Street Fighter IV is about to hit PlayStation 3 with the full force of High Definition visuals and classic gameplay - so Producer Yoshinori Ono entered the ring and answered some questions about the long awaited fighter.
What was the decision to make Street Fighter IV a return to the series' less complex roots?
One of our goals in the development of Street Fighter IV was to ensure that the barrier to entry was as low as possible, allowing newcomers to the series to easily pick up a Wireless Controller and jump right in. That said, I would like to emphasise that just because a beginner can grasp the basic concept of SFIV doesn't mean it's inherently a button masher.
I prefer to liken Street Fighter IV to a game of chess. The world of chess is pretty wide and allows for all levels. You have everything from a grandfather playing casually on a park bench with his grandchild all the way up to professional matches between international competitors. The beauty of this is that they're all playing by the same rules. They all understand the basics of the game - reading and predicting your opponent's possible moves and trying to head them off at the pass.
This principle is in place with Street Fighter IV as well. Highly skilled players will find a ton of strategic ways to utilise the Focus Attack system and link combos to take out opponents, while beginners will be satisfied to use that same system for a simple parry-type defensive position. No matter what kind of player uses it, it's still executed simply by pressing the mid punch and mid kick buttons simultaneously. This way, nothing is really off limits for any player. Even casual users can experiment and find ways to use systems like this while experts will constantly push the envelope and discover new techniques and methods of mixing things up by sprinkling Focus Attacks into their combos.How difficult was it to get the original idea of SFIV off the ground and into development?
Street Fighter is such an important part of Capcom's history that as soon as SFIV was mentioned there were many different ideas within the company about the direction the game should take. I had to be certain in myself that the direction the team decided on was the right one. While ultimately it will be players that determine the game's success I am definitely proud of what we have achieved. What features and ideas did you have for the game that never made it into the final code?
Oh man. The bonus stages! I wanted them in so badly. I even said at one stage I would program them in myself. In the end, though, we had to drop them. I know everyone else wants them, so maybe if enough people ask us something could happen...How big was the temptation or pressure to try and make SFIV fully 3D?
There was pressure, but for me the game had to remain 2D. Street Fighter is simply not a series that uses or needs a 3D game system. It's been ten years since Street Fighter III and 15 or 16 years since II at this point. One of our goals in the development of IV was to ensure that the barrier to entry was as low as possible and to allow players who haven't spent the last decade playing Street Fighter to jump right in. In order to preserve the feel of the original games, we opted to go with the 2D style of gameplay we've seen up until now.How did you go about choosing which characters from the Street Fighter stable would return?
This was the natural result of basing the rules set for Street Fighter IV on Street Fighter II. When we decided to adopt this concept as a base, it seemed only natural to bring along the original 12 characters from that title as well.
Of course, because this is IV and not just a remake or new version of II, we included a manner of adjustments to that rulebook to modernise things a bit. We also added four brand new characters that really take advantage of the rules we have established.
When it comes down to it, the main reason we were able to get this title made is because fan demand was so great. I personally witnessed the level at which fans are rabid for this series during my press junkets for other titles in Europe and North America. I mean, I'd be there to talk about another title, but people would raise their hands and ask questions like: "So, when are you going to make a new Street Fighter?" This wasn't a one-off occurrence either. It was a pretty consistent phenomenon.What was the inspiration for the new characters C. Viper, Rufus, Abel and El Fuerte?
Until now, Research & Development has taken charge of all SF characters, but we decided to try something different this time. Since so many of the fan requests came from outside Japan, we thought it's only appropriate to give our other branches some input into the new characters. Their research and advice helped to shape the four newcomers.
We tried our best to preserve the weirdness that all Street Fighter characters need to have while also thinking hard about IV and its final look and feel when coming up with them. I think they turned out really well.Which characters do you personally like using the most and why?
Well, with my Producer hat on, I suppose I'd have to say something like, "I like them all equally," but that would be a pretty boring answer. Speaking as a player and not just a Producer, I personally have a soft spot for El Fuerte. There was a great deal of fine tuning and adjustments made to his moves right up until the last minute of development and the result is that he is very well suited to what I think of as traditional Street Fighter II gameplay - in other words, he is especially tuned to players who read their opponents' actions and react immediately to what they predict the other guy will do.
He has a pretty extensive bag of tricks and can deal with just about any situation once you know how to use him properly. He's probably not the easiest character to get into at first as his move set is really unique, but he has a lot of cool feints and other moves you can use to throw your opponents off. He can really play with his opponents' minds and keep them guessing. I like that about him.
What are your plans for downloadable content on PSN, and will you be releasing new characters, music and stages to download in the near future?
Downloadable content wise, there will be no additional characters. This is again to help everyone to be in the same boat and we didn't want people who paid extra to have any kind of advantage. However I am not denying the possibility of DLC delivering some fun stuff and I do have some interesting things coming up so keep an eye out!