the so-called “better and experienced players”. You have a problem, so it’s time to use your life savings to build a laboratory to study the game assuming you have no life, your parents proud and smiling support, and absolutely no talent in society.

        • 하세요

          It’s not that serious. Watch a stream or two of a fighting game tournament and you’ll learn terms fairly quickly. Most of these words are context clues and common sense.

          And yeah you’ll have to understand these things to beat high level players. They are paid / sponsored to know and execute these things flawlessly.

    • d3v

      “Options” mean what you think they mean. Basically the number of safe things that you can do in a given situation. Same with “wake-up” which is simply the term for when your character gets of their back after a knockdown.

  • Shindoi Hayato

    I was content with most of AE2012’s mechanics. Delayed wake-up, or the addition of a roll wake-up technique would have been fine with me in a balance update (which should have buffed Yang). I’m not too thrilled with Red Focus. I feel that it’s unnecessary, as is W Ultra (I don’t like Ultras to begin with, as I find meter management between the EX and Super sufficient enough).

    Frankly, at the end of the day, I would have just liked to have seen the slight balance changes, and the wake-up option. I feel like there are already too many characters in the game that aren’t being used, some of which had mechanics that worked for their native Street Fighter Engines, more-so than they do in the IV series.

    • d3v

      Most players wouldn’t be willing to pay for just a simple balance change and Capcom needed to charge for this because they needed a way to fund the work being done for Ultra.

      • Shindoi Hayato

        I guess ultimately, I just don’t feel like this is a legitimate upgrade. Everything seems so copy & paste, more-so than usual. I also think the additional mechanics that they’re adding are putting too many toppings on the pizza as well.

        It reminds me a lot of Street Fighter Alpha 3, and how they kind of overloaded that game as well (with all the -isms, the guard bar, the safe-falls, so on). I think with Street Fighter II and III they did a better job, simply adding balance updates and roster boosts (although some of those balance updates are still questionable to this day in Third Strike).

        I’m not saying this will be a horrible game, but I’m just not that thrilled with this version compared to when they released Super, or even AE. Just my opinion though.

  • Quan Chi

    How? It’s the worst command I’ve ever seen. Could have at least done D,D, Hp+Hk or D,B, Hp+HK.

    • A weird command for the red focus but it could be configured as one button so it’s alright.

  • tturtlejosh

    So emm are we getting any figthing games for next gen?…..

    • Go2hell66

      Guilty gear!!!

  • AriesWarlock

    More people should ask them about offering tutorials.

  • It’s nice that from III onwards (excluding EX) they have worked towards making the controls even smoother but a lot of things are lost in response. Damage reduction for combos and hits near life end is geared too much for the beginners (it is a feature which should NEVER have been invented), and where Zero/Alpha 2 was the LAST Street Fighter game that had good stories Zero/Alpha 3 was the LAST Street Fighter game that had fun one and two-player modes. Third Strike had many stupid and ridiculous endings and IV had many differently-stupid and ridiculous if not disappointing ones. The Free-to-Play Soul Calibur was a step in the right direction as it focused on single player modes and while not everyone may accept the gameplay but King of Fighters and Mortal Kombat were the ones that had consistently well-written storylines (though the former experienced some hiccups) from their debut.

    Players especially from the West are overly-competitive and simple (which accounted for the dearth of quality for storyline and modes) for it is because of them that 5 iterations of Street Fighter II were made (after World Warrior – so much so that Capcom Jap server staff could not spend their time and possibly creativity doing other games that after another 3 versions of III they decided unanimously against doing any more Street Fighter game for almost 10 years) and all they care about is to fight and win the other guy. That’s it.

    Now they want to make this game “sports” (how laughable) and take it to unnecessary lengths where soccer and pool would have sufficed. Capcom wants to embrace the entire demography of players (where traditionally fighting games were the least-cared genre in video games) but it seems from what they are doing (including supporting the game as a gambling hobby in America) their success may be limited and fall short of what they expect.

    There would probably still be much more fans of RPGs (role-playing games), flash games and FPSes (first-person shooters) where team effort is emphasized for example, and other genres.

  • XiaomuArisu

    Real Tutorial would be better
    And a improved challenge mode

  • BlueTree

    Red Focus has nothing to offer a player who isn’t already into Street Fighter 4. There, I said it.

    It’s also a trainwreck to explain relative to other subsystems.

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