Handheld versions of Capcom’s classic fighting franchise have always suffered, whatever else their portable advantages, from a crucial problem in interface. A spongy D-pad can never match the potential of a good, solid arcade stick and, though it’s markedly better, the 3DS’s nub-like thumbstick still won’t win Capcom’s 3D debut any friends among the hardcore. That’s the bad, and perhaps expected, news, but Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition is also a launch title for a new system, and thus is tasked with more than just appealing to fight fans.
Indeed, as a proof of concept for both the raw processing grunt of the machine and its flashy visual evolution, Street Fighter IV is a pleasant enough way to spend some time, evoking most of the finer points of its big brothers. To all purposes a fully-featured build of Super Street Fighter IV, every character, move and background is present, along with every downloadable costume from the console edition. Technologically, then, it’s a perfect portable build of the game, with one or two nips and tucks to showcase the handheld’s 3D element.
Fights are now displayed in full 3D, making a pleasant show of the backdrops in particular to add a very real sense of depth, though the occasional spectator can resemble a cardboard cut out, its depth unrealised next to the layered environment. However, a bespoke over-the-shoulder mode is, we imagine, supposed to be the real standout feature of Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. Tilting the camera diagonally behind your character’s back, it’s an interesting attempt to integrate the 3D plane into gameplay by forcing you to employ depth perception to judge the position of the other player and their projectiles. Like the 3D switch itself, however, this mode is fun for only a limited time, because as soon you’re locked into the gameplay and wish, simply, to play Street Fighter, you’ll be screaming to switch off all this frippery and just start getting some combos in.
Unfortunately, it’s at this the point when the limited capability of the 3DS control scheme comes backto haunt you, the nub just imprecise enough to miss crucial Ultras, and the obvious disadvantage of the third punch and kick buttons bound inescapably to shoulder buttons. While four extra virtual buttons reside on the touch screen, a ‘Lite’ mode allows jippy binding of Supers, Ultras and, indeed, any move from the command list to be set on them, and a ‘Pro’ mode provides stock combinations such as HK+MK+LK, it all still feels like a compromise rather than a new and effective way to play.
Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition could arguably be the best portable version of the core series yet produced, but this is testament to the severely limited nature of what came before rather than any standout success on this game’s part.