The always enthusiastic Street Fighter IV producer Yoshinori Ono is in demand. With interest in the fighting game now ramping up to dangerous levels due to the release of the arcade version in Japan, everyone wants their piece of the man charged with bringing the greatest beat-em-up series ever conceived kicking and screaming into the 21st century. At Leipzig Games Convention last week we cornered Ono-san and unleashed a few fireballs of our own, pinning him down on the upcoming console versions and scoring hot new details. What was his response? Find out right here...
VideoGamer.com: How big a problem will lag be for online play in the console versions?
Yoshinori Ono: Obviously lag will be a huge problem for online play. We're working on it. Compared to other games such as Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur, they've got replay functions and so forth. It's quite difficult for 3D Street Fighter at the moment. In order to prevent the lag we're thinking about trying to balance it up at user interface level and input timing by using joystick or something like that. We still haven't got a complete plan as yet. We're still working on it. That's all we can say at the moment.
VideoGamer.com: Why did you make the decision to remove parrying for Street Fighter IV?
YO: I didn't want to create an entertainment video game as such. I wanted Street Fighter IV to be a tool for the people to use and enjoy themselves. I often use the analogy of a chess game. Chess can be played by the American or Russian champion, if you like. We can see them playing chess on live TV and so on. The parrying system is that level. It's quite hard for the vast majority to master. But chess can be played by grandpa and grand kids on a Sunday afternoon. I want Street Fighter IV to be a tool for everyone to enjoy, therefore deliberately I didn't include the parrying system. But you know we carried on with the focus attack and such. Basically we used the rule book from Street Fighter II because that was the most popular.
VideoGamer.com: Some critics have said the game is too similar to Street Fighter II. That is doesn't move the series forward. What do you say to those criticisms?
YO: Well, you know obviously there are subtle differences, wider screens and speed. But ultimately we wanted to create a sequel to Street Fighter II, so if someone says this looks just like Street Fighter II with glorified graphics, then that's music to our ears!
There is one other journalist in Asia, he is from Hong Kong. He said the same thing. He was poker faced. I wasn't sure if he was sarcastic or he meant to be positive, but when I said that's the word I wanted to hear, he just shut up, so he was probably being sarcastic. When you compare the two side by side, Street Fighter II and Street Fighter IV, obviously there are lots of differences. However the team focused on creating a sequel to Street Fighter II. So if people play it and then have the control feel of Street Fighter II, that's what we were aiming for.
VideoGamer.com: Will there be any special single-player modes on the console version, like an adventure mode?
YO: We said that Street Fighter IV is a tool, it's not an entertainment video game. Having said that we never really revealed the story of each character as such in the previous iteration. So in Street Fighter IV we put in a little bit of cut scene to introduce every single character before you play that character, so you know why they started to fight again, getting into trouble after the Street Fighter II time line. Then after the match or fight you will get a little bit more story as well. That is not included in the arcade version, only the console versions.
VideoGamer.com: What were the influences behind the new character designs? C. Viper almost looks like a SNK character?
YO: We sat down with the internal team and discussed what sort of character we should include. We did market research. There was no intention of having an SNK type character whatsoever. We picked the good parts of the different candidates and C. Viper was born. After that some users started to say that yeah she does look like an SNK character. For us it was not intentional. But we were impressed that SNK was one step before us, they had already done it. So that's what happened.
VideoGamer.com: There are rumours that the console versions will be released to coincide with the release of the new movie in March 2009. Is there any truth to the rumour?
YO: Our R&D team didn't know much about this timing! They are just put under pressure by those people sitting outside. So at the moment development time wise, we've just about managed to take on the arcade version on console. Obviously we have to balance the game and add on the other features for the console version. We're just working on it. We still don't know.
However, I also attended Comic Con in San Diego. A lot of users expressed their frustration that the arcade version is only released in Asia and they still can't put their hands on Street Fighter IV. I'm thinking as long as the game has the basic tool function for everyone to enjoy, we may be able to release it on the early side. We still don't know.
VideoGamer.com: Street Fighter IV will be the first Street Fighter game for a lot of people. Have you put any tutorial in the game to help them?
YO: Yes we do have tutorials in Street Fighter IV. But on top of that we just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Street Fighter this year. That means our history with this franchise, probably people who played Street Fighter II, they grew up, became a mother or father, they may be able to teach their children or niece, nephew how to play.
VideoGamer.com: There are a couple of console exclusive characters, why did you decide not to release those in the arcade version?
YO: We just didn't have the time! Going back to the chess analogy. One character is a rule that you have to master to enjoy the game. So if with the other games, where you get all the characters to select all over the screen, you have to master so many rules. That would interfere with the majority of people's enjoyment. 16 characters for arcade, we thought was just about right. Then plus Fei-Long and Dan. We haven't decided more additional characters for console yet, but probably we will. The console version will have a little bit more characters.