The Top 4 Reasons Why Street Fighter 4 is a Really Big Deal
by Ryan “gootecks” Guitierrez
Gootecks is a top Southern California Street Fighter 4 player, who is also the host of The Street Fighter Podcast and the author of The 3rd Strike Player’s Guide to Street Fighter 4, which can be downloaded for free on gootecks.com.
If you’ve been paying attention at all to the fighting game world over the past six months, you’ve no doubt heard some of the buzz that Street Fighter 4 has been generating. Even people who haven’t paid attention to the Street Fighter franchise in a decade are excited. This means that all of us who are playing it competitively are quite possibly in for a wild ride because of the sheer number of players that are about to jump into the scene. Here is a short list of reasons why Street Fighter 4 is going to be a really, really big deal:
It’s the first true Street Fighter game in nearly a decade
Yes, it really has been almost ten years since Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike was released. Yes if you’re a hardcore fighting game fan you may have played Capcom vs. SNK 2 which came out a few years 3rd Strike, but the reality is, most casual gamers haven’t played a game of Street Fighter in at least a decade. Even when 3rd Strike was released, the game was pretty much dead on arrival because it wasn’t really played seriously in America until about 2002 after we received a wakeup call courtesy of a visit from the best players from Japan.
All of this means that Street Fighter as a franchise is due for a serious revival and Street Fighter 4 is the game to do it for several reasons. First, the game’s look has been significantly updated to fit right in with games like Tekken and Soul Calibur, while still retaining the 2D gameplay that old school players will remember. Fans of the original series will also appreciate that the entire original cast is back, including a few favorites from the Alpha and Super series. This means an immediate familiarity with the characters and their gameplay which translates into a better overall experience for gamers who haven’t played in years. There are only four (well six, counting Seth and Gouken) new characters to learn, as opposed to the Street Fighter 3 series, whose cast was mostly made up of a slew of wacky new characters that nobody really seemed to understand until years later.
This familiarity with the cast and moves will no doubt spark that nostalgia that a lot of old school players haven’t felt in years. When these players experience landing their first Ultra Combo in HD and see the types of combos and setups that are possible, they’ll be hooked all over again.
We’re all older now
It may not be immediately obvious as to why this is important, but in the decade that’s past since most people have played, we’ve also all aged a decade. That means that the age of your average Street Fighter player is significantly older. This is all speculation and I have zero statistics to support this, but in general, I would say that a lot of the people that were playing a decade ago were between the ages of 15-21, but now I would say that the average age (judging from the current Street Fighter 4 community) is more between 22 and 27.
This means that pretty much everybody that is playing now has a full-time job and is pretty much set now with what they’re doing in life, as opposed to a decade ago when playing Street Fighter was something you did before/after/during/instead of school. Because most of us have a steady source of income and a set schedule, we can devote more resources (such as time and money) to pursuing our passions such as Street Fighter. Dropping $299 for an Xbox 360, $150 for a Mad Catz Street Fighter 4 Tournament Edition stick, $60 for a year of Xbox Live and $60 for the game itself is a way bigger sum of money for a 15-21 year old to scrape together, as opposed to a 22-27 year old with a full time job.
More players taking it seriously enough to drop that kind of cash makes the entire Street Fighter community stronger, not just in terms of actual tactics, tricks and strategy, but also because there will be more people willing and able (because they make enough money) to travel to large tournaments such as Sinsation Fight Club in Virginia or the Evolution tournament in Las Vegas.
Online play is finally here
A lot has changed in the world since Street Fighter was the hottest game out there, most notably the advent of a little thing we call the internet. Back in the day, you could be king of your local arcade or 7-11 and think that you were the best in the world. Nowadays it’s very easy to see how you stack up against the best in the world because Street Fighter 4 is the first Street Fighter game to support online play from its release. Yes, you could play 3rd Strike over Xbox Live or on GGPO, but those options weren’t available until years after the initial arcade release.
Online play from the getgo means that there will always be a ton of players available to play with at any time of day or night, which means that old school players who never traveled outside of their local community to play will get a taste of what the rest of us who have been playing competitively have been experiencing for years.
I’m willing to bet that everybody who thought they were the best back in the day at their local hangout is going to be shocked at how terrible they are when pitted against those of us who have traveled across the globe to play Street Fighter. But I’m also willing to bet that a fair amount of these players are going to try their hardest to level up their skills enough to hang with the rest of the online community, which contributes to making everybody a better player.
The internet means more everything!
Even though Al Gore invented the internet a long time ago, it really didn’t matter to Street Fighter players until YouTube came around and became the destination for Street Fighter match videos. This happened sometime around 2003ish from what I recall and it’s really helped a lot of 3rd Strike players, as well as players of all competitive games, not just fighting games.
Instead of playing in an era where people keep guard their strategies and tricks like an overprotective dad guards his busty high school cheerleader daughter, we now live in a world where these busty cheerleaders are passed around to anyone who is willing to show them a good time.
Lots of players make video tutorials to show other players how certain game mechanics work and post these on YouTube for anyone to see. Also, there are lots of communities such as the local Southern California scene as well as Japanese arcades that regularly post tournament matches for all to analyze, dissect and learn from.
This means that more players learn what works and what doesn’t work faster than ever before, all they have to do is take the time and make the effort. We are no longer separated by geographical distances or information gaps when it comes to in-game tactics. Now, we are only separated by our desire to learn and grow because resources such as YouTube, the Shoryuken forums, as well as my own site, gootecks.com, exist to help all players become as good as they want to be.
Ultimately what all of these factors add up to is more players actively trying to get better by playing online, watching match videos and reading strategies and tactics. The more players we have actively trying to level up as well as actively participating in local, regional and national tournaments, the stronger our community will be and the higher our overall skill level will be. The stronger our community grows, the easier it will be for Capcom to release Street Fighter 5, 6, 7, etc., which means we’ll all have more Street Fighter for years and years to come.