Street Fighter IV for iPhone is hands-down the best fighting game available on iOS. You could even make a solid case for it being one of the best iOS games, period. Despite my initial thoughts that it would suck, it won me over in a big way. Up until the release of Volt, Street Fighter IV on the iPhone has been a near-daily ritual of mine.
While Capcom made a number of huge updates to the original, they’ve decided to release a new app this time around. I would have much preferred paying for this as an add-on to the original, but I can’t complain too much when I was able to get it on sale for $0.99. Regardless of what you paid for it (and/or if you have the original), is Street Fighter IV: Volt worth a purchase?
At its core, Street Fighter IV: Volt is the same game as Street Fighter IV on the iPhone. All of my impressions of the original game still stand. What you do get with Volt, however, are four new playable characters, three new modes (including online play) and the removal of the Dojo. I thought the Dojo was a great tutorial mode that other fighting games (including the console versions of Street Fighter) should take inspiration from, but I have a feeling I’m the only one who will miss it here.
Let’s start with the new characters. Volt adds four new characters to the roster, which boosts the total character count to 18. The new characters you’ll get here are Balrog, Cody, Vega and Akuma as a secret boss. I have played an Akuma player online, so I know he’s unlockable, but as of writing, I do not know how to unlock him. I know that everyone will have their own opinions on who they should have added from the Street Fighter IV roster, but I think those are solid picks. I haven’t played as Akuma yet, but Balrog, Cody and Vega translate well into the iPhone control scheme.
Challenge Mode is similar to the similarly named mode in the console game, where you’ll be asked to execute a specific combo that’s presented on the screen. Survival Mode is also the same as its console counterpart.
However, the biggest addition to Volt is online play, which I’m guessing was the most requested feature that players wanted out of the original. You’ll need a Wi-Fi connection to play, which means playing online on the bus with your 3G isn’t an option. That kind of sucks, but for a game that requires a lot of fast data transfer, 3G probably wouldn’t cut it. The online structure is a stripped-down version of the console game, with only Ranked Match and Friendly Match modes available to you. Right now, there are a lot of people online, so getting in a game isn’t a problem.
What is kind of a problem is the online performance. Like the Nintendo 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV, you’ll rarely play a match where latency isn’t a factor. At it’s best, it’s still playable, though you’ll notice some lag and dropped inputs. However, it can get really bad to the point where the game freezes for seconds at a time before the action continues. I’ve played a number of online matches so far and latency has been a mixed bag. I’m hoping Capcom can find a way to stabilize the net code, but I bet it’s not an easy fix.
I don’t know how you feel about rage-quitters, but most of my matches have ended with my opponents rage-quitting on me. This is more of a knock to the player-base than anything. However, I’m pretty sure rage-quitters aren’t penalized. I accidentally quit out of a game by inadvertently hitting the iPhone on/off button during an FADC ultra combo, but the game did not track that as a loss. There may be some back-end technology to penalize such players, but to my understanding, there’s nothing in place to stop people from rage-quitting. Maybe I should suck more so that I can finish some matches.
Street Fighter IV: Volt makes the original iPhone game obsolete. If you haven’t bought the original, just purchase Volt instead. However, if you already own the original, then your choice to upgrade is going to depend on how much you’re willing to pay for the new characters and online play. If you’re not willing to pay the full price of $6.99 when the sale ends, then either pick it up now or wait for it to go on sale again.