Capcom delivers. The single-player additions are heaven-sent for the newbies and the hardcore alike. The difficulty for the single-player mode has been drastically scaled to properly match the descriptions. The difficulty in the remixed game is set so that Easy is easy, Normal is normal and Hard is…well you get the picture. If you truly want to experience hell, then you can try playing the classic arcade mode where level one seems completely unfair. Psychic Dragon Punches await you alongside throws out of nowhere and the CPU’s godly reaction time to poke you with low-priority moves. Another great addition is a revamped training mode which allows you to see the hitboxes of your character and opponents. While this may not interest the casual player, finally hardcore players can analyze their moves in depth. Maybe now some people will actually understand the idea of footsies. Another great feature is the ability to turn certain dipswitches on and off. Dipswitches are in-game glitch and bug-fixes.
Let’s talk about dipswitches for a moment. As an example, the ability to store E.Honda’s Oicho throw is a dipswitch. This is a potential game breaking glitch because it allows E.Honda a unique advantage which most of the cast does not have. The throw is performed by inputting forward, down-forward, down, down-back + any punch. What the glitch allows you to do is to perform of the input motion of forward to down-back and store that input so that you can decide when to input the punch and get the throw. This allows E.Honda to get a serious 50-50 mind-game in the corner where he can knockdown an opponent and do a close crouching jab followed by the Oicho throw after hit stun or block stun. In the event that the throw does not come out, E.Honda will end in a blocking animation, which is typically safe.
If the dipswitch is turned off, then the ability to store the Oicho throw is gone. Simple. In the event that any of the default dipswitches are tampered with, a graphical crown will appear in the game above the timer. It is a grey crown icon with a blue dot, so no one has to worry about dipswitch settings in a tournament situation.
Another subtle but wonderful change to STHD is a newer more intuitive button configuration. All you have to do is hit what button you want for which command and it will set. This is definitely nicer for people who don’t use gamepads because not everyone will know what button is which on their custom gamepad / joystick / powerglove / whatever. After setting a button STHD will automatically move to assign the next button! It’s very friendly to lazy gamers. Last, I have to mention that the option for game speed is a little bit different than what we are used to. The game defaults itself at a speed of 3. This was the original speed in the Japanese arcades which in America we referred to as Turbo. Don’t confuse yourself and mess with these settings. Game speed 3 is the default option for tournaments and competitive play so don’t touch this and everything will be fine.
All the single-player improvements are great. The new multiplayer additions are even better. While the option of having a local multiplayer session is there the new online multiplayer is the bigger draw. Players can play a “Scoreboard Match” which tracks their records on a scoreboard or they play a “Friendly Match” which does not track your record. Everything has really been thought out here especially when compared to the Street Fighter Hyper Fighting on Xbox Live. Lobbies connect more frequently, with fewer disconnects and less overall lag. This is largely due to Capcom’s work with GGPO, a community based client which allowed players to play each other online. GGPO provided the groundwork for a really good networking system. I am not really technically proficient enough to understand the finer points but it translates into a good lagless environment. In the event of lag, which is inevitable, you can set an option for input delay. What this does is basically cover up lag. I chose not to mess with it and my lag in games is fine.
Online matches are double-blind, which is wonderful. This means that you cannot see who your opponent is picking and they cannot see who you have. This prevents griefers from picking their character after they see who you have picked in order to counter-pick you and force you into a terrible matchup. There is also timer (which is expected). I have never had a problem online with picking my character.
Online lobbies are easy to navigate, create and join. Players can create private or public lobbies, or public lobbies with reserve slots for friends. The invite system works really well and is very straightforward. There is also an option to run an eight-man tournament, which is a welcome addition.
Overall, STHD is a wonderful game. The enhancements add to a greater experience that is welcoming enough for a beginner and yet still worthwhile for a hardcore player to learn. I have but a few gripes. When playing the two versions PS3 vs. 360 (yes I am a nerd and I bought both) I would say that the online experience is a bit smoother for the 360. I experienced fewer disconnects and lag issues on the 360 version. Maybe this is due to the fact that the 360 had a large beta which tested for bugs like this. The PS3 version definitely has some bugs which are a little annoying at times. One such bug occurs during a match where the lifebars are not in sync with the match at all. I lost a match I thought I was winning because my lifebar was showing 80% while my opponent had 10%. When I saw this I decided to take the initiative and press my offense. I did a risky throw setup which backfired. I was punished with a trip and then to my surprise the match ended. Another glitch occurs when a person in the lobby disconnects causing another person to disconnect as well. While both of these happened very rarely it was still a minor inconvenience. I am confident that Capcom will come out with a patch. I wouldn’t let these minor gripes detract from getting the game. If you have both systems, for now the 360 version looks like the better bet.
At $15 for the PS3 version or 1200 MS points for the 360, STHD is a great game to pickup for the holidays. If you even remotely claim to be a 2D fighter fan, you simply have got to get this game.
PS: If anyone is up for a game you can find me online playing a lot. Just join the Icrontic community and look me up in the gamertag directory. I’m rolleggroll on the forums.