Ever since Capcom first announced its upcoming HD makeover of Street Fighter, we've been curious to see just how the anticipated game was going to look and play. While a full graphical makeover of one of the installments in the classic series sounded awesome in theory, we wondered how that would work out in practice. We finally got to find out at Capcom's recent London press event, where a limited demo of the game was on display.
The playable demo was from a work-in-progress version of the Xbox 360 game and featured only two stages and two fighters for attendees to brawl with in local versus matches. Ken and Ryu were the only selectable fighters, while Ken's dock stage and Balrog's Vegas street stage were the two stages. The striking demo popped off the screen thanks to its stunningly crisp graphics that were so very clear. The redone sprites for Ken and Ryu came very close to the concept art shown for the game back when it was first announced. The pair moved smoothly and had what appeared to be the right amount of animation, which was very cool, though frankly it was a little jarring to the eye after decades of being accustomed to the original visuals. At first blush the game has the hyperclean look of a flash game, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The revamped visuals stay true to the look of the original game and offer a bit more personality in the faces of the crowd members. If you're familiar with Udon's work in the Street Fighter comics, you know what to expect.
Aside from the visuals, our other concern was how the game would control. We're pleased to say that so far, things seem to being going well. The game's control was pretty much spot-on from what we could tell, provided you're playing with an arcade stick. Of the handful of kiosks with the game on display, the lone station with the arcade stick wound up getting the most foot traffic from those in attendance, so we're pretty sure it wasn't just us being finicky. For all of the Xbox 360 controller's positive aspects, its D pad and analog stick still don't do it for us when we play 2D fighters. Thankfully all seems right with the world when you're using an arcade stick. The game handles well and is benefiting from Capcom and developer Backbone's deliberate tweaking to ensure the game is faithful to the original.
Based on what we played, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD is headed in a positive direction and is worthy of some healthy anticipation. Although the game's release has been moved back from late this year to early 2008, we'd rather wait and let Capcom get it right than deal with a rush job. The upgraded visuals, refined gameplay, and extra content being prepped for the game all seem well worth the wait if they maintain the level of quality we saw. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD is slated to ship early next year for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Look for more on the game in the coming months.