Street Fighter IV

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: I'd recommend this to a younger age if it were solely on the premise of combat, which is mild and quite cartoony. However, there is mild language and recurring use of "Hell" as you load matches (not good for younger kids); all scantily clad female characters (especially the very risque Cammy) may be optional to play, but it isn't optional to not play against them in Arcade mode (which you have to complete to unlock characters); and most of all, this is one of the harder fighting game around, with a steep learning curve and a very difficult to master combat system—there's simply better alternatives for younger kids. So, I recommend this game for ages 14+.

Alcohol reference: One stage is set in a "Historic (alcohol) Distillery" with machinery and barrels containing the substance, and you see men carrying them around in the background; and in the "Rundown back ally" stage, you see a man staggering about and holding a bottle of the substance, as he takes large, exaggerated swigs from the bottle, stumbles clumsily to seating, watches as you fight, and repeats.

Mild suggestive themes: To start with, in the "Drive in at night" stage's background, there are a few scantly clad women—who reveal moderate cleavage—sitting on trucks and cheering as they watch you fight; the "Cruise ship stern" background features a female dressed in a mildly revealing top and short skirt while she presents the fight's round cards; and Rufus' (one of the playable fighter's) opening animated scene gives a few brief glimpses of his girlfriend, who's wearing a low-riding top with a very large, exaggerated bust. Secondly, many of the game's female fighters are scantily clad, or more specifically; Chun-Li, Crimson Viper and most of all, Cammy.

Cammy's (who is unlocked after completing Crimson Viper's Arcade story) nearly bare behind is often shown during her fight introduction, with the camera focusing on it as her back is turned. And each of the aforementioned female character's animated story intro counterparts have even larger busts (although they—and their busts—are very briefly shown, as their scenes are only 1-2 minutes). Breast physics are present but subdued, and are only lightly evident as the female characters bounce in place in a somewhat provocative fashion—especially in Cammy's case—and it's more noticeable when they are wearing their alternate and lighter costume colors.

It's also worth noting that unlike Dead or Alive 4, they aren't as feminine looking per se, and instead of just the busts being exaggerated, it's more of their muscular thighs, legs and arms. Below, I have exampled pictures; the "Alternate" pictures feature the optional—purchased—dowloadable alternate outfits. Watch out for Cammy's, though; it's a shot of what you'll often be seeing before you take control of her—and if you can't tell, her behind looks the same in the first shot too, she just doesn't have the overcoat on. Check them out below and decide for yourself...

Pictured Examples:

Violence: The story is about a group of fighters gathering from around the world, and then participating in a fighting tournament to test their skills. All have different (and unclear) motives for fighting, and this is told in a very brief and vague manner during each of the characters' Prologue and Ending scenes. Other than this, there's truly no congruent or sensical plot to be had, as this game's real focus is on its fights. And the base gameplay consists of starting the Arcade mode, picking your character, and then facing off against multiple opponents in a total of three rounds each; two out of three wins—if you tie, there's a final match to decide the winner. After entering the round, you'll use a variety of punches, kicks, throws and "Focus Attack" counters to build up your "Super Combo" and "Ultra Combo" meters, in order to perform that character's specific combos and move-sets. You'll soon face that character's Rival, then the final boss, and move onto the next character in order to unlock all playable characters. Additionally, you can compete online, offline, jump into a Versus match against the CPU, or complete specific fighting challenges in "Challenge Mode."

The combat system is anything but brutal or gratuitous, and consists of the characters attacking each other with a variety of punches, kicks and throws. Many of the playable characters can also use the "Super Combos" to shoot out large red or blue fireballs (which then briefly set the opponents aflame); other characters can use yellow or blue lightning to shock opponents, resulting in them shaking in an exaggerated fashion, as their skeletons flash in and out of visibility; and you can stun enemies, causing birds (or if their health is low, skulls) to rotate over their heads, while they rock back and forth in place. The combat is bloodless, and the only thing close to resembling blood is when a character uses a charge move to attack their opponent, resulting in a black, inky substance to streak and cloud from both their bodies (representing the almost hand-drawn look of the game—characters *smudge*, if you will).

As the characters are attacked, they'll lightly grunt and groan, and when they've been sapped of their health, they'll fly in slow-motion while they fall to the ground (female characters will often let out a high-pitched scream). Characters can taunt each other, but the worst you'll see is the flamboyant Dan, bending down and shaking his behind in a comical manner, and the Hulk-like Blanka, scratching his. Lastly, there are a few bizarre characters, notably Dhalsim, a bald Yoga master, who uses his powers to float around, and his super flexible limbs to attack "Mr. Fantastic" style; a character named Vega uses a large, hand-strapped claw to attack, causing mild (bloodless) swishing sounds on impact; the green, Hulk-like Blanka will sometimes try to (non-graphically) chew on opponents' necks; and there's some mildly hectic activity going on in some of the arenas' backgrounds (soldiers will fire off shots into the air as they cheer you on, etc.)—but the overall tone is cartoony, over-the-top and even quite comical.

The brief cutscenes contain a few fantastical explosions; a couple of characters hold each other at gunpoint; there's some bizarre but common sci-fi elements (like super powers, and energy transfer between bodies); and a villain chokes a fellow android to death off-screen. When it comes to age, I'd recommend this to a much younger age group if it were solely on the premise of the combat system, which is mild and quite cartoony. However, there is mild language and recurring use of the word "Hell" as you load matches (which isn't good for younger kids); all scantily clad female characters (especially the very risque Cammy) may be optional to play, but it isn't optional to not play against them in the main Arcade mode (which you have to complete in order to unlock characters); and most of all, this is probably the hardest mainstream fighting game around, with an incredibly steep learning curve and a very difficult to master combat system—there's simply better alternatives for younger kids.

(Alternatives: Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, The Broken Bond or Clash of the Ninja; Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit; and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, just to name a few.)

Mild Language: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it's mild) The game's announcer will often state, "This is going to be one hell of a show!" on the load screen as you wait for the matches to start. In addition, there are three uses of God, and five uses of d*mn (total) in the characters' Prologue and Ending movies.

Content review posted: 04/01/09

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