First Impressions: Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition

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You have to go back a long time to find the last time a Street Fighter title appeared on a Nintendo console – Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the GameBoy Advance in 2002, in fact. Now Capcom is once again giving Nintendo fans a portable port of its famous fighter with Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. We went toe-to-toe with the title and producer Yoshinori Ono at Nintendo's Discover 3DS event to bring you more details.

Ono was keen to stress during the roundtable discussion that he wants gamers to view SSFIV3DE in the same way they think about its home console brethren on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. All 35 characters make the leap to the small screen, complete with two extra DLC costumes each – included for free here – and all their moves, combos and charisma. Gameplay runs at 30fps whether 3D is on or off, and the animation is typically smooth, while characters appear crisper than early screenshots suggested.

Controls-wise the game naturally lacks the six face buttons seen on an arcade stick, with the four face buttons used for light and medium punches and kicks, with heavy attacks set to the shoulder buttons. This makes throws and focus attacks easy to execute, but executing Ultra combos requires two face and one shoulder button to be pressed simultaneously, something that might prove a sticking point for some.

There is a much easier way to execute Ultra and Super combos however in the form of touchscreen hotkeys. Automatically set to Ultra, Super and two special moves, these can be tapped at any relevant time to pull off the move in an eye-blink. Even for experienced fighters, having access to these moves instantly works very well, particularly in clutch situations where you absolutely, positively have to execute the move correctly.

Not everyone will like the touchscreen controls, of course, and Capcom realises this too. When playing online, you'll be able to filter out opponents who use the stylus shortcuts, with a special Pro mode available that can only be accessed by users who just use buttons.

Buttons and attacks are just one part of fighting of course; moving your character is just as important, and players can use the Circle Pad or D-Pad depending on preference. We felt the Circle Pad made it easier to execute the rolls and zig-zags necessary to succeed with many characters, as the D-Pad lacks diagonals that make these easier, though players who favour characters such as Guile, Vega and Balrog may prefer the D-Pad's digital precision. It's a matter of taste, but you can swap between them at any time depending on your mood.

Probably the biggest change to battles comes in the form of the optional Dynamic View, which places the camera at an angle behind your fighter and moves to track you and your opponent as you trade blows, leap around and pull off Supers. Having played Street Fighter games with the same viewing angle for the past 20 years switching to a dynamic camera is disorienting, and although it shows off the 3D effect well it will likely confuse veterans used to a strict 2D viewpoint, and we know which we prefer. Of course you can select whichever option suits you better, and can go into battle against a player using a different view to yours.

We were able to take advantage of the two-player local wireless mode, which was fast, smooth and as easy to set up as pressing 2P Start on an arcade machine. There were no online features available, though Ono mentioned in his presentation that Nintendo offices in America, Europe and Japan tested the game against each other with great success.

During Ono's roundtable he gave more information about the game's StreetPass mode, a cross between an RPG and a trading card game that sees players build a team of statues to battle against other players' teams automatically. The more you play, the better your statues will become, with more powerful figurines unlocked to boost your squad. Once you've picked your fighters, passing another 3DS owner who's done the same will see your teams battle automatically, with victory improving your statistics in an RPG-style. Like a lot of the StreetPass modes described at the event, its enjoyability hinges on how many gamers will be keen on taking their consoles with them, but it looks to be an interesting side mode all the same.

It's taken a long time for the series to come back to Nintendo, but based on our playtime, it's been worth the wait.

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