Capcom's upcoming Super Street Fighter IV is set to deliver fans of the series a meaty helping of new content to master. The robust offering of new characters, new moves, and new ultra combos should give anyone who mastered last year's Street Fighter IV something to study. Today's new trailer shed some light on the bulk of the game's new cast, which includes a surprising array of familiar faces drawn from Street Fighter history. We checked in with SSFIV's special advisor Seth Killian to talk about the upcoming game, the new characters, and what the deal is with the raccoon.
GameSpot: How did the team go about selecting these extra characters?
Seth Killian: The 10 new SSFIV characters were based on post-SFIV fan feedback, which we then filtered according to which characters we felt would be a good fit for the game in terms of fighting style. I'm happy to say we were able to include almost all of the most popular requests.
GS: How many of the characters added this time out were characters that didn't make the cut for SFIV and how many are driven by the user feedback once all the characters in SFIV were revealed to fans?
SK: Development on Dee Jay and T. Hawk was started during the original SFIV, but the rest of the newcomers were basically all driven by the players' feedback after SFIV was completed.
GS: Super Street Fighter IV is bringing characters together from three separate "worlds" of Street Fighter (SSFII, SFIII, SF Alpha). What has it been like to balance and refine these characters to fit them within the SFIV universe?
SK: The SFII and SF Alpha characters both come from games with fundamentally compatible background systems, so integrating them together with the world of SFIV wasn't too intimidating. I was actually really worried about the SFIII characters, however. That game was built with parrying as the core background system, so in a game like SFIV without parries, would they be too weak? I'm happy to say they are definitely not too weak, and I was actually surprised how naturally the SFIII crew made the transition to Super SFIV.
GS: What can you tell fans of the new characters about how they're going to handle? Will they "feel" like their 2D counterparts like the characters did in SFIV or will there be some tweaks?
SK: There are, of course, a lot of tweaks, but I think any fans of these characters in their SFIII incarnations will pick them up very easily in Super SFIV. Everything you loved about them from SFIII is still there, as well as a bunch of new tricks. They're actually among the most highly developed characters in the entire game; they have really large and flexible move sets to draw from.
GS: What kind of changes will the returning cast be undergoing in SSFIV? Can you give any specific examples?
SK: The philosophy behind the rest of the changes was to "balance up." This means rather than "nerfing" people, the aim was to make everyone stronger, though to varying degrees. Basically we don't want any fans of a certain character to pick up Super SFIV and find that all their favorite stuff doesn't work anymore, so we've actually worked to enrich every single character in terms of moves and overall possibilities. In terms of specific changes, there are a lot, ranging from the subtle, like Ryu's fierce shoryuken going from one hit to two hits, on to the more significant, like Guile's attacks having some increased priority…and even a brand new technique for Sagat. The number one change is, of course, the addition of a second ultra combo for everyone. These will change the dynamic of many fights.
GS: How important was the feedback the team received from the fighting game community on the original Street Fighter IV and what aspects of that feedback have been integrated into SSFIV?
SK: It was critical. Everything from the characters to including the online modes is pretty much a direct response to feedback from fans. Although we weren't able to do every single thing that was requested--from the big stuff like characters and online modes down to even very specific items, like having your character select cursor start on the same character you picked the last time (rather than having to move it each time from a default position)-- we've tried very hard to marry the best ideas from SF fans with our own thinking about how to create a great game. I think it's safe to say this is the most fan-influenced project in Capcom's history…maybe even in all of gaming history, at least as far as fighters are concerned.
GS: In terms of structure, will SSFIV feature the same progression and unlock system to get all the new characters or will they be available from the outset?
SK: We're going to have everyone unlocked right away. I understand the idea behind unlocks to some degree--you want to encourage people to play in different styles and experience more of the game. But I personally do not like them and want to have all my tools right from the start. "Everybody unlocked from the start" is another feature we can credit directly to fan feedback. Their voices really let me drive this point home with the traditionalists on the team.
GS: Constant iteration seems to be something that goes hand-in-hand with the Street Fighter series--obviously, Super Street Fighter IV is a new product--but has the team ever considered using downloadable content as a delivery method for future iterations of Street Fighter IV before moving onto Street Fighter V?
SK: DLC has been discussed, but frankly, the schedule for Super SFIV was so tight that we haven't been able to think much beyond this project. We did try and create more hooks in the architecture this time around to keep at least the possibility open, though the future for the series remains wide open at this point.
GS: Finally, what's up with the raccoon?
SK: That would be Ibuki's pet tanooki, Don. Do not mess with Don.
GS: Thanks for your time.