Here's a string of letters and numbers to chill the ardent gamer to the very core: 'Delivery estimate: 20 Feb 2009 -- 23 Feb 2009'. Amazon has me on tenterhooks. Friday 20 February, you see, is the day Street Fighter IV is released in the UK. Will the postman chirpily deliver my little green box full of awesomeness before the weekend? Seriously, it's keeping me awake at night. My fingernails are a disgrace.
Now, I'm in the privileged position of having played the finished game already, thanks to my buddies at GameSpot UK. But that sweet, sweet taster has got me hooked. I'm jonesing bad, I need it now! I'm not the only one -- type the letter 's' into Amazon UK's search bar and the top suggestion is SFIV, beating even 'snowboots' and 'scrubs'. (Seriously? Scrubs? Have you not heard of E4?)
I can't think of a game that so perfectly captures the nostalgia of being 12 years old, and yet still channels that excitement into a challenging, relevant and genuinely eye-popping new experience. Zelda and Mario still have much of the old charm, but the transition to 3D has fundamentally altered what those games are about, brilliant though they still are. You look forward to new Mario because it'll be top-notch surrealist craziness, not because it makes you feel 8 again.
SFIV has performed a neat trick by being only partially 3D -- the core game is the familiar, accessible 2D experience, but when it wants to slap on some visual flair it blasts into 3D, for an Ultra combo for instance. The latter is a new addition if (like me) you've been playing SFII for the last fifteen years, but like the graphical flourishes, it's a deeply satisfying enhancement. Don't leave me hanging, Mr Postman. I don't think I could bear another weekend without Chun-Li's elephantine thighs.