iPW: Deep down, everyone loves a tier list. Do you have a personal tier list for Super Street Fighter 4? What are your thoughts on tier lists and character rankings you see across the internet?
S-Kill: Haha?between SFIV and Super SFIV alone (so not even counting HDR, TvC:UAS and MVC3), I have close to 700 different versions of tier lists. I have a spreadsheet to track the rise and fall of certain characters, based on dev changes, as well as post-launch tournament performance. In short, saying I am a nerd about this stuff wouldn?t even come close to describing it. As for Super, as the most recent incarnation, I?m generally pleased with the way the balance turned out. There?s always more you wish could happen, but eventually time runs out and you have to ship the game.
I say overall I?m happy because the goals were to 1) keep the character playstyles distinct, iconic (?true to themselves?), and fun and 2) to create an overall balance where the stronger player tends to win. I would never want a matchup chart that has straight 5s across the board. I like bullying people where I have a character advantage, and I like the challenge of an uphill climb when I have a tough matchup. Those are part of a great fighting game?s DNA, but at the same time, you want to avoid that feeling of helplessness, like in a matchup where you know exactly what the opponent is going to do for the whole round, but you?re powerless (as a character) to stop them. Balance is never perfect, but I?m happy with SSFIV in most cases. Ironically I still don?t quite know what to think about Seth?I despise him as a character, but I think he?s actually underrated. Dhalsim is still underrated, and Fei seems somewhat overrated, though the idea that he could BE overrated, or said to be top-tier by serious players, is evidence that he?s about where we want him to be.
People are split on Ryu, but I think Daigo just makes the character look good. Pretty much nobody else plays Ryu like that in Super, and certainly in terms of tourney results, nobody else even comes close. I was also happy to see the return of the charge characters in Super?that was a real passion for me. As has been noted, the SFIV?s core Focus Cancel system is generally much easier for non-charge characters to take advantage of, but there?s more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to winning at Street Fighter, so I?m really happy to see the return of ?charge? characters to the top tier (Guile, Honda, Dictator, Boxer, etc.).
I was also happy to see a recent Japanese tier-list, mostly because it had only 3-tiers. Top, middle, bottom (with the bottom being a very small number of characters). There are basically no worthless characters in Super, and as the EVO Final 8 results show, it?s about the player. We saw a Dhalsim/Honda, Akuma, Zangief, Rufus, Honda, Chun-Li, Ryu, and Adon. What?s more, absolutely none of those performances were a fluke. That?s a clearer message about character balance than I could write in a thousand words, so I?ll let the results speak for themselves.
I could talk about this stuff literally all day. What I need most of all is less character balance and more life balance, which usually just means more sleep. I walk through half my life like a zombie these days. If this keeps up they?ll kick me off fighters and move me to motion-capture for Resident Evil game.