Thursday, 12 June 2014

Street Fighter 2 (SNES)



"The Country Warrior" just confused a lot of people.
At a time where consoles and home computers were catching up to the arcades in terms of quality and performance, some games matched their arcade counterparts (in a fashion) while other games were mere shadows of their arcade counterparts. However when Street Fighter 2 hit the arcades, its resounding success was touted to be ported onto the Super Nintendo and as a boxed bundle, likely doing almost as much for the console as the fat plumber did in the first place. What people got, was a near-perfect replication of the game people had pumped credits into for a long time and finally a machine that showed it could almost managed what was being done on the bigger machines in arcades.

...Kicking the shit out of me would help too.
Street Fighter 2 on the SNES is likely one of the best arcade to 16-bit conversions attempted. There's a few slight differences and beyond that not much really in the way of gameplay. A few frames of animation have been cut, some of the attack and throw animations are different to compensate for the changes but otherwise all the moves, all the levels and all the music is there in a manner of speaking.

But as a game, what is it like?

And already you're thinking of THAT music, I'm proud of you.
Fundamentally, it's the Mano-a-Mano (or claw if you're Vega) combat of one person and another, going toe-to-toe with some special abilities in a limited arsenal of power moves and special attacks to try to damage the other person enough to drop their health to zero and win the round. Punches, kicks, jumps, fireballs, power moves and throws all add to the roster and fairly uniquely for almost each character (Ken and Ryu being basic palette swaps in this version, later games they differed more significantly in strength and attacks). There's 8 main characters ranging from slight and light Chinese girl, to heavy and chunky slow Russian fighter, to a monster, a sumo wrestler, two shotokan fighters (this was before the retcon to their specific schools of combat), an American pilot and the mystical Indian stretchy man. Throw in the 4 bosses as well and you've a very varied, very colour school of rogues as a 12 character fighter.

I had heard the Russians were capable of some mad dances, this isn't one of them.
There's strengths and weaknesses to every character. Some are faster and more agile. Some are less agile but tend to tank the damage better than others. Some have rapid-fire attacks while others have projectiles, there's a large mix up and almost something for everyone and their preferred style of gameplay. Most of the characters can be paired up with someone else as a "balanced" match (most...) so for two players there's a lot of different combinations of fighters to use and enjoy together.

Hardly seems fair to fight a stretchy man who can teleport and breathe fire.
Each character has their own stage and level, which you'll encounter while playing through arcade mode and see the focus, fine detail and attention gone into the presentation of the game. It's a wonderfully smooth game, with lush graphics for the machine and fluid, very responsive, gameplay that brings about one of the best reasons to actually own a Super Nintendo Entertainment System with a controller almost built as if its sole intention was to be able to play this game. 6 buttons, 6 attacks: 3 punches, 3 kicks and a D-Pad to move, it's quite the achievement and mapped almost perfectly for the players to use (though I still switch out the strong and medium attacks). Every few levels or so, you'll encounter a bonus level which is to smash up a car, or break up a wall. The faster you do it, the more bonus points you can score, nothing really pertinent about it but it does make for an interesting change in the game.

The first boss adds that added air of extravagance.
The AI comes across as fairly balanced around level 4 in difficulty while at level 7 it'll test you or make you exploit the AI weaknesses and cause triggers to ensure you'll always be able to do things that the computer will fall for every time. There are some shortcomings in the unfairness factor, such as the computer being able to pull off moves and specials that it couldn't possibly do if played by someone. Such as being able to instantly do moves that require the player to hold for 2 seconds before attacking. Such as Guiles overhead kick and Blanka's rolling ball attack, or E.Honda's blubber bullet for that matter.

It was a tough match, we eventually called it a draw.
By today's standards, the game is slow. But then this is the version before we starting to go Hyper-Turbo-Ex-Plus-Alpha-Mini-Driver-3D-suck-my-arse-off edition. It's core, it's base but it's good and it's enjoyable to the point of becoming tactical as a fighter rather than picking some overpowered prick and hitting people with moves they can't block *coughAkumacough* (love him really) and as a defining point in the franchise and home-computer vs. arcades, you really couldn't have picked a better band wagon to get upon to do it.