For a game that was originally meant to be an update, Super Street Fighter IV sure feels like the sequel fighting game fans have dreamed of and can consider a worthy successor to last year's Street Fighter IV. It comes packing with improvements, extras, additional characters, and even bonus stages, which makes it more than just a mere upgrade title, expanding the methods of play to undetermined numbers. The "SUPER" added in front isn't just for show. It's a statement that boasts perfection and gives credence to how superb this fighter really is in the gaming market today. Ten new challengers enter the fray with a lot of moves to dish out and punish opponents with, while the returning fighters show that they got a boost up or have been nerfed down for "understandable reasons" other than nutty poke jobs. Highlighting the new faces are Hakan and Juri, two new characters making their debut in SSFIV and showcasing interesting fighting styles, namely Turkish Oil Wrestling and Taekwondo respectively. The other eight are familiar faces from the series' history making their official jump to the 2.5D realm. Cody, Guy, and Adon return from the Alpha/ Zero series; Dudley, Makoto, and Ibuki charge straight out of the Street Fighter III universe; and T.Hawk and Dee Jay make their long awaited debut, finally reuniting with their SSFII comrades. That brings the tally for the entire roster to 35 characters, and that's quite a mouthful, especially when the variety adds a new dynamic to the already interesting brawl 'em up that Super Street Fighter IV is.
Now that we got the new hands on deck, there's plenty of hurting moves to explore in their arsenal, as well as from the veterans of the previous game. In addition to bringing the same old faces back in SSFIV, every character comes with the option of selecting between two Ultra combos. That means the strategy involved in playing certain characters involves a bit of tweaking and practice again, as it's a familiar yet whole different ball game this time around. That's not to say that playing fan favorites like Ryu and Ken will be harder in this game. Hadokens, Shoryukens, and Sonic Booms still work fine, and the dreaded Focus Attacks and Focus Cancels are still intact. However, there were adjustments made to certain characters that make their regular moves stronger or weaker, resolving some balancing issues and comments from the original game. It may come to some as a positive or disappointment, but that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes in fighting game updates, and in this case, fair's fair in "Hadouken and war" I say.
Other comments I'll have to make about SSFIV is that it's got a sturdier online service this time around. Street Fighter IV's online playability was widely praised for its accessibility last year, but there were a number of lag issues and missing modes that prevented it from truly dominating the competition. All that improves with SSFIV, as it introduces a number of new modes for online play in addition to an improved Ranked Match mode, namely Endless Battle and Team Battle, where you can fight against someone one-on-one infinitely or duke it out with friends online, arcade style. It's fun, addicting, and full of the kind of energy I used to feel whenever I played in the arcades of my youth and inserted tokens.
For $40 and packing quite a punch, Super Street Fighter IV is more than just an upgrade... it's a knock out hit that only Capcom could have presented and delivered to its fighting game market base. Anybody who adores the series or has a passion for fighting games such as myself should consider picking this one up. It'll make you leap off your seat and feel the burn, especially when you see Ryu deliver his swift new ultra, the Metsu Shoryuken, right to your opponent's face!