At one time, I spent nearly 300 quid to play Street Fighter II at home. This was back in the days when the Super Nintento Entertainment System was a ridiculous price and games for it were even pricier.
Three knackered joypads later, I felt it was money well spent – it was the first time I can remember actually feeling that the arcade had truly come home.
My name is Peej. I’m a Street Fighter II nut.
So naturally, the release of the Xbox Live Arcade version should have me hopping up and down on the spot in excitement. Thing is, though you haven’t got to spend an arm and a leg to pick this up (though 1200 points is a little on the expensive side for an XBLA title), something subtle’s been lost in the translation of Super Street Fighter II.
Gone are the subtleties of the original blobby bitmapped graphics yet the same simple four-step animations are still in place. Along with the graphical changes, a lot of the character of the game has been plasticised and if it wasn’t for the fact that this plays absolutely identically to all the zippier episodes of Street Fighter II that have gone before, I’d probably be throwing my joypad across the room in disgust.
Let’s face it though, better is yet to come with the release of Street Fighter IV next year – a game that should tick all the right boxes for those looking for stunning visuals (having played it, it’s no slouch in the gameplay department either). So treating this as a bit of a gameplay taster for SFIV isn’t too bad an idea, because playing this on hard, you’ll get a flavour of what’s expected of you as a cyber-combatant.
For those of you who’ve never heard of Street Fighter II (yes you, the old lady, and the Dachshund with the limp) it’s the ridiculously popular sequel to a game that wouldn’t have batted an eyelid in arcades if it wasn’t for the hand-breaking control pads that adorned it. Street Fighter 1 might well have faded into history but any gamer worth their salt will know exactly who you’re talking about when you mention the likes of Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li and Eddie Honda.
Street Fighter II pits a diverse range of characters against each other in a hand-to-hand scrap. Each character has a dizzying array of standard and special moves, and mastering these insane finger-snapping combos is the key to Street Fighter success.
Every player has a favourite character. Whether you choose Ken and Ryu’s all-round jack of all trades approach, or whether you go for the sheer speed of a character like Chun Li, or the heavy handed approach with Zangief or Eddie Honda, there’s something for everyone in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. The game practically cries out for you to go and spend some money on a decent arcade stick though (luckily I’ve got a Hori for my 360 so didn’t have to suffer the incongruous inaccuracy of the crosspad buttons which would make the game nigh on unplayable).
SSFIITHR offers various options, whether you choose to go for the classic modes or the enhanced HD edition. Character graphics and backgrounds have been rejigged (none too successfully in my opinion, but they’re recognisable as the characters you’ve known and loved before) thanks to the Japanese creators of the Street Fighter graphic novels. Online modes have been polished and improved with seriously reworked netcode, meaning that if you’re matched up with someone on a reasonable connection the speed of your game should be good enough to match a local head to head game with ease.
What lifts this title up into making it an essential purchase, even at the hiked price, is the fact that the new Remix mode really feels so beautifully tuned that a hardened Street Fighter fanatic will notice the difference right away. Moves feel like they have a silky smooth flow to them and in tandem with a decent arcade stick, you should be able to comfortably and predictably slip into your character’s signature moves with ease.
It plays so well that it’s almost got me considering petitioning Capcom to stuff back in the original graphics because this would then end up being one of the best Street Fighter II versions available on any machine.
As well as the remixed graphics, you get a whole new set of tunes that tinkle away in the background. If you’re a purist you’ll just leave it all set to classic mode but the new remixes aren’t too bad at all.
Really though any Street Fighter game boils down to that utterly sublime gameplay, and the mix of characters and with the extended roster you should already recognise from the Turbo SF II games of yore, you’ll have plenty to get your teeth into if you’re a new player hoping to get a few skills before SF IV hits, or if you’re a seasoned veteran who can pull off a Sho Ryu Ken at the drop of a hat.
In essence then, the utterly superb gameplay and unrivalled feel of this iteration of the Street Fighter series makes it a nigh-on essential purchase, despite the slightly naff reworked graphics.