Tons of people are about to play Street Fighter IV today. However, another concept for “Street Fighter IV” exists in design documents. David Sirlin, Lead Designer of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, was part of a pitch for Street Fighter IV Flashback.
Like the Street Fighter IV that shipped, Street Fighter IV Flashback is a 2D fighting game with most of the original cast and two new characters. One of the major twists in Street Fighter IV Flashback’s system is the flashback meter which lets players reverse time for up to four seconds by holding light punch + light kick. Flashbacks can be neutralized by taunting which sets a timestamp that players can’t rewind past. In addition to reversing time other time powers like speeding up/slowing down opponents and recording/stocking specials were on the table.
Since Street Fighter IV Flashback was being considered for consoles, specifically the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the document proposed an optional New Millennium control scheme with four buttons and simplified special moves. Instead of doing a quarter-circle forward roll plus punch for a hadouken players would hold forward + punch. Ryu’s dragon punch was mapped to down + punch and a hurricane kick could be done by pressing back + punch. This control scheme was later adopted for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Players could opt for “classic” characters which would be balanced with the “new millennium” characters and easier controls.
As an awesome bonus Street Fighter IV Flashback would also include a museum of Street Fighter games with true arcade emulation as unlockable items. On a single disc you would have Street Fighter 1 all the way up to Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike with every installment in between. This includes the entire Street Fighter Alpha series and a 3D enhanced remake of Super Street Fighter II Turbo too. There are other nods to Street Fighter fans like training in Dan Hibiki’s dojo and a tournament mode that included an option for cash prizes.
Street Fighter IV Flashback also had a single player mode called Ryu’s Journey. Taking a departure from traditional Street Fighter games this single player mode had platforming elements, God of War style 3D camera, playable cutscenes a la Resident Evil 4, and “an actual story worth telling.”
The tale goes through Ryu’s life in a flashback after an adult Sakura seeks him out. Players learn new moves along the way starting with the taunt command after beating Dan. You play key moments in Ryu’s past like scarring Sagat in Street Fighter 1 working up to the Street Fighter II tournament where Ryu crushes Bison. Akuma follows Ryu on his journey occasionally pushing Ryu on and killing his master Gouken. Street Fighter fans might want to read the whole story to find out how Ryu ends at all-girl ninja school to playing meditating mini-game challenges with Dhalsim.
Since Capcom passed on the proposed project Street Fighter IV Flashback isn’t in development. A prototype doesn’t even exist in a dusty filing cabinet. All we have are these documents, a bunch of media, and our imagination.
So, would you have bought Street Fighter IV Flashback? How does it compare to the Street Fighter IV we know today?