Street Fighter IV Arrives on the iPhone

Square-Enix recently brought its popular Final Fantasy series to the iPhone (s aapl), and now another heavy-hitter, Capcom, is bringing yet another marquee title to the platform. That title is Street Fighter — and Street Fighter IV, a port of the latest installment in the series, is now available for purchase in the App Store for $9.99.

But wait, that’s a fighting game. On the iPhone. Which has no physical controls. Sure, there’s been a few to date, with mixed results, but there must be a reason the genre hasn’t caught on with developers with the ferocity of, say, accelerometer-based driving games, no?
That’s definitely what I thought, but I purchased and downloaded the game anyway, against my better instincts, because I love the series, notably Street Fighter IV for the PS3. And because when I was considering a purchase, it had only received five-star reviews, which is rare even in the early going for any iPhone game.
Luckily, I was not disappointed. Street Fighter IV does indeed make the very best of an admittedly bad situation with its iPhone port. As you might expect, it uses a virtual joystick and virtual kick/punch buttons superimposed on the gaming screen. As you might not expect, this approach feels neither clumsy nor half-hearted in this particular Capcom game, something which could not be said for earlier releases from the same company (Mega Man II, anyone?).
Special moves are easy to execute, or at least as easy as they are to do using a traditional controller, probably more so. I’m usually pretty inept at even getting off a decent Shoryuken, but I manage it no problem most of the time on the iPhone. The graphics are amazing, and the game runs perfectly smoothly on my iPhone 3GS, with no lag or visual oddities. The intro movie is particularly mesmerizing if you’re keen on CG’d graphic treats.
For $9.99, you get a variety of modes of play, including Bluetooth multiplayer with nearby opponents. Eight characters are playable in the iPhone version, but that’s plenty considering the platform and the more casual feel of the game. Kudos to Capcom for focusing on delivering awesome gameplay over unnecessary extras like a massive roster of fighters and levels.
If I were Sony (s sne) or Nintendo, I’d be watching these releases mighty closely. Major studios are definitely going to be keeping an eagle eye on sales of ports like this one, especially as the investment/risk ratio of App Store development continues to become more and more appealing. Sony in particular had better make good soon on those smartphone/gaming platform plans if it wants to remain relevant enough for anyone to care when and if it does.
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req’d):
Is There Any Demand For a True Gaming Phone?