It is the 30th anniversary of Street Fighter and Capcom want to celebrate the occasion by releasing an ‘ultra’ version of the “most iconic fighting game of all time”. Of course Street Fighter 2 isn’t 30 years old but I’m not sure many of us would want to play the original Street Fighter game.
Sadly the party appears to have been spoiled before it got started by the price of the game. It is nigh on impossible to find a review of the game that doesn’t heavily criticise the price so since it is such a burning issue, I’m just going to get my comment out of the way now. Is it expensive? Absolutely. Does it represent value for money? That is purely subjective. Does my review or score take into account the price? Absolutely not.
Choosing to release a new edition of Street Fighter 2 has raised some eyebrows. The series is now up to number 5 and even the 3DS managed a rather fine conversion of number 4 so why Street Fighter 2 for the Switch? Perhaps it is just because it is the closest game to the 30th anniversary that is still worth playing. There are no complaints from me however as it has always been my favourite of the series.
There have been various releases of Street Fighter 2 over the years but the bulk of my Street Fighter 2 play time was on the Sega Megadrive version. Ultra Street Fighter 2 is apparently based on the Turbo HD Remix from 2008 which is not a version I have played. If I remember rightly you could change the speed of the game on the Megadrive version but I always preferred the standard speed. There is no such speed selection on the Switch version so that turbo takes a bit of getting used to for those of us that preferred our fights a little less frantic. While the game doesn’t feel like it has aged at all, the same cannot be said for my brain and reaction times.
The basic gameplay appears to be just like I remember if a little faster. I’m not enough of a connoisseur to notice if there have been any gameplay or balance tweaks. The graphics have certainly changed from the Megadrive days. The visuals have been tarted up by the company that does the street Fighter comics and they also appear to have attracted a lot of criticism. I can’t say that I understand the complaints. It looks like an HD makeover/modernisation to me which stays close to the look and feel of the original. Some of the background characters might look a little odd at times due to the lack of animation but that shouldn’t seem out of place to anyone that grew up with Street Fighter 2. There is the option to switch between the original and the new look but disappointingly you can only do that in the options screen before you start. It would be nice to be able to swap on the fly like you can do in some other retro games that get a re-release. The new visuals add widescreen whereas the traditional style will put a border at each side of the screen. I am yet to decide which I prefer but there is no denying the nostalgia of the original style. What is an easier decision is the audio. Again, you can choose between the original and the new but it is original all the way for an oldie like me.
The ‘final challengers’ come in the form of Violent Ken and Evil Ryu. Apparently both have been in games before and not wildly different to their non-evil and less violent counterparts. They are both welcome additions to someone like me, who tends to favour Ryu and Ken over any other character.
In terms of different modes then there are certainly more available than the last time I owned Street Fighter 2. Arcade mode is where I spend most of my time – a mode that Street Fighter 5 owners might not understand, unless it has been patched in by now. There is also the ability for some 2 player versus or you can put those rivalries to the side and join forces against the computer.
The online mode should seem familiar to anyone who has played Street Fighter online with ranked or casual matches and the ability to accept fight requests as you play the offline portions. I’ve played few matches now and even though most of them are a hard lesson, I have managed to win the odd match here and there. It all runs very smoothly and I’ve never had an issue finding someone to kick my behind. And those defeats should see me head straight to the Training section.
And then there is the Way of the Hado mode. This is a whole new addition to this version of Street Fighter 2. Using a first person view point and motion controls, you are challenged with defeating the plump looking enemies. It sounds like it could be fun but it is actually rather terrible. There is a little training mode to take you through the moves and the alarm bells start ringing. There are 3 modes to choose from but a few minutes in one of them might be more than enough. I could pull off a dragon punch with ease but any of the other moves were a battle in themselves. It must be quite a sight for others to watch you frantically wave your arms around while cursing because the game isn’t registering what you are trying to do. Even if it was more responsive (or I was more accurate?), it is hard to see how this is going to be anything other than a mild distraction. It certainly lacks the speed (even for me) and thrills of the normal game.
For those that like to dabble with colours then the colour editor will be right up your street. You have 10 slots for each character in which you can store your highly customised look. You can change the colour of the outfit, the skin and the hair and the opportunity is there to create some ‘interesting’ specimens. The speed the cross hair moves across the colours clearly doesn’t have the turbo from the main game applied though.
An extensive art book rounds off the offerings. All of the text is in Japanese so many of us in the UK won’t understand but you can zoom in to study the pictures and there are plenty of pictures in this book. And I really do mean plenty. It isn’t really my sort of thing but looks a great addition for those that are interested in such a thing.
The nature of the Switch means we have the best portable version of Street Fighter 2 there has ever been but possibly not the best control setup depending on your preference. I prefer to play Street Fighter with a d-pad and that is an issue with the joy cons having buttons instead of the traditional d-pad. Saying that, the analogue stick is perfectly viable although I’m just less accurate than I’d like when it comes to some of the special moves. Not surprisingly I favour my Pro controller but interestingly I do find myself using the analogue stick more than the d-pad. There is the option to swap the setup to be able to use the touch screen for some of the special moves in the same way the 3DS offered for Street Fighter IV.
It still impresses me how good Street Fighter 2 is to play after all these years. It lacks the depth of the later entries in the series but that is what I prefer – less moves to learn, less technical aspects to master but no less enjoyable a game. I would like to see the ability to drop the speed down, especially since this is meant to be the ‘ultra’ edition but that is my only real grumble. Street Fighter 2 is as good today as it was when it was released. And almost as expensive too – sorry, couldn’t resist.