Street Fighter IV review
We review Capcom's Street Fighter IV, a classic game that's been given a modern twist for iPhone
Capcom’s long-running Street Fighter series is one of gaming’s most treasured franchises and despite hitting a slight lull in the ‘90s after years of incremental updates which left fans feeling somewhat jaded, the highly-regarded one-on-one brawler is now back in the public eye thanks to the recent next-gen outing Street Fighter IV.
When Capcom announced that it was bringing this very same title to Apple’s iPhone it caused many fans to grab their calendars to make sure that April 1st hadn’t somehow arrived early.
However, despite such scepticism the game is now with us and while it’s certainly a more successful venture than many would have hoped, it still doesn’t quite replicate the authentic experience.
As you might assume, control is the biggest bugbear with the iPhone version of Street Fighter IV.
This is a series which requires pinpoint accuracy at all times and has seen an entire peripheral industry grow up around it thanks to the popularity of custom-made arcade fighting sticks.
Trying to cram the precise directional control and six-button attack configuration into the iPhone’s humble touch-screen was never going to be an easy task and although Capcom has managed to grant the player a surprising degree of influence you never really feel like you can be as responsive as you are on the home console version.
The punch and kick strengths have been removed so instead of having three different power levels for your attacks you now have just one for each.
This naturally simplifies the experience and makes it easier to pick up but it robs the game of depth; don’t expect your finely-tuned combo techniques to cross over to the iPhone.
Thankfully Focus attacks – which take time to charge but are capable of smashing through your opponent’s block – are present, and there’s even a handy Special Move button which makes pulling off the demanding super moves easier for novices.
The virtual stick located on the left-hand side of the display works better than we had hoped; it picks up your thumb movements pretty well and within minutes of booting the game up you’ll be able to string together special attacks and deadly “ultra” combos.
However, when you’re in the thick of battle the control system struggles; we lost count of the number of times we accidentally pressed the wrong button or pushed the wrong direction.
Without any tactile feedback to tell you where you fingers are on the screen playing Street Fighter IV soon becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.
Graphically the game is impressive, although those of you expecting a full-3D interpretation of Capcom’s epic fighter will be saddened by the fact that the characters are merely 2D sprites based on the models used in the home console version.
They animated impressively but also showcase a rather unfortunate “cut-out” quality. Backgrounds are also entirely flat, although the in-game camera does zoom in and out to give some impression of depth.
With this mobile port Capcom has tried as hard as possible to carry over as much of the Street Fighter IV experience as possible.
For example, when your character executes a powerful Ultra combo a pre-rendered cut-scene – taken directly from the home console version of the game – plays out to lend the move some visual impact. It’s a cheap trick that is necessitated by the humble nature of the hardware but it looks neat all the same.
In terms of game modes Street Fighter IV doesn’t exactly push the boat out, but there’s enough here for portable pugilists to get their teeth into.
Training modes are available in order to get yourself battle-ready and the Dojo feature – where you are tasked with various challenges – helps extend longevity.
However it’s the multiplayer mode which is likely to attract the most attention; connecting via Bluetooth you can face off against like-minded iPhone owners to decide who is king of the ring. It’s easily the best element of the package but the aforementioned control issues sap away some of the enjoyment.
Street Fighter IV on the iPhone certainly isn’t as dreadful as we had been expecting it to be but it’s not quite worthy of the legendary name, either.
While we applaud Capcom’s bravery in bringing such a tricky game to the format it has to be said that the experiment hasn’t been a complete triumph.
Casual players will become frustrated with the twitchy and often unresponsive controls while dedicated Street Fighter veterans will probably ignore it altogether, preferring to stick with the far superior home console original.
Street Fighter IV info
Website/Demo: Capcom website