Super Street Fighter IV Q&A With Yoshinori Ono

We catch up with Street Fighter series producer Yoshinori Ono to chat character balance, new online tournament modes, and bringing back the bonus stage.

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The Street Fighter series is one of Capcom's premier properties and one of the fighting genre's most iconic names. Almost a year on from the launch of its critically acclaimed franchise reboot, Street Fighter IV, the company is rapidly approaching the release of its next iteration for the series on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3: Super Street Fighter IV.

In our previous hands-on with the game, we got to grips with the series' latest addition, the Turkish oil wrestler Hakan. While a grappler at his core, Hakan also sports an interesting oil-up manoeuvre, which increases his defence and attack stats and modifies some of his attacks. We also tried out the Street Fighter III characters that will be appearing in Super Street Fighter IV--Makoto, Dudley, and Ibuki--and found all three to be pretty close to their original styles (albeit without the earlier series' parry system).

We caught up with game producer Yoshinori Ono, the series' spiritual father, to chat community feedback, Street Fighter IV, and how getting cornered in a Korean bar brought about the nation's first fighter.

GameSpot: Street Fighter has always been a series balanced and tweaked at each iteration. Which characters will be receiving changes in Super Street Fighter IV? Who was too powerful, and which characters underperformed?

Yoshinori Ono: We have carried out tuning for all characters. It has been a year and a half since the arcade release and almost a year since the console release. In this time span an unbelievable amount of research and study has been done on characters and tactics. We are very surprised to the extensiveness of this, and many things we were not expecting were discovered as a result. However, for SSFIV I don't think anyone is too strong or too weak. I know there is the legend of overpowered Sagat and supposedly weak Vega (Balrog in Japan) and Guile etc., but these tierings really depend on the reviewer and their favourite characters. Also, although everyone talks about Sagat being too strong, I don't know any major tournament champion who uses Sagat. But I do admit the unique elements of characters are exploited at midlevel matches, and this has been readjusted in SSFIV.

GS: You've said that the additional content and SFIV's design mean you're not able to offer SSFIV as downloadable content. Would DLC have been your preferred method of release for SSFIV if you had had the choice?

YO: The game system is still the same in SSFIV, but we did not want to change the fundamentals because that would have meant we would be rewriting the rule book of the game. However, considering the number of additional characters, extra reactions for the existing characters, and the amount of auxiliary data, it just would have been too large for a DLC. It would have also caused an issue in terms of online player matching due to compatibility. So the decision was to release SSFIV as a packaged title, but considering how much new stuff we've implemented--it is more like [Street Fighter] 4.9!

GS: Which of the changes in SSFIV are a result of community feedback on SFIV?

YO: Majority of them I say. We heard the community on the character unlock issue, new characters, tuning direction, online features--I can go on with the list forever. Along with our Western Capcom offices we have gathered global opinions through official qualitative research, comments on Web sites, [social networking sites] like Facebook, blog articles, and anything that we could get our hands on. Although it still bears the number IV, I honestly believe this is a new title in its own right. Anything you didn't like about SFIV? You can rest assured that has been improved in SSFIV, because we really have looked into every aspect of the game. No way? Yes way.

Hakan is the final character to be unveiled for the game.

GS: Tell us about Juri and her abilities. Why has it taken so long to add a Korean character to the roster?

YO: I heard from one of my seniors in the past that there was a plan for a Korean character due to the popularity SFII was gaining in Korea. However, the Korean government then had in effect strict limitations against the Japanese language and culture on media, including entertainment, and we never got round to realising the plan.

Since then, however, Capcom set up a subsidiary, Capcom Korea. When we released SFIV, Capcom Korea locked me in a nice bar and demanded that should there be an opportunity for another SF title it should have a Korean character in it. Although other fighting games already had Korean characters, Capcom Korea told me that there was no point unless there was one in the series that started it all, and this was also the will of the Korean fans. I had to agree so I was able to leave…

This is basically the full picture of why there wasn't a Korean character until this point and why we do now.

GS: Run us through the process for character selection. How do you decide who makes the cut?

YO: I believe fighting games are tools for entertainment, rather than the entertainment content itself. The most important part of an entertainment tool is the rules when using them. For instance, just because the knight is a cool piece, filling up the chessboard with just knights would ruin the game, and therefore the chessboard loses the purpose as a tool.

Longtime Street Fighter fans will see classic characters take on fan favourites in Super Street Fighter IV.

In IV, the rule writer is the lead planner. The director and the producer both work to discuss from different viewpoints the character selections, design, and the game direction with the development team. Some ideas are taken up, some are not. It's all about the balance, but it's impossible to get this right in early stages. During the development, we sometimes implement a test character and just play them. If they feel right, we'll work some more on the character. However, if that character was from a previous instalment, then the feeling has to be right as it was then, be it the speed, movement, response, and combos, so the need of testing throughout once again. Having passed all of the above, a character finally makes it in the roster. Many of my character suggestions and ideas sank deep down the sea of balance tests. This question is making me feel rather sentimental…

GS: Other than rebalancing, how else are you reworking the existing SFIV roster? New moves? New story?

YO: Storywise, it is set at the same time as SFIV. However, we've renewed all the prologues and epilogues for all the characters. We also took in a lot of comments from the community on this too, and I'm sure we'll please. There are some new moves for some characters as we felt this was necessary, as well as variations of existing moves as a part of the extensive tuning. However, the largest change is the selectable ultra combo. In SSFIV there are two ultra combos per character. Back in III we had selectable super arts, but this only forced the majority of players to pick just one style, and I regret it wasn't the best system. In SSFIV we have reflected the lesson learnt and made the two available depending on the way the player wants to utilise the character. We've cooked up SSFIV a lot spicier than SFIV. Bon appetit!

GS: We've heard talk of multiplayer lobby changes and team battle modes in SSFIV. What's new in online multiplayer?

YO: These days I often see team battles in Street Fighter tournaments, such as two-on-two, three-on-three, four-on-four, and such. I hear it's a similar story when a group of friends play an ad hoc tournament amongst each other. So, our plan was to allow exactly this online. You can either get together with friends and arrange this or enter into a team battle alone and play the arcade mode while you wait for the slots to be filled up. Of course, you can choose to watch your teammate's match, and if you liked what you saw, save it and watch it again later! Yes, the replay function is extensive and you can record, play, and even share match videos. The new feature, Replay Channel, displays the latest matches recorded from all over the world, and you can now truly enjoy Street Fighter playing or just watching 24/7.

GS: How are you going to address concerns about dividing the community because SFIV and SSFIV won't be compatible with each other for online play?

YO: As I said in my answer to your second question, we have anticipated this issue to come at the community's expense. We have tried to solve this by providing more than what DLCs could, at a relatively low price. We feel that SSFIV is more like SF4.9, and we would like the community to upgrade to this new title.

GS: Will there be a PC version of SSFIV? If so, will you offer additional features to the console release when it ships?

YO: I am aware Capcom Japan has received many requests from PC users. However, due to the development time constraints and resource issues, we have not managed to plan this yet. However, as developers, we don't want to leave those who love SFIV behind, and this is not limited to just the PC issue. We can only do so much, but we'll definitely keep on moving forward.

GS: You've mentioned a bonus for gamers who already own Street Fighter IV. What can you tell us about it, and is there any truth to rumours of aggressive trade-in value at retailers for gamers who want to upgrade to SSFIV?

YO: We'll be revealing this information shortly.

Makoto is back in Super Street Fighter IV.

GS: Why have you brought back bonus stages? Will we see all the old favourites return? Can we expect new ones?

YO: I've been telling everyone that I wanted to implement the bonus stages since the early development stage of SFIV, but I couldn't make it happen. I even received some letters from harsh members of the community saying that I was a liar. I was one sad producer indeed.

However, I am no longer a liar. I do think a lot of people trace their memories of the SF series to the bonus stages. For SSFIV, we've picked the iconic car and barrel stages. If I have the chance, I would like to complete the roster and create a new one in the future.

GS: Yoshinori Ono, thanks for your time.

Discussion

85 comments
SgtStrungOut
SgtStrungOut

If he wants to fix SF4, he better give a option to disable revenge gauge.

Burner101
Burner101

@Fed__X I was thinking that exact same thing myself, to be honest. I guess that old phrase "Two minds think alike" or something along those lines apply here. Anyway, on topic, SSFIV is definitely looking awesome and will be definitely worth the wait. It's almost here everybody, we can do it.

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

I like Y.O. he seems like a cool guy.

Old_Schooler_Dan
Old_Schooler_Dan

Just thought of something, GameSpot Commun! The only reason E. Honda has never been made to be a big joke like Hakan is because the developers are Japanese, and the Japanese are very patriotic, and proud of/serious about their culture! Sure, Hakan's a big, silly, doofus, and his fighting brand is a big joke, because he's from a different culture, and the Japanese are a bit more xenophobic than they'd like to admit; but no, not E. Honda, a wrestler who's power lies in his incredible FATNESS, because, "Hey! Sumo wrestling is OUR culture!" The Japanese are also jealous/contemptuous of Americans, so it's a wonder Americans are shown any respect in this series at all! They must secretly envy us? Hmmm ...

Old_Schooler_Dan
Old_Schooler_Dan

So, now Bald Bull is no longer the only goofy, Turkish, video game character in history, as he's joined by Hakan; who seems likely to give him a run for his money. :D

y2kern
y2kern

cant wait to get this one, i thought they could have added in gouken's master though, but the package is very good the new fighters are very good. also i think that they should have just included all the ultra combos instead of having to choose between them

rkane34
rkane34

I traded in my copy of SF4 just to pick up this game... its a shame how addicted to street fighter I am ... oh well.

AtomicPowPow
AtomicPowPow

DLC would have been too large? HA! They'll be saying that too when they release Hyper Super Street Fighter 4 Turbo Championship Edition in another 5 versions time.

soyt_llusala
soyt_llusala

I love SF4 and this (SSF4) is great! I can't wait.

Fed__X
Fed__X

I think this is more than just a bargain. New characters means some serious tweaking. Honestly I didn't have any complaints about the first release we got more on consoles then the japanese arcade machines! So, yeah I'm super stoked about SSF4!

dj_pulserfan
dj_pulserfan

@mystic_knight Ok, let me get this strait. You said this. "But i did complain that they could have made the extra as both formats a DLC as well as a Hard Copy (which you all know as SSF IV) Heck even i am going to get it but i dont like to be forced in spending potentially $80 for a game i already have, which would have possibly cost me $30 to make it exactly the same. I don't know if people are blinded by their love for the game or what, but even i love the game and i can see how this is wrong." Ok. Yet again, I'm going to tell you this in all caps cause obviously talking to you normally just doesn't help. YOU ARE NOT BEING FORCED TO UPGRADE FOR CHRIST SAKES AND COMPLAINING THAT YOU'D RATHER HAVE THIS AS DLC IS ASININE! Honestly dude, this is better for all of us whether you realize it or not. By not making it DLC they are not limiting the community who might be worried about hard drive space, buying points, making sure they'd play it enough to justify not deleting it, etc. DLC is bad for ALL of us in the long run, whether you realize it or not the fact remains and that for the online communities all it does is separate us. Btw, if this was DLC and disc based you'd still end up paying 40 dollars for it either way. So suck it up!

SgtStrungOut
SgtStrungOut

I really hated that pathetic revenge gauge system so much that I went back to SSF2HDR within a month of SF4. I hope they scrap that or at least make it that being offensive builds it up. BTW Hyper Fighting is the best SF game yet!

Da4biddenOne
Da4biddenOne

So we know who all the ten new fighters are gonna be now all we need to know is what is the bonus content is gonna be for the people who still got there copy of Street Fighter IV because if i remember correctly Capcom been announced that there will be extra bonus content for people who own both titles. I dying to find out what it is.

MAXOUT12S
MAXOUT12S

Thius is getting better and better

Aria_infinite
Aria_infinite

When I play sf4 with my friends I dominate, when I play online I get dominated, no middle ground for me. Maybe ssf4 will bring out a new learning curve that I'll be able to keep up with.

amillionhp
amillionhp

I had some big gripes with street fighter 4. It's problems are not something casual/occasional players would pick up on so it took some time before i could firmly place my finger on what about the game was bothering me specifically. As examples, the strict frame speed for combos made it all but impossible to accurately hit combos that used anything besides heavy attacks. Unless of course you have an arcade stick, but i wasn't going to spend the money for that. As a result, you really hit a wall of sorts and can't really improve your game. Another huge problem for me was a complete lack of any sort of party-room available for spectating and such. All we ever got was strictly 1vs1 fights and i despised this. It's easy to assume such a thing is really useless but having a room of 3 or 4 people in it made it a lot easier to find good contacts for the friend list and helped discourage douchebag behavior. I swear, i was either a complete noob for losing (even if it was a close game), or for winning because i "spammed".....Soulcalibur and Blazblue were never so negative like that and i'm of the impression that is because they provided a few other players per room. With SSF4, it looks like they probably fixed the online match issue that i despise but i doubt the strict combo frame requirements are eased up. I'll probably pick it up at some point but i wont have expectations as high as before.

skeleton10
skeleton10

This game is going to be the best frikin Street Fighter EVER! I already pre-ordered it, and only 40$. I want to play Hakan and Blanka so bad. It comes out April 27th just as a reminder. Seth Killian did a remarkable job.

G7i9a1
G7i9a1

eta porra,so eu de gringo aqui ! hahahahaha

sweetpotatofry
sweetpotatofry

40 dollar price tag makes this an easy buy. I sold Modern Warfare 2 and got 40 bucks with Gamestop's extra 50% trade-in deal earlier this month.

tremor33
tremor33

I'm waiting to see what kind of bonus I get for trading in SF4

nuke45
nuke45

SF is absolutely the king of beatm'up. only soul calibur can compare as style and fight tech. tekken is out,puh!

amjadmasri
amjadmasri

this game is nothing comparing to dragon ball raging blast or naruto storm heh those are great games

fury99
fury99

what can i say, this is Sweet! can't wait to play.

DustMan2704
DustMan2704

capcom what was the problem, why did you not just release a lobby mode in the first release?!

chefstubbies
chefstubbies

I'll wait another year for Super Street Fighter 4 "Turbo"

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Well done capcom.Thanks for listening to the fans on this one.Though i will never play as Hakan i garenteee it.

Dr_Lucifer
Dr_Lucifer

wow capcom has over done themselves this time, bonus stages 10 more characters, team modes...i feel they should have saved some for street fighter 5.

Pibet
Pibet

SFIV is the best, the new characters and ultras are a great addition, my thumbs can't wait!!!

Fr0wnyface
Fr0wnyface

If they released this as DLC what would organizations like Evo do?

Adamu_Kuezada
Adamu_Kuezada

I'll wait for third revision. The one that adds a stage for every character, has animated intros to the fight, and has a final round a la street fighter alpha 3.

watchuwa
watchuwa

haha sucks to be a pc owner

mystic_knight
mystic_knight moderator

@froekidd in Australia the price is double the US, it will cost us $80. The industry is overpriced down under i suppose which is why i ranted a bit more than i should have. How much was the collectors of FF XIII over in US. I got mine for $140 here.

froekidd
froekidd

to everyone they are not selling it for 60 bucks only 40 bucks ok to have to stop complaining for nothing its just a game and i reason they didn't make it a DLC cuz it was way too big of a file so it was much easier to make it a hard copy game but i agree that they should charge like 15 bucks at most but what can you do. your still gonna buy it right so stop complaining

flashn00b
flashn00b

I still say that SSF4 is a stupid way of dealing with the piracy seen on the PC version, despite the fact that it was one of the best selling games on Steam shortly after its release.

Tekknight
Tekknight

I still don't get how selecting your Ultras works, it sounds a lot like Sf3, but Ono says it's not. And I thought SF4 only had 1 ultra per character and multiple supers. Right? And no details on the SF4 bonus? C'mon Ono! Also, I would comment on the "Is Capcom ripping us off?" debate, but it's pointless. As usual, sales will be the decider.

ahadj
ahadj

PC version or bust

bristalien
bristalien

load of dogshi.t. now i love sf but that character is just gay

jeremiah06
jeremiah06

@ninjavelmor While I understand your point I'm not a competitive layer yet I'm still day 1ing this. I love street fighter and I play a lot with my friends for fun.

calm_syrface
calm_syrface

I was a bit peeved at the fact that I had the original SF4 but had to buy the whole game to upgrade but honestly...it's a great deal. We get two street fighter 4's in a year! New characters moves and they added more to online so people's be happy, street fighter will be around for a while.

mystic_knight
mystic_knight moderator

@dj_pulserfan @Blicen Don't get me wrong I love SF IV like i said in my previous post, its my fav fighting game of all time the members of GSAU will tell you the same, Though just because i love the game, it doesnt mean i should love the actions of the company many people here mistake their fanboyism attitude in regards to my messages, I never once complained about the release of SSF IV, But i did complain that they could have made the extra as both formats a DLC as well as a Hard Copy (which you all know as SSF IV) Heck even i am going to get it but i dont like to be forced in spending potentially $80 for a game i already have, which would have possibly cost me $30 to make it exactly the same. I don't know if people are blinded by their love for the game or what, but even i love the game and i can see how this is wrong. @ThreeVo And for your information I know more than what you would probably know anyway so next time why don't you get that negative attitude some place else, I have been here for 7 years, if you are happy to criticise other people this is not the place to be. Next time i see that attitude i wont hesitate to report you. A discussion is fair and all without the need to insult other users.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

"YO: We'll be revealing this information shortly. " Really man? I know it's just a bonus, But I want to know what it is. I'd probably accept all costume right now if that was the offer. I can't wait to see what this game looks like on my TV.

ThreeVo
ThreeVo

Okay... @mystic_knight Sorry man but you really dont know what the !@#$ your talking about... @ninjavelmor & dj_pulserfan Loud and proud, im right there with you. Its as i said on an earlier post relating to ssfiv and a bunch of naive ingrate naysayers were flooding the comments. Something needs to be said. If the announcment of SSFIV as a stand alone game bothers you, then its obviously not a game you should be playing.. as you clearly dont take these types of games seriously (as much as u can for a video game) and were never really competitve. If u like to play around every now and then.. then SFIV is fine, enjoy it. No one is forcing you to purchase SSFIV. If ANYTHING, this game is a labor of love to the community from capcom... with all the feed back its taken from us players, which very few developers do nowdays. Any complaint about this NOT being DLC or some other asinine reason seriously falls on deaf ears. If your mad then u really have no business playing it anyways. This is a game for the community and also an EXCELLENT entry into the scene for anyone who is interested Not to mention the fighting game community is one of the most robust well established gaming communities ive had the pleasure of being involved in.. EVO2K10 Ceasars Palace Las Vegas Nevada this year - WOOT!