Inside Pulse 12

Review: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (Microsoft Xbox 360)

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Publisher: Capcom USA
Genre: Fighting
Release Date: 11/25/08


So there I was, standing in a comic book shop in Dayton, looking for back issues of the Uncanny X-Men. As I wandered the racks, all of 12 or 13 years old, I kept hearing someone yell “Cyber! Cyber!” There were a couple of arcade cabinets in the back of the store that I hadn’t gotten around to yet. I assumed that someone was yelling about the Wolverine villain Cyber. (When you’re young, your focus tends to block out a lot of other things.) Nope, it was something called Street Fighter II, and it was set to a demo of Ryu fighting Sagat. I was actually hearing “Tiger!” and the occasional “Tiger Uppercut!” Sure, I’d played Galaga and Pac-Man before, but this was something new. I dropped a quarter into the machine…and still haven’t really come up for air. A few years later, Capcom turned up the speed and added a few new characters, giving us Super Street Fighter II Turbo. My life evaporated in twenty-five cent increments. Seventeen years later, Capcom proves that it knows not to mess with a winning formula. Taking the game that dominated the arcade fight scene for most of the 1990’s and updating it for today’s systems, they now present Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. All your quarters are belong to them. Okay, maybe not all your quarters. But if you’re a fan of fighting games, you’d better set aside 1200 MS points worth of them.


Story/Modes

First things first-you can play this as the HD Remix version, or the classic Arcade version. That goes for just about any of the modes in the game, whether it’s tournament, online, offline, Arcade, Training, or what have you. I prefer the HD version-I mean, if you want to play the old style, go ahead. But why did you pay for the HD version when you could have probably just dusted off the SNES and loaded up that old cartridge?

You also should now have an idea of the modes available. Training pits you against someone who will just stand there and take your beatings, and it is agreat way to familiarize yourself with the changes. Arcade is just that-pick a fighter, travel the world, inflict pain upon others, repeat. Then there is the Versus mode, which, if you don’t know what Versus mode is in a fighting game, we probably need to have a talk. Tournament is there so you can set up your own eight-person event. Versus and Tournament have online versions as well, identical to the offline.

That’s it for the modes. And that’s a serious detriment, in my opinion. Where is the survival mode (admittedly, given how hard the game is, that might not be that fun) or time attack? I don’t like tag modes in fighting games unless that is the whole point, so I don’t mind that not being here, but what about creating a stable of fighters and seeing how my four deal with your four? There’s something lacking here, when after 17 years of evolution in fighters, we don’t have any more added modes. And where are the bonus stages? I really wanted to destroy a car in glorious HD. These little faults, which really are a love it/hate it issue, keep this game from being perfect. I love how much it sticks to the original gameplay, but I hate how little they’ve innovated.

The actual story is as missing and pointless as it ever was. Sure, each of the combatants are fighting for their own reasons, and these are hinted at during the victory screens. You can track down the lore if you want to. You don’t need to know why they are fighting, they just fight. The story that matters will be the one that develops when you pick Guile and your friend picks Ken. You can still argue for innovation here, as I don’t think that static screens telling each fighter’s backstory would have really added too much size to the download, and would have helped with your motivation.

Story/Modes: Average

Graphics
All the credit in this category goes to UDON Entertainment for the updates to the graphics. The traditional sprites have been polished until they gleam. I could stare at the start screen for hours, just watching Ryu cradle his hadouken. The roster has always had a lot of detail in the sprites, but now you can really appreciate it. Screenshots don’t do it justice, you really need to see it in action. Sagat is now the mountain of a man that he should be instead of a 98 pound weakling that was stretched on the rack. Zangief’s chest hair actually looks like chest hair and differentiates from the scars he is otherwise covered with. Everyone looks amazing. The stun effects (stars, ducks, etc) are 3D. I could go on, but it would be the same thing over and over. Backgrounds are just as improved as the character models. Chun Li’s stage looks like you could turn up and get lost in the alleys of Hong Kong. In fact, much of the game looks just like the 1994 anime movie of Street Fighter 2. I haven’t seen any of the graphical glitches that used to haunt the game, even in the arcades, such as translucent characters as only half of the pixels are displayed from one frame to the next. That bug used to affect a lot of special moves, where you would be missing the top half or back half of a fireball or sonic boom. All that has been brushed up. In fact, the graphics may be the place where the most attention was given to this update.

Graphics: Very Good


Sound

OverClocked ReMix has created ear candy to match the graphical splendor. Just hearing that opening guitar riff takes you back to the arcades. OverClock ReMix is offering the soundtrack as a download free on their site, which is a nice touch. Since this is obviously a download game where you can’t have things like special edition goodies, you can download a free soundtrack. Bonus. All the music and sound effects have been retouched or remixed , but none of them have really been changed.

In fact, I was expecting some things to change. I assumed we would be getting more of an update to the sound effects and voices than we did. All of the special attack voices sound just like I remember. This isn’t a bad thing, because this is the definitive version of this fighting game, but still. I’m surprised they didn’t have the voices re-recorded just to update them. We have had more Street Fighter games since this came out, with updated voices and effects. It’s not a dig, just an observation.

Sound: Very Good


Control

Disclaimer-I don’t have an arcade stick. I’m playing this on the standard 360 controller. That said, I’m still able to pull off just about any move. Some of them have in fact been re-mapped. Zangief’s Spinning Pile Driver in particular seems easier to do, as it is no longer a full circle but a half circle then forward. The game also tells you to tap the buttons, not hold them. Listen to it-it knows what it is talking about. You will likely want to re-map the buttons to suit your play style, which should at the least involve moving fierce punch from the left bumper to the right trigger. This gives you more of the sequential feeling of an arcade or fighting stick than the default
scheme.

Despite the fact that some moves are still hard to pull off, and require perfect timing and input flow, I found control to be darn near perfect. It does take a bit to re-acclimate yourself to a less forgiving system, but once you do, you can land a dragon punch with your eyes closed. And that’s actually a very important thing to keep in mind when we discuss the gameplay. If you haven’t been playing 2D fighters in a while, you are in for a shock. Characters move forward and backwards at the same speed. There are no dash moves, and crossing the stage takes time if your character lacks a charging attack such as Honda’s sumo headbutt. This is a much more deliberate game than you may be used to.

There are a couple of new additions and twists to all of the fighters. A complete listing would be exhaustive, but each fighter has had an extra move or two added. Ryu, for example, has a fake fireball with a quick recovery that you can trick people with. Borrowing a page from the Alpha incarnations, each character also has a Super move that you build momentum for. One major change is that the melee only fighters like Zangief, Blanka, or T.Hawk now have moves that ignore projectiles. This can be a nasty surprise when you expect Zangief to eat a fireball, only have him wrap his arms around you and leap skyward.

Control: Great


Replayability

Do you have friends? Do they enjoy fighting games? Do you enjoy passing the controller when you lose? Then you are going to keep playing this over and over. There’s also the drive to master this thing again that will keep you going through the (many) crushing defeats. There are achievements to hunt as well, such as finishing with a Super move or dropping your opponenent within a few seconds. Achievement seekers will have to really earn them though. My personal favorite is Sagat’s Scar-Defeat Sagat with Ryu’s Fierce shoryuken. If you are playing the Arcade mode and not vs with a willing opponent, you will have at the most three chances at this.

Multi-player is a mixed bag. Sure, you can do everything online as well, but even the slightest hiccup in your connection will result in a missed attack or not noticing that someone is now behind you. In a tight match, that’s gonna kill you. Voice chat let’s you taunt people, but is that as much fun as taunting the guy on the couch next to you? Not really. You do get to watch matches online in a spectator mode to attempt to scout out player style while waiting for your chance at next.

And then there’s the character selection. You’ve got the Original Eight, the Final Boss Four, and the Turbo Quadro. Of those sixteen, I love using five of them. Personal preference goes Ryu, Ken, Cammy, Guile, Deejay. And I’m not averse to throwing Zangief into the mix occasionally. Getting to know the moves and strengths of more than one character will absolutely keep you playing.


Replayability: Very Good


Balance

The game is HARD. Devastatingly hard. Evil. I thought I was good, going in. I’ve played the game, I’ve gone through older versions with all the characters, I know how to ha dou my ken. I was not prepared. The AI handed me my head on a plate in the second fight continuously. And that was on Medium difficulty. It was like going to a high school reunion and saying “hi” to a girl you had a crush on. She smiles, you have a few laughs, and then she drives her heel through your foot and pins you to the floor. I’ve got a thing about not playing games on the Easy level. On medium, I was not getting past the second match. On easy, I was getting knocked around consistently by the fourth. It is only through determination and practice that you will win.

Also, the default settings seem to have damage cranked up pretty high. You may wish to adjust a handicap, which you can do for local matches only. Three special moves from Cammy (Yes, that Cammy. Thong girl has had a makeover to her threat level) will just about end a match. There are settings that you can adjust to control some of this, or you can forge a path of continues. Just be glad that you aren’t paying 50 MS Points every time you get knocked out. Throws seem much more likely to counter your special moves then I remember.

I wish I could give two different ratings for this category. Balance against human opponents feels much better than the balance against the AI. Against another person, even a skilled one, evenly matched means evenly matched. Against the AI, you start at hard, which it calls Easy, and go up to You Shall Not Pass, which is called Expert. I rarely felt like the game was cheap or cheesy, but it clearly held my skills in contempt.

Balance: Good

Originality
Remake of a sequel of a 17-year old game. Nothing to see here, move along. Capcom really could have added a few extras to help this out. I have always wanted to see a Double Dragon or Final Fight side-scroller featuring these characters. Tekken did that with what I think was called Tekken Force when they released Tekken 3. Yes, that wouldn’t be completely original either, but it would have been cool. There are other things that could have been done to tweak the format, like custom color choices for the costumes that go beyond the pre-set variants. Those omissions really show this game for what it is-a relic. A classic, wonderful relic, but a relic all the same.

Originality: Bad

Addictiveness
There is a lot to be said for a quick fighter that you can pick up and put down easily. Since you can get into the game pretty quickly, this is a great “We’re leaving in 10 minutes” time waster. You’ll be able to get three or four rounds in within those 10 minutes. Conversely, if you want to go deep into the arcade experience that awaits you online, you can probably find a room and truly be a World Warrior if you want to devote more time to it. This game really does cry for “just one more fight” while you are playing it. It might not hold your attention as long as some recent releases, but it does leave you with an itch that only a thousand-hand-slap can scratch.

On the down side, the scores have been removed in the HD version. There’s still a clock, but no bonus except for an achievement, for winning quickly. Special moves, combos, and Super Finishers now only matter as ways to whittle down the health of your enemy. It’s another change that could have given you more to aim for and more replayability.

Addictiveness: Good

Appeal

This is going to be very situational. How much is one of the best games of the 90’s worth to you? 1200 points (or $15.00, however you want to call it) is the mid-tier of the Xbox Arcade costs. I’ve always been a SFII fan, so that seems pretty reasonable to me. Also, with the holidays coming up, I know my brother-in-law will love to see the update and play it again. It is arguably the most recognizable of the 90’s fighting games, where even the non-gamers are likely to recognize it for what it is. If it wasn’t this season? I’d still be likely to get it, but what about everyone else? While it works great as a “Four friends, two controllers, and a couch” game, party games like the Guitar Hero series are going to trump it with a mixed crowd.

Appeal: Above Average

Miscellaneous
For me, this is the return of the champ. The Street Fighter II series has always been my fighter of choice. Seeing it updated in full HD glory is a wonderful moment of gaming. I can’t help but feel that it is as much of a preview for Street Fighter IV as it is a standalone game though. There is quite a lot here that only scratches the surface of what the Street Fighter II universe has to offer. That’s what makes this game only a knockout blow, instead of a Super Combo Finish.

Miscellaneous: Good



The Scores

Story/Modes: Average
Graphics: Very Good
Sound: Very Good
Control: Great
Replayability: Very Good
Balance: Good
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Good
Appeal: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Good

Final Score: Very Good Game

Short Attention Span Summary

Yes, this is a wonderful game. But if you can stop being a fanboy (and I include myself in that group) about it and look at the game critically, and more importantly, within this generation as opposed to two generations of gaming ago, there are flaws. You won’t find a better example of classic gameplay in a prettier package, but you might find some that are more diverse or affordable. Purchase with that in mind. On the other hand, if you always preferred Super Street Fighter II Turbo to the other fighting games of the 90’s, go ahead and step into the ring.

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