It’s been 30 years since Ryu & Ken first dragon punched their way into the arcades to take on the villainous Sagat, and Capcom (with the help of Digital Eclipse) is celebrating the occasion with this comprehensive compendium of Street Fighter goodness. There are 12 beautifully recreated, arcade perfect ports included, covering all the 2D entries in the ever ongoing series…except for the god awful Street Fighter The Movie The Game.
Street Fighter is the all time king of the fighting genre and while there have been many pretenders to the crown, Capcom’s arcade beat‘em up has firmly ingrained itself into the upper tier, VIP, platinum card carrying members area of the Video Game Hall of Fame. This collective package allows you to see, read and play along with the franchises meteoric rise gaming glory. You want more story than that? Buy it, and check out the Museum entries, as there’s far too much to spell out here.
As previously mentioned you get 12 titles to play through. Each has the same base game mechanic to work from, a 1 on 1 beat em up. It’s a best of 3 rounds contest to pummel the snot out of your opponent before the time runs out. However what may surprise you is that each game does, in fact, play quite differently. While I doubt anyone will play the original game for very long, the other 11 titles each have the tight, responsive gameplay that has made the series the monster it is today. One thing you do need to remember though is that these are ports of the actual arcade games, not previous home console releases. This means that your options are quite limited. You can change the difficulty but that’s pretty much it, there is no match customisation that you would expect from a console release, meaning you can’t change the number of rounds or setting it to infinite time limit.
Game modes are very limited (again due to these being straight arcade ports), only giving you two choices; pick a character and beat up your friend or take on numerous AI controlled opponents until you face the boss….then kick his arse and be crowned the World Warrior. But while the modes are few, there’s still a lot in the box. Let’s start with the game that started it all, Street Fighter, which I must admit has not aged well. This was the first time I had tried the original and….wow it’s really not very good. It’s unresponsive and overly hard, though not in a good “challenge” way, more of a “why won’t he throw a fireball ball?… wait 2 kicks and I’m dead?” kind of way.
We then jump into the legendary Street Fighter II, where many will have joined the series in their youth. This game is just as fun now as it was then. You also get numerous iterations of it, each having its own nuances and improvements. There’s Champion Edition (which allows you to play as the four boss characters), Hyper Fighting (which added some new moves and massively sped up the gameplay, which can be a challenge itself), Super Street Fighter II (which introduced yet more tweaks along with four new characters; Dee Jay, Cammy, T. Hawk and Fei Long), and then finally there’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which again got faster, added the super moves to the main Street Fighter series and also welcomed everyone’s favourite master of the dark hado; Akuma! They each play brilliantly though once you’ve tried “Hyper Fighting” you may find it difficult to go back to the older versions.
After that we have the prequel series; Street Fighter Alpha. This is such a huge charge for the franchise in every way; the character art style was much more in line with anime (tying in nicely with the Street Fighter II animated movie that was popular time) and the gameplay would rely on the new 3 tiered Super metre, air blocking, Alpha Combos and even more types of super moves. All three entries of the Alphas series are included here, again with each having tweaks and an ever growing roster.
The final batch of games included are the three iterations of Street Fighter III, the game that at one point people thought would never come (there were the four mentioned updates of Street Fighter 2 and two of the Alpha games released between the original SF2 and SF3). While quite not as popular as Street Fighter 2, and never quite able escape its forbearers shadow, Street Fighter III is still a master of its craft but plays a much more technical/strategic game with the inclusion of parrying. Just like its old brother, it also was followed by several updates featuring changes to gameplay, character roster and graphical flourishes, those being 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike.
Also worth noting is that each of the games has an “information screen”, these include several tips and tricks from the arcades plus any secrets to unlock. For example, included with Street Fighter Alpha is the hidden Dramatic Battle Mode. It’s two human players (Ryu & Ken) taking on Bison at the same time and is based on the final battle from the animated film.
While that is a whole lot of content in itself, that’s only one side of the Anniversary celebration. There is also the museum. This allows you to read a surprisingly in depth view of the history of Street Fighter, with pages upon pages of artworks, behind the scenes notes, project plans and other bits and bobs that you wouldn’t even think of. Presented as an easy to follow timeline, you scroll through the years and expand bullet points to view the related information, galleries etc. You can also look at the in game art, organised by character, to easily compare how the cast evolved through the years. Honestly, there is so much cool stuff to be seen in there, you can lose track of time going through it all.
Every fighting game lives or dies by its multiplayer. Yes, it’s nice to whoop some AI butt and get your little ending cinematic but the meat of the genre experience is in the back and forth battles with your friends (ideal on the same sofa but the online option is still there). This is a collection of Street Fighter games, a series on every fighting fan’s Mount Rushmore, so you already know the quality of multiplayer gameplay available here. Everyone will have their favourite, personally mine’s a tossup between Alpha 2 and 3rd Strike, but really you and your friends aren’t going to have a bad time playing any of the 12 titles on offer, even Street Fighter is more fun with mates as you can just laugh at it and each other’s frustrations.
The online options are as you would expect; leaderboards, ranked & casual matches and the ability to create and join lobbies. However please note only four games are available to play online; Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. I assume this is to prevent the audience from being spread too thin across the full 12 games.
The presentation here is top notch, from the crisp and clean museum “exhibits” to the fighting titles themselves. Each game, as far as I can tell, is an arcade perfect port, with the character designs, animations and backgrounds all improving as the series progressed. The graphics of some of the later instalments still look fantastic to this day. A nice touch is the ability to adjust the screen ratios and filters to recreate that Arcade or CRT TV look that we remember from playing the games in the old days. You can also add borders made up of actual arcade machine artwork. It’s these little flourishes that add polish to the collection.
My impressions of the sound, and I’ll be honest, are hugely influenced by nostalgia. Street Fighter II has some of the most iconic music in gaming to me, from the intro tune and the melody playing on the menu screen to each of the individual stages. The sound fx too, set off the endorphins, be it the admittedly limited vocals (“Sho-ryu-ken”, “Ti-ger”, “Sonic Boom”) to the sound the plane makes as it travels from flag to flag on the world map, these are the gaming sounds I grew up with and on today’s consoles, they sound as crystal clear as my brain remembers them being as a kid. In fact, it’s even better as I played Street Fighter II on the Megadrive and it’s well known the sound was terrible compared to the SNES. Stepping away from SF2 though, the sound quality and music are equally as strong, though maybe not as memorable, in the later entries to the series.
I like it. I like it a lot. While it is a little disappointing that certain games like Street Fighter 4 (come on Capcom, you could have squeezed it in there), Street Fighter the Movie (good for a laugh) and the often forgotten Street Fighter Ex series didn’t make the cut, you cannot argue that there is a whole lot of great content on offer here. With arcade perfect renditions of some of the best fighting games in history, along with all the details and artwork included in the museum, you could do a whole lot worse with your £35 than pick up this amazing collection. Am I blinded by nostalgia? Possibly, as I grew up with this series but I can tell you one thing, while graphics can look dated, the great gameplay never goes out of style.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection£34.99
- So many great games
- The museum is brilliant
- Playing Dramatic Battle Mode with my mates
- None of the 3D entries made the cut
- Street Fighter is so bad it’s amazing Street Fighter II was ever made
- Less modes and options than previous ports of the games