The Nintendo 3DS is upon us, and in somewhat of a surprise move, Street Fighter is along for the ride as the franchise makes only its second system launch appearance in history (Street Fighter EX3, PlayStation 2) in the form of Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition.
What's it about?
Like pretty much every game in the series to come before it, 3D Edition is about two players picking characters from a larger roster and battling it out in a best-of-three-rounds match to decide a winner. While the formula has been one of the foundations of the wildly successful fighting genre since it began in earnest with Street Fighter II, there is also a long and noteworthy history of fighting games never really panning out when they arrive on handheld platforms.
Because playing proper Super Street Fighter IV with the 3DS controls would be utterly impossible, the touch screen has been called upon to serve as an extra set of four buttons to which you can assign individual button functionality, button combinations, special moves, or even supers and ultras. Naturally, one-touch special moves are most beneficial to characters who are ordinarily charge-based, as they can now toss out their special moves from any position. However, if you don't like the idea of people being able to level you with Shun Goku Satsu or Siberian Blizzard with a tap of the touch screen, you can limit your online opposition to players who only use the touch screen for button combinations at most.
Current series producer Yoshinori Ono has been fascinated by the prospect of bringing Street Fighter IV to handhelds in some form from the very beginning. Even when the original Street Fighter IV was still in development, he had toyed around with the idea of making a DS port, which makes a 3DS version of Super a little less astonishing. To his credit, only the most necessary concessions were made in the transition to handheld, and what we're left with is one of the best launch titles available for showing off the raw power of the 3DS.
Why Should I Care?
Control concessions aside, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is a shockingly accurate port of one of the best console games of 2010, and is aimed squarely at players who really want some form of the game available to play on the go no matter what the cost. The touch screen implementation, ultimately, was done in the name of getting a very accurate version of the game onto a handheld in as playable a form as possible. Large-handed gamers will find some issues with the 3DS controls that make the game hard to handle even despite the touch screen, and tournament players need not apply, either, due to the fact that they simply can't get the performance that they need out of the 3DS. With that out of the way, if neither of those apply to you, go ahead and put 3D Edition on your radar.
In contrast to the controls, there's an impressive lack of compromise when it comes to content. All 35 characters from the console version are included here, as well as the bonus stages, cutscenes, and modes that you're already familiar with (it should be noted that combo trials are here with no compromises whatsoever, though it's hard to imagine the player who can complete them on the 3DS), along with an interesting Pokémon-style figurine battle mode that makes use of the 3DS StreetPass feature. If that one should hook you, suddenly you have hours upon hours of figurine-collecting replay value to look forward to.
The game is, as mentioned above, a great showcase of the graphical power of the 3DS. Even with the default side-view familiar to fighting gamers everywhere, 3D Edition is a beautiful game that does a great job of showing off your new handheld. If that wasn't enough, there's also an isometric perspective available to take even further advantage of the 3D screen. This is aimed squarely at players who want to experience as much 3D as possible in their games, as it doesn't do as good a job of letting experienced players judge distance as well as the side view does, but it does a wonderful job of adding an extra shot of "wow factor" to what is already a thoroughly impressive visual treat.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
For all that can be said about the controls, make no mistake: 3D Edition does a truly respectable job of providing you with Street Fighter IV action on the go. For that reason alone, it deserves your attention. It's true that the game isn't a one-size-fits-all title for anyone who picks up a 3DS, but the fact of the matter is that the further you've been from the Street Fighter craze since it was reborn in 2009, the more likely this one will be to pull you in (and possibly even hook you into making the transition to the console version). Moreover, it serves quite nicely as the "showcase game" of the 3DS launch, and can definitely fill the tech demo position in your 3DS launch library. Unfortunately, "gateway game" and "tech demo" might be the limit of 3D Edition's credentials, as the overall nature of the platform sadly robs it of much of the long-term appeal enjoyed by its essentially identical console brethren. It's much safer to give this one a rental before deciding whether or not it's worth investing the $39.99 asking price to make it a keeper.