Street Fighter IV iOS Review

By on March 29, 2011

No I wouldn’t have lost! I swear it’s the controller!

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Ever heard that line before? Anyone who has played a Street Fighter match has used or heard one excuse or another for having lost to someone else. So what is it that this game does when compared to its big brothers on the consoles and PC?

Signature moves? Check. Quick, precise timing? Check. Blame the controls when you lose? Check. Breath of relief when you pull off that super on time? Check. Extreme frustration from losing to the point you want to throw your iPhone to the floor? Absolutely Check.

So far the mobile version of the extremely popular title hits on all the points that make a Street Fighter game phenomenal. It’s very hard to translate a game clearly meant to be played on a console, or at the arcade, with at least a controller, onto a touch screen interface.

So how well is the implementation here? Not good and not terrible either, however being a Street Fighter purist you can argue that any controller is better than a touch screen, and an arcade stick is better than any controller there is. Let’s go one step further and actually say that the sliding-your-finger-across-the-screen scheme is probably the worst idea for a Street Fighter game, but don’t be mistaken to believe that it’s not responsive enough or quick enough to capture the motions, because it responds flawlessly.

With your iPhone or iPod, whatever you know about how to use a controller is out the window with the touch screen, you just CAN’T pull off a move when you want to. Basic moves perhaps, but special moves work…almost always, super combo’s and ultra’s…maybe, but none of the above applies when you want it to. It’s probably the only failing about the title at all, and yet it still maintains the addictive nature you expect of a Street Fighter game.

CAPCOM says that the engine is based on the same engine used for Street Fighter IV on the consoles. While it may have been cheaper and quicker to do, it certainly could have helped if they tried a different approach during development. The character animations, apart from the Ultra Combo moves, appear choppy and the victory speech after finishing a round just makes the characters appear static and silly.

Sound on the other hand though has been handled beautifully, you can hear every word as it is in the console version of the game, Special Moves, Super and Ultra Combo’s are perfectly captured. As mentioned the Ultra Combo animation is perfectly fluid, so that in combination with the sound is exactly what you find in the console version of the game.

The initial release of Street Fighter had only eight characters to begin with, contained Bluetooth multiplayer functionality supported by iPhone 3G onwards, and the iPod touch 2G onwards. The current release has a total of thirteen characters, leaderboard support and achievements via GameCenter, which we’ll get back to in a second. The ability to receive challenges over Bluetooth should a friend wish to challenge you while you are in the middle of a game, purchase additional content, and email challenge invites to your friends have also been added to the most recent update.

For a mobile game though, it has so many achievements, stats and collectables that it puts practically every other game to shame in comparison. It lists your quickest completion time achieved and the difficulty it was performed at per character, a card list that you can collect from defeated players, from the number of matches you had, with the characters you used, and how often it was updated. Then there are special cards that can be collected by playing the game, replays that can saved and viewed, and your own personal card you can create when you compete against other players with info ranging from your location, with the characters you play with most often, Win/Loss ratio and a list of achievements earned, in a word, this game is Loaded!

It remains to be seen whether CAPCOM will release further updates with the full roster of characters and additional features to Street Fighter IV, however what we have so far is a rock solid title, with plenty of features for the achievement hunter, but falls just short of having an ideal control scheme.

The Scorecard
Bring your best finger to play it, but the controls however impede any chance of being actually good at it.
An original engine capable of using the iPhone better could have helped, there was nothing wrong with 2D animated Street Fighter titles before.
Nothing wrong here, use a headset for best quality.
A variety of things to try out and collect, with constant addition of characters and hopefully additional DLC, its worth going back to. Besides who doesn’t want to take on the next guy who boasts being good at Street Fighter.
Difficult to determine how enjoyable it is with the control scheme, is it madness? Yes. Does it help in tight situations? No.
It’s difficult to give this title a higher score and it doesn’t deserve a low score either, there are things it does great, and others it doesn’t. As a Street Fighter fan you may not care, but a fan or any person who considers themselves good will question the motives behind the title.
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