The ten years in between Street Fighters was probably only for the best. Two dimensional fighting games were getting too complicated and amateurs just couldn't enjoy them. But Street Fighter IV managed to put it all in place. It was the game that we had been waiting for. It was accessible, gave us an extraordinary gallery of characters and the simple yet brilliant Focus gave us a depth for those who wanted it.
Matters weren't made worse by the beautiful graphics and the extremely polished Super Street Fighter IV was the icing on the cake. Capcom had managed to make one of the best games in the genre ever. But it never made it onto the Wii, supposedly due to its limited hardware capabilities. So it's a bit of a surprise that it's here on Nintendo 3DS, a device with essentially the same capacity as the Wii.
But there is no need to worry, as Capcom has managed to squeeze the game onto the 3DS without too many compromises. A whopping cast of 35 characters made it onto the cartridge and the most noticeable difference is that the backgrounds have fewer animations. It makes for an eerie feel to levels with big crowds as they look more like frozen mannequins staring than a lively crowd.
But that's just details. The main thing here is fighting and the only things that matters are controls and precision. Obviously we won't be playing this with a proper size arcade stick, and Capcom have thought of this by implementing Lite and Pro controls.
Regardless of which alternative you choose the lower screen will feature four buttons where you can map various functions and attacks. The difference is that Lite allows you to map you most powerful Ultra Combos and special moves. Therefore a Lite Zangief player will never risk botching an important Spinning Piledriver, simply because he executes it with a simple press of the lower screen.
To me this is evidence that the fighting genre still suffers from poor self esteem. Capcom simply don't think enough people are willing to invest the time it takes to learn these things on their own. Think of what this would mean in other genres and you would realise how bizarre it is. How about a football game where you with one simple button press would pull of the best shot you can imagine without any need for timing or aiming. Or a racing game where you press a button to allow the car to drive itself through the most hairy corners. Hard to imagine, huh?
To me it comes across as pure blasphemy and something that goes against everything Street Fighter stands for. Thankfully there is also Pro mode in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. There are still four squares on the lower screens, but now they can only be used as shortcuts for button combinations. Something that is easier to accept, and I would even go as far as calling it a good idea.
As I mentioned before you're not playing this with a proper arcade stick (they cost almost as much as a Nintendo 3DS). Therefore it is great to be able to map Focus, throws and triple kicks and triple punches. Thanks to this you can play Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition at a reasonably high level, and also avoid facing those who abuse the Lite mode.
Another new feature Capcom have added is the new perspective you can choose to play in where the camera is placed just over your shoulder. And while this makes for a cool graphics demo with awesome 3D effects, it's hardly playable. Especially grapplers and El Fuerte in particular are at a disadvantage when playing in this mode.
The last big new addition Capcom have added is a mini-game where little trophies fight. You collect a bunch, activate and go for a walk around town, and thanks to the built-in capabilities of the 3DS it will find other 3DS owners' trophies and fight it out with them. Something that feels more aimed at the Japanese market where you will run into 3DS owners and people with Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition all the time, while up in the North of Sweden I doubt my trophies would find much to do.
While I commend Capcom for trying some new stuff, it's really all about the fighting in the end. And it's best when you turn off the 3D effects. This is Street Fighter and there is simply no need or room for any distractions.
At its core this is still the same great experience you had on consoles. The compromises we have gotten used to when we get fighting games on handhelds simply aren't here to be found. The matches are intense, explosive and the network code also seems up to the task. There is a certain special feeling that you get when you play the computer and is greeted with "Here comes a new challenger", as if someone just popped in a coin to fight.
When you go online the competition is naturally varied. I've humiliated beginners and sweated out brutal rounds with an unknown brawler (probably someone who lives in a Japanese arcade establishment) who knew all the intricate finesses. I haven't fully made friends with the d-pad on Nintendo 3DS, as it's rather smaller and its positioning is far from optimal, but this is hardly something you can fault the game for.
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition is not a replacement for Super Street Fighter IV, but a nice complement. Especially for players who aren't dead serious when it comes to the preciseness of attacks and timing. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition is probably the best early game out on Nintendo 3DS, even if it must be said that it's best enjoyed with the 3D effect turned off.