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Hadoukens in the wilderness. Sonic Booms lost to time. I was not the only gamer returning to a faint memory when I picked up Super Street Fighter 4.
There has been a whole catalogue of Super, Turbo, Hyper, and other adrenaline-pumping versions of previous games in the series. Most passed me by in a youthful haze. I was always content with my SNES Street Fighter II, oblivious to the lure of beefy suffixes and prefixes. I dipped in and out of the series after that, but eventually I moved on.
It seemed like gaming had too, until 2008's new Street Fighter arcade game. And then under a year later, I was gleefully holding a sealed copy of Street Fighter 4. A day after that, I was addicted again.
Street Fighter 4 was like travelling back in time, taking the SNES controller away from my childhood self, bringing him back with me to the present, shoving in a Sixaxis and watching his big, innocent brown eyes grow in astonishment. The game was a brash and breathtaking, an injection of pure nostalgia. Watching Ryu charge up his mammoth fireball in glorious 3D before unleashing it upon an unsuspecting Ken for the first time was one of my defining gaming moments of 2009.
But now comes Super Street Fighter 4, and unlike previous updates had my attention as soon as I heard about it. And on playing I fell for it again, hook, line and sinker.
Street Fighter 4 was like travelling back in time.
There are all the little tweaks that, if you've played enough Street Fighter 4, you'll either appreciate or wish there were more of. As devoted as I am to the series, I'm not about to pack up my bags to find glory in a real-life Street Fighter tournament, so some of these go over my head. But I can see that Sagat has been brought down to reasonable size and that Chun-Li's second Ultra is much less demanding than her first - all characters have two Ultra attacks now.
Then there's ten new characters. Eight are returners like Street Fighter III's sprightly ninja Ibuki and Third Strike's resolute karate expert Makoto. I was especially excited about the reintroduction of another British fighter to the fold, and Street Fighter III's tea-drinking boxer Dudley is fantastic. Not only does he hold the sudden, thrusting power of a Balrog but he does it with grace and nobility. On his official dislikes list is 'rude people'. How can you not adore the man?
Being more used to a SNES style local battle, I was suprised how quickly I took to playing online.
There are also two brand new characters to enjoy, and just like Street Fighter 4's Abel and Crimson Viper they fit right in. The supple but malevolent Juri is an easy character to learn but definitely a high-maintenance one to master. Her ability to quickly switch from defensive fireballs to full-on air and wheel kick attacks makes her very dangerous. Meanwhile, the red-skinned behemoth that is Hakan works just as a source of mirth. One of his Ultras involves him launching himself upon his opponent and squeezing them underneath his huge oily body. It's hilariously intimate, but very difficult to avoid. Hakan is a much harder to pick up, but the dividends are clearly there.
I'm quite happy sticking to Chun-Li, Ibuki, and Dudley, though. And what's great about Super Street Fighter 4 compared to its predecessor is that I didn't have to work to unlock them. Every one of the 35 characters was selectable from the first moment I loaded up the game - smart move, Capcom.
The Street Fighter II's bonus stages also return here, which were so wrongly absent from Street Fighter 4. Tearing that car apart never gets old. And brings back so many memories.
What surprised me most though, being more used to a SNES style local battle, was how quickly I took to playing online with Super Street Fighter 4. Endless Battle lets you set up a winner-stays-on lobby of up to eight people, reinvigorating the online with that feeling of being hunched around the TV or arcade cabinets with your mates, waiting your go. Cheering on from the sidelines while you watch others in the lobby fight is almost as fun as fighting itself. Team Battle is an appreciable variation on the same theme, while the Replay Channel is invaluable for those who really want to put the time into the game. And I am definitely one of those.
I'm as exuberantly into Street Fighter now as I ever was.
This online upgrade, and in particular the Endless Battle mode, has renewed my enthusiasm for Street Fighter tenfold. It transforms Super Street Fighter 4 from a great, enduring online experience into one that I can really enjoy with my friends.
To have lived with a game for so many years, and to have been away so long, it was so satisfying to return and play it again. But what surprised me in my older more subdued self, was that I'm as exuberantly into Street Fighter now as I ever was.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: