A guest retrospective by Chris McAuley
I’ve long had a love for the Street Fighter franchise, starting from watching the demos playing on the SNES on display in Curry’s in Belfast. Every magazine I would read on its release would wax lyrical about its brilliance. From ‘GamesMaster’ to ‘SegaPro’, you couldn’t escape the second incarnation of this now, massive franchise.
I want to explore the recently released ‘30th Anniversary Collection’ as a way of looking back on some of the best titles in this series. Without a doubt, this collection offers a good look at the franchise’s history. It’s also a title from which the hardcore fighting fan will gain more from concerning the overall experience.
One of the best features of this collection is the detailed museum, recently, I’ve always been a little disappointed with these archive features. However, this museum provides an in-depth look into the creation of Street Fighter, including a timeline spanning from 1987 to 2018 (when this title was released). One of the greatest features is the inclusion of the character biographies of every notable character to appear in each game. These biographies also contain animation breakdowns of each character’s special commands.
What is disappointing is the lack of customization options, this collection offers little more than the basics. Each title has a small set of changeable options, these affect things such as the game’s difficulty or the speed of the game’s timer. You can alter the game’s visuals slightly, letting you choose between standard or wide aspect ratios, along with visible scan lines. I really enjoyed the ability to enable border art, which changes depending on which entry in the series you are currently playing.
While this is undoubtedly the best way to experience the evolution of Street Fighter over the last few decades, there are, of course, some flaws. The inclusion of the original Street Fighter game suffers due to its stiff and clunky controls and its quickly forgettable nature. This shows that the original incarnation hasn’t aged well, especially next to its vastly superior sequels. Also, having all three iterations of Street Fighter II might sound like a great deal but I found myself only playing the ‘best’ version of the game.
This collection delivers the Street Fighter experience in its ‘purist form’ – the arcade versions. Each of these offers online functionality for each game, ‘30th Anniversary Edition’ also features ranked matchmaking, leaderboards and allows for players to create online lobbies. The game also aims for a true Arcade experience by allowing you to play through the specific title’s Arcade Mode while waiting for an online match. If you pick this title up for the Nintendo Switch you will also discover the exclusive ability of four player local online tournaments, which allow up to four Switch users to link up and play together.
Street Fighter (1987)
The original Street Fighter has not aged well. Its primitive visuals and audio are nowhere near the quality seen in its sequel. The gameplay also feels jerky and broken. It’s a nice addition to the collection to help see ‘where it all began’ but for many of us it was, in reality Street Fighter II. Many of the characters introduced here return in later instalments (Ryu, Ken, Sagat, Birdie, Adon) and its interesting to see the bonus stages in between matches debut here as well. Its worth playing once, if you have never done so before.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991)
This is really where it began. A classic title in every sense of the term, this game created the fighting genre as we now know it today. While these game titles would receive numerous upgrades and refinements along the way, this was the original Street Fighter II experience. To its credit, its still an extremely playable and well-designed game. The roster of fighter’s present is its greatest strength. They became some of the most beloved, most iconic and most enduring cast of characters to ever appear in the arcades. Often imitated over the years but rarely bettered. This game set the standard for the continuing series.
Street Fighter II: The Champion Edition (1992)
In this iteration, the first four boss characters become playable for the initial time and the inclusion of alternative colour schemes make mirror matches possible. This was a complete smash hit upon its release and was my arcade of choice.
Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting (1992)
The ‘hyper’ in the title refers to the vastly increased speed. This gave a fresh feel to the game by its increased pace. This iteration also tweaked several multiple special moves and helped to rebalance the characters. This is one of the four games in the ‘30th Anniversary Collection’ that you can play online and is worth spending time to master.
Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (1993)
Four new characters are introduced to the roster, Cammy, Fei Long, Deejay and T. Hawk. These additions have been crafted to perfectly fit right in with the rest of the fighters. Super also introduced eight different colours to choose from. This gave plenty of fashion options when jumping into the ring! The reason for the multiple palette options were due to the special Tournament Battle mode which was available for networked arcade cabinets. With the switch version of this collection, you can actually recreate this mode for yourself. Its drawback is that its slightly slower than Hyper Fighting edition.
Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994)
This is a game which I played quite a bit online, this includes some extra modes such as Buddy Battle. Its also worth noting that this version contains the ultra-hard Arcade mode. It was infamous for the glitch that made playing against the CPU almost impossible even on the lowest difficulty setting.
Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior’s Dreams (1995)
The Alpha series injected new life into the series with its anime-influence character designs, intricate stage backgrounds and new soundtrack. This is set before the events of Street Fighter 2 and sees older characters from the original Street Fighter return. We also get the cool inclusion of some characters from Final Fight: Sodom and Guy. There are also two hidden characters to discover, the mighty Akuma and Dan. For fans of the Street Fighter narrative, its here where we also get to meet Blanka’s partner Charlie Nash, who is alive in this series.
Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)
This is possibly the best title in the Alpha series for me. In terms of style, presentation and narrative, Alpha 2 should be considered a timeless classic. It is, now, overshadowed by the third title in the series but the stage backgrounds are incredible in this title. Filled with atmosphere, Gen’s dank back alley, Dan’s bustling market, Guy’s crowded Metro City and Ken’s birthday pool party are highlights.
Street Fighter III: New Generation (1997)
Street Fighter III was a leap forward when it came to the character design and general artwork. This title featured intricately detailed art and insanely fluid animation. At the time, no other game looked this good! This title also perfected the parry system. If you tapped forward at the exact moment, an incoming attack would hit you in order to negate its damage and then allow you to counter-attack. This was a perfect extension to Street Fighter’s basic gameplay and introduced a high risk/reward strategy. Through this game, we also received a roster of unique new combatants to step into the ring. In fact, only Ken and Ryu returned while the rest of the cast were colourful and, at times, weird. My personal favourite is Dudley the English boxer and his London stage.
This is possibly the only Street Fighter collection you will ever need to own. Its not perfect but includes a great online mode and more fighting fun than most other titles currently on the market.