Street Fighter IV Volt

Street Fighter IV Volt

Street Fighter IV Volt

Almost the king of the ring

When Capcom gave birth to Street Fighter, it did so in an arcade cabinet. Not literally, of course. The point is that having the benefit of a cabinet meant it was a game tailored around having a joystick and six buttons and has evolved with that control method in mind.

You can see where this is going. Shrinking a game that relies on a number of buttons that even bewilders some gaming veterans is a challenge. Consider this: if you’re playing as Guile on Street Fighter IV, to activate his Ultra move you have to hold down/back for a few seconds, then press down/forward, then press down/back, then press up/towards and all three kick buttons at the same time. Try that on your iPhone and the only move you’ll be pulling off is the catch-the-phone-that-just-slipped-out-of-your-hand manoeuvre.

So this is Capcom’s solution. Special moves, such as the one just described, have been simplified. The six buttons have been squashed down to two, with an extra button to help with special moves (SP) and another one for the Focus attacks (F). The moves themselves have been simplified, so instead of doing backwards then towards with punch to perform Blanka’s horizontal roll, you just press backwards and SP.

How does it all come together? Well enough. It’s not too easy and not too hard. Meanwhile, to do Ultras, you now tap the Ultra symbol in the corner of the screen rather than going through with the down/back, down/right, spin around and touch your toes spellcasting ritual just to get a move out. It does change things a bit, but it’s as good a compromise as we’ll get. What’s nice is Capcom has streamlined the control system but hasn’t dumbed down the gameplay to match, so the combo system that made Street Fighter IV deep and rewarding remains intact.

It’s a good job too, because for Street Fighter IV Volt, online play is now a big part of the appeal. You can play single-player for the basic few-fights-then-boss structure as you get in every fighting game, but the fact that you can be challenged by any other Volt player during this time speaks volumes about where Capcom wants to take the series (you can turn this off if you want to be left alone to play at your own pace, though). Your online record is displayed proudly at all times.

Playing online is a fair replica of the console versions. That is, the majority of your matches will be smooth enough, with the occasional battle a painful exercise in lag and a lot of players quitting just as they’re about to lose. This is the biggest mark against SFIV Volt – to make online so integral to the experience and then to allow bad losers to get away unscathed without rewarding you anything for your efforts is very, very frustrating. There are other distractions on show here, even if they’re all slightly undercooked. You can have automated avatar battles with stats against other players, take part in combo challenges and even play Street Fighter Bingo by completing small tasks when playing online. Still, they’re not a patch on the main act itself, which achieved the tricky part of translating Street Fighter to handheld devices and then rather unfortunately fell at the final hurdle by leaving pride as the only thing for losing players to actually lose. Pity.

Rated 4 out of 5

A brilliant attempt at squeezing Street Fighter into IOS but marred by the wonky online experience.