April 21, 2010

Apps Weekly: Street Fighter IV + Splinter Cell: Conviction

Hot on the heels of the announcement of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I decided that my app of the week should pretty much fit with the moment, and it's a good thing I saved this one for weeks on end.

Street Fighter IV
Requires iPhone 3.0, compatible with iPad

I love Street Fighter IV and when I first heard of the iPhone version I was skeptical, to say the least. How does one pull off such graphics in a tiny device? Heck, how does one pull off the controls in a buttonless device?

Sure enough, Capcom rose up to the challenged and delivered what is, for the most part, gaming goodness.

While it doesn't have that annoyingly catchy J-pop theme song (oh great, it's stuck in my head again), it does have a lot of things that make the game just feel like its console counterparts.

The interface is kind of similar, and just the sounds alone are unmistakably borrowed from the original tracks. Obviously, it has the single player modes, but it also has local multiplayer (instead of... online) that can connect solely through Bluetooth. I haven't tried the versus yet, but it sounds pretty good so far.

There are 4 single-player modes to choose from: Tournament, Free Sparring, Training Room, and the special mode that is "Dojo".

What the "Dojo" basically is, is a tutorial for those who wish to master the art of fighting with a touch screen- basically this is how you get used to the new controls.

Dan is your teacher in this one, but other than that, I won't really delve deep into this mode.

The more important gameplay mode is pretty much "Tournament". Yes, it doesn't have the complete character roster (but Capcom will be adding more in the future with updates, starting with Cammy), nor does it have the anime cutscenes that start and end the tournament, but it's still pretty much Street Fighter IV, and that's because of the way Capcom handled the graphics.

After the familiar loading screen, we finally get to our battle.

Basically, the game is consistent of pre-rendered character models that were ripped from the console versions, meaning that the character models aren't actually rendered in real time.

But who cares about pre-rendered when the animation and the graphics just look damn good for the iPhone? I mean, the PSP and the DS could've been candidates for this game, but Capcom chose the iPhone, and my is it stunning to look at.

Most of the mechanics are there: health bar, power bar, revenge meter, timer, and of course, the somewhat complex button combinations.

These "button combinations" let the player execute more powerful moves aside from the usual punching, kicking and throwing, and all of them can be memorized with the handy Command List that you will always have at your disposal when you pause the game.

But what are button combinations, when there aren't any buttons? Luckily, Capcom did a bit of playtesting and did quite an excellent job with the touch controls, because they do the job and they are responsive.

It's not perfect, but hey, if I can pull off a Shinku-Hadouken or a Spinning Bird Kick, I'm perfectly content with that.

Oh, and did I mention that the buttons can be placed wherever the user wants?

Now, some of the more nerdy Street Fighter experts won't really like how a few of the moves have been simplified (as in, you can execute a move by moving, then touching the power bar), but it's not like it's the end of the world or anything. What really matters is that a lot of the Street Fighter staples are present: the cheesy lines...

... the Continue screen...

... and of course, the satisfaction of hearing the announcer scream "K.O." as you defeat an opponent.

Now if there was something wrong with the game, it would have to be... the lack of "Indestructible" as the theme song... and oh yes, the bells and whistles (ie, the online mode, alternative character models, anime cutscenes) but hey, you could only pack so much into a 200-some MB download... for the iPhone, should I repeat.

Overall, the game does not feel like a bastardized Street Fighter game, and the effort of putting all that could've been put in the game really, really shows. The controls are not perfect, but they are usable, and the graphics and performance shine... on a 3rd generation iPod touch, at least.

In the purest sense, this game truly is a portable Street Fighter IV. Kudos to Capcom for such an awesome port (and what a relief from the usual half-assery that the company puts on the App Store).

Rating: 8.5/10

Not resting on its laurels, Gameloft isn't one to stop and look at the flowers, because the company's constantly hard at work pumping out iPhone game after iPhone game.

This time, however, we're talking about Splinter Cell: Conviction.

The graphics look cool, and the battles promise to be intense. It's likely that the game will also feature much of the presentational flourishes its console counterpart has, and I really can't wait to see how the helicopter battles will play out.

Just looking at the screenshots makes a few facts look apparent: 1) the game will probably have the "mark and execute" mechanic the console version has, and 2) it will have the same "objectives on the wall" presentational gimmick that made the game distinctive in the first place. My gut tells me that the stealth aspect, which I love, is a bit lost in the shuffle, but we'll see when the game launches on the App Store.

Now excuse me while I wait for the PC version to come out. The real game looks doubly amazing.

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