Hyper Street Fighter II: Anniversary Edition (PS2/Capcom)
by joe barnes
Those of you who are sick of the whole Street Fighter II remake thing…this isn’t going to win you over. Mind, it is the best SFII remake you can find anywhere. But Capcom has kept that game alive for far too long. While we’ve still yet to be given a perfect ‘all in one’, this should really be it’s final hurrah.
The main reason to buy this game is the character selection, of course. The fact that you can play as any Street Fighter II character from any edition, specific moves included, is enough to warrant a purchase for many. And it really is something of a novelty to pit like characters from different SFII versions against each other. Chun Li, for example – her SFII play-style has changed dynamically over the years. Her fireball changes from charge to quarter-circle, she loses her dragon kick, things like this. It really is exciting, if you’re a SFII fan. And hey, Akuma/Gouki is still playable, with that same old impossible-to-remember code.
For many though, this will all remain a novelty. It’s far more satisfying for the casual player to stick to the Street Fighter II Super X versions, with their shorter charge times, less sensitive moves, and super meters.
And to be fair, the SFIISX characters have been made rather compelling. There seem to be a few extra frames of animation with every character, as compared to the last edition on the Dreamcast, and the voices appear to have been remastered, making them ultra-sharp.
There are non-specific updates as well – some good, some…a bit lackluster. Now your character’s profile appears below the lifebars – but looking at the static screen, they feel sloppily tacked-on. But the true transparency in the lifebars is nice, the inclusion of the (unsubtitled) Street Fighter II movie is very nice (though you can only pause it, not fast-forward or rewind…don’t touch that controller while it’s playing), and the ability to choose from CPS1, CPS2 or Arranged sountracks is extremely nice.
For those of you that never got to play the 3DO port of SFII – at least you can hear the music, as that’s what the AST is. Very classy updates of the classic tunes, but with more modern instrumentation.
By the same token, the general sound is done in a very interesting way. Each revision not only uses the voices from their respective games, but also the sound effects. It doesn’t matter who’s being hit, just who’s doing the hitting. When striking an opponent, a SFII Dash character makes a different sound than a SFII turbo character does. That’s rather nice.
And the control is absolutely spot-on. I had such an easier time controlling the more sensitive SFII characters than I ever did with the SNES pad. The SDMs though, are as touchy as they were when SFIISX first came out. The addition of analog-stick control helps with this though, allowing quicker, smoother circular motions. Indeed, there is not a better controlling SFII game out there, and I’ve played quite a lot of them.
But even with these auspicious beginnings, the game winds up a disappointment, considering what many of us were expecting. From here on in, there are just too many missed opportunities. That nice control I was just talking about – if you want to reconfigure, you’ll have to do it every time you play. That’s right – since there are no unlockables, they decided that it wasn’t necessary to include the ability so save. No highscores or auto-customized play for you!
They could have done so much more with this game. The endings, the backgrounds, all are from Street Fighter IISX. There are no bonus stages (cars, barrels), nor options to unlock them. In the one player mode, you can only fight against the IISX characters. It’s pretty unimaginative, aside from ability to match up characters from different game editions in two-player battles.
Now, the game is also being ported to the arcade, in spite of Capcom’s statement that they were retreating completely from that market. But as it happens, most of the popular character glitches (Guile’s ‘handcuffs’ move, Ryu’s invincibility frames, O. versions of boss characters in SFII) have been removed for this version. Yet…they left the slowdown in. hmmm.
Removing glitches is nice and everything, but by this time, the glitches have become an integral part of serious play. I’ll admit that personally, those exploits were used more frequently on me than by me. Even so, you expect them to be there. It’s curious though, while they ‘fixed’ minor details like the above, they completely ignored Guile’s SFII dominance. He can still make you dizzy with four hits, then go through the same motions to ‘redizzy’ you. Essentially, in the hands of a seasoned player, if SFII Guile hits you once, you may as well lay down your controller, because your time to participate has passed.
Suffice to say; while the physical control is tight, the quality control was not up to par in any other department.
This makes the game entirely unsafe for arcade, and tournament play, assuming the arcade and PS2 games are as identical as Capcom has indicated. The arcade folks, though, are the ones who would get the most out of these character subtleties. Hell, it’s obvious to me, why wasn’t it obvious to Capcom?
This kind of negligence indicates that they didn’t make the game for the arcade fans. And if not them, who was it made for? And why? Sheer obligation? Capcom clearly just didn’t care about this game.
There are no unlockables, and few options, past the ones I’ve mentioned. Again, these may be enough for some, but they’re unlikely to satisfy a gaming culture that grew up with the game. Street Fighter II shaped the way we played videogames. It was the first truly popular fighter...a cultural phenomenon that was never duplicated. We know Street Fighter II. And…this is it. But there’s nothing more to it. If you like the series at all, you’ve probably already owned at least three versions of this very game, be it the many SNES, PCE and Genesis versions, the 3DO and Saturn upgrades, the PC ‘perfect’ version, or the Dreamcast Matching Service disc.
If that’s the case, simply stated, this game has nothing new to offer you. But it could have. Here’s how my Street Fighter II Anniversary Edition would have gone:
Take the basic idea from this game – each character from each version of the game is selectable. Add the ability to chart your own path through the AI. You can choose the backgrounds (there were differences – the palm tree, the breakables in the stages, etc), and you can choose which version of which character you want to fight. You could fight your way through the entire catalogue of SFII Ryus if you wanted to.
Add the ability to play the bonus stages with any character, straight from a menu. Give various missions to release extras. An example: break 20 barrels in under 20 seconds.
Keep in the old jacked-up playable boss characters from the original SFII. If you don’t recall, in the SNES version of SFII, the bosses were not playable. But they *almost* were. The code had been partially implemented, and as a result, through various codes, you could play as extremely floaty, black and white versions of the SFII bosses. Quite fun, if bizarre.
Add the SFII tribute album as an additional remix. They released it at the same time, why the hell didn’t they include it?
Allow each character their version-specific ending, and once you’ve gotten it, you can view it in the gallery.
Add a survival mode, for christ sake.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be at least a little bit more excited by the game I just described. Sure, it would have been more work for Capcom, but…why not go out with a bang?
I sincerely believe that Capcom really wants to let this game die. Well, no, that’s not quite it. They want to let it die, but to somehow still make money off of it. Clearly they’re not ashamed of rehashes, but this is just sort of embarrassing. Minimal effort yields minimal result. Shooters have taught us – you’ve got to Be Attitude For Gains.
Maybe Capcom needs to play another shooter or two. Big company meeting, gathered round a Mars Matrix cabinet. Right next to it, a SFII CE machine. Over the PA: “Remember these games guys? You published both of them, and developed one. You’re not leaving this room until you figure out why.” Maybe we’d have gotten a better HSFII:AE, then.
Just let the game go, Capcom. You’re tired, we’re tired. Let’s take a nap and try something new in the morning.
joe barnes could go for some gains.
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