When the 3DS was first shown, the one game that made everyone’s jaw drop was Super Street Fighter IV. It seemed that not only was the game hitting the portable scene faster than anyone could’ve realistically predicted, but it would be a largely lossless conversion to boot. Amazingly, the final product lives up to the jaw-dropping debut and actually adds to the original game in some ways - including by giving you a completely new perspective on the actual fighting action.
Everything you’ve enjoyed about the console versions is here - the incredibly smooth and fast-paced gameplay, the 3D cel shaded graphics, and the smooth animations have been brought over without any huge sacrifices. As with any portable incarnation of the SF games, barring the Genesis versions which could be played on the Nomad, you always have to come into it with the expectation of a small learning curve with the controls. The four face and two shoulder button setup is different from the six face button setup that is ideal for the series.
However, anyone with experience playing the games on the SNES, PSP, or even default PS and Xbox pads shouldn’t take long to get used to it. Things generally work out fine as long as you don’t go into it expecting tournament-level play and you’ve got a good d-pad and responsive controls, which this game has. The d-pad works tremendously well, and the analog pad works well too, but I found the d-pad to work better for diagonal movements. Neither is perfect, but at least one of the two should work well enough for the vast majority of players.
If not, then the developers at least tried to work around possible control issues by using the touch screen to provide shortcuts for up to four specials and ultra combos at once. It’s a great tool for players that simply cannot get used to the control setup, and is basically the same idea as the “simple” control setup seen in many recent Capcom fighters, but without the sacrifices made to move sets with it. It’s entirely optional, so if you want to play against the CPU or others, you can. I find it to be a fun way to mix things up when I just want to play a quick game for a match or two offline, or just have purely flashy battles for fun.
Online play is tremendous. To my surprise, it‘s largely lag-free and players generally play pretty fair. For many, the touch screen shortcuts are far too cheap to use since it does make things too easy - it reminds me a bit of how hard the CPU was in SF II where they could do things faster than a human can, and this has the same problem - you can hit the touch screen shortcut faster than someone can input any of the commands. Of course, it’s still possible to beat someone using them because it doesn’t change how you block and avoid the moves; you just have to be prepared to avoid them more than usual.
SSFIV 3D also makes fantastic use of the StreetPass and pedometer features of the 3DS and allows you to collect in-game points just for walking that can be used to buy little figurine versions of the roster and then have them engage in team battles even when the game is off via the StreetPass feature. It’s not the most thrilling thing in the world, but it’s a nice diversion from the usual fighting action.
Aside from the control changes, the biggest change to the core game is the optional over-the-shoulder “3D” mode of play that is actually worth checking the game out just to experience it for yourself. I don’t think I would recommend buying it just for this because it is harder to see where things are in relation to you, so there’s more of a learning curve to avoid damage and inflicting it properly, but it is certainly a welcome change of pace and worth at least renting the game to check out.
On the AV side of things, it’s amazing how little has been sacrificed. With the exception of the backgrounds now being static instead of active, there doesn’t appear to be anything major lost. The characters look slightly smaller and don’t fill the screen as much as they did on consoles, but the impressive pseudo cel shaded look for everything is retained perfectly, and I didn’t notice any loss in move animations. Some smaller things, like Rufus’s overall bounciness have been toned down, but overall, this looks like the full-fledged console versions in every major way. Even the pre and post-arcade mode animated sequences, as well as pre sub and final boss animations are intact, with the top screen displaying the animation and the bottom displaying subtitles. The audio has also lost nothing in the translation, so the same exceptional sound effects and enjoyable, if a bit wacky voice over work
Overall, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is a must-buy for any huge fans of the series craving the latest incarnation on the go. More casual players might be better off either renting it or sticking with any other portable SF game they have because they might not get $40 worth of value out of it, but anyone who plans on playing it with any regularity will have no trouble doing that. This is probably the best overall game on the 3DS right now, and easily its best-looking.