Yoshinori Ono and Bai Ling

Super Street Fighter IV Launch Party

With Super Street Fighter IV – the follow-up to last year’s Street Fighter IV – due for arrival on April 27, Capcom decided to celebrate by hosting a raucous party at the swank Trousdale in Hollywood. Back to back flat panel HDTVs with attached Playstation 3 systems were set up and allowed partygoers to experience the highly anticipated game early. Also on hand were famed Street Fighter hustler Seth “S.Kill” Killian and game producer Yoshinori Ono. With an impressive guest list full of the hottest young celebrities, bass-thumping mixes by DJ Cobra and an open bar to keep the party lubricated, the Capcom Super Street Fighter IV launch party was definitely the place to be.

If there’s one thing that celebrities know how to do it’s have a good time and video games are a great way to do that. So it was no surprise that a lot of familiar faces came out to check out Super Street Fighter IV. Robert Buckley, who’s been in North Carolina for 10 months shooting One Tree Hill, was at the party and clearly happy to be back in Hollywood. Surprising, he skipped the after-party at the Tea Room – even though he was sure to be swarmed by more female fans. Instead, he ran home to play his copy of Super Street Fighter IV. What an amazing luxury it must be to be able to turn down women for a video game. Just to give his fans a heads up: Robert Buckley’s birthday is coming up on May 2! Speaking of birthdays, Robbie Amell celebrated his birthday at the Super Street Fighter IV launch party over fireballs and lightning kicks with his close friends, Jonathan Bennett, Gregory Michael and Scott Porter.

Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul also showed up to check out the game, but kept his presence pretty low-key and just hung out with the guys. Clifton Collins, Jr., on the other hand, was so excited about Super Street Fighter IV that he showed up to the party 30 minutes early and started playing even before the lights dimmed. The avid video gamer walked away with a copy of the game and it’s not hard to imagine what he’ll be up to over the weekend.

Harry Shum, Jr. came straight from the set of Glee to catch the tail end of the launch party. As it turns out, video games are his second passion. He showed off some of his dance moves and Lil C – a judge on So You Think You Can Dance – showed off a few moves of his own. There was no hostility and only mutual respect between the two and their friendly battle continued when they sat down to play Super Street Fighter IV.

The women were also looking stellar at the launch party. Hugh Hefner’s Girls Next Door twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon walked into Trousdale complaining about how the weather messed up their hair. After a quick fix in the restroom, the beautiful duo circled the party, but all of the guys were enthralled by the video game.

Finishing off the evening, Seth “Shifty” Binzer – front man for Crazy Town – commandeered a microphone and gave an impromptu performance of his hits “Starry Eyed Surprise” and ”Butterfly” with K.O. the Legend and DJ Cobra. He also introduced his newest song “City of Angels”. Afterwards, Aaron Paul congratulated Shifty on his comeback.

Outside I ran into actor Robert LaSardo and his beautiful girlfriend and SNL writer Danielle Kasen. They caught me up on their current projects before we walked inside. Throughout the party they mostly kept to themselves, sharing a booth with other partygoers and took in the atmosphere. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that Robert also enjoys video games, focusing mainly on driving games, and even did some voice work on the game Scarface: The World is Yours.

With the night still young I walked around to see how everyone was enjoying the game. I spotted Seth Killian watching a bout and took the opportunity to get a few questions answered about Super Street Fighter IV and his experiences playing it so far. Fans of the original Street Fighter IV will know that the pain-in-the-ass boss character Seth is named after Killian, so the first thing I had to find out was if the in-game Seth was going to be toned down a bit for us mere mortal street fighters. He assured me that the AI was toned down a little, but that since all of the characters were unlocked, players wouldn’t have to deal with Seth as much. In regards to the new fighter Hakan the Turkish oil wrestler who has a bevy of hilarious moves, Killian says that “[Hakan] is the best fighter in the game when he’s oiled up. When he’s not [oiled up] not so much.” Killian isn’t sure if he’ll use Hakan competitively, admitting, “I’ve been getting my ass kicked online by all the guys who pirated the game early.” On the other hand, he hasn’t been playing hardcore for two months, but when he does fight he likes to use grapplers. Throughout the launch party Seth Killian floated around the room, giving pointers to gamers.

When I looked for Super Street Fighter IV game producer Yoshinori Ono I saw him battling it out with Bai Ling. Ono of course took it easy on her, using only light attacks, but still won most of the rounds, causing Bai Ling to yell “Get up!” whenever her fighter was knocked out. It’s hard not to smile watching her play, because she’s all body language and really gets into the game. Whenever Ono executed an ultra combo, Bai Ling would slap his arm and raise her fist to the screen.

Afterwards, the affable Yoshinori Ono entertained a few of my questions about the game. I wanted to confirm what Seth Killian said about the Seth AI and if that fighter would be easier to beat. “No!” Ono said with a laugh. “You need a real technique to win.” If what Ono says is true then single-player fans can look forward to long nights trying to beat Seth once again.

Get your copy of Super Street Fighter IV on April 27.