What Street Fighter IV started, Super Street Fighter IV refined, tweaking the balance of its characters and explosive ultra combos to produce an excellent fighting game. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition continues this tweaking, promising upgrades to the underlying combat system, as well as four new characters to play as. Capcom's fighter proved to be a major attraction at this year's MCM Expo in London, so we battled through the crowds to get a feel for how the new characters handle.
The most notable of those new characters is Evil Ryu. Like his nemesis Akuma, Evil Ryu has been consumed by Satsui no Hado, a murderous energy that grants him greater powers, but at the cost of his soul. In combat, this gives Evil Ryu a different feel and a set of new moves that make him a much more aggressive fighter. He now has a Shakunetsu Hadouken; an orange-coloured fireball that's extremely powerful, but takes time to charge, leaving a split-second gap for opponents to get in an attack. Evil Ryu also gains Akuma's teleporting ability, his Raging Demon ultra combo, as well as a new scissor-kick-type move that Capcom told us is ideal for chaining with other moves to form combos.
Most of Evil Ryu's other moves are gleaned directly from his non-evil counterpart, so if you're familiar with the classic quarter- and half-circle stick motions, you'll feel right at home. This made him easy for us to pick up and immediately start laying down some impressive-looking combos. While his moves are familiar, the way he handles is not. He takes on a much more aggressive feel, similar to Akuma, with his powerful new attacks driving us to play more offensively.
Ryu's not the only one to have dabbled with the evil arts, with Akuma's super-evil alter ego Oni making an appearance in Arcade Edition. He too gains new moves, such as a powerful Gorai Hadouken, a quick punch attack called Sekeisei Jiraiken, and an electric-shock-like attack called Tenchi Sokaigen. Capcom told us these new moves make Oni the second most powerful character in the game. Both Oni and Evil Ryu have also gained some impressive-looking visual flourishes, with their evil glow evolving into bright red flames that flick around their bodies as they battle.
The two other new characters are Yun and Yang, who made their first appearance in Street Fighter III and were two of the most requested by fans to appear in the Street Fighter IV universe. As twins, the pair share very similar moves, all of which are based on the Ryu and Ken style of quarter- and half-circle stick movements. Despite the familiar commands, we found it tricky to use the pair in combat. They handle in a rather unique way, feeling heavy yet somehow light at the same time. They also have some interesting moves, the most impressive of which was Genei Jin, a special that made all subsequent moves faster, allowing for some impressive-looking combos that would otherwise be impossible to execute.
In addition to gameplay tweaks and new characters, Arcade Edition's online mode has been improved. An updated replay channel lets you follow up to five of your favorite player replays, while the My Channel option lets you send out your replay data to 50 of your friends. Interestingly, Arcade Edition players will still be able to battle it out online with owners of Super Street Fighter IV. Features such as the new characters and gameplay tweaks are removed in those fights, ensuring that neither player has a competitive advantage. Though Arcade Edition marks the last installment in the Street Fighter IV series, Capcom has promised to keep supporting the game with balancing tweaks and patches, so long as there's a player base to warrant it.
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition will be available as a downloadable update for Super Street Fighter IV owners on June 7 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and as a stand-alone retail release on June 24 in Europe and June 28 in the US. A PC version is set to follow later in the year.