It wasn't that long ago that Capcom was the company that couldn't count to three. It took the king of fighters a staggering six years to go from Street Fighter II: The World Warriors to Street Fighter 3: New Generation. Instead of giving players what they demanded, Capcom opted to release incremental updates to their 1991 hit. We got Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Turbo, Super and even Super Turbo. It turned the company into a punchline and sucked a lot of the excitement out of the franchise.
Here we are twenty years later and some might argue that Capcom hasn't learned their lesson. It's been two years since the company re-energized the fighting game market with the phenomenal Street Fighter IV. In that time we've seen the release of Super Street Fighter IV and now the Arcade Edition. But before you sharpen your daggers, keep in mind that the newest update is nothing more than a $15 add-on (which is also available in stores for gamers who missed out on last year's model). You can complain all you want about yearly iterations on sequels, but clearly Capcom has learned at least one less in the last two decades.
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is a modest update, one that adds some balancing tweaks, a few new modes for online multiplayer and four classic characters. As an expansion pack, Arcade Edition has a nice amount of content for the right price. However, part of me wishes Capcom would have gone a little further with this third (and final?) release.
The new characters include Yun and Yang, two spry fighters who were originally cast in Street Fighter III. Although these two have similar looks and style, they're different enough to be considered two unique characters. Yun (the one with the hat) can leap around the stage linking powerful combinations together with his special moves. Yang (the one with the spiked hair) races in on rollerblades and uses a punch so powerful that it literally paints a blue line on the screen (similar to Strider Hiryu's attacks in Marvel vs. Capcom 2). Although these two fighters do not have much in the way of projectiles to throw, they have little problem racing from each side of the stage.
Arcade Edition also includes a new variation on Street Fighter's most popular character. His name is Evil Ryu and he seemingly mixes the character we all know and love with Akuma. Evil Ryu is one of the most visually pleasing fighters in the game. He's fully engulfed in flames and looks like he just came off the set of the most recent Mortal Kombat game. His moves largely mimic those of friendly Ryu, though there are a couple new moves that make this evil variant even more exciting to play.
But just when I thought that Evil Ryu was the best new addition, Oni steals the show. With purple skin and his incredible energy floating off his body, Oni is one of the most impressive looking characters in Street Fighter IV. Best of all, his moves don't disappoint. His giant fireball is unlike anything we've seen in this series, and best of all it shocks whoever it hits. He has a rushing attack that helps at close range, making him more versatile than other projectile-heavy fighters. And don't think he's any less dangerous in the air. Oni has a lot more to offer than meets the eye, which is why I expect to see a lot more of him when playing online.
Speaking of the Xbox Live-enabled multiplayer mode, Arcade Edition has done a good job of giving players another reason to go online. The game features some new matchmaking features, allowing players to search out fighters who have Super, Arcade Edition or both. You can also choose a name for your Endless Battle lobby, making it a lot easier to find appropriate players (and be found by friends). I'm not sure if they changed their netcode for this release, but I had an easier time finding and playing matches than with the past two iterations.
The most exciting new feature allows you to upload your battles to Capcom's server. This allows your friends and followers to see your favorite matches. Best of all, you can follow some of the best Street Fighter players in the world and learn from their videos. I was impressed with the easy to navigate menu, which has you choosing from different types of matches and characters. This won't interest people who don't like watching other people play fighting games, but you can learn a lot from this exciting new addition.
All this (as well as some new titles and icons) adds up to a strong expansion pack with a good price point. But even with all this, I still wish there was more. The four characters are solid, but I would have liked more variety. Evil Ryu and Oni both feature similar move sets and I keep mixing up Yun and Yang. It would have been nice to see a couple of more diverse Street Fighter 3 characters, especially given the game's upcoming release on the Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.
Furthermore, it's disappointing that no new backgrounds were added to the game. Even more curious, the new fighters don't even have spots in the challenge mode, which seems like a gross oversight. And I can't be the only person that is deeply disappointed that Super Street Fighter IV removed the intro/ending movie viewer completely. How else will I know who I've beaten the game with?
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition may not be as impressive as last year's model, but it also doesn't cost $40. Even if this expansion pack doesn't bring anybody new into the fold, fans of the series should be happy with the new additions. If not, then you can always switch it back to the normal Super Street Fighter IV settings. Now it's time for Capcom to stop screwing around and bring on Street Fighter V.