spudbug's Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix (hereafter referred to as HDR) is Capcom's revisiting of one of the most balanced, most played, and most long lasting fighting games ever created. Fourteen years of tournament play and 4 previous arcade iterations have lead up to this latest version of the original SF2. That's a lot of testing, balancing, and fireballs.

Capcom has succeeded in their goal to make every match up in the game more fair, more interesting, and more likely to be won or lost on the skill of the player, not the quality of the character. Additions like E. Honda's Jab Headbutt make his previously frustrating matches against fireball characters more fun, while the degrading of his ochio throw makes players less reliant on setting up a certain trap for a guaranteed win. Every character has been scrutinized to reduce match ups that favor one side.

The HD Remix part of the game involves the character art, which has all been redrawn in crisp HD quality. HDR preserves the original animations for gameplay's sake, but makes the characters and backgrounds more detailed than ever before. An extra soundtrack of fan made remixes is included as well - ranging from the bizarre (Balrog) to the more traditional (Guile). Purists can use the original sound, aspect ratio, and character sprites; new backgrounds are mandatory.

The biggest selling point of HDR though, beyond the balance tweaks, beyond the new art, is the unbelievably good online play. HDR's balance and depth make it the perfect game for online play. It's easy to hop on and play a few matches, or get lost in the melee for hours. HDR uses a system of online play that smooths the experience by predicting user input and rolling back events if needed to compensate for lag. The experience is almost perfect on a decent broadband connection. In my 300 or so matches put in so far, I'd say less than 10 had any incidences of slowdown or rollback occurring.

There is one problem with the game's typically excellent online play, though. When you're able to get into a match and play, the game is nearly perfect. The problem lies in connecting with other players. Xbox 360 users get a slightly better experience, but both it and the PSN version are known to drop players, fail connecting to matches, and have difficulty starting a game. There are also some glitches that blank out graphics for the lifebars for both players, silence the music, or throw you into an online match facing an empty black screen. These happen infrequently but seem to get worse the longer the game is played at once.

HD Remix is closer to a perfect fighting game experience than any other game before it. The new graphics make the game look fresh, the re-balancing makes the game feel fresh, and the online play assures that this is a game you will be enjoying years down the road. No fighting game fan should be without this game.

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