App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Fighting games have gotten quite a bit of a raw deal on mobile. Most of them are just some swipe-based free-to-play thing that focuses more on grinding to level up characters rather than using skill and precision to win. With the release of Street Fighter IV Champion Edition though, it seemed like Capcom was determined to treat the genre with respect while bringing one of the best fighting games of all time to the App Store. Although on its face Champion Edition retains a lot of the feel of the original Street Fighter IV, this mobile version feels like half of a game because of its poor multiplayer system.
Quarter circle punch
Unlike mobile free-to-play fighters like Skullgirls, Champion Edition plays an awful lot like the original Street Fighter IV. You control your character using a virtual joystick and buttons for punches, kicks, and special actions like Focus Attacks and EX Moves. The game also features some great MFi controller support, which further sells the game as a legitimate, non-neutered fighting game you can take on the go.
All that being said, Champion Edition does have quite a few key differences between itself and its console and arcade brethren. For starters, Champion Edition does not look particularly great. Its character models are jagged and move with stilted animations as they duke it out on flat, unmoving backgrounds. Other changes include an incomplete roster, fewer costumes, fewer Ultras, and some streamlining when it comes to controls and moves.
Simply street fighting
Considering these differences, it's astonishing that Champion Edition feels as much like Street Fighter IV as it does. Crouching medium kick into standing Hadouken still totally works as a combo Ryu, and even smaller things like E. Honda's neutral jump heavy punch works to dodge projectiles just as it did in the original game.
At the same time though, certain smart changes have also been made to the game's moves to make them a little more friendly for people using touch controls. Activating Chun-Li's Lightning Kick, for example, takes far fewer mashes of the kick button to activate, and Ultras and Supers can be activated simply by touching the meters. In addition, the game has reduced the number of buttons for punching and kicking to just one each, which sounds like it would wreck the game's balance, but it somehow works. Despite all of these changes though, Champion Edition still feels like something better experienced with a controller of some sort.
When playing Champion Edition in its single-player modes (which include Arcade, Survival, Training, and Challenge Modes), it's a great experience. The controls feel snappy to the point that you really feel as capable and in control of your characters as you might when playing on a real arcade cabinet. Unfortunately though, this all falls apart in the game's woefully miserable multiplayer system.
Regardless of whether you are playing Champion Edition's Ranked or Free multiplayer matches, there's a lot to be desired when it comes to matchmaking and in-game performance. In testing, queue times usually matched rather quickly, but on certain occasions could extend from a couple minutes to almost a whole hour. Once in an online game, things only get worse. There are frequent issues with disconnects, and--even in stable games--there is noticeable input lag on characters and hitching in animations. All of these things make it extremely difficult to play Champion Edition with any amount of actual proficiency. Over the course of this review process, I tested Champion Edition's multiplayer on several different kinds of connections, and on all of them these issues persisted.
The bottom line
Street Fighter IV Champion Edition is a hugely disappointing game. It does almost all of the right things when it comes to making a great mobile fighting game, but really messes up the most important thing: the multiplayer. Playing Champion Edition online is such a compromised experience, it feels like a different game, and not one you'd ever want to play.