Executed by pressing the medium punch, medium kick and light punch button at the same time, Red Focus functions and serves a similar purpose as the standard Focus attack. However, instead of nullifying a single hit, it's capable of absorbing multiple at the cost of two EX energy bars. But there are certain subtleties to the mechanic that must be mastered for it to be used effectively.
Although Red Focus can eat the game's most devastating attacks and
lengthy combos, it can only do so up until its attack frames begin. This
means that a player will need to have familiarity with their
character's Focus attack animations and time a Red Focus properly to get
the most out of it. Having a good grasp of the enemy's moveset will
help whoever is on the other end in exploiting its vulnerabilities.
From an offensive standpoint, Red Focus is particularly useful if it
is hit immediately after landing another move, since it results in an
instant crumple, rather than a stagger like a normal Focus. Again, the
benefits of this are balanced out by damage scaling, so using it in
large combo strings results in diminishing returns on damage. It's great
for resetting opponents to put them in a position to mixup, or for
getting that little bit of extra damage needed for the kill.
Where previously players were forced to pick between two Ultra Combos
to take into battle, the new Ultra Combo Double option lets them have
both. Since each character's Ultra usually has a particular situation or
setup it's suited for, having both makes everyone just a little more
However, the trade-off is that the Ultras will do a lot less damage
if both are brought into the fight. At high levels, the decision on
whether to take one or both will be strategically assessed on the
different threats the opposing character presents. Sometimes power may
be a better option over flexibility.
The final new mechanical addition is simple, but arguably has the
most significant implications. As its name suggests, Delayed Wakeup lets
a player extend how long their character stays on the ground after hard
knock-downs. In effect, this new wakeup option could completely disrupt
rhythm and derail strategies.
For characters such as Gouki, who uses well-timed moves that hit high
and low, as well as crossover attacks, to create an almost unstoppable
vortex, the Delayed Wakeup throws such play styles into disarray. Others
will need to rethink how they pressure enemies, and reassess how they
get into their opponent's head. To an extent, every player will need to
re-learn and adjust their play style to accommodated Delayed Wakeup
Together, these three new mechanics rewrite the rules that players
have spent years abiding by. The knock-on effect they have on various
other aspects of the meta-game is huge, especially the viability of
different members of roster at high levels, as well as the overall tier
rankings of each fighter and their combo potential. It's enough to force
the savants to earn their titles as the best players in the world all
In addition to the new mechanics, numerous characters in Super Street
Fighter IV Arcade Edition v2012's roster have been tweaked in a bid to
establish a better balance and fairer competitive experience. The
esoteric details of these are far too technical to explore in a review -
frame data isn't awesome reading material fun - but their collective
impact will require players to spend significant time in training mode
figuring out what it means for their characters.
The success of these amendments overall can't be quantified yet.
It'll takes months of experimentation and high-level play from the
entire community before the ramifications can truly be understood.
Regardless of whether the final conclusion is negative or positive, that
journey makes Street Fighter 4 exciting again.
Ultra Street Fighter IV's other marquee new additions are the five
new characters; Hugo, Poison, Rolento, Elena and Decapre. Each is a new
chess piece on the board with unique strengths and weaknesses of their
own, and the potential to become trouble for other members of the cast.
Like everything else in the game, they need to be explored, studied and
experimented with, but on a basic level each is fun to play with.
Hugo is a mountain of a man, towering to the very top of the screen.
Like his previous incarnations, the wrestler is a slow, plodding
character that makes up for his lack of speed with devastating power.
He's most deadly when he's up close in grabbing range, but the quicker
characters can get away from him and take potshots, but slip and he will
piledrive bones into dust.
Rolento is a tricky character that has good manoeuvrability, capable
of moving large distance to quickly jump on other characters when guards
are down. With the aid of his stick, he's able to break focus attacks,
establish a good poke game, and do damage with his Patriot Circles,
which can be chained three times much like Fei Long's Rekkaken.
Capoeira fighter Elena's strengths lie in her strong kick-based
moves, her exceptionally high jump and her very fast walk speed, which
allows her move around the screen quicker than most other characters.
Her relatively quick recovery from back dashes also add to her strong
mobility, while her awkward kick animations can fluster anyone not
familiar with the wildly flailing legs of a capoeira practitioner.
Poison is the most well-rounded of the new faces, with a strong
mid-range game and good damage and mix-up potential up-close and a
decent range of pokes and projectiles at long range to control space.
Like Rolento, she also has a three hit Rekkaken-like move using her
whip, the final part of which can be EX cancelled. (Pro tip: use the
ongoing mystery about her real gender to your advantage by telling your
opponent "she's a dude" to get the psychological high ground.)
The final new combatant, Decapre, is a character from the expanded
Street Fighter universe that makes her playable debut in Ultra. Fans
will no doubt be displeased with her, given the fact she was heavily
hyped as a brand new character and is essentially a re-skinned Cammy.
Although her move-set is also derivative of other characters such as
Cammy, Oni and Vega, she's got more than divekick pressure and an
English accent to offer.
Firstly, she's Russian, but only during every other voice sample it
seems. But Decapre has a completely new and exciting style of play
thanks to a varied tool-set. Underpinning her offence is a mixture of
lateral and diagonal teleport dashes, which can be modified with sliding
attacks and dive-kicks of different strengths, speeds and arcs. Her
psycho-power imbued blades give her normal attacks good coverage and
strength, and can also be used to launch characters into the air. She's
also the only character that can combo into air throw; all-round an
excellent addition, despite her uninspired visual design.
The cynical will no doubt point out that, with the exception of
Decapre, the new characters are all plucked straight out of Street
Fighter X Tekken for Ultra, as are the four new stages (Pitstop 109, Mad
Gear Hideout, Cosmic Elevator, Blast Furnace, Half Pipe, and Jurassic
Era Research Facility). However, the characters slot well into the
complete roster and are satisfying to play. Understandably, they all
feel a little more technically complex - owing in large part due to the
more combo-heavy style of Street Fighter X Tekken - so playing them well
will require a degree of finger-ballet, but this just makes them more
rewarding to master.
The new stages, meanwhile, are bursting with personality and colour,
though their more fantastical, over-the-top settings and design can feel
at odds with the rest of the game. Duking it out in a cosmic space
elevator isn't technically street fighting.
Completing the Ultra Street Fighter IV package is a number of new
modes and options. Team Battle lets players join forces and engage in
3v3 elimination contests, with the health bar carrying over one match to
the next. Training mode has been fitted with online support, fight
request, and other smaller improvements such as save states to make
training for certain situations easier. Players will now also be able to
upload replays of their fights to YouTube directly from the game.
Finally, Edition Select is an interesting new option that gives
players access to every version of each character that has appeared in
the Street Fighter IV series thus far, letting players pick the version
they most felt comfortable playing, and settling
it's-because-they-nerfed-my-character arguments. Although it's unlikely
to become popular in the competitive circle, Edition Select makes
playing casually even more fun by throwing balance out of the window
completely. Finally, we'll be able to find out which version of Sagat is
most overpowered (sorry. Not sorry).
Unfortunately, Capcom did pull a few punches for the update. The new
characters - including those introduced in Arcade Edition - still don't
have cinematics for their rival battles, and at the time of writing the
promised Trials for all the new characters have not been implemented and
won't be included when the digital upgrade is released. According to
Capcom they will be added at a later date.
For casual players or newcomers, Ultra Street Fighter IV is the same
thrilling, deep, and accessible fighting game it always has been. And
with the retail release featuring all previously released costume DLC
content, it's a game that every Xbox 360, PS3 or PC owner should have in