Arguably the best version of one of the best games ever made, now combined with Live play and online world rankings.
I have a fond place in my heart for Street Fighter II. It is simply one of the greatest games of all time. It must have taken a lot of creativity, inspiration and execution to devise this game because it inspires awe even today.
Gamers have witnessed an endless supply of fighting games in the 14 or so years that have passed since Street Fighter II came out, notable examples include: Tekken, Dead or Alive, Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter, Samurai Showdown, King of the Fighters, Soul Caliber, etc. And none of them -- including the impressive Tekken III and Soul Caliber -- hold a candle to Street Fighter II's balance, design and creativity.
Street Fighter II Hyper Edition is a close copy of the arcade game. Prior to this, the next best thing was the original port released to the Super Nintendo so many years ago, but even that masterpiece wasn't an exact replica of the arcade version. This version comes very close with a few exceptions.
One difference you may notice is the speed of game play; critics believe the game runs faster than the arcade original. This may be true, but I didn’t notice. Fans will remember that Hyper Edition was faster than the original game.
Some users have cited alterations in certain sound-effects. The only one I have noticed takes place in Dhalsim’s level. The elephants are significantly louder than I remember, which detracts a little from the overall experience of fighting in his surroundings.
Many details of the game are spot on, including the intro to the original arcade game, lovingly re-created. Another nice touch is Ryu and Ken’s red fireball glitch, likely thrown in for nostalgia. The voice work and animation are also perfect, and all your favorite characters are included and playable.
Some players have complained about the graphics not being optimized for the Xbox 360, but I find no issue here. Perhaps the graphics could have been sharper, but they appear to replicate what I remember and love about the original game.
This game preceded the ugly wave of Street Fighters, like Alpha, Alpha II, and Alpha Hyper Spazz Turbo ADD Ridalin edition. Okay, so I made that last one up, but you get the picture. In my opinion, those games lost track of the magic that made the original so special, even though they had better graphics. This is Street Fighter II in its pure, original form.
When you perform a dragon punch it feels just right, like the ultimate attack it should be. Shouryuken!!! After pulling it off you'll think, Yeah! That's how it should be! It isn’t washed out or excessive like the Street Fighters that came after. The same goes for Blanka's electric charge or the announcer's exclamation, "Perfect."
It is all exactly that, perfect.
If that's not worth your $10, then throw in online match play and worldwide rankings, and you will arrive at the conclusion that this game is well worth the money, and proof that Xbox Live Arcade is a fantastic avenue to please old-school gamers. Thanks to Microsoft for doing things right with the Xbox 360.
You may wonder: How does the game control on a next-gen, dual-analog controller? Admittedly, it's not as simple as the old, Super NES controller, but it controls as well as it can on Microsoft’s clunky d-pad. Maybe we can convince Microsoft to release a wireless, old-school controller for the waves of other Xbox Live Arcade games that will be coming out in the following weeks.
There is another thing you should know about this game: it is difficult! And for this seasoned gamer, that is a GOOD thing. I come from the generation that was used to challenging games -- games that require skill, knowledge of each character's strengths and weaknesses, and lots and lots of practice. Modern gamers, the so-called "Halo" and "Tekken" generation, may be frustrated with the difficulty of the game.
Some people who didn’t grow up playing Street Fighter II may be turned off by the punishing A.I. The game gauges difficulty using a star system from 1-7, seven being the hardest. Unfortunately for casual players of the game, scaling the number of stars down to one doesn’t significantly change the unforgiving fighting strategy of the CPU, only the damage it dishes out.
If you like to mash buttons, this game probably is not for you. The game requires you to learn how to play it. It's not called "Button Masher II: Hyper Edition" for a reason.
Prepare to be pounded into the pavement the first time you face Ryu.
Is this cheap A.I? Not at all, it's smart A.I. Ryu attacks you with fireballs when you are at range and hits you with dragon punches and throws up close. Makes sense, right? You must know your character's strengths and your enemies’ weaknesses to progress in this game. So be prepared for some practice.
Online play is a mixed bag. When it is working properly it can be a blast to play. My initial venture into online play was plagued by timeout errors. However, once I started hosting games and turning off the “microphone on” function, my connectivity errors were mostly eliminated. I’ve experienced some incredible online match-ups, resulting in both wins and losses. Overall, online has been a blast.
Occasionally, you will notice lag in online play. The lag makes it harder to shoot fireballs or pull off combos. And this can be frustrating, but you can also learn to compensate for it.
If you are a longstanding fan of the Street Fighter II series, I recommend you purchase this game. It may be the most worthwhile $10 you will ever spend on a video game. However, players new to Street Fighter or casual gamers may want to download the demo first to ensure they can handle the game’s default difficulty.