Street Fighter IV Capcom Interview
We turn to the man behind Street Fighter IV, Capcom's Yoshinori Ono, to articulate why the series packs a punch after 20 years - and why its latest episode will own you.
When it comes to gaming's most legendary IP, the Street Fighter series is right up there with Mario, Sonic and Tetris. Over 21 years, the series has gone from its roots as a fighting game oddity (the original Street Fighter), to explosive 90's success story (Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II), to a series that we think started to lose its direction a little, with countless spin-offs and sub-series.
It wasn't that this era, from around 1996 onwards, produced bad Street Fighter games. It's just that the Alpha and VS subseries, as well as the Street Fighter III series, while still outstanding beat-'em-ups, lost a little of the magic introduced in Yoshiki Okamoto's Street Fighter II. And don't even get us started on EX.
Was it the evolving art style? Was it the various, increasingly complex - perhaps convoluted - fighting systems and styles of play? Or was it simply the fact that the classic character roster that so many of us grew up with since SF II, was thrown by the wayside with the exception of Ryu and Ken in most of these games?
In fairness, we think Capcom was doing the right thing to explore new directions for the franchise - new characters, prequels and the like. But what we've really wanted for many years now is a full-power sequel, that relives the feel-good factor of those happiest of Street Fighter days. We wanted the definitive modern day Street Fighter title.
Since the game's official announcement just nine months ago, Capcom has executed one of the most precise and gripping PR campaigns we've seen in ages, drip feeding the rabid fanbase with new characters, stages, secrets and surprises, with exemplary pacing. At every new expo or event it's had something new to show or announce about the game, which is out now in Japanese arcades, and coming next year to PC, PS3 and 360.
The feeling of being absolutely in love with this game since we first played it back in March is probably down to two key things. Firstly, the fact that the game is a visual masterpiece in terms of both its delicious, vibrant art style, and its technically innovative 3D system, which provides a real wow-factor. And secondly, the fact that it's at once recognizable as Street Fighter - and instantly familiar to play. Yet, it's obvious that there are enough new additions, features and surprises tucked in there, giving the game the boost it needs in this day and age. It can't be written off as merely a prettier SF II.
We do feel a little bad, however, that Street Fighter IV has been woefully underrepresented on this site to date - we were just, you know, sort of waiting for the right moment. And we think that moment was when Kikizo's very own, very lovable Heidi Kemps sat down with the game's producer, Yoshinori Ono.
What follows is our interview, which while brief, is so full of new-game-excitement that we imagine there was an almost sexual tension in the room...