Hyper Street Fighter 2 is an essential purchase for any fan of either Street Fighter or nostalgia.

User Rating: 8.3 | Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition PS2
In the early 1990s, Capcom changed the world of gaming by releasing the one-on-one fighting game Street Fighter 2. Selecting from 8 protagonists, players would face the remaining cast in a series of "best of 3" brawls before taking on 4 boss characters. Fighting games were not an original concept at the time, but Street Fighter 2's unique approach redefined the genre and captured the hearts of gamers at the time. Over the years, the game saw a series of subtle upgrades, climaxing at Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo in 1994. To mark the 15th anniversary of Street Fighter 2, Capcom has released Hyper Street Fighter 2: The Anniversary Edition for the Playstation 2. This is actually a review of the PAL version of the game. While American gamers will be treated to a package deal containing both Hyper Street Fighter 2 and Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike, The Anniversary Edition was released as a standalone game in PAL territories. Hyper Street Fighter 2 is a collection, but it is not a set of straight ports like the Street Fighter Collection for PSOne. It contains every fighter from the series' evolution, all wrapped up into one tidy package. If you don't know how Street Fighter 2 plays, you should find a real estate agent to help you relocate from under your rock. The basic gameplay of attacking your opponent to drain their life bar while keeping yours intact remains essentially the same. However, there are a few differences in Hyper Street Fighter 2. On entering the game, players will first be able to choose what series they would like to pick from and then select from the available characters. The 5 modes on offer are Normal (the original crew of 8), Champion, Hyper, Super and Super Turbo. In each mode, the characters are exactly as they appeared in the corresponding version of the game. Players may then take that character and challenge a selection from the remaining cast, although the computer will always pick the Super Turbo version of your opponent. While it might seem like it would be foolish not to pick the fleshed out Super Turbo editions of each character, there is actually more to the modes than a cheap gimmick. Each character differs slightly between each of the modes. For example, Super Turbo Ken has a completely new standard moves set while Super Ken retains the classic Shotokan he had in the earlier versions. However, Super Ken's Air Tatsumaki feels the affects of gravity, while Hyper Ken's Air Tatsumaki allows him to travel directly across the screen in linear fashion. Another example lays in Chun Li, whose Super Turbo Spinning Bird Kick motion allows for a more turtle friendly style of play, while her Hyper fireball motion allows for quicker execution. These small differences affect the style of play and the way a character is handled. It's more subtle than picking from the different "grooves" or "isms" that are found in other branches of the Street Fighter tree. One thing that must be noted is the difficulty of this game. The game has had the original Japanese difficulty left in, instead of being made easier like previous Western releases of the game. The computer controlled players are now completely ruthless and will test even the most skilled of players. They will mercilessly punish mistakes, while hardly making any of their own. Their blocking is immaculate and their execution flawless. You can jump kick Zangief in the head and connect, yet he will have you in the Spinning Pile Driver before you've even touched the ground. Players will really have to use every ounce of skill they possess, especially on the higher difficulty settings as this is easily the hardest version of Street Fighter 2 yet. Graphically, Hyper Street Fighter 2 is faithful to the arcade version, even featuring the slowdown present in the arcade. The slowdown could be defended through either the concept of nostalgia, or the idea of keeping the timing faithful to the arcade. However, in the modern gaming world, saturated with eye-candy, players might find this slowdown inexcusable. It also doesn't help that while the character and background designs still hold up their charm today, the graphics are starting to look dated, especially when compared to games like Guilty Gear Isuka. However, Hyper Street Fighter 2 is meant to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, so it wouldn't be fair to expect anything more from the graphics. Some nice graphical touches come into play with the different modes. While the general presentation of the game follows Super Street Fighter 2, certain graphical details depend on the mode that you have selected. Characters will have the portraits that correspond to the mode chosen. Picking Normal will remind gamers of how ugly the original cast appeared, even the lovely Chun Li. In addition, the characters special attacks will be based on what mode they are in. Pre-Super Ryu will have the classic pair of hands in the blue fireball, where post-Super Ryu will have the slicker, more etheral looking fireball. In a neat touch, both pre-Super Ryu and Ken will both throw the occasional red fireball, which should bring a smile to the face of any gamers who remember that particular glitch. The sound also recieves similar treatment. Sound effects and voice samples depend on what mode the player has chosen. The announcer is always the Super Turbo announcer, but the individual characters' voices will vary. Super Turbo Guile doesn't sound quite as tough as his pre-Super self. Ryu and Ken will both have their raspy voices when picking anything pre-Super where post-Super Ken will sound like he is crying "Attack that squirrel jet!" every time his Tatsumaki is unleashed. The music, however, has been given a bit of make over. The iconic soundtrack has been given an arranged version - which is set as the default BGM - which really takes the quality up a notch. While some versions have benefitted more than others - Chun Li and Vega's themes are especially amazing - all the songs enjoy a general step up in quality. However, those feeling nostalgic will be pleased to know that you can also select from the CPS I and CPS II board soundtracks. Even more impressive is the fact that if the pre-Super CPS I soundtrack is chosen, the "New Challengers" themes, including Akuma, have all been given classic versions. These versions work well and don't feel out of place at all in the deliberately low quality soundtrack. The general presentation and features of the game can seem pretty bare bones. There are only 3 gameplay modes - Arcade, Versus and Training, all self explanitory - and a Gallery mode. In the Gallery mode, players will be able to check out the introductions and staff rolls to each of the 5 games in the series, as well as being able to listen to any of the tracks for each of the 3 soundtracks. Also included is the 1994 Street Figher 2 animated movie and while it features scene skipping through the use of the shoulder buttons, it has had a certain shower scene with Chun Li cut, which might disappoint certain fans. However, it's still a nice bonus to the package, but it would have been nice to perhaps see a gallery of the Street Fighter art work over the years, especially since the game is on a DVD disc. The game does feature a 60Hz option, which should please PAL gamers who are used to years of bordered Street Fighter that isn't running at full speed, affecting timing for combos. There is also no loading outside of entering and exiting the Gallery, which is very pleasing to see. Gamers have suffered long loading times with CD-based Street Fighters for years now, so to have the game run as if it was at the arcade is excellent. The game also features the hidden character Akuma, who is only available through the classic character select cheat, which keeps the game true to its roots, unlike Super Street Fighter 2: Revival on the GBA. However, the game lacks a save feature of any kind, which is disappointing. There is no ability to save options or high scores and while the default options will be ideal for most people, those that wish to change the standard button configuration will find it a pain to set up every time. All in all, Hyper Street Fighter 2 achieves what it sets out to do. It's a charming tribute to the 15 years of Street Fighter history and a fine game in its own right. While it is starting to look dated graphically, the gameplay holds up well, even today. In an industry where games are becoming overly complicated, it's refreshing to go back and experience simple gameplay that relies on a player's skill and strategy opposed to bloated moves lists and gimmicks. Hyper Street Fighter 2 is an essential purchase for any Street Fighter fan or for those who want to indulge in some good old nostalgia. In addition, since American gamers will be getting this packaged with the stunning 3rd Strike, all for a bargain price, they won't have any excuse not to pick it up.