Thirty for Thirty
Game: Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch (Review code provided)
When the earth is nothing but an apocalyptic wasteland, clean air is a valuable currency and all technology is long since decimated and demolished in the subsequent aftermath, at least you can look forward to the announcement of a new version of Street Fighter 2. It’s a Terminator of a game that will outlast us all; the thirty-year-old brawler just keeps fighting like a drunk and shirtless dad at Royal Ascot.
Everyone knows what Street Fighter 2 is. I’m not going to sit here and type out things you already know, because you’re all wise dudes and dudettes that know your stuff. In summary, there’s obviously a reason a game gets remade and remastered continually for three decades and still gets sales, and that’s because it’s great. No one is going to be remastering No Man’s Sky in 2047, but everything about SF2 just works. It’s the original cast of cartoony, globe-spanning, brash characters with iconic moves that have spawned everything from bad films to names for bad electro-rock bands. It’s accessible enough for anyone to jump on and button bash their way through a few rounds while simultaneously being an established and highly-regarded e-sport. There are probably micro-organisms in space that can spout the virtues of Ryu’s long-range move-set.
I am not going to review Street Fighter 2 again. The world has enough reviews of Street Fighter 2.
So instead, let’s consider it in the context in which we now find it released on the Nintendo Switch. This is a remaster of the 2008 HD release for the X-Box 360, and is therefore hard to push as a ‘new game’. Capcom have bolted on a few extra things on, to varying degrees of importance and significance. Despite much derision as an after-thought, I quite liked the chance to change the colours and style of your fighters, even though changing the colours to any degree of accuracy was quite fiddly. Of less interest is the Way of the Hado; an attempt to incorporate the Switch’s motion-controls and Joy-Cons into proceedings, you play as Ryu and can perform Hadoukens, Shoryukens and that mad spinning kick he does, by flinging your arms about. Sadly, it’s entertaining for all of about three minutes at a push. If you want a motion-controlled fighting game, get ARMS instead, which is only £15 more…
Yes, the other important piece of context to highlight is the price. £30 for a thirty-year old game is somewhat bizarre thinking, possibly as a result of trying to push this as a main title amongst the somewhat currently sparse catalogue on Switch. It’s too much for a curiosity purchase or a brief nostalgia shot, especially considering the fleeting appeal of the add-ons.
The aforementioned 2008 remaster was somewhat controversial for some, updating the classic aesthetic with comically jacked-up character sprites that would make Brock Lesnar look like he’d skipped a few meals by comparison. I didn’t find this a massive issue, to be frank; it looks dated in an 80s hyper-masculine way, but if you’re playing a 30-year old game that seems like an odd thing to complain about. Even so, if that isn’t quite dated enough for you, there’s always the option to plump for the original 90s graphics and sounds. I don’t quite get why you’d do this; the squared-off screen and huge pixels just looked untidy to me after enjoying the sharper update. Still, people love old things; just look at the demand for the mini-NES.
Of course, this new edition is the Switch’s first chance to get competitive with some local multiplayer on a classic beat-em-up using the 2-player Joy-Con configuration. If the shiny promo ads are to be believed, the Switch is for rocking up to your mate’s party and getting everyone to put down their beer and drugs and play some damn videogames. And in this context, USF2 works very well; if you’re going to pester your non-gamer friends to play with you, having a huge name like Street Fighter to hand is going to be a powerful pull.
And this is the perfect context for this particular game in 2017. If you haven’t been into the world of Street Fighter before, it’s pretty unlikely this is going to bring you in, especially for the bizarre price-tag of around £30 (I was expecting it to be about £20 at most, as were many others). Also those little analogue sticks on Nintendo’s newest console aren’t exactly the height of precision; if you’re a serious fight-fan this has got ‘frustration’ written all over it, but it could easily be a fun blast for a multiplayer session if you don’t mind the hefty price tag.
If you want a throwaway blast on a beat-em-up or a dip into some nostalgia, this will serve you just about right if you don’t mind paying a little ‘over the odds’ for a 30 year old game. It’s hard to see much of an audience beyond that for it, but regardless, you’ll still find the king of beat-em-ups to be engaging, bold and colourful, ageing far better than the rest of us have.