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First Impressions of a Street Fighter IV Newbie

So many different reviews of Street Fighter described how accessible it was, how good it was for players both new and old alike, how friendly it was to people who had either lapsed from Street Fighter or perhaps never even played it in the first place.

In a word: lies.

It was partially based on these statements that I decided to buy the game. Being almost completely new to the series, I lack even the most basic of basic knowledge when it comes to how to succeed in the game. I've written previously how I tried to get into Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and had my ass handed to me because it is most certainly not geared toward new players, which is fair enough. It wasn't meant to draw in new blood.

According to many different sources, Street Fighter IV was. This excited me. As someone who had always wanted to like the series but never could quite get the grasp of it, the prospect of a somewhat more beginner friendly Street Fighter was highly compelling.

Such statements have greatly exaggerated the size of the welcome mat Street Fighter IV lays out to new players. For someone skilled at games, and even at fighting games, I still had a lot of trouble with my first session of SFIV. Even the easiest of easiest difficulties was somewhat frustrating. It was something I could get through, to be sure, but something that I nevertheless thought was too hard for being the easiest of the easy.

The training mode is certainly a better introduction than any other Street Fighter game has had (to my limited knowledge anyway) and I appreciate its inclusion. But it is highly imperfect in many ways. Among them, it fails to demonstrate any of the techniques it tells you to perform (making complicated learning more difficult than it should be) and, more importantly it doesn't teach you technique. Having an easy way to learn combos and moves is great, but not especially useful if it doesn't give me any idea how to use them. Something more along the lines of what has been offered in recent Virtua Fighters would have been wonderful (not that even a good training mode could get me to invest the time necessary to master Virtua Fighter, but that's another story).

Admittedly, since I'm totally and completely stuck on cancels, maybe it gets there in the later lessons, but that would require me to be able to pass the cancel lessons. I'm not sure what is to blame for my complete failure at canceling, the training mode's lack of instruction or my own lack of ability, but the end result is just as annoying either way.

I don't doubt that I'm being a little hard on the game, as I am well aware that how much I suck at it is clouding my judgment, but that's pretty much my point here. Getting into it is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be based on what I had heard. Honestly, I'm beginning to feel like some sort of inept freak for even speaking out against this game, as everything I've heard about it from all corners of the gaming world has been positively glowing. Maybe an inept freak is exactly what I am, but I still feel it's important to voice my dissenting opinion, however small, if only in the hope that some day, fighting games in general, not just Street Fighter by a long shot, will take beginners more seriously and make more of an effort to teach them the fundamentals. I think that's a major part of why fighting games have become less prominent in today's gaming landscape than they used to be. If you're not already indoctrinated it's becoming harder and harder to find a game that will take you in and show you the ropes without prejudice.

All of that said, if it weren't for those many, apparently inaccurate, statements claiming the game was good for newbies, I probably wouldn't have purchased the game, so however misguided those statements are, coming from people who have undoubtedly loved the series for many years and already know how to play, I'm still glad they convinced me to buy the game.

However frustrating it may be at times, however many ways I think it falls shorter than it could for introducing new players, it is still, at its core, a fun game. I enjoy playing it and learning, however slowly, like no Street Fighter game I've ever picked up. I accept the fact that I am worthless at the game and am more than willing to keep at it and try and improve my skills to the point where someday, in the distant magical future, I'll be good enough at the game that none of this beginner crap will matter to me anymore.

Until that day comes, I'll be trying and failing to figure out what I'm doing wrong with cancels and crying a little inside every time I lose on the easiest difficulty setting.

Oh Street Fighter, how you torment me.

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