Years ago, Street Fighter 4 brought new life to the fighting game scene. It revitalized the genre and even today, Street Fighter 4 is the most popular fighting game on the planet. The add-on of Ultra doesn’t change the methodical formula too drastically, and instead it adds small factors in the guessing, spacing and mind game that is Street Fighter.
Every single character was changed to either strengthen a low tier character character, or weaken a top tier God. A better balanced occurred as a result of the changes, and more characters are viable in combat. Ultra feels like a power shift, and even though every single character can’t be 100% equal, it is probably as close as it can get. An example of a lowly character getting stronger can be found within characters like Dudley, Chun-Li, Rose and Evil Ryu. They weren’t terrible before, but it was very difficult to use Chun and Dudley in some match-ups. My main Dudley got a lot of buffs to the range on his jab and sweep attacks. This minor change has made Dud a more threatening character, and he feels complete. Strong characters like Akuma and Cammy got a tad weaker but instead of getting nerfed out the ass, they lessened the “cheapness” of the characters by weakening the vortex game. Unfortunately, not every character was balanced nicely. Dee Jay specifically got the worst changes, and is now probably the worst character in the game.
Two new mechanics were added to the chess game. Red focus and delayed wake-up changed the game for the better. Red focus can absorb multiple attacks, but it is still risky to use as a defensive option because of armor breaking moves, it costs two bars of meter and it is hard to predict the right time to use it. Red focus can also be used offensively with Ex red focus, which is similar to the regular Ex focus attack. You can cancel an attack into Ex red focus, but at the cost of three bars of meter to continue a combo. The difference between the two is that ex red focus does more damage and causes a crumple without charging the focus attack. So now characters like Yun, Dudley and Zangief can combo into ex red focus, and follow up with an ultra attack or just continue the combo.
Delayed wake-up on the other hand is for pure defense against vortex characters. After a hard knockdown you can press buttons to stay on the ground for a split second longer, messing up the rhythm of the opponent to avoid a vortex. It doesn’t kill the vortex game completely, since the other player can guess if the foe will delay wake-up or not, adding to the guessing game, so characters like Cammy, Akuma and Ibuki can still play their vortex game, but it won’t be as easy as before.
Edition select is a fun mode for long time Street Fighter 4 fans who know how overpowered some characters used to be. The reset of the online ranking points are very welcome as well, as it kills inactive player’s rank, and it makes it more fair and easy to rise up in the ranks. A feature that doesn’t get enough credit for its usefulness is Ultra Street Fighter 4’s Youtube implementation. The added Youtube support isn’t a change to the basics of the game itself, but enhances the game’s appeal. You can upload any fight in your replay log to your Youtube channel with a click of a button. So if you hit a cool combo, beat a friend in dramatic fashion or comeback from utter defeat, you can go to the replay channel and upload it for the world to see. A change I would’ve liked to see would be a change to the opening movie and start-up screen since it still refers to Ultra Street Fighter 4, to Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition.
The five new characters are a welcome edition, however these new characters come with a ton of bugs. Elena has the worst hurt-box in the in the game, making it super hard to hit her when she is crouching. Hugo is initially invincible to focus attacks at the start of his dizzy animation for no explainable reason. Decapre is probably the most viable out of the new characters, but it is still early to tell.
Despite the bugs with the newer characters, everything feels balanced. As a Dudley player who has benefited from the changes in Ultra, this is the perfect version of the game for me. You can ask many character loyalists if the game made their character more balanced, and most of them will say yes (except for Dee Jay players). All-in-all, Ultra Street Fighter 4 feels like a complete package.
Overall: 9.25 out of 10