Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition for the 3DS contains what is essentially two versions of Super Street Fighter IV. While both Lite and Pro modes allow input from the touch screen in addition to the face and shoulder buttons; the ability to macro special moves, super and ultra combos to the touch screen in Lite mode dramatically changes the way the game is played. You may think I am exaggerating somewhat, but for anyone who has played any Street Fighter game since the second instalment, you would know what this means.
Goodbye charges and full circles.
Take Honda as an example. Sumo Headbutts no longer require a two second charge; meaning that you can throw yourself across the screen with reckless abandon, to the point where you could time the move to meet an opponent as they descend from a jump.
What about Guile? No longer would he lose projectile battles against his quarter circle-equipped opponents. Players can perform a Sonic Boom even quicker than a Hadouken with the touch screen interface.
When I first read about this, I promptly concluded that this revelation would ruin any chance that SSFIV:3D could provide an experience that catered to the series faithful. I was of course wrong, and treated to a tantalizing new way to play in the process.
When you first jump into Arcade Mode, Lite is the default style of play. With Fight Request enabled, I decided to give this new, seemingly purile control method a quick trial. Before I knew it I was already being matched with online opponents and enjoying connection quality on par, and at times even better than the home console version of SSFIV (this has easily been the most impressive aspect of the title so far, but more on that later). Both my opponent and I selected Honda and the results were hilarious. We each performed Sumo Headbutts en masse, colliding in the middle of the screen with the player who attacked last usually taking most of the damage. The second round of our bout was much more interesting though. I tried to counter the usual Sumo Headbutts with a Sumo Smash (an anti-air attack, usually performed with a down charge and kick). Most of these attempts failed miserably, as my opponent had reached the other end of the screen well before I crashed to the ground; but they weren't hitting me either. After a brief stalemate, we quickly returned to our masculine ritual of butting heads until my adversary could no longer return fire. I then trialled the new method with Blanka and Bison and enjoyed mixed results. All I know is, Zangief is now no longer a redundant choice for competitive play.
I was satisfied that the new scheme is a fun diversion for experienced players and a worthwhile entry point for newcomers. I then decided to switch to Pro controls and adjusted the Fight Request settings to only accept challengers using the same input method.
Not a challenger in sight. No one wanted a bar of the old school. All is not lost as I can still use Pro controls for solo play. It's just a shame that difficulty settings are just as inconsistent in this portable instalment. Medium difficulty with Ryu required a few continues, and the final battle against Seth is just as frustrating on the 3DS as it is on the PS3. Hardest difficulty however, can still be beaten without continues by spamming Zangief's Double Lariat.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is proving to be quite enjoyable, but the unwillingness of the online community to use more traditional control schemes is troubling. I'm all for the new, but I'd like to have my cake and eat it too.