Street Fighter IV: Volt brings online multiplayer to an already great game

When Street Fighter IV hit the iPhone last March, it seemingly did the impossible. The game took all of the fun, polish, and complicated controls of the popular home console and transferred them flawlessly to a touch screen device. Well – almost flawlessly. For all of the fun Street Fighter IV offered, one important element was missing: online multiplayer. Now Capcom is looking to remedy this oversight with the release of Street Fighter IV: Volt.

Like Street Fighter IV before it, as well as countless other games in the Street Fighter series, Volt is a 2D fighting game of the highest calibre. Players will choose a fighter to bring to battle, and through the execution of special moves and/or a great deal of button mashing, they’ll punch, kick, and hadouken their way to victory.

Volt is less a spin-off or sequel to last year’s popular iPhone fighter as much as it is a special edition or remix. The core elements are all the same here, but Capcom has added a few new bells and whistles to the package to fatten things up. While the previous version featured only 14 characters for example, Volt features 17 thanks to the addition of fan favourites Cody, Balrog and Vega (actually, the number climbs to 18 if you count the unlockable character Akuma).

In addition to the new characters, the game also features a new mode called “Wandering Warrior.” The title sounds great, but the gameplay is somewhat confusing. Rather than being a new mode that involves fighting, it’s something of an avatar-based experience that ties into your performance in multiplayer. Different avatars have different stats, which can be improved by spending points earned in online combat. Regardless of how much time I fiddled with it, I never quite figured out what its purpose was. Needless to say, the Volt experience can be enjoyed without ever setting foot into this strange new mode.

Other new modes feel far more fitting with the Street Fighter experience. Players can now tackle a Survival mode that pits them against an endless series of opponents until their health runs out, as well as a challenge mode to help players get a better grasp on the different combos available. This seems to have replaced Street Fighter IV‘s Dojo mode.

 Volt

 Volt

As we’d said earlier though, the real meat and potatoes of Volt is its online multiplayer. Online competition is the one thing that’s made Street Fighter IV on home consoles such an infinitely replayable experience, and we’re delighted to see the same polished online fighting come to the iPhone -albeit via WiFi only.

Online matches can be started one of two ways: either by selecting the Online Versus mode to jump straight into the action, or by starting a single player game with “Fight Request” turned on. This will allow an online challenger to interrupt your game and throw down the gauntlet, much like a competitor might have back in the arcade days of yore.

For the most part the online experience went off without a hitch. Things ran smoothly and quickly, and there were plenty of extra nice touches to keep players incentivized, from win/loss records to a challenge bingo card that awards players based on different feats performed in-game. Every once in a while, though, things slowed to a crawl. It didn’t happen often mind you, but on more than one occasion we found ourselves shutting down any apps running in the background and rebooting Volt in the hopes of fixing a strange slowdown in the online play. In these instances, things would drop as low as less than one frame per second. It was like watching a slideshow. Again though, I can’t stress enough that these moments were the exception rather than the rule.

Street Fighter IV was an incredible experience on the iPhone last year, so it only stands to reason that this remix is equally as impressive. But if you own Street Fighter IV, do you need to upgrade to Volt? In the end, it all comes down to multiplayer. If you’re not the type of gamer who likes to get their butt handed to them time and time again by an endless parade of strangers, Street Fighter IV: Volt is probably not for you. But if you’re already a fan of the Street Fighter series, chances are you’re always up for the challenge of a real fighter. If that’s the case, you should consider Volt essential gaming for the multiplayer fighting fan.