Four new characters mean eight new Ultras, and these new techniques are flashier still than even the Big Bang Typhoon and Demon Armageddon. Yun batters his opponent with repeated strikes before launching them into the air, riding them like a skateboard and then face-planting them into the ground. Evil Ryu gets juggle-happy with three consecutive dragon punches, and if you land the first at point blank range, you'll be rewarded with a lengthy attack animation that includes a fireball face-palm.
So is that it, just four new faces? No, because Arcade Edition's other major component is a long list of changes which try to improve the overall balancing. The more obvious revisions are input-based, and include Bison's Psycho Punisher being a more fitting charge motion, Sagat's Angry Scar changed to a kick to avoid overlap with Tiger Uppercut, and both Balrog and Honda's command grab Ultras being switched to double half-circle motions to improve their viability.
Other changes are more substantial, and include a new EX Dash for Dudley, added invincibility for Dee Jay's light Jacknife Maximum and a standalone EX Condor Dive for T. Hawk. Zangief can also travel back in time with the new range of his light Spinning Piledriver, while Gouken's revised counter system now makes the distinction between high, low and medium.
The remaining tweaks are split between character-specific buffs and nerfs that deal with hit-boxes and frame data. But unless you care that Cody's crouching light kick now has three start-up frames rather than four, the majority of these changes will go unnoticed by less devoted players.
Even if you do care, it's possible that some Makoto fans will be heralding Arcade Edition as the greatest balancing act ever, while some Guile diehards will be labelling it as a step backwards. But regardless of whether Yoshinori Ono has lovingly nurtured or savagely abused your favourite character, only time will decide if Arcade Edition is more balanced than Super.
In terms of the new, expanded Replay Channel, however, we can say with confidence that Arcade Edition offers a more comprehensive spectator experience. The new Elite Channels let you watch the latest replays between high-ranking players, while the new Replay Follower tool lets you subscribe to the replay uploads of five other players. There's also an expanded My Channel that lets you select up to 50 replays to watch back-to-back with your online friends - just in case you're a group of Street Fighter pacifists.
And that's it. Four new characters, a smattering of new replay features and a multitude of character tweaks for a surprisingly respectable 1200 Microsoft Points or Ł11.99 (€14.99 / $14.99) if you buy it as a download add-on. (Arcade Edition will also enjoy a standalone, budget boxed release next week.)
We also expected new Trials, fully voiced Rival Battles and story cinematics for the new fighters, but as Capcom has only provided the latter, we can't help but feel slightly disappointed by the lack of bells and whistles. We're also denied any new stages or costumes which, to be fair, is far from unexpected.
So Arcade Edition is exactly what it appears to be: a tempered update that lacks the immediate wow factor of its predecessor, but offers an extra layer of refinement on an already winning formula. Casual players can compare the new dragon punches, while the hardcore have sheets of revised frame data to analyse while coming up with fiendish strategies to beat the new dive kick shenanigans. And if this is truly the third and final strike for the Street Fighter IV series, then it's a fitting end for what's been one of the most intense joyrides in gaming.
8 / 10