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Street Fighter IV for iPhone/iPod Touch Review
Great graphics, top notch controls...this is real Street Fighter. Incredible quality; one of the best iPod games around.

The mobile game marketplace suffers from clutter, and from the player’s standpoint, low expectations. With most games costing only a few bucks many of us have learned to expect little and are satisfied with something that actually just works. Sure, there have been a few great games that have come along, but I’ve been hoping for a day when the iPod functions more like a PSP than the ill-fated gaming phone, the Nokia N-Gage. It had so much promise. Too bad you had to talk on it sideways. Look, I am not saying the PSP is a tremendous success cause it surely isn’t. That hardware, however, is designed to play games and it does so fairly well. Can’t blame the hardware for poor software.


Anyway, I digress. Games for the iPod have been a mixed bag at best, with a few shining stars in an otherwise dark sky. Well, Street Fighter IV shines like the freakin’ sun. I’d learned of its development about six months ago, and would have been happy with something like looked like the 1991 arcade version of SF2. Well, let’s just say this goes way above and beyond that. SFIV looks like a miniature version of the Xbox 360 game I have at home. It’s that good. Capcom put their time and effort into this game.

The first thing you’ll notice are the graphics. The opening movie blows up the screen. Yet, even with its quality, it does not give you a hint as to how the game itself is going to look. I’ve been teased by great game movies before, and I put aside all expectations when it came to this. So, I decided to jump right in. Even the game menus are crisp, and display plenty of polish. I think that’s the first thing you walk away from this game with, the notion that Capcom really fine tuned this game until it was worthy. And worthy it is.

There are eight characters to choose from, along with four game modes, Tournament, Free-Sparring, Dojo, and Training Room. A cool feature is the ability over a network to play against a friend, not unlike what you can do with a PSP. All the modes are customizable, though I suspect most people will stick with the standard three rounds. The best option is Tournament mode, which will feel a lot like playing in the arcade. I fired it up and went into battle, choosing Guile, a character I know pretty well. I wanted to not be overly critical about a control scheme I highly suspected was going to be limited, at best.

You’d think by now I’d have learned to keep such silly suspicions to myself, or eliminate them altogether. There is a virtual joystick and four buttons (knocked down from the six that were in the console versions) At first look, the joystick appears too big, taking up too much of the screen, but this is clearly done on purpose. Once I started playing, the stick felt natural. Well, as natural as sliding my thumb across a flat screen can. I was really impressed with the fluidity of the controls. Guile reacted immediately, and there were few times where my move didn’t execute. I tried Dhalsim and Ryu as well, with the same results. As a matter of fact, it seemed easier than using the analog stick on my Xbox. Really. This is why Capcom took so long to release the game. The controls were the most important part of the game, and they wanted to make sure they felt right. They d. Nothing to worry about here at all.

The in-game graphics are no match for the Xbox and PS3 versions of the game but are far better than anything I have seen on the iPod so far. I’ve played or demoed nearly a hundred games, some costing a lot, some not, but this game looks prettier than any of them. So, take that great control scheme, add in amazing graphics, and in my opinion, you have the best game on the iPod so far. Of course, you have to like the genre to feel this way. All I can say is that I like fighting games. I love SFIV for the iPod. I am still playing it. That says a lot.

The sounds are also impressive, between the character noises, the ambient sound, and the music. It’s electrifying. Nothing I have played comes close to the fit and finish of this title across the board. I played it through the speaker and everyone around me asked what it was, that it sounded so good. When I showed them the game, they couldn’t get over it. No one could believe an iPod could do something like this.

Obviously, I recommend the game to anyone who wants to kill some time with their iPod. If they keep making games like this for the platform, instead of the silly clones a la Gameloft (not hating on them, just a fact) or word games and the like, then the iPod truly can be a successful game platform. If this is the future, then convergence has really hit its high point. Here’s to hoping.

Highs: Amazing graphics, perfect recreation of a great console title. Controls are spot on, way better than could be expected. Fit and polish are top-notch.

Lows: I found it to be a little easier than the console version. Some features are taken out for the iPhone version. Some might balk at the $9.99 price, but it’s Street Fighter!

Overall: Don’t miss out on the future of gaming on the iPhone. If someone is going to challenge the handhelds, and software like this keeps coming out, then the iPhone/iPod might just be the perfect convergence appliance. I can’t imagine what this would be like on the iPad.

Score: 97/100

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