A few weeks ago we offered one lucky Eurogamer reader the chance to play Super Street Fighter IV a month before its 30th April release. Capcom would literally come round your house, we promised, with a portable gaming rig.
We had no idea what said portable gaming rig would be like, but we naively assumed it was a console and a TV and some cables.
Well, apparently it wasn't, as competition winner David Bridle discovered earlier this month. David had a jolly old time, and was nice enough to send us some photos of his experience, which we've included below, along with a blow-by-blow account from his brother Mark.
Mark Bridle writes:
Nothing tries harder to ruin an experience than hype.
When my brother David won the Eurogamer Super Street Fighter IV competition the excitement was instantaneous and tangible. Street Fighter, brought to your house by Capcom a full month before release! Our imaginations clicked into overdrive. Will they leave an arcade machine? Will we get to keep it? Will it be brought in an old Guns 'n' Roses tour trailer, packed to the brim with plasma screens and cosplay girls?
I could hear the rain on the roof and feel the chill through the gaps in the flat's window from the minute I woke up on the fateful Saturday. Winter was persisting into April and spring hadn't sprung. The game was due to arrive at 10am but the weather, with no scheduled departure time, had set in.
No bother, though, the reclining seats in the Capcom gaming rig were bound to be heated. Or, if they are leaving an arcade machine, we can just turn up the heating. I was just fussing, like a classic English curmudgeon, about the weather. No problem.
At five past 10 we got the call. The truck had arrived. "Come outside and have a look." The instant I saw it I knew that, just maybe, my imagination had got a little carried away. The truck was undeniably cool - an Xzibit wet dream of billboard-sized flat-screen fused to the trailer of an American pickup. The truck, murdered out in all-black paint with Capcom logos along the bodywork, was humming busily, powering the version of SSFIV that was currently displayed on the monster plasma.
Undeniably cool but, equally, undeniably less than I had imagined. No cosplay girls. No G 'n' R. Not even any heating. My own hype-mongering brain had created a monster that no competition prize could live up to.
Fortunately, within five minutes none of that mattered. I had been excited for Super Street Fighter IV since Christmas, but my worry was that it would be impenetrable, like learning Latin or watching Spirited Away without subtitles. The videos and previews I had seen online, with their talk of cancels, FADC and in-depth character detail, meant I was nervous but desperate to like it. Not a good combination.
The banter started with our first fireballs, and, by the first ultra combo, we couldn't feel the hailstones on our hands for laughing. What I had hoped, and what everything online was trying to hide, was that Super Street Fighter IV is instant, brilliant, competitive fun. Owing to the identical basic controls - quarter-circle rolls, half rolls and charges - experimentation was more than encouraged; it was almost rude not to try every character on the roster.
Matches were competitive, special moves could be accessed in seconds and, as long-time Tekken fan, I would have to concede that SSFIV is a much more accessible, social game than the Namco fighter.
It was, in many ways, like sharing a film with friends. It felt like someone had brought a big, rolling pub-on-wheels to the flat. All the while the weather stayed cold. My thumbs ached like a marathon runner's knees and my knees ached like a marathon runner's feet. Red hands from the chill wind, red faces from losing a match against Dan (his fireball was pathetic!).
Nothing could stop us playing. We welcomed passers-by as they stopped in for a game. It was a great opportunity to warm your hands and, on one occasion, to learn some tricks from a guy who claimed he was "up till 4am beating up Americans".
At 1pm we had to be told enough was enough, the van was leaving. It was a shame; David had just hit me with Ken's Ultra and I had started to master Zangief's Spinning Piledriver. There was still El Fuerte to try and much more banter to be dished out. The disappointing weather, crazy truck and expectations were inconsequential now. All that was left was Street Fighter. It was more than enough.