Farewell, Street Fighter IV

Good night, sweet FADC

[Yes, Street Fighter V has had something beyond a rocky start. But it is still a new installment of an old guard of a franchise. It’s the original fighting game or at least the one that started it all. So thanks, Virtua Kazama, for providing a sendoff for Street Fighter IV, the title in the franchise that jump-started the aged and stalwart genre. ~Strider]

Street Fighter IV… I would like to say thank you.

Between 2000 and 2008, the FGC had to deal with playing Super Street Fighter II Turbo/Hyper Street Fighter II, and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike in tournaments. Ever since that announcement for Street Fighter IV was made back in 2007, the community couldn’t be any happier that they would see another Street Fighter game. When we saw more of it, we noticed that the game was in 3D, much like the EX series except it felt more traditional to Street Fighter II.

Once Street Fighter IV was released in 2008 for the arcades, we got a chance to see what it was like thanks to the power of YouTube. Hell, some of the players got a chance to try it out at EVO 2008 if I recall correctly. In the arcade version, we saw the return of the 12 original characters from Street Fighter II and we were introduced to four new characters (C. Viper, El Fuerte, Rufus, and Abel) and a new boss (Seth). As soon as we got an announcement for the console release, we would end up getting console-exclusive characters not seen in the arcade version, such as Sakura, Rose, Dan, Gen (all four returning from the Alpha series), Cammy, Fei-Long (both returning from Super Street Fighter II), and Akuma (who was a secret character in the arcade version, also returning). For the first time ever in Street Fighter history, we got a chance to play as Gouken, Akuma’s brother and Ryu and Ken’s master.

The main gameplay mechanic introduced in Street Fighter IV was Focus Attack (aka Saving Attack in Japan). Focus Attacks gave the player a crumple stun in order to create a combo opportunity. The Focus Attack Dash Cancel (FADC) became an advanced technique players used to keep the combo going. It worked by pressing MP+MK, Forward, Forward (or Back, Back) after cancelling a normal or special hit. It costs about two bars of meter to do that. The most famous use of the FADC was Ryu’s Shoryuken, FADC’d into his Ultra 1, which is his Metsu Hadoken. Daigo was well-known for pulling that move in tournaments.

On February 17, 2009, Street Fighter IV came out for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. At the time, I was a senior in high school. I would remember going straight to GameStop after school just to pick up that game since I reserved it. Mind you, I was just a beginner to competitive Street Fighter and I was introduced to the tournament scene at the age of 17. I was one of the 09ers.

But man… that game brought back life to the FGC in a positive way. Other than EVO, there was a GameStop National tournament that was going on (I remember watching the qualifier matches with my friends. It was hype), more and more people started making local scenes, and new regional and major tournaments were born all over the world.

Street Fighter IV was part of the I Got Next documentary (once again, I urge you guys to watch it. It’s really good), as well as the IGN coverage of EVO 2009 with the hype Grand Finals between Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara. And after EVO, the FGC continued to grow even more.

Near the end of 2009, Capcom announced Super Street Fighter IV, an updated version of Street Fighter IV. Unlike Vanilla (which is what we call the first SFIV), the game came out directly to consoles first on April 27, 2010. Super SFIV gave us the option to choose a second Ultra in the style of Street Fighter III, new online modes, some new moves, rebalanced gameplay, new stages, and 10 new characters. Eight of the characters came from returning prior games such as Dee Jay, T. Hawk (both returning from Super Street Fighter II), Cody, Guy, Adon (returning from Street Fighter Alpha), Ibuki, Dudley, and Makoto (returning from Street Fighter III), while two characters, Juri and Hakan, made their debut.

As I got introduced to watching my first-ever EVO event, EVO 2010, I told myself that I wanted to get involved in tournaments someday. Personally for me, it was hard because of two reasons: I couldn’t find a scene, for starters, and I wasn’t good in Street Fighter. But all that changed. It introduced me to watching livestreams and I got a chance to learn about the top players in the game.

With Super Street Fighter IV out at the time, we knew that the new era of the FGC was coming in strong. That was the case when Capcom released the arcade port of Super Street Fighter IV called Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition in December 2010.

Once again, we got rebalanced gameplay and four new characters joined the roster. Yun and Yang were returning from Street Fighter III, Evil Ryu was returning from the Alpha series, and Oni debuted. The entire world got their hands on AE one year later when it came to consoles back in June 7, 2011 as DLC and a physical format on June 28.

I remember the majority of players complained about Yun, Yang, and Fei-Long being overpowered, since they were the most-used characters in the game. Last I recall, Fuudo (who was coming from Virtua Fighter) won EVO 2011 with Fei-Long. It was damn rough, too. But hey, who could forget Poongko getting a perfect on Daigo with Seth?

Near the end of 2011, we got a free update to AE, called Arcade Edition ver. 2012 (aka AE2012). The community used AE2012 from 2012 to 2013, where it was the most balanced update in the series. By then, Street Fighter already celebrated its 25th anniversary (and I know it has a 30th anniversary coming up next year, I can feel it already) by releasing an ultimate collection of current Street Fighter games bundled with movies, TV series, and more.

While the hype was slowly dying down, Capcom decided to keep it alive by releasing one more update in the Street Fighter series: Ultra Street Fighter IV. USFIV came out for Japanese arcades first in April 2014, while it was ported to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in June 3, followed by a PlayStation 4 port one year later on May 26, 2015.

The game brought us balance changes, new mechanics (Red Focus Attacks and Red FADCs), the ability to have two Ultras at the same time via Ultra Combo Double, six stages coming from Street Fighter x Tekken, and five more characters. Four characters were transferred from SF x Tekken: Poison, Hugo, Elena, and Rolento, while one from the Udon comics finally made her Street Fighter in-game debut: Decapre.

I remember when everyone on stream hated on Decapre because they said that Capcom took the lazy way out with making a new character. Either way, she managed to become a beast in the game as an offensive charge character in the right hands.

Another thing worth mentioning was the Edition Selection in USFIV. Edition Selection allowed you to pick a character based on any of the five Street Fighter IV versions, much like Hyper Street Fighter II. Months later, Omega mode was added to the game, which allowed us to play our characters like never before. Think Street Fighter II: Rainbow Edition, only this time made by Capcom. It’s basically that, however it is not supposed to be taken seriously in tournaments and it gave us a preview of what to expect from Street Fighter V.

With Ultra Street Fighter IV appearing at the Capcom Cup Finals back in December 2015, all the players who competed in the event gave the game a proper sendoff to the Street Fighter IV series as a whole. Although it will still be played in tournaments, it’s not going to be as important now as it was back then.

Let me just say this: if it weren’t for Street Fighter IV, there would be no Capcom Pro Tour, no Excellent Adventures, and no encouragement for other companies to make newer fighters for the 7th Generation era. If it hadn’t been for this game, I would never have been introduced to the FGC and I would be stuck at home playing other games like Call of Duty or something.

Most of all, I wouldn’t be traveling to tournaments today and meeting new people. But looking back at the time when SFIV came out, in 2009, we were labeled as 09ers when we started. And now, the 16ers will be the new breed, the 09ers will be the OGs, the OGs will be legends, and the legends will be immortals.

As we say goodbye to Street Fighter IV, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for bringing life back into the FGC and making it bigger than it was in the 2000s. Thank you for creating unforgettable moments within the community. Basically, thank you for everything! Now, we must say goodbye to the past and say hello to the future.

Street Fighter V… It’s now your turn to shine!

Virtua Kazama