This rant has been a long time coming, but the tipping point was CAPCOM’s release of the third edition to their popular fighting game, Street Fighter IV. A few weeks ago CAPCOM, apparently an abbreviation for Costs All Players Crap-loads Of Money, re-released Street Fighter IV…again. This time the words Arcade Edition have been added to the ever-growing title, which in itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as all the games are based off the original arcade version. If CAPCOM is determined to avoid using numbers by haphazardly throwing around adjectives then hopefully the next release we see will have
“Super Ultimate Final Street Fighter IV Console Edition” stamped on the front. To put into perspective just how ridiculous CAPCOM’s naming conventions have gotten, the series now includes approximately 20 standalone games (not counting crossovers), but somehow is only on the fourth iteration according to the titles. Maybe they feel it’s harder to dupe players into buying games with names like “Street Fighter VI.III” or “Street Fighter VI – Probably the Last Version Edition”. However, this writer’s biggest frustration is with his own self-loathing. Being a huge Street Fighter nerd, like so many other gamers, CAPCOM knows we’re at their mercy. For diehard fans our relationship with CAPCOM now feels like we’ve been at the receiving end of a perpetual purple nurple for the last two years. All we can do at this point is reluctantly purchase whatever overpriced add-on content they release and then complain about it later in a moderately read videogame blog.
So why are us fan boys so powerless against Street Fighter’s hypnotic lure? There are a number of reasons that leave us vulnerable to CAPCOM’s abuse. The first and probably most crippling reason is nostalgia. It’s hard to shake an angry fist at the developer responsible for so many memorable titles, including the Resident Evil series and Mega Man games. But for SF fanatics our love affair with CAPCOM stems from long afternoons spent in crowded mall arcades decorated with early 90’s neon. This writer can recall standing in line at the Street Fighter II cabinet while a group of angry teenagers shouted obscenities every time one of them was KO’ed by Vega’s fence attack. To this day it remains one of his fondest memories (please reserve your judgment). The second reason we can’t break free from CAPCOM’s hold is because their products are vastly superior and they know it. Even though this author is also a fan of the Mortal Kombat series, he feels completely confident siding with Street Fight as the best fighting franchise of all time. If fans of Tekken or Soul Calibur dispute this they should be countered with a swift Dragon Punch followed by a Hurricane Kick. No other fighting game in existence comes close to the tight, fluid, and responsive mechanics of the Street Fighter series. It’s that simple. So like any supplier pushing a superior product, CAPCOM has the ability to charge whatever they want because they know we can’t help ourselves.
For those of us that can’t resist, here’s what to expect from the $14.99 downloadable upgrade or the $39.99 disc based version. First off, the Arcade Edition comes with four new playable characters. These fighters include Evil Ryu, Oni, and the twins, Yun and Yang. The gameplay has also been balanced in an attempt to even out the playing field, but Yun and Yang now tower over the diluted pool of competitors. To make a comparison, defeating Yun on the veteran difficulty can be more daunting than winning a battle against Seth from the original SF IV. Fighting the twins is a less than enjoyable experience and unfortunately for us, since CAPCOM wants to showcase their new characters, players will end up facing-off against them…a lot. Some other small tweaks have been made to the game in terms of the interface design. The menu layouts are easier to navigate which is good considering the amount of content that is now packed onto the screen. Another notable element is the inclusion of a replay mode. This feature is more for the veteran fans who now have the ability to study the play tapes from their previous fights.
This comes in handy if you’re trying to steal the other team’s offensive signals or just wondering how it’s possible for Yun to throttle you five matches in a row. Overall the additions aren’t groundbreaking, but still include improvements that make the best fighting game a little bit better. Newcomers to the series will definitely love the low price tag on the disc while the rest of us are in limbo debating whether or not to eat up more hard drive space with the costly download. Although compared to Mortal Kombat’s steep fee of $4.99 for a new character, the price may not seem as intimidating. The bottom line is that the new content is directed more towards the diehard fans that will have no choice but to purchase the DLC. Even though these fans have grown accustomed to CAPCOM’s relentless efforts to capitalize from add-ons, they’re still going to cringe when another $14.99 is subtracted from their PSN wallets.
It is important to note that although CAPCOM might be the most notorious offender, they are certainly not alone in the nickel-diming campaign that DLC developers have launched against the consumer. The COD series has its fans in a similar vice-like grip that enables their developers to charge $14.99 for new multiplayer maps. The only downloadable content that does seem justified by the higher prices are heftier releases like Rockstar’s add-ons for Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. Each package offers a few additional hours of gameplay with a separate story supported by new characters and missions. When compared to similarly priced add-ons that consist of nothing but alternate costumes for a roster of fighters, the differences are undeniable. It’s also frustrating for SF fans to have to pay for content that includes “balancing” which is something that seems more along the lines of a bug fix and should be distributed to all the disc owners via a free update. This kind of thing is what’s driving the complaint that developers are intentionally leaving material out only so they can make more money by releasing it as DLC later. But until there is a way to regulate or govern what developers release and how much they can charge, it looks like gamers will be dropping some serious coin every time the log into the Playstation Network.