Ultra Street Fighter IV: Renewed roster, renewed focus

June 23, 2014


Another year, another update to the Street Fighter IV series. For Capcom, this isn’t something terribly unusual. Before the advent of online patches, we had four different versions of Street Fighter II and three versions of Street Fighter III, and Ultra Street Fighter IV marks the fifth version of this latest entry. While it’s not a huge game-changer, it’s a welcome update for those looking to jump back into the series again.

The update brings with it several new mechanics. One huge one is the Red Focus Attack. Adding a light punch to the regular command (Medium Punch + Medium Kick), you’re able to absorb an infinite amount of hits at the expense of two super bars. Considering regular Focus Attacks were only able to absorb one hit before breaking, it will ultimately mean a lot more critical survival moments during matches and full turn-around moments that could change the whole momentum of a match. Much like regular Focus Attacks, the Red version can also be canceled to extend combo strings.


Ultra SFIV‘s Red Focus Attacks absorb more hits than the normal ones. (GIF by Christian Stewart.)

Double Ultras are a new feature to Ultra SFIV as well. At the expense of your Ultra Attacks being somewhat weaker, you’re able to use both specials and mix up strategies against your opponent.

Delayed wake-ups also make an appearance. While in many 3D fighters, this is a normal thing to have, it’s not commonly seen in the 2D branch of the genre. Due to many high-level players exploiting “vortexes” (unblockable combo loops) with characters and leaving many defenseless against it, being able to delay the time you get up off the ground by even half a second changes a lot of offensive and defensive strategy, giving players time to think about their next move and surprise their opponents.


The addition of a delayed wake-up (right) allows for new strategies. (GIF by Christian Stewart.)

Ultra SFIV also includes five new characters. Four of them were included in Street Fighter X Tekken, but one “new” character, Decapre, also joins the fray. Among the returning fighters, Rolento joins from the Alpha series, and Hugo, Elena and Poison (technically) are from Street Fighter III. The game explicitly mentions that Decapre is a Cammy clone, even down to the character model, but the two play very differently.

This release also boasts a feature that was included in the home version of Street Fighter Anniversary Edition. Edition Select allows players to choose a certain iteration of a character, given they were available during that version. Players can finally settle differences of whether the 2012 version of Akuma is better than original Street Fighter IV Sagat, or even finding out if Super E. Honda is better than Arcade Edition Yun. It’s a mode of limitless possibilities, and ultimately finding out who was best and when.


The new Red Focus Attacks can still be canceled to extend combos. (GIF by Christian Stewart.)

At the time of writing, only the digital version of Ultra is available, and requires either a copy of Super Street Fighter IV or Arcade Edition to play. A standalone version will be released in August for both Japan and North America. Capcom has mentioned that new Challenge Trials will be patched in at some point in the future, a welcome addition for both the five new fighters and Arcade Edition‘s debuts.

Whether you’re an online warrior looking to improve or just a casual player wanting a new reason to play with your friends, Ultra Street Fighter IV does what it must to justify a look. There’s nothing distinctly different here to attract new fans or make existing ones run toward a purchase, but the additions here are smart and well-considered.

Pros: Mechanic and balance changes even the playing field, new characters bolster the roster
Cons: Nothing distinctly new might turn off players, new Challenge Trials currently unavailable

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.