Within minutes of the Ultra Street Fighter 4 announcement, slack-jawed comment pundits were decrying its existence.
The litany of ignorant insinuation was basically endless: “Milked Franchise 4.” “Super Sellout Fighter HD Turbo Remix.” “Ca$hcom’s Ultra Cashgrab 4.” Every insult was based on the idea that Capcom was somehow evil, greedy, or lazy for creating Ultra Street Fighter 4.
But if those same critics applied their tired thinking to pretty much any other gaming scenario, they’d quickly realize their arguments were baseless, shallow, and just plain wrong.
Same as it ever was, and for the better
Ultra Street Fighter 4 should have come as no surprise to anyone with at least 16 bits of memory about Capcom’s franchising past. Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter Alpha, and Street Fighter 3 all saw multiple revisions designed to rebalance characters, enhance gameplay, and insert fan-requested features. Other Capcom titles, both fighting and non-fighting genres, got similar treatments, too.
Sure, the actual naming conventions could be a little onerous (Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix was easily the worst offender), but the end products were almost universally beloved over their predecessors. Do any of your friends play normal Street Fighter II when they boot up their SNES emulators? Does anyone even own a copy of Street Fighter III: Second Impact? The fact is Capcom’s tweaks have almost always proven to be for the better of each game’s long term fun factor.
The good ol’ days weren’t even that good
Even if you have fond memories of Capcom’s storied fighting game revisions, the invention of DLC makes the switchover significantly better than previous tinkerings.
Let’s imagine it’s 1992 and you happened to buy a vanilla copy of Street Fighter II the day before Turbo came out. You really, really want to play the newest version, but at this point, your options are
- Pay $70 (not adjusted for inflation) for a new cartridge
- Go fuck yourself
Compare that to the modern day dilemma: players can opt to purchase a new disc for 33% less than typical MSRP ($40 total) or they can magically download the new game version for $15 without ever going to a physical store. Behold the power of the digital age.
The facts don’t lie: upgrading to new versions of Capcom games is easier, faster, cheaper, and more fair than ever before.
The grass sure isn’t greener elsewhere
Of course, that whole cheap upgrade thing is, for the most part, unique to Capcom. They’ll give you new characters, balance tweaks, and features for a few bucks and a GB or two on your hard drive.
But what if you want the 2014 updates for Madden? For Call of Duty? For Assassin’s Creed multiplayer?
L-O-L, you’re outta luck. Despite the small changes that are typically made between these iterations (NEW KILLSTREAKS AND CAMO GUYS!), you’ll have to shell out full price for any of these updates. And while you could argue the changes between Madden 2012 and 2013 are significant enough to warrant an extra $60… oh no, wait… you can’t.
Just give the people what they want
Finally, a lot of players have complained that most of the characters being added to Ultra Street Fighter 4 are “cut and pasted” from Street Fighter X Tekken. And while they’re pretty much correct, those characters were included in SFxT specifically because Street Fighter players begged for their existence.
Are we really to believe that just a year and a half later Hugo, Poison, Elena, and Rolento are dogmeat? These characters climbed to the top of user polls and spiced up their respective games. Not only that, they each add something Street Fighter 4 sorely needs.
- Hugo: Bolsters the game’s puny grappler roster
- Poison: Adds a much-needed fourth gender to the series (male, female, Seth, Poison)
- Elena: A refreshing kick-only character without Adon’s grating laugh
- Rolento: Less traditional, poke and weapon-based moveset
Players asked for characters like Sean, Karin, and Urien, but how much would any of these personas really added to Ultra Street Fighter 4’s variety? They’re basically all just derivative versions of Sakura.
Knowing is half the battle, and we only know half
Even if you’ve digested all this and you’re still not happy, keep in mind that (as of this writing) we still know almost nothing about USF4. There are still six new modes yet to be announced, for Gill’s sake! Will we see the return of Championship mode? New single player trials? Online training rooms, tournament support, or something else?
On top of that, there’s still a completely new, fifth character to be unveiled, not to mention, oh, thirty five characters’ worth of property changes.
When all is said and done, Ultra Street Fighter 4 really will be the most complete, balanced, and well-rounded fighting games ever made, if not the best. And you’ll be able to pick it up for just $15.
Or, you know, you could just buy a few maps in Call of Duty.