I'm excited for Ultra Street Fighter IV. Still. Even after that Decapre hate reared its ugly little mask, I am still quite excited for the fighter, and to be honest, you should too.
Before I start, I need to remind you guys of the disclaimer. My opinion might not be yours, and if I hazard a guess right, it's not the opinion of KPB as a whole (I am alone in my love of Decapre, btw), but it needed to be said.
There is more to Decapre than just the palette swap
I will admit, she's a bit of Vega in my Cammy, and she stands just like she does and has the hair and such. But as far as strategy goes, that's kinda where it stops. She is definitely less brain-dead than Cammy can be (be honest Cammy players. I'm being honest here too) from first glance. Her teleports, unlike Dhalsim and Bison, are telegraphed by a visual cue and don't offer her much invincibility without putting some butter to it. I doubt she just blast through moves, so as long as you are smart, you can punish her 'brain-dead' teleports. I am not sure of her rushing punch's armor break potential, probably can't even do it, so you can Red Focus it to gain some Revenge Gauge, crumble into a free Ultra to get your life back, unless she has Super stocked.
Wait a tic, you don't want strategy, you are just mad about the palette swap. That's fine, it's understood. Sure, she isn't a K' like clone where she can have her own outfit and moves to seperate him from his genetic material, but she is a clone. So there will be some similarities but not enough to call it out as lazy. It's the same difference as Ken, Akuma, Evil Ryu, Oni, etc. The stance has a minute change from Ryu's, but the properties of the moves completely differ, and there is new special moves to that character, either command or otherwise. Ken started as just a different color to Ryu, and came into his own as SF2 grew to the straight OP Ken we are going to see in Ultra. The core is the same, but the web spawns in different directions.
Decapre only has one common special with Cammy now, and that can only be done in the air. Sure, she might have Cannon Strike as a follow-up to her teleports, but that's just it. Hell, you can't alter the angle much, so an opponent with an air grab can just be there and respond in kind. Cannon Drill can only done from the air, and since Decapre is a charge character, it'd be from either a fade-away back-jump or a teleport Renda Cancel'd into Cannon Drill (that'd be a neat trick actually).
The Dolls were different enough in Alpha 3 to not feel like complete rips of Cammy (Juni would beat Decapre to the punch with being a charge Cammy with an aerial Spiral Arrow, but she also had the mach dash and Earth Direct throw, and could summon The Boss to Psycho Crush for her, and Juli was a command character with a unique Sniping Arrow kick that made great use in Custom Combos) to fill the roster, but when you think about it, did they really need to inflate the roster? Hell, that game encompassed all of Alpha and added some more, and even later, added more from Capcom vs. SNK 2 that I still like Hyper Street Fighter Alpha to this day for the fun stuff you can do with -ISM's (I'll get into that next time with my next article, maybe).
In finality, I think Decapre is her own character in the same token Roy, Falco, and Ganondorf were their own characters in Melee. You can throw the clone tag around all you want, but she is legitimately a clone, rather than a character you'd be forced to be creative with. They just decided to give her a weapon and a teacher that gives her arguably better footsies than Cammy, with more headgames to get the openings that she needs because she hits like a hummingbird, rather than Cammy's big momma damage. But that 3 frame Ultra 2 has gotta go, that's way too fast, what is she, Julia Chang pre-patch? Shit....
There is more added to Ultra than just changelists.
Between Edition Select and 3v3 Mode, there is a lot more opportunities to squeeze more tournament fighting out of Ultra Street Fighter IV, and it seems fitting that Capcom Cup is coming around with Ultra as its flagship, because I can already see 3v3 Teams being a tournament standard for the Cup just for the idea of doing KOF with an actual team of 3. The lifegain can be completely negated with one stray hit at the start too, forcing the winner of the previous round to do something about the stray shot, forcing them on the defensive like Marvel's tag mechanics afford. I am personally a fan of the 3v3 mode for either its single player effect allowing KOF players to apply meter management and Point/Battery/Anchor roles to Street Fighter, to its multiplayer aspect allowing a more streamlined and advanced team battle method than just 10 people occupying Versus Mode. I wouldn't be surprised if Capcom Cup tournaments had side tournies with this mode in mind.
Another handy thing added that sparked side tournament rumors was Edition Select. It's a nice way of honoring the history of SFIV as a whole, from 2009 onto now, with side tournaments focusing on just one edition of SFIV. Can't cover them all in a Capcom Cup tournament, that's a lot of system changes to remember for your character through each game, you might trip up and think Sagat can still kill in two combos in Ultra. Aside from side tournaments, there is a unique aspect of Edition Select we haven't thought about: settling/reinvigorating past battles. Personally, I want to see Justin/JWong 3, with Rufus and Guile settling that battle that had a draw during their set. Maybe answer some past questions that nag at the back of our mind, etc. It's just a thought, but having money matches or special event matches in different Editions would feel like a time-travel adventure to me to see streamed. I mean, unless you play as some of the new characters added after Vanilla and SSFIV. You might just be a little assed out. That gets me to my next point.
Those 'copypasta' characters joining Decapre are going to shake up matchups.
Let's face it, each new character forces the opposing player to adjust on the fly. Hugo has armored normals! He just needs to toss out a standing HP and it is both overhead and armored for one hit. His Lariat has two hits of armor. You are going to have to respect any stray hit with Hugo and play him up close while being sure not to get your Meat Mashed or your shit Pressed. Poison's heel kick is probably still just as safe to use as a closer as it was in SFxT and her projectiles and range force honesty in a player, and being able to have a grab Ultra with her Love Me Tender means the opponent might not see the nut kick coming until its too late. Rolento might not be the mix-up monster from SFxT, given he can't tag out from EX Patriot Circle, but an easily comboable Ultra 1 and an Ultra 2 that is a low grab you can punish jump-ins with, you can force your opponent to make mistakes they wouldn't normally make by turning down the aggressive side and do a back leap into Take No Prisoners. That, and his Super is probably my favorite Super from Alpha 3, Sidewinder, which rolls him backwards if the explosions whiff. Elena is a threat to charge characters too happily crouch-blocking, being able to combo from Mallet Smash H if the opponent isn't too careful. Ultra 1 being a Ranbu means she can combo just as easily as she could in SFxT from EX moves like Lynx Tail and Spin Scythe, or FADC Scratch Wheel if you are feeling nasty. Her air target combos force the opponent to see which kick she is using to jump-in with and respond in kind, because they cannot just Focus through the jump-in. Hell, jumping HK is two hits by itself. The target combos also makes air-to-air her fun little area to possibly land Ultra 1 from, like Juri and Ryu's jumping MP. Spinning Wheel being an option and not just the reason I have so much EX stock is a nice touch too. All four characters bring something to the table to make them a unique fit into the SFIV system, with Hugo probably being really scary for the start, but each character will find their niche in the matchup lists, like
The older characters that have received new energy in Ultra.
Chun-Li, my god Chun-Li, can finally rock them thighs with pride, with faithful anti-airs, armor breaking, and life. Other characters like Ken, Oni, Guile, Blanka, Evil Ryu and others can climb out into their own niches in the tiers, and seen less like spectacle characters and more like high-strength characters in their own right. Meanwhile, the pigeon-holed characters that rest on the high tiers (Cammy, Akuma, Fei Long) can take a rest with the others. Starting fresh could lend itself to new stream monster entertainment, and less predictable final rounds. I can see Infiltration increasing the pages in his notebook when I close my eyes. It's kind of refreshing to know it forces more matchup experience and old players with new tricks or old tricks from new players, and we all know we want to cultivate more players in our community. I look forward to playing some Rose, it's gonna be a lot of fun to see the new SFIV tournament landscape in the future. Meanwhile, I'm gonna spread my hype onto anime fighters. Did I tell you I get to play as Kirito, the BA awesomesauce protagonist of SAO? I mean, anime fighters man. That's niche, but will Sega's growth in the industry hurt or help it? More in 7!