Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition Review

By Adam Ma on March 30, 2011

Fighting games on a handheld system tend to be a pretty flat affair for two reasons, one being an absolute lack of opponents while the other is more along the lines of a nonexistant learning curve. Players need to feel a certain degree of challenge in a fighting game, be it simply playing against the computer or being able to fight another player. As technology has developed over time, we've seen titles that have pushed closer and closer to this goal, and so Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is, as a result, a pretty ambitious title. How it looks on the handheld is really not as important as how it plays, and what level of technical depth can still exist on a portable system. So taking all that into consideration, it's fair enough to say that, on one hand, SSFIV: 3D is a brilliant success, though still holding a few issues of its own.

On a technical level, this is an extremely impressive game. None of the controls were made simpler for the handheld and for those who are truly struggling, the touch screen has been converted into a quick-use special attack/ultra section where a simple push will unleash a normally input-oriented attack. This means that if a player is extremely good at handling the system, it's completely possible to master even the more complex console/arcade combos. If you wish, you can also switch to Pro controls, where the touch screen acts as additional buttons for Focus, Throw and EX actions. To have such a competitive title move from a typical arcade stick (or fight pad) format onto a compact console with such brilliance is nothing to laugh at, and the fact that the game plays with no lag or interruption is just as impressive.

Even better than the fact that the entire console version of the game is intact would be the addition of a few extras, such as the less interactive Street Pass and the more interesting 3D Camera mode. Street Pass is more or less what it sounds like, simply moving by someone who has a copy of the game will simulate a series of battles that really has no bearing on anything. It's more like a neat little option for those who are looking to count some coins and see if their simulated team can stand a chance against someone else's.

The 3D Camera mode is a little different, giving players the chance to go through the game from an over-the-shoulder view instead of the typical straight-on perspective. For some, it may be an option that's completely worth skipping over. After all, having a new camera angle changes the perspective for a lot of attacks. Others (such as myself) may have a blast with the change of pace, as it provides a slightly different challenge than the normal game has to offer.

Online connectivity is an important part of the title as well, since it's not exactly possible for two 3DS owners to play off of one handheld. Thankfully the netcode for the portable title seems to be just as solid as the console version, a pleasant (but not quite as shocking) surprise is that the game even has its own internet matchmaking option. Handy for a title that's really all about socialization. To be honest, it's quite unexpected coming from a platform that has tried to make use of the Friend Code abomination that plagues most Nintendo-oriented multiplayer titles.

Where this port ends up falling short is simply on its platform of choice. Much of this is purely subjective, but as a platform, the 3DS can be extremely difficult to play on for long periods of time and not because of the 3D visuals. It's a tiny system with an awkwardly positioned D-pad, not to mention not every hand is meant to stay curled in a position that will allow the dexterity demanded to string together impressive combos. This isn't to say it's a bad game, or that the handheld is by any means poor, but more to suggest that with no adjustments in technical difficulty, SSFIV can ask quite a lot from a player. When failure to deliver really just hinges on being unable to comfortably get a handle on the controller, it can be very frustrating. After all, the normal version of the game is flexible enough to allow at least three different types of controllers to accommodate players with various tastes. This simply cannot be done on the 3DS and while this title is clearly more for fun than for a competitive level, the struggle is still there.

Graphically the game is quite a treat to look at, nothing really cutting edge or ultra realistic, but absolutely true to the series new stylistic approach. Ultras still have the same amount of flair and vibrancy and though it's hard to say if the 3D portion of the games design adds anything to the experience, it certainly looks nice. Character models pop out impressively, and though much of this boils down to the individual eye, I personally had no trouble keeping the 3D on for a few hours while
playing. Later it was turned off simply to save on battery life, and the game still looked just as impressive.

Final Thoughts

So is Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition a brilliant port? Absolutely, in just about almost every way. While held back by a few limitations on the system, Capcom really manages to deliver an experience that is quite impressive. The game brings nothing new to the table, aside from a different camera angle to experience the action from, but that shouldn't keep fans away from the portable fighter. It's a blast to play with a lot to offer to both purists and newcomers alike. It's a little disappointing that Capcom didn't at least include a few more options to make the experience feel more unique, but that's really just gripe coming from a fan of the home console versions. There's still more than enough gameplay here to justify taking the fight outside.

The game remains just as competitive as the arcade and console versions.
The visuals look great and the 3D only makes it pop even more.
3D Camera mode offers a new take on the street fighting action.
It can be difficult to execute combos with the 3DS controls.
Nothing really new has been brought to the table.
Migraines are the least of your worries, you will suffer thumb cramps with the awkwardly positioned D-pad.
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