Street Fighter IV was an excellent mix of gorgeous visuals, accessible controls and old school gameplay. Newcomers could instantly grasp the controls and dish out special moves, while hardcore enthusiasts dug a bit deeper to bring out the best in each character. The follow-up, Super Street Fighter IV, is more than a simple upgrade. In addition to sporting ten new characters, it includes a handful of cool modes that expand the already engaging online experience, with a future downloadable update that'll make this $39.99 package even more desirable.

Part of what makes the game irresistible is the 35-person roster, with each brawler receiving new Ultra Combos. All of Street Fighter IV's characters (Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, C. Viper, Dhalsim, to name a few) return, along with old favorites T. Hawk and Dee Jay, Final Fight alums Cody and Guy, Adon from Street Fighter and Street Fighter III brawlers Makoto, Dudley and Ibuki. Finally, Capcom also inserted two new characters. Juri, a nimble martial arts master, crushes opponents with a dazzling array of nimble maneuvers, while Hakan (a Turkish wrestler) covers his body in oil and slides across the playfield. No matter who you choose, each character brings something unique and fun to the Street Fighter universe.

Offline, Arcade mode plays similar to its predecessor with one notable exception: Bonus Stages. Capcom elected to bring back these enjoyable mini-games, missing from SFIV, allowing you to score additional points by completing one of two tasks. The first, Car Crusher, a Street Fighter II staple, challenges you to destroy an automobile within the allotted time limit. The second, Barrel Buster, is a bit tougher. Here, you must destroy falling barrels, also before time runs out.

On top of that, we were also pleased to see improved menus sporting much larger text than in Street Fighter IV (us old guys don't like to squint), as well as some new backgrounds.

Much of your time, though, should be spent online, where Capcom made the most improvements. One of Super Street Fighter IV's newest features, Team Battle, splits up to eight world warriors into a four-on-four match-up, but the game also supports two-on-two and three-on-three. The first two players fight, with the winner moving on to face the next challenger. Meanwhile, everyone else can communicate in the lobby, commenting on the match or talking trash.

Next up, we have the Replay Channel, by far the game's coolest addition. Instead of scouring the Internet for the best Street Fighter matches, Capcom lets you do this through Super Street Fighter IV. Everyone can upload matches to the service and save them on the fly to their personal My Channel; they can also invite friends to view these matches. On top of that, the game breaks them down into the following categories: Boss (fights between boss characters), Newcomers (matches between new characters), Alpha (warriors from the Alpha series), Originals (from Street Fighter II), Turbo & III (brawlers from Turbo and Street Fighter III) and Random. You can even analyze button inputs and damage per move, if you want tips or need to see how a player pulled something off; slow motion is also available.

Super Street Fighter IV's most promising feature is Tournament mode, available as a free downloadable update June 15th. For the first time in the series, players will be able to host four or eight person competitions, either as a participant or the host. That'll allow various companies, including Capcom, the opportunity to hold tournaments throughout the world. The company even created an online championship title that will go to one individual, who must then defend it when asked.

About the only thing wrong with the game are the stories for each character. Like most fighters, the individual narratives don't make much sense. That would be OK had Capcom given us something pretty to look at, but in this case, there are a bunch of still frames and very little animation.

That issue aside, Super Street Fighter IV is a necessary upgrade. Instead of cheating gamers out of their dough, Capcom pumped the game full of attractive features for a budget price. That makes this exciting brawler a must buy for both longtime fans and newcomers looking to make a name for themselves online. And with Tournament mode on the way, SSFIV will be impossible to resist.

Final Score: 10 (out of 10)

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