Street Fighter IV: Oh No

How do you top perfection? Why attempt to improve on perfection, if you’re not sure how to approach it? Oh, right. Money.

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Play It Again, Ken

It’s 2006. Capcom’s revenue is low, and they’re running out of Megaman games to release. Let’s make another Street Fighter! It’s been years since the last one! Why not?

Well, nobody knew exactly what to do. They didn’t want to commit to making yet more characters, given 3rd Strike‘s modest financial success compared to 2. So it seemed like an intelligent compromise to simply make another Street Fighter 2, but with 3D graphics.

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“There’s something familiar about this…”

Which is what they did. And it succeeded. It made millions, in fact, and in figures is the most successful fighting game series of all time. So what’s to complain about?

Lots, really. There’s the fact that in the internet age, this game received 4 mutually incompatible revisions across 3 consoles, needlessly splitting the player base just to make more money. There’s the DLC. There’s the poor network and cheaters. There’s the heavy emphasis on frame-perfect (within one 1/60th of a second) input timing for combos. There’s the slowed-down gameplay. There’s the uninspiring 3D graphics and the stiff animation. There’s the completely uninspiring character design re-hash.

But all of those are minor gripes. The biggest letdown of the whole 4 project is the attitude toward players and the motivation behind making it. It’s not a game series anymore. It’s a by-the-numbers, design-by-committee, marketing-driven intellectual property, whose reason for existence is to reliably extract money from a tame fanbase on a regular basis and keep Capcom investors happy. The original sparks that started Street Fighter 2 and 3 are long gone, and all that’s left is a cynical, capitalistic enterprise.

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