As a massive Street Fighter 4 fan, a mobile version makes almost no sense. Why make a full, graphically impressive and technically daunting game and squeeze it on to a teeny, tiny hand-held? How can the modest power of a mobile phone power the most complex, visually spectacular fighting game released this generation? In a game where control fidelity is so important that a market of specialist peripherals has sprung up to replace the sub-standard d-pads of default controllers, how can a touch screen interface work?
There are three questions that must be tackled then. Why? How? Touchscreen?
Why make Street Fighter on iPhone/iPod?
Capcom could port many games to iPhone. Bionic Commando rearmed would seem a perfect fit. Ghost and Goblin’s could be a great retro release. So why try to port such a huge, complex game as Street Fighter 4? Well its a visual sledgehammer. Anyone who thinks this is a half-assed port will be instantly blown away when they see the game running. Such a gorgeous game gets purchased regardless of how it plays. If you want to show off your new retina display to your friends or if you just want to show your parents why they should buy a smartphone, this is the game you show them. Its also one of the most appealing games to hardcore gamers on the iTunes store. This market of gamers uninterested in cutting ropes or hurling birds is thus far largely untapped and will flock to a big name release like Street Fighter 4.
How does it perform on the iPhone/iPod?
Amazingly. The backgrounds have become static 2D and the frame rate is lower, but this is definitely, recognisably Street Fighter 4. The animation is great, the character models look incredibly detailed on the small phone and a great deal of the sound effects and music are ported across. The visually spectacular Ultras still look great and even the Bluetooth versus seems smooth and lag-free.
The character roster is smaller but still features an impressive 14 choices. Most importantly, the fighting engine underlying the game is almost completely intact. Focus attacks, dash cancels, special moves, two-in-ones and more are all present and work correctly. Techniques and strategies from the full game are effective for veterans while training modes and tutorials do as good a job (if not better) as the full game at teaching beginners how to play.
Yes it uses the touchscreen, and yes, it (kind of) works! While an onscreen d-pad is always a compromise, the inclusion of just four buttons streamlines the gameplay immensely, and in a good way. Having special moves tied to s single button press sounds crude, but in practice works immensely well. Its been my contention for some time that the Street Fighter series sets up unnecessary barriers to entry for new players with its overly complex special move motions, so a single button solution works for me. The true mark of a Street Fighter expert is not whether they can correctly perform a half circle motion to produce a fireball, but whether they can judge the right situation in which to use that fireball. In that respect, the special move button and the associated focus attack button are sensible inclusions. Similarly, supers and ultras can be executed by simply tapping the relevant meter on screen, making their use a timing and situational challenge rather than an execution challenge.
For a time Street Fighter 4 was selling for 59p (79c) but has now moved to a more sensible £2.99($3.99). That’s utterly insane. The practice dojo alone easily justifies such an expense as practising combos in itself is great fun. When you add in multiplayer, tournament mode and challenges, this game represents some of the best value gaming you can purchase on any platform. Why are you still reading this? SHORYUKEN!!!