The other additions to the game are of mixed success. The car-smashing interstitial first seen in Street Fighter II makes a return along with a barrel-breaking mini-game. Fun for a few turns, you'll soon be reaching for the option to switch these arcade mode interruptions off, as they're little more than nostalgic diversions.
While the Time Trial and Survival modes have been lost from the first game, the Character Trials, which offer 24 increasingly taxing moves and combos to master across each of the 35 characters, are now better-pitched and more expansive. As you pass certain completion thresholds, you unlock new icons and titles to attach to your gamertag in order to intimidate (or mislead) your opponents online, but their true value is in giving you a basic understanding of how each character behaves.
For those players who want to enjoy the arcade experience at home, once again Mad Catz is offering a range of controllers designed in consultation with Capcom. In the main, these are simply re-skinned versions of last year's range (reviewed extensively already). However, the top-grade stick, the £150 Tournament Edition, has undergone a more major overhaul, losing the sloped Viewlix-style edging of the original stick. The sharper edges can irritate your wrists after extensive play and, while the stick still feels weighty and responsive, we prefer last year's version for this reason.
Hori, Japan's most famous stick-maker, also has a new mid-range stick out to coincide with the game's release, the Real Arcade Pro EX, although sadly we were unable to test at time of writing. Plenty of top-level players play Street Fighter with a standard Xbox pad, but the layout of inputs in the game is explicitly tailored to stick play (with throws, Focus Attacks and taunts all mapped for easy execution on a stick, but awkward on a standard pad), so if you're coming to the genre fresh, we'd recommend investing in a mid-range stick and learning the ropes on that: you'll likely play better in the long run for it.
For the Street Fighter devotee, Super is an exemplary update, tweaking the original in logical, balanced ways that few would contest improve the experience. For newcomers, this is an excellent point to get involved in Street Fighter. However, be warned that, unlike, say, Modern Warfare 2, this is not a game you can expect to walk into with some level of competence if you're unfamiliar with fighting games. The path to proficiency is long and winding, but also one of gaming's most enjoyable to master.
Super may lack the impact of its immediate forebear, which grabbed headlines with its heady combination of brilliance and novelty. But this is the very best sort of evolution, a perfection of detail, one that diminishes its faults and amplifies its successes. If Super is, as producer Yoshinori Ono claims, to be the final iteration of Street Fighter IV (besides the inevitable DLC), then fittingly it goes out in its prime, a game at the very top of its game.
10 / 10