Capcom for Super NES – Fighting – 1993 – Rating: 10/10
A perfect ten out of ten, small surprise here.
I recently read that Street Fighter 2 on the Super NES was Capcom’s best-selling game of all time, over six million copies. That would include, at the time, just about every Super NES owner in 1992, plus a metric ton of new fans, eager just to play the arcade sensation at home. Street Fighter 2 Turbo was released a year later and brought home the latest coin-op versions, Champion Edition and Turbo Champion Edition. Likewise, this was a great success, continuing the momentum of the original craze.
The first three variations on SF2 are now all considered one videogame, since the later sequels and spin-offs made so many changes as to be unrecognizable. As for me, I hold Champion Edition as my personal favorite of the series. It’s as balanced and nuanced as the game gets, and after that, things just get out of control. Capcom falls victim to its chronic sequel-itis, and the need to always tinker with formulas to keep the kids coming back.
Whatever. Here is the best home version you’re likely to ever see on the Virtual Console service. Street Fighter Alpha 2, Alpha 3 and Street Fighter 3: Third Strike (the definitive versions on Sega Saturn and Dreamcast, respectively) won’t be arriving anytime in the near future. Totally unfair, but, again, whatever. This version is so perfectly playable that I can’t imagine anyone really minding. If you could never buy another home version of any Street Fighter game, you’ll be happy with this one.
If you bought the first SF2 when it was released, you’re likely wondering if you should pay again for the new cart. The answer is yes. There are quite a lot of graphics changes, especially in the character designs, which are older, sleeker, and slightly more brutish-looking. Background stages are the same, apart from some minor variations such as day-to-night. And Ryu put away those signs on his roof that were always getting smashed during fights.
Most importantly, there are a number of changes to your moves and attacks. Chun-Li gets a few crucial kicks, Honda and Zangief can move during their blitz attacks, and Ken has been turned from a Ryu clone to a crazed berserker. Can you say, “Triple Dragon Punch?” Oh, and for those who don’t know by now, you can now play as the four boss characters, which was a really big deal at the time. They play like bosses, too, instead of the regular fighter roster, which means lots of cheap antics from Sagat and Vega, and some nasty rush combos from Balrog that can frustrate opponents. M. Bison is a lot less intimidating in human hands, if only because he has to play by the same rules as everyone else. The computer player cheats like crazy.
I come back to a lot of older videogames for nostalgia, or a quick fix. I don’t always expect greatness and I don’t often get it. Many things in life don’t age well beyond their time. Street Fighter 2 is one of the true greats, one that you can jump right back into no matter how much time as passed. And Champion Edition/Turbo perfected the formula that spawned a thousand imitators, none of which could really match that original adrenaline rush. The best fighting games of later years evolved in new, different directions. Heck, Virtua Fighter is practically a martial arts sport now, instead of a humble videogame.
I loaded Street Fighter 2 Turbo for a couple quick rounds, just so I could grab some screenshots for this review. I ended up playing for several hours, running through every fighter, kicking ass, chewing bubblegum, having a blast. The controls are perfect, the gameplay balance is perfect, the speed and strategic precision is perfect. In the end, I had to pry my hands away with a crowbar. I’m surprised I’m here writing this now, instead of playing another couple dozen rounds. Just one more play, that’s all I ask…famous last words.