Ultra Street Fighter IV: A Love Letter To The Community

By Jack . June 16, 2014 . 2:31pm

Ultra Street Fighter IV exudes an air of finality. The character and stage select screens are completely filled, no more conspicuous holes left for us to imagine what could have been. Long requested features have finally made their way in, from an extensive online training mode to a simply being able to check your button configuration on the character select screen.

 

As someone who’s been following the evolution of the Street Fighter IV series from the beginning, booting up the game for the first time was like seeing the culmination of the games’ history manifest itself. What Street Fighter IV was initially and how the game has progressed since is apparent in every single addition Ultra has made, from the character choices to the system mechanics to even the smaller new options.

 

Five new challengers top the list of notable additions, four as carry-overs from Street Fighter X Tekken and one (mostly) brand new character to bring the total roster up to whopping forty-four characters. Adding content from Street Fighter X Tekken, while feeling a little cheap on Capcom’s part, ends up being a substantially good use of resources. Hugo, Poison, Elena, and Rolento are all fantastic additions to the roster, and while I haven’t spent equal amounts of time on all of them, they all seem to have made a graceful transition to the Street Fighter IV engine.

 

Of all the new fighters, I spent the most time with Decapre. While Decapre may be a clone of Cammy in appearance, in terms of moves and play style she’s far from a simple reskin. Decapre focuses mainly on tricky teleports and air moves, meant to confuse the player by making them unsure which way they should be blocking.

 

Decapre works best with a strong offensive game, but unlike other characters with a similar focus, she has a twist: her special move inputs are based on charging. Charge moves force the player to work with a more planned, careful approach rather than spontaneous decisions, which makes for an enjoyable and unique playstyle. Decapre is actually my favorite addition, period. Not only does she introduce an interesting twist to an established playstyle, but every attack she does feels extremely satisfying to see on impact.

 

Beyond the new characters, Ultra shakes up the core gameplay by adding in new system mechanics. Living up to its namesake, Ultra allows you to have access to both of a character’s ultra combos at the same time at the cost of an overall damage reduction on the moves. Giving the player both tools allows for a lot more utility and damage opportunities, but unfortunately it only makes sense for a handful of characters rather than the entire cast.

 

More universally viable are the additions of a Red Focus Attack and delayed wake-up. Normal Focus attacks allowed a player to absorb an oncoming attack or cancel moves prematurely, either for combos or to avoid being punished for their strike. Red Focus works a lot like the normal version, but absorbs many more hits than usual. Strategic use of this ability makes swinging things in your favor with a smart counter easier and more deadly than before. This improved focus attack does have its downsides, including a cost of two bars of super meter and sharing the same weakness to throws and armor-breaking moves that the original did.

 

Delayed wake-up directly counters a playstyle that was essentially the dominant strategy in the previous iterations of Street Fighter IV. Previously, if you were knocked down by an opponent certain characters could take advantage of the situation by putting you into a gauntlet of assaults as you stood up, often with a very low chance of blocking or escaping. The ability to delay your fighter standing up ruins these set-ups, making a knock-down no longer the nightmare scenario it used to be.

 

Ultra also boasts a complete rebalancing of the entire cast of fighters. And well… they tried. Capcom brought numerous builds of the game to as many events as possible throughout the world, tweaking the game every time based on feedback from both the community and their own internal testers. The heavy involvement from the community really makes the overall product feel special.

 

However, all the warm, fuzzy feelings in the world won’t stop me from whining about balance changes.

 

Previously strong characters like Cammy and Fei Long seem to have only gotten stronger, while weaker characters like Honda and Deejay received paltry buffs along with a share of baffling nerfs. I could write an entire thesis paper about all of the specifics, but I’ll spare everyone and just say I’m not happy with the way some of the characters turned out.

 

Still, despite my personal gripes, I have a feeling that things will turn out all right. I don’t understand why the Capgods giveth or taketh away, but there are probably good reasons for it. Fighting game balance is hard to predict, as its defined more by the community than internal developer balancing. What seems strong or bad now may be completely different in a few years.

 

Of course if things do go south, Ultra appears to have a built in contingency plan: in versus mode you have the ability to select all previous versions of every character from every previous incarnation of Street Fighter IV. For the most part this is just for fun, as the mode locked to the offline versus mode, but the effort is appreciated. You’re essentially getting an archive of the entire Street Fighter IV saga’s history, and comparing all the changes is a fascinating way to lose an afternoon. And so, the terror of Vanilla Sagat lives on, but only offline.

 

Going online brings its own host of additions. The netcode still ranges from bad to serviceable, but there’s more ways to play than ever. Now you can train with a friend online outside of competitive versus matches whenever you want or team up with a group of friends in an enhanced team battle mode. Online training is great, but in the four years since the original team battle mode was added in Super, I still can’t find a game to actually try the mode out!

 

The most exciting new online feature might be the addition of YouTube sharing for match videos. Every match you play, online or off, saves to an archive where you can pick and choose which matches to upload to your YouTube account. With this feature it’s easier than ever to create an alternate, revisionist history where you win every match convincingly and without error.

 

Ultra Street Fighter IV is fantastic send-off for the series, a love-letter written for the community that has been keeping the game alive since its release in 2008. Like every fighting game, though, it’s just another step in an endless pursuit of perfection. The character balance worries me a little, especially since the previous version did a really good job, but how things turn out in the long-run is impossible to tell. While I personally hope Capcom gives a rebalance patch one more go, if this has to be it, then I’m content.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. Ultra’s character select theme is a straight up improvement compared to Super’s, but both still pale in comparison to the original version of the game. I was hoping they would be able to squeeze Street Fighter IV’s original theme song, “Indestructible” in somehow, but alas, it was not meant to be.

 

2. While Ultra Street Fighter IV has now technically released, it still feels under construction. The combo trials are still the same as they’ve been since Super Street Fighter IV, with an Ultra update promised to come in the future. I have to wonder if Capcom will also utilize that gap in time for some last minute balance adjustments, especially with EVO on the horizon.

 

3. It’s kind of depressing to think Street Fighter X Tekken might have done more good as a resource to shift content into Street Fighter IV than as an actual game.


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  • John Hayabusa

    Honestly, I wish Capcom brought SFxT’s tag team feature onto this game. Have not played this yet since I am waiting for the PC version but this is best edition so far (hopefully).

    • d3v

      Tag would have been hard to add without reworking alot of the game’s system. Contrary to popular belief. Tag works best when the game is designed from the ground up to support tag.

  • Steven Hunt

    Bit of a question that perhaps only I may care about the answer to: Can you watch character prologues/endings from a menu after unlocking, again? I hated that SSFIV actually removed that function from the previous iteration.

    • Monterossa

      I hate it too. It’s an “Arcade Edition” so it’s all about fight fight fight and fight, not so many things to unlock, no gallery. and only 2 single player modes to play…

      • Janrabbit

        Considering it is the biggest fighting game in the “esports” scene then you can’t really blame them for focusing on vs. Especially since the game has been out since 2008

  • Brandonmkii

    I”m currently enjoying playing as Poison. Gotta spank dat booty.

    • Ann Weschenfeller

      She’s quite decent! Her crouching jab and close light kick lead to a lot of stuff. My only complain is that her hitbox on standing medium punch isn’t as big as in SFxTK…now it trades – gets hit a lot.

      • Janrabbit

        but her st.MK is mint as is her cr.HP

        • Ann Weschenfeller

          Yeah, she definetly has some nice tools. Ex whipping and LK love me tender are also excellent, so is her HP projectile for meaty annoyance. Definetly a decent character.

  • Quan Chi

    -Dynamic camera mode from 3DS wasn’t put in this version.

    -Still lacks modes from vanilla SF4 (survival, time attack, gallery, etc.)

    -Still lacks cartoon filter from vanilla SF4.

    -All new characters still lack rival scenes.

    -Pitstop 109 music not only sucks, but doesn’t even fit the stage. SFxT’s theme actually fit the stage better.

    -You put stages in the game that doesn’t make sense, like fighting in outerspace and dinosaurs.

    -No chain combo system direction mode like previous FINAL versioned SF games

    -Useless Red Focus (gives enemies many free hits)

    -Stupid endings for most of the Ultra characters that do not match the intros

    -No progression of the game’s story

    -Wants to move on to SF5 when this version’s new additions suck.

    • Brandonmkii

      Almost had me there, 8/10.

    • Tyler Beale

      Still a delay at the world map picture between the Versus music playing and the continents popping up with the announcer saying “North America, Drive-In At Night” or whatever the stage is (only in the PS3 version though).

      I miss the old SF4, back when I could actually kick ass like I do now with MvC3 and SFxT on Vita…

    • Elliot Roman

      Chain combos are terrible for sf.sf X tekken is the prime example on why it was bad. The 3ds dynamic view was the gimmick for 3ds version. Implementing that in the console wud destroy vs mode. The person towards the camera wud have the advantage . ssfv and on forth ficus on the vs mode which is why trial mode and survival were taken out. Most ending are weird because there not canon. Story? Honestly after vanilla there really wasn’t really the need for one. Especially since this is a prequel to 3rd strike but clearly has characters from it. I’ll admit that the stages make no sense here but overall it should be about the characters rather than the stages. Red focus is useful in the sense that u catch somebody just mashing. That’s my two cents. Honestly too each is to own. I hope sf5 has more characters. I hate fighters that get ride of characters.

      • Quan Chi

        Nobody’s talking about sfxt’s partial chain comboes.

        • Elliot Roman

          But that what they would look like. What other type chain combos are talking about?

          • Quan Chi

            SF3, CVS2, SFA3, etc. Please don’t reply about ‘they didn’t have chain combos’. Do your research.

          • Elliot Roman

            Sf3 didn’t have chains. Target yes but not chain. Sfa3 did have them but that game was made differently. It even had air blocks and what not. Cvs2had them but the things those games had in common were that they were in 2d. Cometely different engine. Sf x t shows that the sf4 series doesn’t do well with them.

          • Quan Chi

            Like I said, do your research….

      • Lionxie

        There were chain combos in SF Alpha (all 3 versions) with Gen, and similarly Kyosuke in CvS2. Some say Guy and Yun/Yang also counted but others consider them as Target Combos like in SFIII, to each their own.

        I don’t think chain combos are bad on their own. Usually most chain combos in Darkstalkers and previous SF games they had limitations and specific rules. SFxT just doesn’t seem like theres a lot of rules, and their juggling is seemingly random to me. I haven’t spent much time with it though but i think SFxT is a poor representation of Chain Combos.

        Gen SFA3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBPZB9-l-Eg

        CvS2 Kyosuke – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfFH8nvHOzM#t=01m27s

        I kind of wish story-wise they led into SFIII or something though.

        • Quan Chi

          there were chains in those games for every character. that’s why I said ‘system direction’. cvs2=custom groove, sf3=system direction, sfa3=world tour ability slots, etc, etc.

    • d3v

      Who the hell plays with dynamic camera in serious competition?

      • Ann Weschenfeller

        Indeed, the 3DS Dynamic mode was unplayable.

        • Quan Chi

          Meanwhile, I can play it just fine. So how’s it unplayable again? Just stahp.

          • Elliot Roman

            You could play it by yourself fine. But what about vs? That wud be really for the 2nd person

          • Quan Chi

            Please stop asking redundant questions that were already answered from the start.

      • Quan Chi

        Do you even listen to what you say at all? This is exactly why capcom is going ‘the way of their dinosaurs’. Do ppl play survival in competitions? Do ppl play time attack in competitions? Do ppl watch galleries in competitions? NO. Oh what do many ppl want it for? Soooooo hard to comprehend. Oh woe is me…woe is meeee.

    • HurtboxTV

      You’re complaining about very trivial things.

      1) who cares about the dynamic camera? It was buttcheeks.
      2) This one makes more sense, seeing as those are basically commonplace in fighters.
      3) Would be nice, but it is more aesthetics than something that contributes to the actual game itself.
      4) This one is yes lazy on capcom’s part, but you do have to take into account what kind of a budget they may have been working with/the time they had to work on the game.
      5) Music and stages are all personal preference, you may not like it, but others do. This point is based purely on opinion.
      6) This game is much different from older SF games, this game is centered on ground game and small damaging combos. Where as something like 3S was all footsies hardly anything else.
      7) Red Focus isn’t useless and helps a lot of characters who couldn’t normally combo ultra (like the Dictator) and is great at soaking up multiple hits like supers. Then punishing them with a high damage combo. It also let’s other characters continue their combos for more damage, It isn’t useless at all.
      8) Again purely opinion, SFIV endings were never meant to be anything but entertaining. And while you think they’re dumb, I find them entertaining.
      9) It’s still SFIV what did you expect? What did you expect Blazblue Continuum Shift and it’s updates to continue the story? No, and even then who cares about a story in fighting games? They’re usually nonsensical and sometimes very bad. The actual gameplay is the most important part of fighters. Have the best story in the world all you want, but if the fighting system doesn’t work don’t expect many people to stick around.
      10) This point makes no sense, sure they want to make SF5 but the new additions sucking is again purely opinionated and has no bearing to anyone but yourself.

      • Quan Chi

        Butthurt@likesTV xD
        Meanwhile, these remain things that many ppl asked for and never got…

        • HurtboxTV

          Congratulations, being the first with ad hominem. Show’s you don’t know a thing. I can agree with the Survival, trials and stuff. But no one who seriously plays this game is asking for the dynamic camera, or better endings.

          Seriously if you thought my counter argument was me being butthurt then your argument is now invalid. You’re just complaining because capcom didn’t make something you wanted.

  • MrJechgo

    *sees Decapre*
    I suppose that’s the spelling mistakes XD

    I would say that USFIV a decent game alright, but if they can add more stuff after with patches, that would be nice.

  • Demeanor

    Mmm I’m gonna say something that it’s been bothering me recently: I have fond memories of my long gone past playing super street fighter 2 for Genesis, perfectly content with the 16 chars roster. But I was a child, and gaming was not what it is today.
    After falling in love with rpgs I abandoned fighting games somewhat (dabbled with Tekken 3 and Soul Edge), only to rediscover them (and the plethora of technicalities they bring with them) after the SF fighting genre revival: Arcana Heart 3, Tekken Tag 2, DoA5U, P4A, Chaos Code, BB, and also SSFIV.
    And this is it: how can a game like SF still be popular after the evolution in battle mechanics brought by the latest games? Isn’t it frustrating to move in a 2D plane without being able to run, airdash, rapid cancel, flash, not to mention with lots and lots of characters that have a small moveset and cannot – and this is the biggest issue imho – combo normals (“revolver action”-style) at all (I don’t think I’ll ever go beyond jHP, HP, hadouken)? I have given up at around the 3rd challenge, upon seeing how hard it is to string moves together. I can also add that the 6 button config is a pain with the Sony controller (and SF is not exactly easy with move inputs, ugh multiple button presses after 236236?), and also the fights against the cpu who input-reads my moves and counters accordingly.
    So, is there something I am not seeing? I would like nothing more to have yet another fighting series to love, but I cannot for the life of me see the charm in SF today.
    Any opinion from you guys, be it yea or nay, would be very much appreciated! Thnx

    • Göran Isacson

      I’m seeing those other games you bring up, and I think I might have two answers.

      1. Street Fighter is a brand stronger than any other, and so it sells well on name recognition.
      2. All those things you bring up that Capcom only uses for their experimental games are EXACTLY why people still likes it. You’re right that in comparison to DOA5 and Chaos Bode and Blazblue, this game isn’t as combo heavy or super speedy. But there might be a large audience who AREN’T fans of that tempo, and who prefer SF’s pace. It might just be a matter of taste: you like it faster, they like it slower.

      • KingGunblader

        You summed up the Melee vs. Brawl argument perfectly and you weren’t even trying to. Kudos.

        • Göran Isacson

          Ha ha holy hell I did, didn’t I? (Also Chaos Bode, that was an embarassing miss).

          Funny part about that- I didn’t even play Melee back then, I totally missed out on the Gamecube. That whole argument feels so iffy to me because I played and liked Brawl well enough and want to defend it… but it’s not like I ever played Melee so when they say that it’s a worse game because “element x was done so much better in Melee” I’m just sitting there going “welp that sure is possible I guess?”

    • Elliot Roman

      I love blazblue and sf. To me each game plays how they were ment to play. Blazblue is an anime fighter. Ment to be fast and full of crazy antics. The street fighter series is more footsies based. Strike wen the time is right. Anime fighter have a tendency to have characters become very broken due to loops and what not. The street fighter series doesn’t have that happen to often due to the game having strict timing on most of the combos. I mean anybody can pick up anime fighter and play. But sf has a harder learning curve. That’s what makes it unique. Link based combos require more skill than others. I love blazblue but its definitely alit easier to play than sf. But that’s fine for than type of game. Overall I feel ya. It took me a while to learn the timing but thanks to sf my fighting game skulls has risen to a new level in other games. Nothing feel better than doing a 5k damage with jin hakumen and azrael. Especially az since he’s a link based character. And also sf wasn’t ment for the simple ps3 pad. U unfortunately wud need some type of game pad or arcade stick. It works wonders for combos tbh.

    • rekka_zan

      How can you not mention Guilty Gear in that list D:

      The good thing of SF (also Tekken and Soul Calibur) is that I can have a friend come over and play even if he’s not an avid fighters player. I only need to tell him, “This button is weak/mid/strong punch, this button is weak/mid/strong kick. This is how you do a Hadouken, this is how you do a Tatsumaki. Try it.”

      Now imagine the same scenario with, for example, BlazBlue. “This button is A, B, C, and Drive. So, uh, Drive is a kind of special command that is different for each character. That character you choose, her Drive is called Silpheed. It’s, umm, wind manipulation.”

      SF (and Tekken and SC) is easy to learn, people can have fun immediately without learning too many gimmicks. Maybe it doesn’t “evolve” that much, but playing something familiar is fun in its own ways.

      • Demeanor

        Thanks for the answers everyone :D
        I didn’t mention GG simply because I never had any experience with it (same for Darkstalkers :D), but I am absolutely psyched about the upcoming Xrd Sign! (I want Dizzy and Jam tho)
        So basically it’s popular because it’s SF, and because it’s more simple… this sounds odd to me, for two reasons:
        A) no matter how simple it may be, I’m sure it takes as much effort to become good online as the other fighting series, so I expect any newbie to get destroyed online at first.
        B) I would expect gamers to be attracted by a bit of complexity, like the many options and deep story that BB offers, but maybe I’m just assuming everyone shares my own taste XD I love complexity in games.
        Well, maybe it’s just not my thing :P.
        I was recently at arcades in Akihabara and SF was massively popular there as well, there were many more SF cabinets than any other fighting game.

        • rekka_zan

          I didn’t say SF is simple though, it’s very difficult if you want to master all the techniques like many YouTube ninjas out there. But it’s easier to learn the basics, and you can have fun even without learning the deep stuffs. Complexity is good but only for those who actually dedicate their time to one single game. For people who just want to have fun together in short sessions (like in arcades), simplicity is better.

    • d3v

      SF is more about a focused ground game and smaller but more damaging combos.

      Combo challenges should never be seen as how to play the game as most of these are impractical and are never seen in tournament play.

  • Ann Weschenfeller

    Absolutely loving this new revision. As a Blanka player I love the changes they’ve put into him (Specially that improved Crouching Medium kick). Also, Decapre looks pretty solid, most probably becoming my Sub soon (Yeah, I love me some charges XD). Online training (and the ability to finally accept online matches while in single player training more) are also pretty neat additions.

    My only complaints are that the ballance isn’t quite there yet, there’s still some stuff that needs fixing (Akuma and Cammy are still too strong, for example), the Youtube function is capped at 480p, and finally, still no rival cutscenes for the new characters, nor Ultra challenges for everyone. The latter is coming eventually so it’s all good, but the first…not so much.

    • Janrabbit

      I would say delayed wake-up made Cammy and Akuma’s playstyle’s way less threatening. Same goes for any vortex character. I think that was a much better idea than nerfing them too much. Don’t see too many players using it effectively yet though.

      • Ann Weschenfeller

        Yeahh…I keep forgetting about using red focus and delayed wakeup, my bad really xD I guess I’ll get used to them eventually, as well as the fact that my little Blanka’ vertical roll is now focus cancellable XD Dem changes.

    • d3v

      What? Akuma is solid mid to mid-high tier now. Delayed Wake Up hurts his game too much.

      Also, it’s too much to expect the PS3 and XBox 360 to be able to encode video at higher resolutions given their hardware.

      • Ann Weschenfeller

        Well, as I said before to Janrabbit I’m still getting used to Red Focus and Delayed Wakeup, so I have yet to find that out…In fact, I’ve yet to see an Akuma online now that you mention it. Tons of Evil Ryu though.

  • Göran Isacson

    Aw man, they don’t have Indestructible here? That intro was cheezy goodness, gosh darnit!

    Anyhow- I have actually not played any SFIV beyond the vanilla one, that I bought when it was new. It was good for me and I enjoyed it, but I am always pretty hesitant to grab the updated versions since they always get new editions a year or so later. But since this seems like the end, I might just have to get my purchase on…

    • Ann Weschenfeller

      You won’t regret it, really, it’s packed with a huge, varied roster and while not perfect at all, it’s rather well ballanced considering it’s dealing with 44 characters.

      • Göran Isacson

        True dat.

        Also, it has Elena who is like my favorite SF3 char, so there is that too. (now if only Capcom could get the gumption to animate some of the crazier characters like Necro and T.W.E.L.V.E…)

  • RunningWild1984

    Play KOF.

  • Solomon_Kano

    After ignoring the game for some 5 years, I think I’ll finally buy into SF4. Played some of the prior iterations with friends, but didn’t like it enough to own it myself. I think I’ll give it another shot with Ultra.

    • Ann Weschenfeller

      You’ll enjoy it, it’s packed with multiplayer content, and it’s easy to get into – hard to master, like a good fighting game should.

  • Juliano C

    still not worth it

  • Ann Weschenfeller

    I know how to play SF IV, that’s why it was unplayable. That camera makes impossible to accurately manage distances. It’s badly positioned and goes against the very basics of the core gameplay.

    And I wasn’t even here commenting when MK and Tekken came out, but for one, Tekken is a 3D game while SF IV is a polygon graphics coated 2D game, so it makes sense Tekken has 3D cameras. Mortal Kombat I can’t make an opinion since I’ve never played.

  • M’iau M’iaut

    Enough. Just because folks disagree does not make it the place to insult.

  • Quan Chi

    Stop deleting all my comments you idiot xD

  • HurtboxTV

    Man talk about being entitled.

  • Quan Chi

    yeah, because that’s what that means. too bad capcom’s company is up for sale because you are just sooo right.

  • HurtboxTV

    That’s a moot point.

  • Quan Chi

    *sniff*…….uh huh.

  • HurtboxTV

    If only you actually understood anything about game design. Maybe you wouldn’t come off as so stupid.

  • Quan Chi

    you done crying yet.
    just go somewhere and keep 1-uping yourself like you’re good at. not giving you anymore attention. grown man baby lol.

  • HurtboxTV

    Says the man who acted like a baby cause he didn’t get what he wanted in USFIV. Goodbye, no one will miss you. Fighting games don’t need whinny casuals like you around.

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