I read somewhere online that Street Fighter’s control scheme is needlessly complex. That’s why when Street Fighter IV hit the iPhone, I tried it with great trepidation. Will the controls lag? Will I be able to pull off all the moves I would with the real game? You see, I grew up with the second iteration of the game in the arcades and learnt painstakingly, quarter by quarter, how to play it with its six buttons and often times, half defective joysticks. So for me, to play it on a console controller is already a bit of a stretch. To play it on a device that has no buttons? Well, I’m going to have to see how it works.
Amazingly, Street Fighter IV’s controls work very well. They’re responsive enough that you never think your controls and the character is out of sync. Although there are only four buttons, all the special moves and power ups can be performed with what’s available. With the logistics aside, Capcom also threw in aids to help with novices to the game including an auto block feature which for the sake of not smudging your iPhone too much may be a smart thing to turn on. There’s also an auto special movie feature which seems to do just about any move for you if you press the SP button. For example, using Ryu, I could conjure up a fireball by pressing the SP button with no directional input. This latter option makes Street Fighter a one handed game.
Whenever this franchise moves to another platform, things are taken out of it. Back then, it was because of the limitations of graphics but I don’t see why in this day and age when we can 3D versions of Resident Evil that Street Fighter has to be stripped down. First, the visuals are all in 2D. All the 3D advances with the new franchise are not present and everything takes place on one plane. It still looks great but I wonder why then all the backgrounds are static. Couldn’t the iPhone at least handle that?
The other thing is the number of characters. There are only eight characters and I know Ryu and Ken are different but really, you only have seven: one of the new guys (Abel), one boss (M. Bison) and a couple of the more popular ones (Chun Li, Guile, Blanka, etc.). Was Capcom trying to save on space? I don’t know. But basically the game is constrained by that fact as you only have to beat six fighters before you meet the obligatory M. Bison final stage. With all the aids turned on and the game set in its easiest setting, it actually doesn’t take much to get to that. Veterans will want to crank it up. There are some other options like a practice dojo and a Bluetooth multiplayer option. Wi-Fi or 3G would have been more enticing. Alas, there’s nothing more to the game beyond that.
Perhaps the most worrying thing is when you beat the game there is an advertisement for Super Street Fighter IV. Yes, that’s your reward once you beat the world’s best fighters. This made me think maybe this is just a promo piece for what Capcom will ultimately issue for the iPhone. In the meantime, this is a solid, albeit limited fighting game. Those developers who did the control scheme ought to run towards a patent office and start exporting it to other games that sorely need more responsive controls. It’s that good. As for content, it looks a little thin.