Wacky Ultra Street Fighter 4: Omega Mode

Games is fun.

A balanced game is a beautiful thing, but don’t we all have fond memories of some absurd imbalance? That build order, that shotgun, that map glitch. Competitive multiplayer games strive for balance even more than others, but it can sometimes be a bit sanitising. Craggly bits in games are interesting. How jolly pleasant, then, to see Capcom are making a new Ultra Street Fighter 4 mode more interested in fun than balance. Omega Mode will rework all 44 characters with different moves and abilities, making them feel new or, for some, like older versions of themselves.

Here’s what Capcom have to say:

Omega mode is a completely new mode in which every character has been modified and outfitted with new normal and special attacks, resulting in a refreshing take on the characters you’ve come to know and love over the last six years. As the primary goal for this mode was fun, we placed more emphasis on making the characters feel new, than on their balance. This means that strong, fan favorite attacks such as Ken’s Shinppu Jinrai Kyaku and Sagat’s Tiger Raid make their return while other characters such as Zangief gain new abilities, like being able to combo into his command throws.

It’ll only be available in unranked play, though. Capcom plan to release Omega Mode as free DLC later this year. For now, you can watch a Capcom chap named ‘Combofiend’ play around, figuring out a few combos. He really likes combos:

13 Comments

  1. padger says:

    Fantastic screenshot. But I can’t remember the last time I played a fighting game.

    • pepperfez says:

      There’s never been a better time to play one again!
      [This has been a public service announcement from the PC Fightmans Council]

    • Eggman says:

      Good fighting games are fantastic when you are playing side-by-side IRL with someone at your skill level.

      Problem is, Street Fighter 4 is so good at rewarding skilled players. Meaning, even relatively minor differences* in skill level will result in a lop-sided matchup where one player wins 95% of the games, and that’s no fun for anyone.

      *Compared to say, CS, where you can be a mediocre player and still have fun in public multiplayer, work with your team and even get some lucky kills.

    • Arglebargle says:

      After playing Bushido Blade, most of the other fighting games lost their luster. Still played a few, but my tolerance for special moves and flashy graphics faded…..

  2. BooleanBob says:

    I think there’s an interesting idea to be picked up on here as to how much change a game’s fanbase is prepared to tolerate. Pippa’s article just below this one brings up the notion of ‘living games’, where balance is in flux and one landmark patch can play almost like a different game to another.

    But what exactly is subject to change, and what has ossified into canon? Is it just the numbers that can be tweaked – a hitbox here, a damage value there – or are more fundamental concepts up for grabs – can movesets, weapons and character playstyles be altered wholesale without risking a mass outbreak of pitchforks and torches? Imagine if Ryu lost his hadoken, or if Terran tanks could no longer be placed in siege mode, or if Phantom Lancer could no longer go invisib- oh.

    In the case of this game it looks like Capcom have had to come up with a parallel solution in order to bring in changes they wanted to toy with. While I applaud their creativity and commitment to not fracturing the fanbase I have to wonder – without wanting to seem judgemental or genre-prejudiced (but still fully prepared to weaponise passive-aggressive asides) – whether it’s quite a sign of good health that a series with famously so many iterations under its belt has had to hive off its potentially most-impactful-ever changes into their own separate mode.

    TL;DR – Starcraft 2 would have been a better game if it had borrowed Company of Heroes’ arc of fire and directional damage mechanics.

    • Bremze says:

      Omega changes have been limited to a seperate game mode for the same reason that low-grav quad jump instagib mutators aren’t the default game mode in UT and 20 min no rush isn’t the default game mode in SupCom, no wondering needed.

      • Kitsunin says:

        So what you’re saying is, changing a character’s attacks at all beyond balance changes or slight reworks is exactly the same as lolcrazydumb mode?

        I understand it, actually, if they want a character who is different in a fighting game, they should make a new character rather than just deciding “Ryu isn’t Ryu anymore!” but what you said…kinda douchey. Kinda flippant.

        • mike says:

          They have done more moderate changes in the past: Chun Li’s gained and lost fireballs, Ryu and Ken have become more and less different, and so on. But the Omega changes are pretty close to lolcrazydumb mode.

    • Baines says:

      In the past, SNK would make changes to characters between games, sometimes major.

      Fans pretty much grew to expect it, though they tended to be annoyed when a character they liked lost moves that they liked. SNK was a bit inconsistent with it as well, as some characters were given a crutch of multiple versions in a single game. The most obvious being the Kyo clones (storyline clones of Kyo sporting his older abandoned movesets), or the Flame Iori DLC for KOFXIII. EX characters became such a crutch as well. Sometimes EX characters were new takes on an existing character (such as soulless Billy or violent Mary), but it also became a way to bring back absent moves without worrying about storyline excuses for an alternate version of a character being present.

      SNK has become more conservative, though. Probably due to repeated money issues, and how they have pretty much pared down their entire fighting game line to just King of Fighters.

      Capcom has traditionally been more restrained. Moves get tweaked with properties altered, but not to the degree than SNK had practiced in the past. As for Ryu, he has become fairly iconic both as his own character and as the template for shoto-characters. While SNK might remove Iori’s flames for a game, Capcom isn’t going to release a main series Street Fighter where Ryu has lost the ability to perform fireballs, even if they planned to later release Hadouken Ryu as $5 DLC.

      Of course changes do tend to bother people, because if you like a character then you most likely like them in part because of their moveset. Giving a character more abilities and options is one thing, but taking them away is another. If more people cared about Vanessa, then there would have been more complaint when Sega stripped half her moveset between VF4 and VF4EVO. (Vanessa was introduced as a two-form character, able to switch between Muay Thai and Vale-Tudo move sets mid-match. With VF4EVO, Sega stripped Vanessa of her Muay Thai moves and introduced a new dedicated Muay Thai charcter. Many VF players probably never even realized that Vanessa started as a two-form character. She wasn’t insanely popular, and the dual form version was only for the first incarnation of VF4.)

      • BooleanBob says:

        That’s a fascinating insight into the genre, thanks for taking the time to type it out! Really interesting to see that different developers took different approaches.

        You’d think the time for mutability and change, if anywhere, would be the early years of a genre or scene, with encroaching conservatism over time. Not that I’m dissing conservatism as a thing of itself – there’s plenty to be said for jealous vigilance when it comes to a particularly elegant system. Especially considering that the more permissible type of change is, as you say, the one that adds things rather than takes things away. How many sequels, expansions or spinoffs have we seen where a beloved game’s custodians stacked cool new stuff upon cool new stuff, until finally the elements that were so compelling in the first place are completely obscured and the gameflow collapses under its own weight?

      • welverin says:

        Tekken 3 was the first game in the series I played. Jin was my primary character. I went from T3 to Tekken Tag, got to Tekken 4 and didn’t like the game in general and absolutely hated what they did to Jin, because they changed the vast majority of his moves. Effectively turning him into a different character.

        So, yeah. What Baines said, they just could make such radical changes a normal part of the game, it would upset people too much.

        Though I will say it’s nice to see Guile finally get new specials, something that’s never happened before. At least not that I recall (maybe in the Ex series, I barely played).

  3. Gog Magog says:

    Every time I see Elena, I entertain the idea of introducing an industrial drill to my chest cavity.
    The way she moves just looks horrible, like some ancient evil given a couple kicks in the ribs for morning coffee and sent off to shamble ineffectually at unfortunate bystanders who really have far better things to do.