Street Fighter II is almost a series unto itself, with a slew of remixes to its name which have added mechanic tweaks and variations over the years. Ultra Street Fighter II, aside from a few extra modes and a couple of new characters, doesn’t deviate from the norm, so to delve into what the game actually is would be somewhat redundant. It’s Street Fighter II – its had some incarnation released on most major systems for the past three generations. Even people who don’t play video games very often have likely picked up a controller for this game at least once. Instead, I’ll be talking about what Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers (yes, that’s its full title, hereafter referred to as USFII:TFC) brings to the table that’s already crowded with re-releases. In the end, it’s not a whole lot – not enough to be worth a full price release, at any rate.
You were doing so well, Capcom – what happened to the gusto you displayed with Resident Evil VII?
I just want to get a few things out of the way now, so we’re all clear on exactly where I stand as far as this series is concerned. I haven’t played Street Fighter II since Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and I only played it on the SNES, not any of its re-releases across later gen consoles. While none of the characters are particularly virtuous in their racial representations, Dhalsim has always been pretty racist, even in the ’90s. That said, Zangief is the best character ever – ever – and if you can’t at least agree that he’s rad as hell, you’re a terrible person, and I hate you. Also, Fei Long is the laziest character ever put into a video game. I know that it’s fairly common practice to base fighting game characters on real-life entities, but Fei Long is straight up Bruce Lee, high pitched screeching and all. They didn’t even try to hide it. Okay, we good? Moving on.
Honestly, it’s a fighting game – I could have written anything there and someone would have disagreed. Come at me, Internet.
USFII:TFC introduces two new characters in the form of Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, both of whom take a leaf out of Fei Long’s book by being near-carbon copies of their predecessors. Unless you’re the kind of person that takes Street Fighter so seriously that you basically have a uni degree in a particular character’s moveset, you’ll notice little to no difference. They’re not even “new” characters, with Evil Ryu appearing in Street Fighter Alpha 2, and Violent Ken coming from SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos. “Ultra” is also kind of a misleading title, in my opinion, because even though the roster boasts nineteen characters, it’s not every character that’s appeared in a Street Fighter II game.
“Ultra” not living up to its name is kind of a consistent theme with this game, as there’s so much more that it could have done to earn that title. The play speed is much slower than that of Turbo, for instance, but that faster speed could have been an option to be turned on or off. The “Buddy Battle” is actually the “Dramatic Battle” from the Alpha games, which allows two players (or one player and a CPU if you have no friends) to fight against a CPU controlled enemy. This could have been expanded to allow for a 2v1 with all human players, mutators that made the single fighter far stronger than the other two, or a two-headed giant mode that allowed a 2v2 fight. Just bringing back a single, unchanged old mode isn’t very “ultra,” Capcom.
There isn’t even a mode where I’m just beating the absolute piss out of cars. WHERE’S MY ENDLESS BONUS MODE, CAPCOM!?
There are other features present but, in my opinion, they’re minor and hardly “make or break” the game’s quality. There’s a digital gallery of the SF20: The Art of Street Fighter art book, there’s the online play, of course, which… Works? It works. That’s really the best thing I can say about it, that it doesn’t lag and otherwise runs like other SF online modes. USFII:TFC does allow you to switch between updated or classic audio/visuals, but the updated audio is nothing special, bordering on kind of lame. The updated art style does look nice. However, I personally prefer the old pixel-style graphics. This is a personal preference, and what people get out of it will vary, but if this game was about going “back to its roots,” then it didn’t do a great job.
There is just one other thing. I won’t deny that I had some fun with “Way of the Hado.” It’s a first-person, 3D mode that uses the joy-con motion controls for pulling off special moves as Ryu. It’s essentially a turret shooter that has bad guys standing idle and gormless until remembering that they should be, you know, attacking you. When they do attack, it’s slow and telegraphed, and your hadouken can completely counter just about everything, to the point where they might as well not even bother trying. That said, the challenge is in getting the motion controls to work at all, with the game reacting to your motions like a concussed fighter trying to identify how many fingers are in front of their face. It gets boring quickly, is what I’m saying, but at the same time it’s fun to shout “HADOUKEN!” and thrust your arms out, then have an actual energy ball spring forth. If nothing else, it’s a good test for what ARMS will be like.
More like “Way of the Shoe-Horned Novelty Feature We Hoped Would Distract from the Ridiculous Price Point,” Capcom.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers. Like many others, I think the biggest draw was that it’s another SFII remix game, which have traditionally been well received in the past and a joy to play, even if you’re not a fighting game fan. There were so many missed opportunities to introduce new modes or improve versions of old modes, and anything that was included honestly felt like it was thrown in as filler. As far as SFII sub-series re-releases go I can unequivocally say that this is the worst; for both time and money, there are better SFII remix titles out there that you could be playing. It’s plain to see that Capcom, knowing that the SFII allure would sell units, pushed out a half-assed release as a full priced game. If this is their idea of quality these days, they need to let this sub-series rest.