Ultra Street Fighter 4 is bolstering the series with five new characters and a wealth of new gameplay features, balancing tweaks and a mysterious new fighter. VG247’s Dave Cook quizzes Capcom on it all.
“There’s a lot that has gone into these characters to make them fit within the Street Fighter 4 world. The general battle mechanics for Street Fighter X Tekken and Street Fighter 4 are so different that if we directly ‘ported’ them over, the Street Fighter X Tekken versions of the characters would have far too much of an advantage.”
When I heard Street Fighter 3’s Elena was being added to Capcom’s Ultra edition I almost fierce shoryukened the air. Aside from dirty, dirty Ken, she’s comfortably my favourite character since I gave up trying to get good with Guy and his silly dashes. This month; the home version of Street Fighter 4 will be five years old, and it says a lot that a simple roster addition has me utterly hyped. Judging by the speculation surrounding the update’s new character I’m not the only one who’s excited, and that speaks volumes for how cherished the series is to this day.
I recently spoke with Peter Rosas, senior community specialist for fighting games at Capcom. I asked him about the company’s internal discussions regarding Ultra’s development, and why the team decided to keep Street Fighter 4 alive. “The decision to create Ultra really stemmed from the fans,” he explained. “Throughout the last five years that Street Fighter 4 has been out, we’ve noticed that tournament numbers have only increased and that players still desire more content for Street Fighter 4.
“The Street Fighter 4 scene has also been vocal in that they’d like to see the game a bit rebalanced. In their eyes, the game is the most balanced it’s been since Super, but there are some characters that could use some tweaking to make them that much more competitive. In regards to the health of the community, we fully agree, the scene is thriving and we only want to have more players join in on the fun and the best way to do that is to give them the tools they need to win.”
We also touched on the new fighters entering the roster. Elena promises to be a welcome addition for sure, with her long kick reach, unpredictable animations and that dastardly fierce low sweep. Hugo also returns from Street Fighter 3: 2nd Impact and Street Fighter x Tekken, with his imposing size and crushing grabs, topped off with that nerve-racking rush move that threatens to box defensive types into corners.
We’ve also got Poison returning after her Street Fighter x Tekken debut, and it’s clear that many gamers are going to get a kick out of spanking opponents silly with her whip. I’ve also heard concerns that Final Fight boss turned Street Fighter Alpha 3 fighter Rolento is over-powered, but I’m assured by Rosas that his wake-up game is his weakness. While he’s a brutal sod, he’s slow off the mark, and can be punished by those quick of hand. One thing is clear however: while the new characters are coming over from their appearance in Street Fighter x Tekken, they are most certainly not simple rips or ports.
“There’s a lot that has gone into these characters to make them fit within the Street Fighter 4 world,” Rosas stressed. “The general battle mechanics for Street Fighter X Tekken and Street Fighter 4 are so different that if we directly ‘ported’ them over, the Street Fighter X Tekken versions of the characters would have far too much of an advantage. Besides making them behave like a Street Fighter 4 character, we’ve given each of them new Supers and Ultras, while also taking into account the characters’ strengths and weaknesses from the Street Fighter x Tekken world and making sure that they were addressed in their Street Fighter 4 form.”
Speaking of Ultras, Capcom has decided to shake things up a little in the new update; giving players a choice between a character’s first or second Ultra, or a third option called Ultra Combo Double (or ‘UCW’) that sees them taking both, but with drastically reduced damage output. I asked Rosas for this thoughts on concerns that the new third option will make characters over-powered. “Balance is definitely something that we were concerned about with the implementation of Ultra Combo Double,” he replied.
“With that said,” he continued, “we think that we’ve struck a fine balance in regards to how much damage the characters who will benefit the most from UCW will do versus the characters who typically have one Ultra that’s more useful than the other, and therefore less of a reason to use UCW. As for the creation of Ultra Combo Double, if there’s one recurring sentiment amongst players it’s that they want more options during the match. Taking that into account, the Japan office proposed the inclusion of using both Ultras at the same time, much like how characters used multiple Supers in the Street Fighter Alpha series, which we all felt made perfect sense.”
“Some interesting match ups that I’ve seen are Rolento versus the grapplers, as Rolento’s biggest weakness is his wakeup game. Poison versus Guile, as she has the tools to fight him in a projectile battle, but once she closes in on him, she can mix him up. And Hugo versus any projectile-heavy character.”
Another new addition is Red Focus, which changes up the way Focus Attacks work in battle. Rosas explained that Red Focus can absorb an infinite number of attacks, but it succumbs to the same armour break attacks as normal focus. He gave an example where someone is constantly breaking a person’s focus stance with multiple hits, meaning they can successful guard that combo and launch a counter-offensive. Rosas added, “Depending on the how quickly one can read the opponent, Red Focus can have an opponent doubt their tactics early on or if used as a ‘hail mary’ of sorts against multiple hitting attacks – for example: M.Bison’s scissor kicks – Red Focus can help someone win a round.”
3v3 mode is also new to Ultra, and Rosas explained that it will operate under an elimination system where six players enter a lobby and from there, they can choose which side they want to be on. Player A from team one will fight Player A from team two and so on, until one team loses. Winners will receive a little health back at the end of each victory. Rosas teased that there are more new modes on the way, and that Capcom is confident they will surpass fan expectations. He also revealed that Capcom is looking into a quick rematch option for online play; a much fan-requested feature.
Testing is ongoing as you read this, and Capcom is working to ensure the new characters and mechanics are as balanced as can be. Rosas explained players have been very informative regarding hit and hurtboxes so far, and some characters have already had damage reduced. He added, “Some interesting match ups that I’ve seen are Rolento versus the grapplers, as Rolento’s biggest weakness is his wakeup game. Poison versus Guile, as she has the tools to fight him in a projectile battle, but once she closes in on him, she can mix him up. And Hugo versus any projectile-heavy character. I think those matches will have a real David versus Goliath feel.”
I simply had to ask Rosas about Ultra’s mysterious fifth character, who recent rumours suggest is derived from the Street Fighter comics. Two things are confirmed so far; that the fighter is female and she has never never appeared in a Street Fighter game before. I asked him if there anything at all he could tell me about her play style. He replied, “As much as I’d like to, unfortunately I can’t. If I divulge the play style of the character, I feel that all of the mystery will be taken away. All I can say is, wait till you see how we unveil her.”
Bugger. But oh well, the game’s shaping up nicely it seems, and I think it should take some time for us to see just how profoundly Red Focus and double Ultras impact gameplay. While some gamers out there are initially concerned that the new features will break balancing and such, it remains to be seen in practice. We’ll have more on how it all handles as we get closer to launch.