Make no bones about it - Super Street Fighter IV is essentially the same game that was released last year, only considerably beefed up. With several new characters, Super Street Fighter IV takes a step into "Vs" territory, with a roster of names practically bulging at the seams. Factor in a slew of new stages, a considerably improved online component and a budget price tag and you have yet another stand-out showing from the Street Fighter franchise.
Super Street Fighter IV adds ten new names to the already bulging SFIV roster list. There're now 35 characters to choose from. Some of the newcomers are entirely fresh faces — the oil-obsessed Hakan and Taekwando practitioner Juri are both welcome additions to the lore — whilst others are fan favourites returning from far-flung corners of Street Fighter's heritage. What's essential to note is that each new fighter adds a slice of fresh personality to each of the game's slots. There's no repetition here - each character feels different. The newcomers are mostly offensive too, so it brings an end to some of the more dry stalemates that were encountered in the previous game due to the roster's defensive nature.
Despite the addition of these new characters, Super Street Fighter IV feels more balanced than ever. Sagat's no longer a complete machine, while the addition of multiple Ultra combos have made lower-tier characters such as Rose more useful. That's not to say the game's completely faultless - higher tier players will likely find exploits in the roster - but at our level of comprehension, the game feels completely fair.
If any area of last year's Street Fighter IV felt flat, it was the online. Super Street Fighter IV fixes that. Online challenges are still present as you wander through Street Fighter's single player modes, but the addition of Endless Battle lobbies and two-on-two Team Battles extend the multiplayer experience massively. Endless Battle allows you to chill in a room of friends (or strangers) fighting in a winner-stays-on scenario, while Team Battle has players compete in pairs. The netcode seems better this time around too — in about fifty online matches we're yet to experience even a hint of lag. If you're a Street Fighter fan, the new multiplayer's likely to suck at least fifty hours out of your life. Easily.
While we've focused on the key new additions, Super Street Fighter IV doesn't rest with new characters and multiplayer. No, the car-kicking and barrel-bashing bonus stages return with a wink and a nod, providing a welcome side-experience to the standard one-on-one fighting. Capcom's wonderful stage design also returns, with highlights including an African wildlife eclipse scene and a Final Fight-infused construction site.
Super Street Fighter IV still lacks an in-depth training mode. It's all well and good including a mode designed to teach you each character's combos, but if you don't know when to use said combos, you'll get destroyed. Street Fighter needs a contextual training mode, teaching you how to react to certain scenarios. Newcomers will, as always, feel totally stranded.
How do you make one of 2009's best releases even better? You take a leaf out of Super Street Fighter IV's book by listening to player's criticism, adding a heap of new characters, and releasing it all at a budget price.