The first mainstream release in the long-running fighting game franchise Street Fighter in nearly 11 years, Street Fighter IV was the critically acclaimed 2008 Capcom title widely considered being directly responsible for the Seventh Generation Fighting Game Renaissance, after the genre crashed a few generations prior. Taking advantage of a unique art-style, Street Fighter IV blended 3D models and environments, but retained the 2-D gameplay of the classics, creating a truly "old school" experience with modern visuals. The commercial and critical success of the game lead to a series of rereleases- starting with Super Street Fighter IV, followed by a portable release in Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, with a new console iteration, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition following that. A final iteration was announced at EVO 2013, the biggest fighting game tournament in the world and a show where Street Fighter IV has been the main event since its release, Ultra Street Fighter IV.
- Ken Masters
- E. Honda
- M. Bison
- Crimson Viper
- El Fuerte
- Seth (Boss in Arcade, Playable in Consoles)
- Gouken (Boss in Arcade, Playable in Consoles)
- Cammy White (Consoles only)
- Dan Hibiki (Consoles only)
- Fei Long (Consoles only)
- Sakura Kasugano (Consoles only)
- Gen (Consoles only)
- Rose (Consoles only)
Street Fighter IV retains the classic 2D gameplay seen in its predecessors- allowing it to take advantage of the visuals of 3D while retaining the style of gameplay seen in games like Street Fighter II and Third Strike. In a desire to bring the game closer to its most popular past iteration, 2, producer Yoshinori Ono decided to remove the Parry System from the third game, while also returning to the six-button set up. Pressing both light attack buttons still performs a throw, while pressing both heavy attack buttons still leads to a taunt or a personal character action. The only character capable of performing a high jump, however, is C. Viper. Dashes are performed by quickly tapping twice in the direction you wish to dash, leading to a quick, ground-covering action that leaves the player vulnerable but is vital for closing the gap and getting up close. Blocking is still keyed to pressing back, and there is no blocking when in the air.
A new mechanic introduced in Street Fighter IV to replace the parry is the Focus Attack, known as the Saving System in Japan. The focus attack is a move that allows the player to absorb an attack and launch a counter attack, and it is performed by pressing the medium punch and kick buttons simultaneously. There are two phases to the attack. In the first phase, the player will shift into a new stance, at which point he is able to absorb one attack from the opponent. The second phase is the counter attack. The longer the player holds down the medium punch and kick buttons the more powerful the attack will be. If the buttons are held for long enough the attack will cause the opponent to crumple slowly to the ground, allowing the player to follow up with a free hit. If the buttons are held for longer still the focus attack will become unblockable. Attacks that were absorbed during the first phase of the focus attack still cause damage to the player; however, life lost from the opponent's attack will be gained back afterward. In addition, during the first phase of the focus attack the player may perform a dash either forward or backward to cancel the focus attack. Finally, at the cost of half the super combo gauge, many special moves can be canceled into a focus attack. By executing a focus attack during the special move, the animation of the move will be cut short and go instantly into the focus attack animation. This allows players with precise timing to cancel special moves into focus attacks, and in turn cancel focus attacks into the forward dash, resulting in new combo possibilities. If a special move is blocked by the opponent, the new system allows players to cancel the blocked move with a focus attack, and then cancel the focus attack by dashing backward safely away from the opponent. Ono has claimed that the inspiration for this system is to bring the focus back from heavy combos, and to instead focus on making strategic attacks that require the players to think about their and their opponent's options to deal damage, while also allowing ground based moves to become a viable way to get in on the opponent, similar to jumping attacks in past games were.
Super Combos, the powered up equivalent of iconic special techniques that have been a mainstay of the series since the second series, return in Street Fighter IV. As players deal damage, their Super Meter builds up, allowing them to spend it on EX versions of their moves, or burn all of it on a Super Combo. A new type of special attack, the Ultra Combo, also debuts in Street Fighter IV. Ultra Combos are a long series of cinematic strikes that deal major damage to the opponent. Just as there is a Super Bar, this is a gauge for the Ultra Combo- the Ultra Meter, sometimes known as the Revenge Gauge, which builds as the player takes damage, instead of dealing it.
Several months after the events of Street Fighter II, the enigmatic Seth of the devious S.I.N. organization opens up another fighting tournament to draw out the most powerful fighters in the world so that he can complete the S.I.N. BLECE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Cell Explosion) bio-weapon project, namely by studying the powerful Satsui no Hadō technique possessed by Ryu. Each character has their own reasons and motivations for entering the tournament, but each must battle against a series of foes ending in a fight with Seth himself, to determine the strongest.
Street Fighter IV received near universal praise and commercial success- with numerous critics hailing its "2.5-D" graphical/gameplay style. Joe Juba from Game Informer's stated that the game, "...is a distillation of everything the genre does right. It delivers the intensity of competition...all through elegant techniques that are easy to learn and difficult to master." while Dan Amrich of Official Xbox Magazine stated that, "If you’re a novice, a training mode and eight levels of difficulty will help you find your way. If you’re a pro, SFIV contains all the depth you’ve ever loved about the series, without compromise." In the Plus section of the review, he states that it, "Does the impossible: Preserves the past, embraces the future."
Despite the heavy praise for the gameplay, competitive local and online multiplayer and deep, accessible systems, criticism was leveled at the single player content, most notably directed at the anime-style cutscenes, "...these cutscenes are almost a disgrace to anime as they are so poorly animated and tell you almost nothing about the story or the context for each character's participation in the tournament," wrote Ryan Clements of IGN. James Mielke also added words about the featured stages in the game, stating that, "Sure, Drive-in at Night, Crowded Downtown, Pitch-black Jungle, Deserted Temple, Cruise Ship Stern, and Small Airfield are nice enough, but anyone longing for E. Honda's onsen hot spring will be left wanting."
When the game made it to consoles in the west in 2009, it was accompanied with a $79.99 collector's edition as well. This version of the game included a unique figurine- PS3 players received a Ryu, while Xbox 360 players received Crimson Viper. An animated short, Aratanaru Kizuna (Renewed Bonds) translated to The Ties That Bind, produced by Studio 4°C, a game soundtrack, and a Prima hint guide were also included.