A lot of interesting stuff happened aside from all of the fighting game tournament goodness at this year's EVO; most notably Capcom announced that once again they will be updating Super Street Fighter 4 into Ultra Street Fighter 4. As you can expect, the internet was not pleased in the slightest, even the minority amount of dedicated fans weren’t amused with this announcement. As a fan of the series and a potential buyer of the update, I do have a few issues of my own.
Issue 1: They are essentially porting the rest of the Street Fighter cast from Street Fighter X Tekken.
Issue 2: They went on record saying that the previous update would be the very last one and then they go and pull this.
I didn’t play Street Fighter X Tekken, I had very little desire to. That being said it may seem like my objection to the source material for most of the updated cast has little merit, but it has more to do with how the time taken for this update could have been spent on more than 1 completely new character. We were promised a brand new never before seen character to add to the roster; "a" as in 1. Call me crazy but admittedly even that one "new" addition causes a bit of excitement within me. Not to mention the $15 price tag isn't exactly a bank breaker. Too bad the internet doesn’t share my enthusiasm.
I remember last year EA came under fire for their FIFA 13 fiasco. For those of you that don't know (or just didn't care), FIFA 13 was discovered to be literally the exact same game from head to toe from the previous version just with a roster update. I just find it hilarious and mind numbingly perplexing. No, not the fact they did it or the fact they got caught. It's the fact that people are outraged over it that makes me laugh and confused at the same time. So EA blatantly copied and pasted the entirety of the previous version and released it as a sequel, as a brand new game but with only roster updated the corresponding incremental number on the cover along with the most exploitable player of the month? Well, that sounds to me like every single EA sports game for the past decade! Paying $50-$60 for a roster update with little to no enhancements to the gameplay from the previous year? I'm one of those wise-asses that go around saying if I want to play football, I'll spend $10 and call some friends for a game of flag. I play and review video games, not video simulations of things I can do in real life; which also explains why I never liked The Sims. Street Fighter 4 gets another update in a way that’s affordable and accommodates those with no internet access to avoid being left out. All of a sudden Capcom is in the running for worst video game company ever!
The negative reaction is not too surprising as Capcom is notorious for re-releasing their fighting games in the past and lying about never doing it again…and then do it again. They did it with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but more famously in the past with the entire Street Fighter franchise in which we got 7 versions of Street Fighter 2, 3 versions of Street Fighter 3 and now what will be 5 versions of Street Fighter 4. Upon further inspection, all the Street Fighter 2 re-re-re-re-releases weren't cheap cash grabs either. Back then the only way to release a balance patch was to re-release the same game over again.
It stems down to ignorance. “I feel bad for Street Fighter fans, always clamoring to buy the same game over and over again. I’m too smart for that, I would never pay money to play the same game over and over again.”
We've all probably heard some form of the above at some point in time. We’ve all probably dismissed a long running franchise we don’t like by using this quote or a variation of it. But it’s time for a little experiment. If you ever said the aforementioned line and if you own, used to own, or played the last 3 or 4 Pokémon, Madden, EA sports games in general, and especially Call of Duty games, I want you to stand up and take a bow because Congratulations, You are a Hypocrite. If you don’t own any of these titles then I tip my hat off to you sir or madam.
Face it; we’ve all been playing the exact same game for years now. But there is a difference to what Capcom is doing to Street Fighter 4 this time around compared to what other companies do. Capcom has acknowledged that all this is, is an optional DLC upgrade to an already existing game that contains a roster update, new stages and balancing patches all for the low price of $15 While Nintendo, EA, Activision takes their previous best selling title, add little gameplay tweaks that the fans will say is brand new, slap on a full price sticker and call it a sequel. I always thought a sequel should expand and enhance the gameplay of the previous title, not pretty a used canvas up with a new coat of paint. That’s what expansion pack are for and in the case of Ultra Street Fighter 4 (Yes, That’s what their calling it) that’s what I’m getting; an expansion pack.
Let's try to look at it yet another way. Yes, this is the same old Street Fighter 4 from 2008 but it’s an update that supports the same game I paid for 3 years ago extending its life tremendously. It's a wondrous thing when a DLC extends the replay value of a game that was already a fan favorite to begin with. It’s been good for this long, why is it bad now? Ultimately this is more often than not the true purpose behind releasing new content for a game. If you don't believe that just take a look at how the EVO tournaments constantly use the most updated version of the biggest fighting games each year. I didn't see anyone playing Marvel vs. Wesker at this year's tournament.
In the end it all depends on the perspective of the fan of the series. It should go without saying that every one of the franchises I mentioned earlier all have hardcore devoted fans that would go to war to dispute that not every new iteration is identical to the last.
Let us not forget one thing however. The new the Malibu Stacey doll isn't that same as the last edition. She has a new hat now! TOTALLY WORTH IT!
It’s funny though the only two franchises that release sequels a few years apart and are not the same game over and over again are Final Fantasy and Sonic the Hedgehog…that sentence isn’t going anywhere; I just wanted to point that out.
Moral of the story is please stop going on about Capcom being evil money grubbing Japanese demons (or Oni, if you will). The topic of tedious repetition in established franchise sequel is a dangerous topic to tackle because no matter what you say about one or two franchises you don’t like because you see them as being the exact same game over and over again, you're going to incur the wrath of fans while you trash talk it and your new found enemies do the same in retaliation and it just gets ugly. I say we should call a truce here, if you are totally fine paying full price for the exact same game passing itself off as brand new title, go ahead and do you and you better believe i'm gonna do me. After all…it's not like we're talking about Dynasty Warriors fans!
…or am I?
Contributed by Associate Writer Corey Moore