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Street Fighter IV 3D Edition

Import Review: Depth charge

Capcom's flagship fighting series is no stranger to the portable arena, and even less so to Nintendo's consoles.

Beyond its sensational home console debut on the Super Nintendo, numerous instalments including Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha 3 have appeared on Nintendo's portable offerings. The problem is, none of them have been particularly good.

While these have been serviceable translations of their console counterparts, for the majority they're almost always a novelty created for fans looking to go on a bit of a nostalgia trip or grab the occasional quick fix.

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At the heart of Street Fighter lies a competitive spirit; the desire to spend countless hours studying the game, learning its mechanics, practising combos until they're committed to muscle memory and developing cunning strategies to outwit and outplay the opponent.

For the most part technical or hardware issues have always stripped the portable entries of the necessary elements to allow these to flourish... until now, that is.

3-DOKEN
Other than a few optional visual and control enhancements Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition is almost exactly like its home console counter-part - and that's a very, very good thing.

If you've ever had even a passing interest in Street Fighter you'll know exactly what the 3DS version has in store. Little has changed over the years, so whether your fighting spirit fizzled out with the arcade/SNES release of Street Fighter II or has burned bright to Street Fighter IV and beyond, the basic setup and gameplay mechanics will be immediately familiar, balanced and brilliant.

The 3D Edition of SSIV introduces two gameplay changes to the tried-and-true formula, both of which are tailored for its platform; the first is a new view which shifts the camera from the traditional side-on perspective and suspends it behind the shoulder of the character. This is where the system's 3D capability earns its keep.

Street Fighter IV breathed new life into the stalwart cast of world warriors by swapping archaic sprites for intricately detailed 3D models, creating hundreds of unique character-specific animations and giving characters expressive faces that reacted to every punch, kick and fireball thrown.

In the traditional viewpoint the 3D capabilities of Nintendo's handheld compliment Street Fighter IV's already colourful art direction and exaggerated animations by introducing visual depth.

It looks fantastic; flicking the 3D slider up while in the traditional side-on view pushes the back wall of the arena further away, creating a noticeable distinction between the environment, the fighters and the stage props. It's an undeniably cool visual trick, even if it is likely to lose its novelty after a few matches.

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However, switch to the 3D camera view and it's a whole different story. Balrog's arms violently pull back towards you as he cocks his pythons back to throw a dash punch, Ken's fist bursts into flames in front of you as he launches into a shoryuken and M.Bison menacingly slides towards you with an ear-to-ear grin of pure evil.

Backgrounds also benefit from the 3D visuals with furnishings such as barrels, tables and curious animals popping of the screen.

However, the 3D visuals do come at a price; the loss of animated backgrounds. For the most part this isn't really a big deal but for stages such as Africa, where the invasive safari animals are a prominent feature, it can be distracting to see a hippo with his mouth open frozen in place for two 99 second rounds.

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