I consider myself to be on the cutting edge of new games which is why I finally got around to playing Street Fighter III for the first time a few days ago. The first proper modern fighting game that I ever played was good ol' Street Fighter II for the Super NES, and of course I've moved up the ranks over the years through all of the Street Fighter II upgrades and then into the world of Street Fighter Alpha. I have my favorite world warriors and I like to think I can kick some efficient digital butt with the likes of Ken and Blanka. Imagine my surprise when I stepped into Street Fighter III and found that hardly any of the characters from the previous games made a return appearance. My initial reaction was to be stereotypically outraged: how dare Capcom exclude the familiar fighters! I don't have time to learn about all of these new characters. I know how to dismantle Sagat and Zangief, but I haven't a clue what to do with newcomers Hugo or Alex. Who wants to learn all of this new material just for the sake of knocking someone down? Then I came to my senses and remembered that this is the reason why the gaming industry relies on sequels and spin-offs these days more than new original adventures and stories. We certainly seem to want more of the familiar. Now I see where the development team behind the upcoming Street Fighter IV has come to the same realization and is putting plenty of Street Fighter II into the new game.
"Street Fighter III was kind of an exclusive club where if you didn't know what you were doing, there was no reason to even try and play it," says Ono (pictured right). "This time, we're trying to re-open the fighting genre to people who haven't played it in a while."
That's why SFIV will feature, first and foremost, the eight well-known fighters from SFII: Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Blanka, Dhalsim, E. Honda, Zangief, and Guile.
Ono didn't select these characters one by one, he says. "They all made the cut individually as one group. It's important, because this game is starting its life in the arcades, where you have a limited time to sit and play. You don't want people flushing their 100-yen coins down the toilet; you've got to give them some level of familiarity."
So despite my best efforts to the contrary, it looks like I'm a part of the problem after all. I'll try to do better in the future, starting with learning the ins and outs of Street Fighter III. Well, right after I finish Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards that just came out this week for the Virtual Console, of course.