It's 1994 all over again. Michael Schumaker's driving really fast, a charming US president is wowing the political world, and Capcom's releasing a Super update to a Street Fighter game. I half expect Oasis to reform and Romario to come out of retirement to guide Brazil to victory in the World Cup.
So, when it comes to updates of Street Fighter games, Capcom's got form. Super Street Fighter IV's existence should surprise no-one. Nor should its brilliance; Super is IV expanded. Because Capcom has decided Super's worthy of release on a disc rather than as downloadable content, for so many fans IV is now obsolete. But stay your tears, loyal street fighter. Super is worth the loss.
If you're new to this street fighting lark, if when you hear the word Hadouken you think only of a trendy new wave band, then head over to our Street Fighter IV review to find out why the 2.5D one-on-one fighter's ruddy brilliant. Don't worry, we'll wait.
But, if you know your Dragon Punches from your Spinning Piledrivers, then read on. Super feels instantly familiar because its mechanics are exactly the same as the game it updates. Super's EX special moves, spectacular Ultra Combos and strategic Focus Attacks work just as they did in IV. Super is an expansion. It is not a sequel.
Why bother to buy it then? Because it's got ten new characters, a second Ultra Combo for everyone, new arenas, rebalanced gameplay, two bonus stages, a brilliant new online suite, a revolutionary Replay Channel and new trials. That list may not be long enough to convince the uninitiated or the casual Street Fighter fan to get their wallets out, but enthusiasts didn't need a list in the first place.
As an enthusiast, your first half hour spent with the game feels like unwrapping presents as a child on Christmas morning. Whether you're checking out the new Ultras, trying out the new characters or heading straight online, the sense of excitement is huge. I jumped straight into training mode with my favourite character of yesteryear: spiky-haired American Guile, to get a handle on his rebalancing. His new Ultra Combo, the Sonic Hurricane, lifted straight out of the virtual pages of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, is infinitely more useful than the Flash Explosion. Better still, the charge time on his Sonic Boom projectile has been reduced, making him more than a match for any foe in a projectile face off. The great one is back to his old self.
Guile is not the only character to enjoy similar buffs. Capcom has made many of the weaker fighters viable. Conversely, however, it has made some of the overly powerful characters ever so slightly less so. I wouldn't go as far as to say Capcom's nerfed anyone. Sagat, for example, still does huge amounts of damage despite doing slightly less damage than before. Some have said Ryu's been hit hard, but he still seems top tier to me, and his medium and hard punch Dragon Punch hit twice now.