Street Fighter gets more adjectives in its title
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix : The latest update to Street Fighter 2. That’s right, it’s 2008 and there’s yet ANOTHER re-release of Street Fighter 2.
Story : Well, I guess Street Fighter 2 set the standard back in its’ heyday, of fighting games having incredibly cheesy storylines. The core of the story is that there’s an evil superpowered dictator and to get to him, you’re going to have to beat up an assortment of colourful characters that are going to come across as completely bizarre to anyone but the people that grew up playing these games. Can’t complain, though, as the actual story only rears its ugly head in each character’s ending. If you don’t believe me on this story issue, try and dig up any of the numerous anime movies based on Street Fighter and tell me this stuff is at all compelling.
So I’ve presented myself a challenge in trying to adequately explain what Street Fighter 2 is, in that the game was such an ingrained part of my childhood that I take it for granted about as much as I take breathing for granted. Street Fighter 2 is the genre-defining “fighting game”, where you choose from a selectable roster of characters and battle either a series of computer challengers or whomever decides to put a quarter in the arcade machine and test their mettle against your own. The crux of the gameplay is that each character has their own unique set of punches, kicks and button combination-triggered special attacks, and victory hinges on your mastery of each character, as well as your ability to outthink and out-twitch your challenger. I’d like to be able to say “this was all the rage in arcades back in the early 90s” but that probably doesn’t mean much to most readers that didn’t grow up in the early 90s and thus have no idea how popular arcades used to be. And I say “yet ANOTHER re-release” because Street Fighter 2 has been re-released many times over in the name of adding characters, fixing glitches, tweaking the character balance and wringing every possible penny from the wallets of fans. This brings us to the latest rendition…
One part a labour of love, designed by assorted smaller parties and tournament players that really love their Street Fighter 2, and one part a game tie-in to help promote the upcoming Street Fighter 4 (much like the Bionic Commando remake from earlier in the year) is Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix.
I can tell that this game was made to satisfy the diehards. I know this because I wandered around the options screen and found a menu called “Dip Switch settings”, which is some kind of fighting game fanatic lingo for “really, really, really hardcore settings”. These options allow you to alter such massive settings as, and I quote, “Can do Sagat’s super using a kick button during a 1 frame window” and “When Bison does a headstomp that hits a rising opponent only a few pixels above ground level, he briefly pauses” and “Percentage chance that the first frame of Blanka’s vertical ball is unblockable” and… well, most of these are changes that are so minute that I can’t be bothered to notice, but a hardcore fan will fight to the death over the rights to dictate the fate of the first frame of Blanka’s spinning ball attack. They will gladly appreciate being given such mighty power over such few pixels.
For the rest of us, here’s what’s new in Street Fighter HD in a nutshell: redrawn graphics, remixed music, assorted minor tweaks, and functional online play.
All of the artwork has been redone and scanned in high resolution, to give the game a clean and crisp look. No more pixilation or beady eyes, folks. The characters all look like the jacked up comic book/anime superheroes they were intended to be, or at least much as they can while retaining every single attack animation and pose from the previous games. The game does look great; not Guilty Gear great, but that could just be me relishing in my Guilty Gear fanboy-hood. The music has also been redone and most of the new compositions are appropriately catchy. But in the event that neither are to your liking (you sick old-school purist you), the option to revert to older tunes and fighter sprites presents itself.
Just as the option is present to alternate between playing the previous series update, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, or as the new “Remixed” edition. Now, if you’re hip, you’ll pick Remixed. Most of the tweaks are the same kind of single frame/pixel deals that the above mentioned Dip Switch Psycho Obsessed Menu brings, but even I noticed a few changes from the Remixed edition, and smiled for noticing them. Some of the special moves are a bit easier to pull off now; Guile’s Super Special Attack will no longer shred a layer of skin off your thumb from trying to execute it on a d-pad. As far as Xbox controls go, the game is a bit easier to control here than the previous Street Fighter Xbox Live Arcade game was, but I still fudged up a bit playing with the d-pad. The game does, however, contain full arcade stick support for people that need THE arcade experience.
The game has only two gameplay modes; Arcade mode to wail on a series of surprisingly ruthless computer opponents, and multiplayer. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the online play though; never lags, the option to play through quick ranking matches or get a bunch of buddies together and take turns fighting the previous round’s winner, tournament support, and no shortage of aggressive opponents.
Now, if this whole fighting game concept is foreign to you and you’re intrigued by the idea of guys in karate outfits (with the sleeves cut off to emphasize their massive biceps) throwing fireballs out of their hands at each other, then this may as well be the game to get. Otherwise, your buying decision (which for Canadians, is about $20 worth in Xbox Live points) will depend on your enthusiasm for Street Fighter in general. If you didn’t care before about Street Fighter, this game doesn’t throw at you anything to make you care. But if you have even a modest interest in the perennial fighting game, especially in the thought of playing online, then hop on in and feel free to go on Xbox Live and try to discipline me.
Pros : The character designs in Street Fighter 2 still hold up very well. They’re not outrageously hokey like in SNK games but not bland and insipid like other fighters. They’re appealing and easy on the eyes, if a tad racist, such as the Indian who’s mastery of yoga gives him phenomenal muscle tone and stretchy limbs, and the All-American army brat with the most impeccable crew-cut in human history.
Cons : You don’t get the original Street Fighter 2 grainy-but-macho announcer declaring that you won the fight. No, it’s the Super Turbo high pitched pansy announcer.
I always prefer to use Zangief when I play, just because there are still people that freak out when you pull off the spinning piledriver, treating the move’s execution as the fighting game equivalent of turning water into wine.