Version tested: PlayStation 3
This is not the comeback story. No, we had that last year: the old champion brought out of retirement for one last, historic bout, fighting against the odds to a victory so glorious it revitalised the sport itself. And Street Fighter IV soared along that narrative arc like no other game before it, confounding even Capcom's expectations to rekindle the dulled passions of fighting fans and introduce an entire new generation to the old ways of pixel pugilism.
The game may not have taken the arcades by storm, particularly, but it was precisely the fact that it wasn't interested in taking the arcades that led to its success. Street Fighter IV went where the players are: to the consoles.
Then, in combining some of gaming's richest iconography with a rediscovery of that precious DNA that made Street Fighter II appeal to such a broad range of players, it delivered the entire genre a shot in the arm. It had its detractors, as any champ does. But none could deny the game's significance or the mainstream, Rocky-esque comeback it spearheaded, not just for its series, but for fighting games in general. Street Fighter IV: the comeback kid.
So how to bill Super Street Fighter IV, then? Bright hero turned cash cow, merchandising and endless appearances diluting his vim and appeal with each outing? Or a fighter who, having found rare form, is now moving from strength to strength? 10 minutes in to what will almost certainly be known as Capcom's defining work of the generation, there can be no doubt: Super Street Fighter IV, allegedly the final update for the series' fourth instalment, goes down in a blaze of glory.
In the 11 months since work began on the update, all of the data pulled from a million battles across the world has been distilled into a generous clutch of changes that improve the original in almost every tangible way. If Street Fighter IV reinterpreted the successes of the past for a modern audience, then Super Street Fighter IV lives up to its name, making that reinterpretation superlative.
10 new characters bolster the original roster of 25. Two of these, Turkish oil wrestler Hakan and sex-crazed Korean Tae-Kwon-Do practitioner Juri, are new to the series, the rest pulled from across Street Fighter's rich heritage. Crucially, not one of the new characters repeats or imitates what was already in the game.
Each fighter offers an entirely new feel in the hands, requiring fresh strategy and careful learning - and, most importantly, bringing yet more diversity and vibrancy to the cast. Makoto darts with whip-crack speed to land karate thwacks. Dudley, the aristocratic British boxer who taunts with a thrown rose and drinks tea with his gloves still on, is like Balrog following a weight loss programme, all coiled-spring power. Juri's armour-breaking dive kick punishes Focus Attacks from practically anywhere on screen, while ninja kid Ibuki's fearsome mix-up game is lightning fast.