"Just" And (Un)Deserved

Super Street Fighter IV could have been a complete masterpiece. The animation was arguably the best ever seen in a 3-D fighting game, the graphics and design were unmatched, and the audio was an unholy matrimony between good game music and idiotic glam-garbage. Surprisingly, they even added Guy and Adon (two of the best Capcom designs, ever)! It delivered for the most part, except in the one crucial area of gameplay. Balance is one thing, but mostly input to be exact, and the sad thing is that even after several entries, Capcom still hasn't gotten it right. Super Street Fighter IV is marred by the same input issues that plagued previous (arcade and consumer) versions of Street Fighter IV. Just because it's widely ignored doesn't mean it's not a problem.

In an interview with Producer Ono, GameSpot translated him as saying that they skipped over a Champion Edition and/or Turbo straight to Super, but did they? Does the Champion (aka "Power Up Pack") update and playable bosses not count? Would it not theoretically make it a Champion Edition of the original arcade version? Looking to the past, we can see how this is ultimately an example of how history repeats itself.

articles list links credits

"Set Aside For Nothing"
If we look at the original (arcade) version, and then look at the Champion (home) version, then playable boss characters and stage hue changes alone echo SFII to SFIICE. Then, you got a slightly-altered VS screen, reworked network play, match replays, and (the much-debated) infinite-combo removal. Anyone who has played the original SFIV would know exactly what I am talking about when I say that the SFIV consumer release is essentially a Champion Edition with its Championship Mode update. But, as always history repeats itself, and just like with SFA3 on the PlayStation back in the day, Capcom failed to reflect the updates with a changed title. So, what does this have to do with control and input?


Well, because they had chances to fix the abysmal combo system in the Champion and Super upgrades, but didn't. They kept anomalies like C. Viper repeat Special Move combos and Ryu/Sagat anti-air into Ultra juggles; all stuff that just shouldn't be in the game, but the "just" combo system was the worst. I don't care what anyone says, if it's because they have "just" frames or "just" anything; their existence in the game is just ridiculous and makes no sense. There are no benefits to the "just" timing for combos in SFIV. What, so that in the heat of battle landing a great combo is based more on luck than skill? That's ridiculous, and those who try to defend this nonsense input method will say that it's not based on luck, but anyone who's tried them over and over knows how lucky you feel when they actually come out.


If It's Broke...
And before any asshole's advocate can come in and say anything, I can and have pulled-off a number of "just" input combos with different characters. "So, then what's the problem?" The problem is that in no way, shape, or form, does it have a thing to do with "ease of use." More than anything, it's a real pain in the ass. They're too risky and unpredictable to use on skilled opponents, so you're limited to using them on opponents that you can afford to take a gamble on. In the first Street Fighter Alpha, it wasn't like this; combos came out like clockwork (when they were supposed to). Now that was truly "ease of use" (not hoping and/or praying that a combo you've done a million times actually comes out when it's supposed to).


Capcom hit gold with Street Fighter Alpha because they made the combo system consistent. That is, timing was consistent across the board SP, FP combos came out just as easily as JP, SP, FP combos, and so on, and so forth. Capcom tried to fix something that wasn't broken, however, and reverted Street Fighter Alpha 2 back to Street Fighter II's dated "two-in-one/just-input" system. Guy and Gen still had normal "chain" combos, but the others were limited to doing them during the short Custom Combo time-frame (which instantly ate the Super Bar). SFIV unfortunately inherited the same inconsistencies; Ken's MP, FP combo is reliable, but the extended LP, MP, HP version is unreliable. Others are Makoto's LK, MK and forward + MK, forward + HK; both of which come-out much easier when compared to her finicky LP, MP combo.


Omitting "just" input would even make combos better in online play. The "just" system isn't completely new to the series, but it was implemented to such an extent in SFIV that it ruined otherwise useful and dependable combos familiar to fans. Was it so that only "pros" and "experts" (who play only the same game day in and day out) could use them? Why? Weren't EX Focus Cancels enough? If SFIV was supposed to be marketed toward a casual, broad audience, then what are such complicated things doing in a game that was supposed to stress "ease of use?" This all does little to help beginners get into the game as Capcom had aimed for. Loosening input would draw casual players and/or those who like titles like BlazBlue for their ease of use. Consistency is key, which is a critical aspect that the SFIV entries lack.


...Why Not Fix It?
Their head was in the right place, though. Choosing to go with the logical combo path established in DarkStalkers, X-MEN: Children of the Atom, and Street Fighter Alpha (respectively) was a great decision (Ken's LP, MP, HP combo and M. Bison's low LK, low LP, low MK combo are great examples). The problem was the execution. It's like they didn't care about longtime fans who used these combos long before SFIV. Even with obvious balance issues, SFIV and SSFIV both could have been closer to perfection if it weren't for the pointless, inconsistent "just" combo system. There are so many reasons why the "just" system should have never been put in SSFIV.

- BAD -

    BADCP 2011 All Rights Reserved.