I have a tight circle of friends who know how to play Street Fighter. I mean know. We take it in turns to play host to tournaments (money may or may not exchange hands) that last long into the night and sometimes, long into the morning. The victor - he who wins ten matches in a row - walks away with more than just the knowledge that he is the best. He walks away with the respect of his peers. This, in all things competitive, is the holy grail. Well, that, and the humiliating PERFECT!
So, when Super Street Fighter IV arrived at the office, it was time to sound the call. But there would be no tournament. There would be no competitiveness. Only excited grown men huddled around a television, exploring the joys of ten new characters, new Ultras, and the intricacies of a slightly rebalanced fighting system.
This, in a nutshell, is why Super Street Fighter IV is so anticipated among fans. Ten new characters to master. Loads of new combos to learn. A raft of new strategies to perfect. And spectacular new Ultras to explore. The beautiful new fighting stages, new online game modes, and new animated movies are, in truth, a bonus - secondary to the primary pleasure the core gameplay provides.
We began our first tentative steps with SSFIV not trying out the new characters, but exploring old favourites. I headed straight to Guile - I'd heard he'd been ever so slightly tweaked to make him more powerful, and as an old school fan of the spiky-haired US army general, I needed to know. It's true: he's now even better. His pressure mix up game - so good in past Street Fighters - is reborn. His crouching medium punch is now easier to link from, enabling some great poke, Sonic Boom, tick throw mix ups. Unfortunately, his Overhead Kick doesn't hit high - as it did in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD, but he still has a dirty towards medium punch that does the job almost as well.
Guile's biggest weakness, however, was his Ultra - the Flash Kick Explosion looks the business, but it's about as useful as a paper boat in the middle of the ocean. Because it's extremely difficult to combo into, Guile's Ultra goes largely untouched. No more. Welcome, Guile fans, to the Sonic Hurricane.
The Sonic Hurricane (charge back, forward, back, forward and all three punches), is lifted straight out of Guile's Marvel vs. Capcom incarnation, and spits out a vortex Sonic Boom that stays close to Guile for a few seconds, damaging anyone silly enough to jump into it. Finally, he has an Ultra worth the complex command input, and it can be more easily comboed into from the Double Flash.