Street Fighter 4 coming to the iPhone is one of the biggest news stories since, well, the last big brand announced a port. Whether it’s GTA: Chinatown Wars, Plants vs Zombies, or any other major series stepping onto Apple’s iPhone, there’s nothing that gets gamers’ blood up like a classic game on their cutting-edge handheld. We played SF4 against Takeshi Tezuka, who worked on the original SF2 and is the current General Manager of Mobile Development for Capcom Japan, and we think hardcore and casual fighters alike won’t be disappointed by this handheld version.
Street Fighter 4 will feature eight classic characters: Ryu, Ken, Guile, Dhalsim, Chun-Li, Blanka, M. Bison, and Abel. The game will not feature separate storylines, but does offer a Tournament mode with a series of fights escalating in difficulty, and the familiar taunts when you win or lose.
But the first thing Tezuka-san wanted to show us was Dojo mode, which was described as ‘Street Fighter boot camp’. In this mode, you’ll receive a series of one-off challenges (which reminded us of the challenges from Pac-Man Championship Edition) that introduce strategies familiar to any longtime SF player. In one stage, normal attacks don’t do any damage, and you must only use special attacks to win.
Players are ranked either S, A, B, or C in these challenges, and we were assured that even the most dedicated players will have a difficult time reaching S on everything. When you finish a stage with a C or higher, you unlock the next round. Some of the higher-level challenges include Combo Training and the mysterious-sounding Fighting Secrets. We were even told that mastering these challenges will help you be a better SF4 player on the consoles or in the arcades.
To help you best these challenges, or the obligatory tournament and versus modes, you can rearrange the onscreen controls in a variety of ways. You can shrink the button size, individually drag them to where they’re the most comfortable, or increase their transparency.
The eight-direction joystick seemed to work very well for us, and the four buttonsï¿½” punch, kick, special, and focusï¿½” didn’t seem to sacrifice too much of the familiar fighting controls. Truly dedicated SF4 masters from the arcade and console worlds will be the final judge of that.
The Tournament mode and computer versus may not be where most players get their full $9.99 worth with this game. The Dojo mode and two-player Bluetooth multiplayer (no Wi-Fi) are the real draws for longevity.
Like Pac-Man CE, we see this as being a satisfactory translation with a number of tactical challenges that may be even more enjoyable than the main game. One thing is certain though: Capcom is paying attention to the iPhone in a big way, saying it’s the top-selling phone in Japan, and that means we can expect to see a lot more big series of theirs coming this year.