Earlier this week I got to spend some time with Ultra Street Fighter IV, Capcom’s fourth and final iteration of the original 2008 game. My demo was presented by professional fighting game player turned Capcom employee Peter “Combofiend” Rosas, who walked me through the fifth and final new character, Decapre, as well as the other changes of the version.
The game features five new characters, including four adopted from Street Fighter X Tekken. These characters are Hugo, Elena, Rolento and Poison. The first two characters are meant to play like their versions in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, and the later two are more similar to their SFxT versions.
Hugo is a grappler, and like most grapplers he isn't about hitting combos. The lumbering giant is about as tall as the whole screen, and the slowest character by far, but when he hits you he hits hard. One of the most important things you need to utilize with Hugo are his anti-air throws which are great for catching escaping opponents.
Elena plays very similar to her 3rd Strike version, but Rosas wanted to fix some of her issues. Her jump is more ambiguous, meaning she has more options on her opponent's wakeup. Also she has more ground options when trying to get in on an opponent.
Rolento is all about mobility. His special moves let him either play very aggressively or escape, meaning he can get away from dangerous situations or bait out moves and punish them with his high damage reka combos. He can also keep the pressure with his air kunai projectiles and wall-based attacks.
Poison plays somewhat similar to Juri, but more focused on keep-away. She can keep opponents away with fireballs, but also has moves that can get opponents off of her on her wakeup. The fact that these characters play similar to previous iterations is great for 3rd Strike players who have wanted to get into SFIV. I think it will also allow players who have been playing competitively for years to know how to deal with them.
Decapre is the only character that has never been playable in the series. She is, quite literally, a Cammy clone. While she may look and move similar to Cammy, that’s where the similarities end. First of all she is a charge character, meaning that to perform her special moves you have to be more prepared with how you are going to try to get in. Also she is reliant on mixups, meaning she is unlike other charge characters in that she has to be aggressive rather than being forced to turtle.
Along with the new characters, every other character has been buffed or nerfed depending on what players perceived their weaknesses and strengths to be. Capcom created a preliminary version of the game with changes to the characters, and then took it on tour around the world to get player feedback from pros, to character specialists alike. To this day characters are still being tweaked, and even characters like Decapre have been changed between her reveal at the fighting game tournament Final Round, and the demo less than a week later. This is the perfect way to balance characters, especially if this is going to be the last update this game will ever see. Players now have no choice but to accept these final versions of their character, and hopefully this will bring the lower tier characters into more competitive play.
One of the most interesting and definitely the most surprising feature to be added to USFIV is Edition Select. What this means is any character can be selected in any version that they were featured with all their frame data from that version intact. For example, if you select the Super Street Fighter IV version of Zangief, his EX Greenhand gets its knock-down properties back, as well as all of his other changes. Finally players will be able to settle the debate of who is the most broken Street Fighter character.
Rosas believes that this will be an interesting side tournament idea, as people will still want to play around with the changes made to their characters in Ultra for years to come, and I think it will allow for some very cool exhibition matches. But other than that it probably won't have a lot of staying power.
Other changes include six new stages adapted from SFxT, new online modes such as training or team battles, general gameplay tweaks like being able to use two character ultras instead of one, and a new move called red focus. Ultra Street Fighter IV is set to release in Japanese arcades in April, on consoles in early June, and PC sometime in August. The game can be bought as a digital upgrade for $14.99, or on disc with all previous DLC included for $40.
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