"Get up, you wimp." That's all that needs to be said . . .
From this title's main menu you are faced with three options, the first of which is "Champion", the game's "normal" mode. When you choose it you are then presented with three sub-options, the first of which is called "Game Start". This sub-option encompasses the game's single player story mode. After selecting it you come to a map screen, with flags depicting the home locations of each fighter in the game. Below this map is a grid featuring head shots of all twelve fighters in the game (said characters include Ryu, E. Honda, Blanka, Guile, Balrog, Vega, Ken, Chun Li, Zangief, Dhalsim, Sagat, and M. Bison). You select your character from among this grid and then the map screen shows you flying to one of the other fighters' home territories . . . cue the beginning of your match. As for the matches themselves, they are the best two out of three, so you do have room for one loss, but no worries if you do lose two as there are unlimited continues in this game! Finish off all twelve fighters in the game and you've won! Fyi, the map screen appears between each fight, showing you flying off to meet your next opponent.
The second sub-option is called "V.S. Battle" and is the mode that pits two human controlled players against each other in battle. Getting in to this mode is pretty simple, first you each select the character you want to control from amongst the grid. Once that is confirmed you will come to a screen where you can set your Attack Level between levels 1-8 (this sets the damage level your character inflicts with one of his or her blows, allowing you to handicap matches if one player is significantly better than the other), set Special Moves (you can toggle each character's individual special moves on/off), and set Stage Select (choose where you want to fight, from among all twelve fighters' home territories). Once you've done all this you are off to the fights, for a best two out of three matchup.
The third and final sub-option we come to is "Group Battle", which is another multiplayer mode, only a little more elaborate. The mode itself is broken up in to two sub-options, the first of which is called "Match Play". To start Match Play off each player selects how many total players they'd like to control, between 1-6 of them, and then a round-robin type of draft ensues where each player picks his/her individual fighters. After the character(s) have been selected you then set the Attack Level, Special Moves and Stage Select (as I just described in the paragraph above). Once these details are decided upon the fighting begins, with matches that pit one of each player's selected characters against the other's. The fighting goes on until all matches are complete, the player who wins the most overall matches is the winner! These matches are different in that they are single elimination, not the best two out of three.
The other sub-option under Group Battle is called "Elimination" and works somewhat similarly to Match Play. First off each player chooses the total number of characters he/she wants to control, but the difference here is that they don't have to be the same, you can have one player controlling six characters for example, while the other player controls just two. After setting these numbers a round-robin type of draft ensues where the individual fighters are selected. Next you set the Attack Level, Special Moves and Stage Select. After all this is taken care of the fighting begins, with one of each player's selected fighters squaring off against the other. The difference in this mode is that the fighter who wins the match gets to move on and keep fighting in the next match, while the fighter who loses is eliminated. Whichever player takes their fighters to the end, eliminating all of the competition, is the winner! These matches are single elimination also.
Heading back to the main menu the second option we come to is called "Hyper". This game mode comprises the exact same three sub-options as I just described above from Champion mode, including "Game Start", "V.S. Battle" and "Group Battle". All aspects of these game modes remain the same as I just described. The difference is that Hyper mode is the one that allows you to greatly alter the gameplay speed, giving your Street Fighter experience a definite crazy, caffeine rush type edge! Before you select Hyper from the main menu you can use the D-pad to set the Hyper rating between 1-10 stars, 1 being the slowest setting and 10 being the fastest. The only other difference is that the fighters' outfit colour schemes are reversed in this mode.
The third and final option on the game's main menu is titled "Options". Here you can adjust a good number of the game's settings including the Difficulty (set between 1-8 stars, 1 being easy and 8 being hard), Time Limit (toggle on/off), Key Config. (here you can view and edit the button assignments for each player's controller), Music Test (here you can sample any of the 30+ music pieces found throughout the game) and S.E. Test (here you can sample any of the 60+ sound effects found throughout the game).
Once you are in the midst of the game action Street Fighter II has to offer there is nothing really to watch out for. There are no foreign objects to use on your opponent, no bonus points to be had . . . it's just you and your hands and feet, ready and willing to obliterate all who step in your way. As for the game screen, it actually has a fair amount of information to offer up. In the top left hand corner of the screen is the 1P (player one) indicator, just to the right of this is that player's current score and his or her initials (if they choose to enter them). In the top right hand corner of the screen is player two's (if applicable) current game score, just to the left of this is the 2P indicator and his or her initials (once again, if they choose to enter them). In the top middle of the screen, sandwiched between all of this other information, is the current game high score that has been set throughout your current round of play. Immediately below all of this information I have just described you will find two yellow bars/meters. The meter on the left indicates player one's health, and the one on the right indicates player two's (or the cpu's) health. As a fighter takes damage during a round his or her meter will drain, turning red as it does so. Once the meter is completely depleted that fighter is defeated and loses the round. Just below each of these yellow meters, on the far left and right hand sides of the screen, are the character's applicable names. There is a space to the far left and far right of the screen, just beside these meters, where an orange and white icon of some sort (I can't tell what it is!) will appear after you've won a round of fighting during your match. These icons provide a quick glance update on who has won how many rounds of fighting. In the middle of the screen, just below the health meters, is the match timer (if that setting is turned on, which it is by default). The counter for each round starts at 99 and counts downwards. If the match hasn't ended within the time limit the player with the most health remaining wins. If each player has the same amount of health left it is called a draw. Finally, after the match is over in single player mode your round score will be displayed in the exact middle of the screen. Your score is based on how much health you have remaining (you receive a bonus for a perfect round, as in not taking any damage) as well as how long it took you to win the fight.
There are many other types of screens you will encounter in this game as well, like after your matches in single player mode there will be a screen that shows the winner trash talking the loser, followed by the Continue? screen (if necessary). After completing the single player mode you'll be asked to enter your initials for the high score list, and then said list will be displayed. In the two player modes you will receive a screen at the end summarizing each player's performance, as well as a screen that tallies overall win/loss records.
The control scheme is pretty funky for Street Fighter II. As for the D-pad, pressing left will make your character move backwards, while pressing right will make him or her move forwards. Pressing down puts your character in a crouch (press down/left for a more defensive crouch, for ease of blocking, and press down/right for a more offensive crouch, for launching attacks). Pressing the up button makes you jump straight up in the air, while pressing up/left makes you back flip, and pressing up/right makes you flip jump forwards. Note that these controls assume you are in control of player 1, who starts on the left side of the screen and faces to the right. For controlling player two the commands are simply reversed. As for the other controls, the A button launches a weak punch/kick, the B button launches a medium punch/kick, and the C button launches a heavy punch/kick. If you get in close to your opponent and press the punch/kick buttons you can execute different types of throws and holds. To toggle between the punch and kick functions press the Start button (by default you start off each round of fighting in punch mode). Because the Start button is used for this toggling function there is no way to pause this game, one of the only games I've ever played that you can't pause! There's a piece of trivia for ya. Lastly, each character in the game has his or her own signature special moves that they can execute, usually between 2-3 of them. These special moves usually involve inputting some sort of sequence on the D-pad followed by pressing a certain button. The moves are far too extensive to list here though.
The presentation behind Street Fighter II is really, really good! It's a Capcom title so naturally the graphics are top notch for the time frame in which it was released. It also has that kind of cartoony feel to it that Capcom is so good at, although it's not as heavy as in some of their other games like Mega Man and such. The character designs are great, they are all very unique and interesting. The graphics used for both the characters and backgrounds are very well polished, colourful, and defined. This game looks really good. As for sound, the same goes there. With over 30 musical pieces and over 60 sound effects you don't get tired of what you hear coming out of the TV speakers. Gameplay and controls are well done also, there is nothing technically wrong with this game in the least!
As for pros and cons, as you may suspect the pros certainly rule the day! First of all, for it's time this was a very unique style of game that really set the video game world abuzz, it was a revelation. Everybody played Street Fighter back in the day! How sound it is technically is certainly another of it's most important pros, there is just nothing wrong with this game at all. I also really enjoy the various different game modes. The unique multiplayer modes gives you a bit of variety, and the Hyper mode brings the hilarity level super high when the characters jump around like they're all cracked out! The only thing I don't like about this game, and this style of game in general, is how short it is. To complete the game all you have to do is win 12 matches . . . that's it! Game over. This hurts it's replayability factor big time, especially if you are an only child like I am and have nobody to partake in the multiplayer modes with. Other than that this game is fantastic!
I have a couple tips and tricks I can offer up for this game, but not many in the grand scheme of things, this game is pretty simple in essence. First of all, I would experiment with the game on an easier difficulty level to begin with. Getting your butt kicked all over the place doesn't help you learn how to play the game. But having a bit of time and space to figure out the controls, enemy tendencies, and special moves does, and will go a long way to improving your skill set asap. Once you've experimented a bit I also recommend picking between 1-3 characters that you really enjoy using and learning as many of their special moves as possible. This will help you get the most out of your fighters, and having a backup or two comes in handy when one of your characters can't seem to defeat a particular opponent for some reason. Some fighters match up better against others, so switching things up like this can help.
In summary, although definitely way too short, the cartoon violence and mayhem Street Fighter II offers up sure makes it worthwhile! All these years later this game remains a blast to play, and you can still sense the innovation behind it. The Street Fighter brand is a staple, in my opinion!