Street Fighter IV iPhone Review

Posted by Grey Saturday, March 20, 2010

One of the best fighting games ever has just entered the iPhone fighting game ring. And we have a new champion.

Street Fighter IV (iPhone)
Developed by: CAPCOM
Published by: CAPCOM
Price: $9.99
Size: 201 MB
Platforms available on: Arcade, iPhone OS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Released Date: March 10th, 2010
Genre: Fighting
Rating content: Apple: Rated 12+ for the following:
* Frequent/Intense Realistic Violence

Anticipation were reasonably high when Capcom officially announced the iPhone adaptation of the mega-selling, critically acclaimed Street Fighter IV, an unexpected choice by any would-be iPhone game developers.

As mentioned in our earlier App Attack on the port, we are seriously in doubt over the transition of the heavily-stylized graphics, the frantic breakneck-paced actions, and more importantly, the virtual joystick pad that aims to emulate the arcade joystick experience. A topic that was also discussed earlier in our coverage on Tekken's upcoming port to iPhone, that more so than any other game genres, it is a prerequisite requirement for a fighting game to have a articulate control scheme. And the fact that we have yet to witness a bona fide solid fighting game in the iPhone gaming scene is a testament to our skepticism.

However, despite the endearing odds, Capcom, with the latest offering of its signature series, Street Fighter IV, boldly took on the issue head on. And coming out of this one as the undisputed champion (for I just can't say "king") of fighting games on iPhones.

Foreseeing its potential of being an absolute licensed train-wreck, Capcom took its time in developing the port, ensuring that the control scheme, with its virtual stick and buttons, will be precise enough to deliver a genuine Street Fighter experience unlike any cheap knock-offs, which thankfully for the very same reason, failed to show up on the iPhone. Why else would you think caused the much-delayed port? (The original multi-platform Street Fighter IV were released in July 2008.)

A surprisingly faithful rendition understandably watered down, Street Fighter IV is one fast and furious fighter, just the way you remembered it, notwithstanding its somewhat disappointing extras department.

Much acclaimed for its revamped art style with the non-photorealistic rendering of the characters, along with the visual effects that are heavily accented in calligraphic strokes and ink smudges, Street Fighter IV recreates the aesthetics on a smaller scale, flattening out models from the console/arcade game in a gorgeous transition while still capable of impressive animation when the characters go head-to-head, taking down opponents in fast-paced bouts. Looking every bit as good as the screenshots, the frame rate stays consistently during the respective signature mega combo moves of the characters during the battles. A pleasant surprise would be the inclusion of the Ultra Combos, which is in essence a combination of massive special moves that causes major damages and tons of flashy graphics that fills the screen. While the Ultra and Super attacks are understandably not as spectacular as the original arcade and console version, they sure as hell still look pretty cool on the iPhone screen.

And here we get on to the real action, literally. Nobody spent their hard-earned dough only for cool visuals. The much talked-about virtual controls for Street Fighter IV is indeed something for all other would-be fighting game developer to emulate, though not without misgivings. With the simplification of the button count, of which the origin six buttons are down by two, you are left with Punch (P), Kick (K), Special (SP) and Focus (F) buttons, leaving out the low and medium punch/kick buttons and their respective moves. While some hardcore Street Fighters fans might be petrified by this news, be assured that there is no love lost for the decrease of the buttons. With the streamlined controls, the learning curve for the gameplay is somewhat simplified but still remains to be engaging enough for most. For those familiar with the six-button set-up, you might need a little time to master your favorite moves, but rest assured that you will be getting Ryu's Hadouken or Guile's Scissor Kick back in no time. One major problem with the virtual controls would be the relatively sizable portion of the screen that they took up, as they are quite likely to be in the way of the action. However, with the sharply precision that these responsive controls provided, I believed these are all part of the necessary evil required, along with the decrease of the buttons.

The earlier mentioned Super and Ultra attacks are also comparatively easier to pull off by simply tapping their respective bars while pressing the stick to a specific direction to release the fury. The adaptation, while potentially irksome for hardcore Street Fighters, are definitely a welcome for casual gamers. Nonetheless, this is just another necessary evil which I presumed is not much of a problem for most. For those hardcore gamers, they still perform these moves the traditional, analogue stick way (a combination of charges and quarter-circles, several of them I guessed) using the SP button. EX attacks also can be activated with this SP button, by meshing it with the Focus button. Also noteworthy would the fact that these on-screen buttons can easily be moved around and have their transparency adjusted, to accommodate left-handers and minimalists alike.

A total of 8 characters are available right from the get-go: Abel, Bison, Blanka, Chun Li, Dhalsim, Guile, Ken, and of course, the fan-favorite Ryu. Yes, just EIGHT. And no, no hidden characters to unlock, which is quite a downer. Fortunately, the AI is as good as you can imagined, suitably configurable at 4 difficulty levels from kickass to having-your-ass-kicked.

Tested and proven to be running perfectly on all version of the iPhone, the port inevitably included a few additional mode other than the Solo Play Tournament mode, which included all seven opponents completed with M. Bison as the final boss. Self-explainatory are the Free Sparring mode and a Training Room mode, while "Dojo" challenge mode is where players can gain more battle experiences braving unique challenges before heading into the tournament. For those who prefer human competitors, a very efficient Bluetooth multiplayer mode is available too, with relatively great connectivity which enhanced the entire multiplayer experience greatly.

As far as being a Fighting Game on a iPhone is concerned, the Street Fighter IV port for the iPhone is great game to have, despite some significant flaws. Having absolutely nothing to unlock and being stuck with only eight playable characters really struck the replayability factor down several notches. While the Local Multiplayer mode on Bluetooth works without complaints, it would only be ideal if the mode can be extended to online multiplayer over Wi-Fi or 3G (which according to Kotaku, will not be the case).


The Rundown
Without a shadow of a doubt, Street Fighter IV is the best fighter on the iPhone now. More importantly, it is extremely accessible for all casual gamers or fighting game aficionado alike. While it is at its core a heavily edited lightweight port of the original, the fact remains that it is indeed another great edition of Street Fighters, amazingly adapted to whole new platform. Its surprisingly precise controls is in itself a breakthrough in iPhone gaming. Coupled ith the still-unique graphics and decent sounds, the game is shaping up to one killer on the iPhone. Nevertheless, the lack of more playable characters and unlockable extras (simple character endings CGI would be a godsend) remains to be one huge problem alienating most players.

While we remain hopeful that Capcom will update the game with more characters and extras with its future versions, Street Fighter IV is one great port for the iPhone by itself already.

The Good
- Great control scheme that works like a dream for any fighting game
- Nice transition of the fast and furious pace of the original
- Great-looking characters, arenas, and lived well to its legacy of graphical excellence
- Perfectly functional Local Bluetooth Multiplayer Mode

The Bad
- Eight playable character is pathetic.
- Zero replayability as there is virtually nothing to unlock
- Over-sized virtual stick and control sometimes getting in the way of the actions
- Lack of Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity

And The Super Street Fighter IV?
Yes, Super Street Fighter IV, the forthcoming semi-sequel/update to Street Fighter IV, scheduled to be released on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in April 2010, will most probably be coming out on iPhone as well, according to Producer Takeshi Tezuka.


For a more transparent understanding on the Game Reviews here in The Daily Zombies, please check out "The Daily Zombie Rating System And Review Policy for Gaming".


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