Parody is generally best when it’s made to look like it was done by experts. Anyone can scribble together a silly joke based on an existing person, place or thing. When the parody stands up straight as if it were a serious work; however, you end up with something that feels like a head-fuck of masterful work.
Ultra Strip Fighter IV “Omeco Edition” isn’t quite a masterful, but what it does get right is a pleasant surprise. Strip Fighter IV is a fighting title by Studio S that has gone through two previous iterations — the first one being “vanilla” — and the other being “Super”. As the name implies, it is also a sequel to Strip Fighter and Strip Fighter II, but oddly enough not Strip Fighter III. Released in 2008 and updated to the “Omeco Edition” in 2015, Stree… Strip Fighter IV essentially parodies Street Fighter as well as a number of other fighting games. At it’s core, it is a 2D interpretation of Street Fighter IV’s gameplay mechanics, taking certain aspects and making them somewhat more accessible than the source material.
The game boasts 24 characters, all with the kinds of moves and features you could come to expect from the fighters you’re most familiar with; albeit, a bit jumbled about. You’ll be able to recognize a few of the characters they’re parodying and the moves they’re emulating, for example Yuki is the classic “shoto” type featuring projectiles like DP(Dragon Punch)/Shoryuken and a move similar to a “Tatsu” spin kick, but not quite. The difference here is that her projectile isn’t a “Hadouken” so much, as it looks like Geese Howard’s (King of Fighters) “Reppuken”. Some moves are a little more far out though. Nina, a blonde woman clad in S&M gear and brandishing a whip, bears a close resemblance to Sofia of the PSX game Battle Arena Toshinden. She even features a move quite similar to Sofia’s “Aurora Revolution” attack. The most far out parody; however, has to be Sayaka, who parodies Captain Sawada of Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game. Strip Fighter IV also features a couple of petite girl characters and a playful dig at the stereotypical hentai otaku in the form of a fat guy named Jin, who sports a t-shirt of his favorite waifu and a vibrating “magic wand”.Because the first thing when I think of “Rule 63 Street Fighter” is “Damn, Captain Sawada would be an excellent choice.”---
The fighting system is built with simplicity in mind. It’s accessible enough to where if you were in a tight spot— or just happened to feel most comfortable with it — you could play this game on a keyboard. Those who choose not to be keyboard warriors; however, can opt to use joysticks, fightpads and your garden variety Xbox 360 controller. To complete this review, I used a Mad Catz 6 Button Fightpad to play. Strip Fighter IV’s attacks are condensed to three general attack buttons: light, medium, and heavy. The attacks generally differ depending on whether or not one is crouching, or the distance of your character from theirs. Special attacks are generally not much more complex than quarter circles and DP motions. There are a couple of charge characters but for the most part, they use quarter circle and DP motions.
Keeping with the spirit of Street Fighter IV, characters in the Strip Fighter parody are able to do plenty of the same things that the original game featured. Players are able to do focus attacks, allowing them to absorb one hit of damage to deliver a strong counter attack. With the focus attack, players are also able to perform a “Focus Attack Dash Cancel” or FADC, allowing one to dash out of the way and cancel their focus attack. The game also allows for super combos which are selectable like “Super Arts” and “Strip Combos”, which are the game’s ultra combos. Those that are familiar with fighters will realize they aren’t the most forgiving to pull off, but they aren’t impossible.
Perform one of these super combos to win your second round and you are given the opportunity to perform sex acts upon the losing opponent. These pretty much only work against the opposite sex, which is actually sort disappointing for those who wish to see some same-sex action. It’s also disappointing because there are really only three male characters capable of doing these moves; or having these moves done to them. Another thing that makes this awkward is that it doesn’t necessarily work as a finisher. In order to pull off a finisher you have to perform a strip combo, which usually requires a double quarter circle motion and pressing all three attack buttons. This may leave unfamiliar players puzzled and perhaps even consider shutting off the game out of confusion. During my playthrough, I was actually convinced that I had broken the game and had ended up in training mode.
As far as combos, there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of “bread-and-butter”, canned-combos; at least, nothing that was created for the express purpose of being a combo. The combos that players can perform come in the shape of frame links that allow for some combo chaining to occur. Another way to combo in this game is to use the focus attack to bounce the opponent off of the wall and attempt to juggle them. Some characters are better than others at doing this, but it’s generally possible with all of them. The fighting system while better than some games, still has some issues that could stand to be fixed.
In example, priority can often be kind of a mess in that sometimes the same move that would typically take priority over an opponent’s move will sometimes not be effective at all. It takes out the “rock-paper-scissors” element out of it and makes things feel a tad unfair. There is also an issue with some moves doing inconsistent damage; inconsistent, in that sometimes a confirmed hit will either do some damage or no damage at all. When in the middle of play it may be easy to ignore, but when it is noticed it is pretty jarring. Fighting can also get pretty cheap, making the game considerably easier when you manage to get the timing down. If you can get a hard knockdown and perform a focus attack just as an opponent is waking up, you can pretty much keep them trapped and unable to do much until you slip up or they have enough time for a throw attack.
The game itself isn’t really chock-full of features or settings. It only features a story, versus, and practice mode. The options aren’t necessarily set up in-game, but in drop-down menus on the window itself. It’s odd, but if you’re used to games bearing the Enterbrain logo, this won’t be a strange thing to encounter. Ultra Strip Fighter IV does lack a difficulty setting, which isn’t the worst as the game does get a little challenging as you go from match to match. You do get a hard mode, but in order to get that, you pretty much have to beat the main story mode. Once you beat the hard mode; however, all you get is a standard congratulation in the form of an “ALL CLEAR” screen with a picture of the ladies of Strip Fighter.
As far as the lewd factor goes, the cast consists of many well-endowed women and a few petite girls. Previously mentioned, there are three male characters in the game; a shirtless wrestler in black shorts named “S” (Slave); a fat otaku named “Jin”, and a large mutant named “Neo Hum”. The women are all pretty sexy looking, dressed in revealing outfits that show cleavage, to barely even trying to prevent a nipple slip. Playing through the story mode eventually leads you to a visual novel-esque cut-scene, that features one of the characters being molested by a tentacle monster with some voice acting thrown in. It’s not amazing, but it’s an okay bit of eye candy. Speaking of voice acting, they’ve got a really nice cast of voice actors who put on a good performance. Even the erotic attacks sound good, without cutting off in weird ways or sounding overly repetitive. The only bit that sounds bad is the announcer, who sounds really muffled and silly. Audio-wise, the sound effects aren’t bad with each hit sounding like it ought to; however, it’s kind of odd that characters sound like are falling onto the canvas of a wrestling ring when being knocked down. The music for the most part, is forgettable and feels rather inconsistent in quality. The BGM consists of what sounds like pop music and some other styles arranged with cheap sounding synths. At best it sounds silly, while at worst it’s forgettable.
The animation varies a bit in quality, due to the style chosen for sprites. Each sprite looks as if they were fully drawn and then animated with only a few variations. The stiffness is apparent in the limbs mostly, looking as if they’re attached to a stiff, doll-like torso. It doesn’t look as bad as perhaps a flash animation where the joints look like they’re being held together with pins; however, compared to fighters with different sprite styles and animation, it seems kind of cheap. When pulling off the ultra combos, you’re greeted to a brief animation similar to the super combos in Vanguard Princess; however, these animations seem more reminiscent of Dust: An Elysian Tale. They don’t look amazing, but they’re not bad either. The major stylistic fault here is the backgrounds, which look rather cheaply done with some really ugly 3D graphics. They could have gone for static, drawn backgrounds, hell, even a still photograph would have fared better than the backgrounds they chose. This is all made worse by the fact that the native resolution of the game is rather small and trying to make it larger really degrades the image quality. The game, for as light as it is, can be a bit CPU intensive as well. On the computer I used to review this, slowed down considerably when I tried to play the game at a larger resolution. Faster computers may not have very much trouble with this, but this forced me to have to play the game with a rather small window size.
Ultra Strip Fighter IV: Omeco Edition; overall, is a competent fighter with plenty of things done well. As a parody of both fighting games and otaku culture, it’s pretty solid with recognizable elements. It has clear, glaring deficiencies in the art and animation departments, but it’s not an unplayable mess. I wouldn’t say that this game is tournament worthy, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. With better presentation, animation, and a more finely tuned fighting system, they could make a future Strip Fighter game that would challenge the perception of a hentai fighting game.