Review: Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (XB)

Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Fighting
Release Date: 2/22/2005

I’m a recovering Street Fighter junkie. I admit this freely. I used to spend countless hours in the arcades playing as each character figuring out who had double re-dizzy combos and what the frame rate for invincibility during certain moves were and so on and so forth. 1991-1996 were awesome years for me as each Street Fighter II game surpassed the first, and by first I mean SF2, not SF1, because you see SF2 is the first SF2, and I’m not talking about all Street Fighters, just SF2 and…oh hell with it, this attempt to be mildly amusing is over.

I was the guy who owned the original SF collection for the Sega Saturn. The guy who imported Hyper Super Street Fighter II Turbo X for Matching Service for my Dreamcast so I could play Street Fighter online against mainly people in Japan as the game was Region 3 only (And Vampire Chronicles was far superior). I freaked out over SNK vs Capcom on my Dreamcast and in the arcades and the far superior, and quite possibly best fighter of all time, in SVC: MOTM on my Neo Geo Pocket Colour. And so when I heard about the SFA collection, I was excited. This was going to be great! I imagined a three, maybe a 4 disc set full of documentaries, containing SF2, SSF2T , SF Alpha, and SF3: Third Strike.

And in the end, all I got out of that collection was SF3 and basically Vampire Chronicles with Street Fighter characters. Needless to say I was pretty under whelmed by the Play Station 2 version that came out months ago. There was no documentaries, no information, so super book containing the history of Capcom’s biggest cash cow EVER, just the final draft of Street Fighter 3, which I’m not as much a fan of (I prefer Double Impact) as I could be, and a game that was a version of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, that happens to let you play as older versions of the characters. And worst of all the Anniversary game was as I mentioned, designed exactly like Vampire Chronicles. Which was a game meant primarily for online Player vs Player play and not against the computer and the PS2 version of the SFA didn’t have online play. It was mind bogglingly lame. And that really put a damper on it for me. Again, I need to re-iterate I wanted some actual depth and a anniversary package truly worthy of Street Fighter legacy, and instead we got a no frills package that made me feel like Capcom has given up on the fighting games 9especially after a certain horrible release that will go unmentioned) and is just trying to milk the franchise for some cheap cash while they can.

But that’s emotion talking. The question still remains, is the SFA collection worth your dollars and cents? It’s time to find out.

Let’s Review

1. Story

Well the plot for both SF2 and SF3 is the same thing. In fact it’s pretty much the same plot of EVERY fighting game. Mysterious benefactor funds a tournament to find the strongest fighter in the world. A bunch of people compete. One man stands tall (Usually with a name like Ryu, or Terry, or Kyo, or some other name you never actually see that often in school or at your place of work.) and it all ends until the next year, when either a company releases a slightly tweaked version of the game with the same plot but maybe a little game play has changed, or improved graphics, or even some new characters (Capcom), or a company puts out an entirely new game with a massive back story and plot that never actually appears in the games but psycho fan boys track down the plots and then debate about it and also write fan-fics around the plots, but at least the games have constantly new characters and game play even if the graphics look rather shoddy (SNK).

Capcom never bothered on anything more than shallow cursory details for their Street Fighter games or their characters, but the game was about fast paced player vs player action that was addictive and fun and kept you at the arcade far longer and spending lots more than you should have. On a daily basis.

If you’re looking for a gripping plot from your fighting games, go play the SNK King of Fighters series, or better yet, just track down the novellas for each one online giving what happens in each game. But you won’t find much here in this collection.

Story Rating: 4/10

2. Graphics

Let’s divide this into two parts. First of all, SSFT2 shows its age, especially with the older characters. This is a game that was best on the Sega Saturn, not the Micro$oft Xbox. The game looked amazing for its time, but now it looks dated, as any retro game should. Obviously characters like Akuma, who only appeared as a secret character in SSF2T looks better than say Guile from SF2. Don’t get me wrong though, the game still looks nice, it just seems like GBA graphics rather than the big green and black boX o’ doom.

On the other hand Street Fighter 3 looks as amazing on the Xbox as when it first hit home consoles on the Sega Dreamcast. I’m impressed with how wonderful this game has held up over the 5 years it’s been available on home consoles, not to mention since its debut in arcades. Street Fighter 3: Third Strike is easily the best looking fighter on the Xbox, which is a true testament to Capcom’s graphical genius. It is games like Third Strike that show how much better 2D fighters look (not to mention play) over their blocky simulacrum 3D counterparts.

In other words you have two different extremes here. One is a game that looks dated and is nowhere up to Xbox’s level graphically (Don’t get me wrong, I love the original SF2 games, but we’re grading it by the Xbox graphical standards here) and one is a work of art that makes any other fighter on the Xbox look sad by comparison.

I’d give it a 4 for the SFA and an 8 for SF3 to make an average of 6.

Graphics rating: 6/10

3. Sound

I love the music in both games. With SFA, we have three different soundtracks to choose from for your background music. The first is SF2, the second is SSF2, and the third is an arranged soundtrack I’m not that thrilled with, but it’s still decent. I always take SSF2 myself, as hey, I think it’s the best overall of the Street Fighter 2 games. Regardless of what YOU pick though, you should be entertained by the music as a lot of the street fighter tunes are timeless classics most fighting game fans will recognize instantly.

The classic voices and sound effects remains the same. The sounds of “TIGER! TIGER KNEE! TIGER UPPERCUT” or “Hadoken! Shoryuken!” will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. It’s hard not to be filled with nostalgia with all of this.

Street Fighter 3 is just a straight rendition of the game. I have to admit the music and sound effects of this game just never thrilled me as much as the original SF2 effects and songs. They’re decent, but nothing that sticks in my mind. It’s most forgettable.

SFA gets an 8 for this category and SF3 gets a 6.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control and Gameplay

I’m disappointed with the controls of SFA. And here’s why. When a game promises you authentic play from all the SF2 games, it should deliver that. This game does not. This means I want my old re-dizzy and unblockable combos. I want the glitches and bugs from 2F2 and the wackiness from 2F2TCE. The older game characters have been tweaked with whether Capcom wants to admit it or not. And what fun is it if you want to play some original wacky unbalanced SF2 and the characters have been neutered. Lame lame lame lame lame. I can keeping saying lame all day and I know it won’t change things, but if you’re going to promise the feel of the older less balanced games, than please, deliver on that, because it is part of the appeal and why we keep going back to it.

Other than that the controls are standard Street Fighter 2. There’s a little bit of lag and occasionally some slow down but other than that it’s okay. The best characters are the SSF2T characters as they are left untouched from their original versions, but the older characters just don’t feel quite right.

Street Fighter 3 however plays flawlessly. It’s like being back in the Arcade and if you have the Fighter Stick or one of those new Sega Saturn style controllers, it’ll be even better. The controls are tight and unlike SFA where 20% of the time why Hurricane kick into a fireball and then a dragon punch won’t pull off exactly as planned. If you are anal about your fighting game controls, SF3 is a wonderful delicious treat you can sink your teeth into.

SFA gets a 5 here, while SF3 gets a 9.

Control and Gameplay rating: 7/10

5. Replayability

Look, if you want a good Street Fighter collection, I suggest the Street Fighter collection on the Sega Saturn. It has Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold. All Capcom had to do was had SF3 and maybe an SF EX game to that and they were set. But no, they gave us SFA which I loathe.

The only value in playing it is against your friends or via Xbox live. The computer AI is awful and due to the changes to SF2 and SF2TCE characters, it’s worth your time more to plug in the SNES or Sega Genesis and play the cart version of those, because at least it is accurate.

If you don’t have any friends or don’t have Xbox live, then chances are you’ll get a week of play out of SFA, and that is stretching it.

Street Fighter 3 however is wonderful. Again, we’re talking a perfect port here. The AI can be brutal depending on the character, and it’s a real joy to play against your friends. On live I encountered no slowdown at all, which again reinforces that this is the fighting game to own for your Xbox.

In a nutshell, SFA is staying in the case, while I can’t imagine anyone not having a lot of fun with Street Fighter 3: Third Strike if they are into fighting games. It’s loud, it’s fast, it’s colourful, and it’s just a lot of fun to play.

SFA gets a 4 and SF3 gets an 8.

Replayability Rating: 6/10

6. Balance

Nothing annoys me more than when I want to play with say Blanka from the original SF2 series, and the computer keeps picking Fei Long and Cammy from SSF2T. I want a game of straight Street Fighter 2, you bastard computer. Is that too much to ask? Obviously it is. At least with Vampire Chronicles, that choice was available to you. And characters that weren’t in certain games were given different move sets so they would be compatible, do you could have a Donovan Bane in DS3 or Lilith in Night Warriors.

And then of course there is the point that Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition were not balanced at all. Yes, Capcom has ruined part of the fun of these games by taking away some of the balance issues (And admit it, that was part of the appeal way back when), but the characters are still fundamentally unbalanced. Then factor in the computer tends to pick characters from outside what you want to be playing in or against, and balance is thrown right out the window for SFA.

The only way there is any balance at all with this disc is if you play against friends or online and set some ground rules. That’s it.

Street Fighter 3: Third Strike has some balance issues too. There’s the obvious Chun Li issue every good SF player knows about, and 2-3 characters that stand out as the obvious superiors that you will see being used in a tournament every time. But it’s a lot better than what you find in SFA. Oh, and the boss in SF3 is far harder than M. Bison. If you’re looking for a challenge, SF3 is the fighting game for you.

The fact remains though that like all Capcom Street Fighter games, there’s some obvious balance issues with both games. One is slight (SF3) and one is drastic (SFA), and with SFA, it gets rid of the balances issues that made the game fun and adds new ones that drag it down.

3 for SFA, 7 for SF3.

Balance Rating: 5/10

7. Originality

SFA is a compilation of every SF2 game there ever was, and there’s a ton of them. And then to blend them all together into one mediocre game? It’s just yet another twist on Street Fighter 2, version 8 billion point 0.

Street Fighter 3 at least introduced new characters, some new moves, some new game play and so on. Yes, Third Strike is the third and final draft of this game, making is again getting a severe blow to originality here, especially considering it’s yet another fighting game, but at least there was some innovation.

Regardless both games get a 4 here due for different reasons. SFA is just a variation on Vampire Chronicles and shows just how thin Capcom stretched SF2, while SF3: Third Strike lacks any real originality as it’s just another fight game.

Originality Rating: 4/10

8. Addictiveness

SFA doesn’t do it for me. Yes it’s fun to play with a friend or to do some stuff on Xbox Live, but that’s where it ends for me. There’s no reason to play this alone or at home and it really doesn’t live up to the legacy of the great SF2 games. It just made me want to put it down even more every time I remembered having fun with the old games. It made me break out my Sega Saturn and enjoy a good game of Street Fighter rather than this crap.

SF3 is great though. It’s fun to see how far you can get on certain characters without losing, and then, without losing a round. It’s also a lot more fun to play online or with a friend. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, whether you’re squaring off against a human or the computer to get that ending for Hugo or Ken that you feel like seeing again.

4 for SFA for being a poor trip down memory lane and doing a disservice to the actual SF games, and a 7 to SF3 for being a good game that you can spent a lot of time with.

Addictiveness Rating: 5.5/10

9. Appeal Factor

Two fighting games for the price of one! How awesome is that? It also has the Street Fighter Logo which guarantees to sell like hot cakes, especially to people in their late 20’s. Factor in the fact that most fighting gamers love Street Fighter 3: Third Strike and consider it to be one of Capcom’s finest, there’s no reason why gamers shouldn’t be coming out of the woodwork for this.

And why should this do better than the Ps2 version? A little something called Xbox live. It’s just gravy. And it allows SFA to be played the way it was meant to be: online. My god if you think I’m mean to that game in this review, imagine what it would get when it’s a game designed solely to be played online and it’s lack online play.

Appeal Factor: 8/10

10. Miscellaneous

Okay, it’s known I consider the Saturn collection superior to this. It’s also been made clear by me I’m disappointed and would have preferred an collection of this type to have been a SF2 game, a SFA game, a SFEX game, and a SF3 game. I’d have pay 50 dollars for 4 ports, one from each Street Fighter series. This has left me very under whelmed.

But instead of bitching and giving it a low score because of what I think a Street Fighter Collection should be, I’m going with what is here.

We have Xbox Live play. This is a huge boost and makes the Xbox version superior to the PS2 version.

We have an edited and dubbed version of the SF2 movie. Which is okay, I guess. Nothing great, and it stupid that they censored it.

We have some cute but non important unlockables. Again, it’s okay, but not great.
Finally, we have the price tag of 29.99 basically giving you both games for 15$. SFA is worth 15$. And SF3 is an OMGWTFLOL!!!1!! crazy deal that I can’t imagine anyone not going for at that price. And really. For thirty bucks, two games and a movie is good. This could have been so much more and I am very disappointed in Capcom for going this route instead of doing a REAL Anniversary collection. But judging simply on what they gave us for the dollar amount, yeah, it’s good.

Miscellaneous Rating: 7/10

The Ratings:

Category Street Fighter Anniversary Collection Street Fighter 3: Third Strike Overall
Plot 4 4 4
Graphics 4 8 6
Sound 8 6 7
Control & Gameplay 5 9 7
Replayability 3 7 5
Balance 3 7 5
Originality 4 4 4
Addictiveness 4 7 5.5
Appeal Factor 8 8 8
Miscellaneous 7 7 7
Overall Score 5.1/10 6.8/10 5.9/10
Final Score 5.0 (AVERAGE) 7.0 (GOOD) 6.0 (OKAY)

Short Attention Span Summary
SF3: Third Strike is a must own, but if you have it for the Dreamcast already, pass on by this collection. If you want a truly excellent 2 pack of fighters, get KoF 2002/2003, as 2003 is just as good as SF:3S, and 2002 is superior to it. As well KoF 2002 does the dream match angle Capcom was going with SFA right instead of mucking up their legacy. A disappointing show from Capcom compared to what they could have done, but for what it’s worth, we’ve got an okay package here.



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