Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
Twenty years. It’s been almost twenty years since Street Fighter first graced the gaming world. After a false start with a mediocre arcade fighting game, the series’ second installment enjoyed a fan following unlike anything ever seen before. Nearly every greasy pizza parlor, second-rate laundromat, and trendy after-school hangout place had a Street Fighter II arcade game bolted firmly to its floor. As the quarters kept rattling into the machines and the popularity soared ever skyward, the Street Fighter franchise blossomed from a great arcade hit into an all-out cultural phenomenon. After years of minor modifications, an entire prequel series, a multi-version sequel, tons of crossover games, crappy movies, comics, and even action figures, the Street Fighter series has seemingly bowed out of the fading 2D fighting game scene. But just as all the faithful fans and PS2 owners began to grudgingly accept its absence, Capcom decided to commemorate their famous franchise by releasing the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. Despite their good intentions, however, this blast from the past is a bittersweet experience.
It’s not that the collection is bad; in fact, it seems like a fan’s dream come true at first glance. One of the main features of disc includes a Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition. The design of incredibly lengthy-titled game is comprised of the arcade versions of Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Turbo, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Super Street Fighter II, and Super Street Fighter II: Turbo. Once you’ve entered the character selection menu, you’ll be allowed to choose among these games, and then choose a character from particular version. For example, the Street Fighter II version of Ryu is incredibly slow, but hits with far more damage than most of his later counterparts. Should you choose any version that came out before Super Street Fighter II, you won’t be allowed to choose any of the newer characters, since they didn’t exist before that game.
Regardless of who you choose, you’ll be pitted against the arcade version of Super Street Fighter II: Turbo. You’’’ still get to wield the myriad of Hadokens, Tigers, Hundred Hand Slaps, and all the other special moves you know and love, but with precise control and responsiveness. Though punching your way through the entire cast and kicking M. Bison’s ass all over Thailand is still just as awesome as before, it’s still nothing more than a specialized remake of a single version. That’s the problem with Hyper Street Fighter II; since the game limits your AI-controlled opponents to only one version of the character roster, you’ll never get the opportunity to have Champion Edition fighters versus Turbo opponents or any of the other possible version combinations, unless you’ve got a friend and a second controller for multiplayer fighting. The severely limited options make this Street Fighter II showcase nothing more than wasted potential.
On the opposite end of the collection’s features, fans and fighting enthusiasts will happy to find a port of Street Fighter III: Third Strike to contend with. In this new-age spin on the series, nearly all the classic characters have been replaced with comic book weirdos and genetic abominations. But fear not! All of the mystical fireballs and devastating uppercuts are still present and accounted for, but they’ve been far more refined and augmented beyond what the older arcade games could hope to muster. The need for precision and timing attacks is of the utmost importance; one misstep and you’ll find yourself staring at a bunch of pretty graphics and a Game Over screen. Each character comes with three ‘Super Art’ special attacks, but only one can be chosen for a particular match. Also, the defensive gameplay has been further developed by the ‘parrying’ system. Instead of automatically pressing back to block an attack, you can press forward; should the timing be perfect, you’ll find that your character has not only blocked the attack, but has split second to counter with their own move. Needless to say, it’s not just about Sonic Booms and Psycho Crushers anymore.
Street Fighter III is indeed far more technical of a game than its predecessors, but fans may be off put by the unusual presentation. The game is chock full of inhuman characters, like the one-armed demonic Oro or the shape-shifting Twelve. The trendy jazz and hip-hop music won’t win over the fans of the classic Street Fighter II soundtrack, either. Despite the edgier look of the newer game, both old school elitists and newcomers alike will be in awe of differences in graphics between the two generations of games. While Street Fighter II and its later iterations featured mainly 2D sprites with fairly limited details and occasionally choppy animation, the characters from Street Fighter III are vividly detailed, right down to the image Ryu’s red bandana flapping with his movements, Ken’s hair flowing with the breeze, and even the shades and tints changing as the characters breath. You’ll be amazed by Makoto’s rhythmic attack stance, or the way Elena seemingly dances across the battlefield. These games span through wonderfully detailed locales, from the urban slums of Russia, the lush green of the rainforests, the streets of Las Vegas, Greek temples, busy seaports, and a slew of other places. Regardless if you’re into the older titles or the newer, these are still something to see.
Once the inevitable happens and you get sick of toggling between the two games, Street Fighter Anniversary Collection also feature the American dubbed version of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. This overly cliched presentation features the Super Street Fighter II crew at the finest as they wander the world for fame and glory. Throw in a subplot about Ryu being targeted by M. Bison, Chun Li and Guile taking down Shadaloo, a wannabe slasher flick-styled Vega fight, Sagat getting deprived of glory, and an epic two-on-one brawl for a finale, and you’ve got a nice treat for all the fans out there. It’s by no means the most interesting feature in the collection, but at least it doesn’t have Van Damme playing Guile in that God-awful excuse of a live-action movie.
Capcom had their heart in the right place. They meant to reward their loyal fans by creating Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. To be honest, they almost got it right. This homage to the old series includes Street Fighter III, which is more than enough to win over 2D fighting game fans. The rest of the collection, however, pales in comparison. Hyper Street Fighter II is an interesting concept, but the game designers could have put far more effort into making the title a more complete work. Playing through Super Street Fighter II: Turbo with different versions of characters, but it could have been so much more than what’s being offered to the fans of the older games. The inclusion of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie seems like a tacked-on feature to help soothe the fans’ disappointment. As a whole package, the collection could have been much better. At least the fans can enjoy their favorite series, just one more time.