After owning the 3DS for several weeks, I finally tried out SSFIV3D's online component.
You hear a lot about how the Japanese are obsessive about schooling. In order to pass their high school and college entrance exams they are often forced to go to cram schools to study in addition to their normal school work. What you probably haven't heard is that this is because the Japanese are mandated by the school system to master Street Fighter to a relatively high degree if they are to commence with higher education. Or at least, that's the only scenario I could come up with to account for the sheer awesomeness of the opponents I faced online in SSFIV 3D Edition this weekend.
While I'm no Daigo, I have always prided myself on being at least adequate at Street Fighter. I've always been a huge fan, and since playing SFA for the first time on PSX I decided to make it mandatory for myself to play any fighting game I bought on the hardest level so that I would get better at it. And for SF that also meant that if there was some last boss that you could only attain through special, elite circumstances (like Akuma), I would make sure to keep playing until I've defeated said boss on the hardest difficulty.
That being the case, I figured when playing SSFIV3DE online for the first time that I'd find a good mix of players across experience levels, and hopefully come up against challenging opponents as well as pushovers. What I found as I played all day Saturday, however, was what seemed to be a crop of relatively advanced players that had perhaps scared off all of the inexperienced. They were all pretty darn good.
Every player I fought had a BP level between 2000 and 6000, and they were all masters of some kind of trap with their player of choice. The worst players would only pull off the fireball - shoryuken trap with the shotokan fighters, and then be sent into a panic when I couldn't be bothered to fall for it all that much. The best players were all masters of effective cross-up traps, and nearly all of them had an affinity for taking the opportunity to juggle me with EX special moves and/or Super Combos/Hyper Combos when I left myself open to be popped up. When I eventually realized that they were making a point to juggle like that, I realized that these people were good.
I was impressed. I got consistently beat over and over. Admittedly I managed to squeeze in a win here and there, and sometimes I would eventually figure out a way past a certain opponent's trap and consistently beat them after that, but on the whole my record is more losses than wins. One thing that I was very happy about was that these people were all very respectable. Even the shotokan players by and large only threw fireballs as a combo attack or tactic, not for a cheap long distance trap. There were exceptions to this rule, however; as one person I played against used Guile and Dee-Jay and was doing just that, furthermore adding to my aggravation by clearly using the touch screen buttons to pull off charge moves without charging. I was also impressed because these people were content with giving me another chance at them when I selected rematch after getting beat by them again and again. Almost no one chose to stop playing against me after seeing I wanted to rematch on the same terms, and I appreciated their willingness to allow me to try and figure them out time and time again. a
In the evening I got online with Danny Bivens from NWR and we played several matches together. Playing against each other was easy; we registered each other's friend codes from the 3DS friend list menu, went into internet play and then friend play on SSFIV3DE, and I then set up a lobby for him to join me in. We were playing from the same prefecture - Saitama-ken - and thus were in relatively close proximity to each other, and as such the network play was silky-smooth with not a bit of lag. We both rotated through several characters and battled it out before calling it a night.
Speaking of lag, while playing against random strangers by and large the lag was not a problem. However, I did have two matches or so that were pretty laggy, and two matches during which the connection errored out, leading to one of the characters perpetually moving back, regardless of the player's input (once it was my opponent and once it was me). This was fixed after the round was over, however.
Although I got my butt handed to me pretty much all day, I had a ton of fun playing SSFIV3DE online. It made me remember how much fun it is to actually play against a human - someone who's strategy changes and adapts to you. It was refreshing and engrossing after playing the computer perpetually for the last couple of weeks. It was satisfying seeing that I could outsmart them now and again by changing up my strategy and throwing them, or hitting them overhead when they got up from a knockdown as opposed to trying to scare them with a jab shoryuken. While I don't expect to fare too much better without a lot of practice, I look forward to continue playing against these advanced players and trying to improve my skill.
Online friend vs. play was against Danny Bivens.
Full disclosure: Matt Walker's opinions are his own and do not represent the views of his employer, Capcom Co., Ltd.