Sunday, May 24, 2009

Street Fighter IV in Timezone Glorietta 4 - Impressions

We were at Glorietta 4 today and surprisingly, we spotted 2 Street Fighter IV arcade machines at Timezone Glorietta 4. They had two system-linked SF4 arcade cabinets, where each cabinet only has one set of sticks. When you start the game, you're given an option to play 'arcade mode' (which is open to challengers), 'beginner mode' and 'trial mode'.

(Pictures of the unit are at the bottom of this post, if you skip the impressions).

Unfortunately, the other SF4 machine wasn't working at the time that we visited, so we weren't able to play versus mode against other live players. So I was only able to try out single-player mode. Some impressions:

1. The graphics are not as good as the home versions of the game. The arcade cabinet used high definition LCD monitors, much like Tekken 6; however, compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, it seems the arcade version is running on the lowest possible graphical settings. Earlier on, there was a person from Timezone who was trying to fix the other arcade unit which wasn't working. I was able to peek inside the arcade unit and see the arcade's hardware, which resembled "baby-AT" PC hardware. I suspect that they got a version of the arcade machine which has only the minimum specs required to run the game; it might explain why the fonts in the game are all blurry, the textures on all the characters and backgrounds are low-resolution, and most of the special effects (lighting, shadowing, etc) seem to be turned off.

Either that, or the arcade version has always looked like this, and it's only looking low end for me because I've played the console versions before I played the arcade version.

2. The arcade machines at Timezone Glorietta did not look like they had any data card slots. So it seems any victories / losses you gain by playing here won't be recorded anywhere....

Maybe I'm mistaken about this, but I did look around and I never did find any slot for a data card. It's a shame, really. I hoped to take home a data card as a souvenir.... :(

3. The arcade units had Korean fonts on them, so maybe...they imported them from Korea? The voices are in Japanese, while the text/win quotes are in English. The character names are based on the US version, so Bison is Dictator, Vega is Claw, etc., etc...

4. The arcade stick and buttons on both units were fantastic. I have nothing bad to say about them at all! Very responsive! I had no problems executing combos, supers, ultras, etc. etc. The stick seems to have an octagonal gate; despite being used to using sticks with square gates, I had no problems adjusting my play style at all to the arcade version.

5. The SFIV units are located at the BACK of the card top-up /cashier /prize claim area at Timezone Glorietta. So you won't be able to see them right away; they're not visible to onlookers. I'm not quite sure why Timezone made this decision. Maybe they want their players to play Tekken 6 or their Initial D games instead?

I know the graphics in the arcade version are a far cry from the home console versions, but having these arcade units available in Timezone is an encouraging sign. I hope that Timezone plans on buying more Street Fighter IV arcade units for their other branches. As it stands, Makati is a bit out of the way, at least for me....and I'm sure other gamers in other spots around Metro Manila would love to have the convenience of being able to play the game in an arcade near them. Here's hoping for SF4 becoming available in more malls around Metro Manila.

I do wish that the units would eventually get data card slots, so that players would be encouraged to play the arcade version more. Having wins and losses recorded is a nice feature, and gives you a good idea on your progress.

Lastly, I hope that Timezone would do more to promote the game. It's a great fighting game that has broad appeal for a variety of players.

Here are pictures of the arcade machines we found in Timezone Glorietta 4:

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Other interesting games we spotted at Timezone Glorietta 4 were Guitar Hero Arcade (seems based on Guitar Hero III) and another game, which I forgot the title of, wherein you have to throw plastic balls at an LCD screen to hit enemies. Pretty cool game! It looks like the type of game you could play when you're out on a date or with your barkada. I forgot the title of the game, though. It's in a big, yellow cabinet, also near the card counter / top-up area.

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