Capcom’s Street Fighter franchise has solidified its position as a cornerstone of the gaming industry. As the progenitor of the fighting game genre, it has remained relevant for three decades. While each installment in the series has its unique merits, Street Fighter IV will always hold a special place in the hearts of fans as the definitive arcade fighter experience.
Recapturing the Magic
Street Fighter II introduced combos and a diverse cast of characters, leaving an indelible mark on the gaming industry. Its successor, Street Fighter III, refined mechanics but did not reach the same heights as its predecessor. However, this all changed with the release of Street Fighter IV.
In many ways, Street Fighter IV recaptured the magic that made Street Fighter II so beloved. It proved that lightning can strike twice as Capcom brought back the essence of the original while injecting fresh elements into the franchise.
One of the main points of contention with Street Fighter III was the omission of many beloved characters from Street Fighter II. Street Fighter IV resolved this issue by including the entire original cast, including iconic boss characters like Vega and M. Bison. Moreover, it introduced unique and exciting fighters, such as El Fuerte, a luchador, Hakan, a Turkish oil wrestler, and Decapre, a villainess.
Balancing characters from Street Fighter II, III, and even Final Fight, Street Fighter IV ensured that each character felt distinct and memorable. This formula was sadly not repeated in Street Fighter V, disappointing longtime fans.
True Arcade Experience
Capcom’s decision to focus on the online experience with Street Fighter V led to a slower addition of new content and a less fulfilling initial gameplay experience. In contrast, Street Fighter IV provided a true arcade experience right from the start. Whether playing on PC or console, the game embraced the essence of the arcade, which has been lost in many modern fighting games.
With its massive roster and dedicated arcade playthroughs for each character, Street Fighter IV offered a meaty and long-lasting experience. This approach allowed for consistent balance patches and fostered a healthy metagame among dedicated players both in and out of the arcade.
During the transition to 3D, the Street Fighter franchise faced some challenges, with the mainline game sticking to high-end pixel graphics while the experimental EX series had mixed results. Street Fighter IV marked the major jump to 3D that the franchise desperately needed. Its bold art direction brought the characters to life as fully realized, three-dimensional fighters.
Among all the iterations in the series, Ultra Street Fighter IV stands out as the greatest hit. It paid homage to every aspect of the franchise, serving as both a nostalgic tribute for longtime fans and a fantastic entry point for newcomers.
As Street Fighter V approaches the end of its major DLC additions and whispers of Street Fighter VI begin to circulate, fans hope for a game that will challenge the legacy of Street Fighter IV. It should embody the perfect combination of excellent gameplay, a diverse and compelling character roster, and a true arcade experience. Only time will tell if the next installment can live up to the standards set by Street Fighter IV.