Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: May 26, 2017

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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Switch Review - 'Ultra Super Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers'

by Brian Dumlao on June 6, 2017 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Street Fighter II returns featuring all of the classic characters, a host of brand new features as well as two new fighters; Evil Ryu and Violent Ken.

Buy Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

In the two months since its debut, the Nintendo Switch has become a hotbed for fighting fans looking for the classics. Granted, all of the fighters are coming from the Neo Geo camp, but few will complain about getting Garou: Mark of the Wolves, The King of Fighters '98, or Samurai Shodown IV on a system that has yet to receive the Virtual Console component. Of course, a conversation about classic fighting games ultimately leads to talking about at least one incarnation of Street Fighter. While Capcom doesn't yet have any intentions of breaking console exclusivity for Street Fighter V, it has given Switch owners Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers.

At its core, Ultra Street Fighter II is a port of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, which is itself a hybrid port and reimagining of the original arcade title that came out on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2008. The mechanics that kept players coming back remain unchanged, so anyone who has had extensive experience with either the original arcade or the HD Remix will instantly be able to take on the game. That said, the game already faces an uphill battle since the Switch title costs $40, close to three times the initial cost of the copies on other platforms. If this were merely a straight port, then the cost difference would definitely be a huge cause for concern. However, when you make some comparisons between the games, you'll see that some work has been done to improve over the original, even if it doesn't completely justify the price increase.

The first change is that the game now includes the original graphics and sound in addition to the remixed material. That doesn't seem like much until you realize that the Xbox 360 and PS3 didn't include this. As in Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap, you can mix and match the audio and visual styles to your liking, but you can't do that on the fly, so you have to quit a fight and go to the options screen if you want to make changes.

Training mode has also gotten some tweaks. Training dummy options are here, and you have the ability to tweak your Super meter, so it either acts normally, gets filled at the beginning, or is infinite. There's a command history list that also lets you see the time between commands, and you also have a chart that gives you stun times and attack height info. Compared to what players got in 2008, this is pretty informative.

Like Training mode, online play has been upgraded to meet modern expectations. You have rankings based on a point system and the ability to assign country flags and titles. You can also set things up so you can keep playing the solo modes against the CPU while waiting for an online opponent. Those are all fine additions, but the real concern for many is the actual online performance. The release in 2008 was mediocre in this department, and the hope is that the passage of time has made this area better. The good news is that against various Wi-Fi strengths, the online performance is good, and there's no hint of lag. Players could get into matches quickly, and the population for the game is pretty healthy at launch, so it doesn't take long to find an opponent.

The most notable change has to be the character roster. Akuma is selectable out of the box instead of being hidden away. Evil Ryu from Street Fighter Alpha 2 is here, and he plays much like he always has, which is simply Ryu with Akuma's shadow teleport and super move thrown in for good measure. Violent Ken will only be new to you if you've never played SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, but he's more exciting to play with. He's essentially a faster Ken, but his shadow teleport doesn't come with a delay, and his super move is an extended six-hit combo that ends with a flaming Shoryuken.

Despite the additions to the core game, it is missing one thing found in the previous generation versions: dip switches. The switches merely tweak some of the mechanics that would be missed by casual players, but it's odd that it's missing here when the previous version had it.

Move away from the improvements and additions, and you have a few new modes. Color mode lets you save a custom color palette for any of the fighters, provided you're willing to overwrite one of the 10 available slots for them. There's also the gallery, which lets you look at Street Fighter Artworks: Supremacy, an out-of-print book that was only released in Japan. The good news is that the art is completely unlocked from the outset, so there's no grinding needed if you wanted to check it out.

Buddy Battle is slightly more involved than Dramatic Battle, which was introduced in Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold. Choosing either two players vs. the CPU or a player and CPU tandem vs. a CPU opponent, you engage in two-on-one battles against four opponents: Akuma, Evil Ryu, M. Bison and Violent Ken, all of whom have extended life bars. The mode is easier than the main arcade game, but it's also short. It would've been nicer to have an arcade-length scenario to give the mode some legs.

Of all of the new modes, Way of the Hado is both interesting and a grim reminder of what some developers did in the Wii era. You play as Ryu, and you stand perfectly from a first-person perspective while hordes of Shadaloo soldiers come at you. You use a Joy-Con in each hand, but you quickly discover that aside from blocking, you can't perform any normal punches or kicks. Instead, you can only perform special moves, like the Hadoken and hurricane kick as well as your super Hadoken if your meter is filled up. Those moves are performed via motion controls, with you pantomiming the moves with your hands. For example, the Shoryuken is done by holding your left hand close to you while your right hand rises in an uppercut motion, and the Hadoken is done by holding your hands parallel to one another in horizontal fashion and pushing forward.

Despite the advances in motion technology over the years, the controls in this mode simply don't work. You already sense that when you train for each special move and notice that they activate on their own. In the actual game, the moves only work half of the time, and some motions that are specific to one move suddenly trigger a different move. You can't fool the game into executing moves by flailing around, but it can take several tries to do something, so it's difficult to even beat the first level of the mode. That's a shame since there's some levelling where you can power up Ryu's stats as you see fit, but only those willing to deal with that frustration will get to dabble with that.

If there is a silver lining, it is that the mode uses the art style from Street Fighter IV (and V, to a degree). It runs at a full 60fps, even with multiple enemies on-screen on both docked and portable mode, and the level of detail you saw from those titles shows up here as well. It may clash with the art style of the rest of the game, but it brings hope that the Switch can handle the modern stylings of a Capcom fighter.

Speaking of which, even though this is technically a port, it is surprising to see some changes to the overall presentation. The graphics remain the same, so the HD mode gives you the Udon comic illustrations while still retaining the limited movements of the original. It works well for gameplay, since the timing remains near-perfect, but the background looks stiff. The new graphics are also missing some details, like the insignias on Zangief's stage and the moving boat in Ken's level. The sound has been redone in the HD mode, with new voices from the latest Street Fighter games brought in for the classic characters. The music has also changed, with the new mixes retaining the flavor of the original tracks and sounding better than the HD Remix. Audio for the new mix is a little worse, with a lower overall volume and some effects, like the trumpeting of elephants in Dhalsim's stage, are simply missing.

The main concern is the controls. Since the arcade stick doesn't have a release date yet, the Pro controller is currently the best way to play the game. With 8bitdo controllers recently receiving a patch to make them Switch compatible, they tie with the Pro controller, especially for those who mostly played Street Fighter II on consoles. Joy-cons attached to their dock are fine, and those playing in handheld mode get the option to use touch-screen buttons to execute special moves. That's a good move for those who enjoyed the feature in Super Street Fighter IV 3D but remains awkward to use otherwise. Then there's the Joy-cons turned on the side, like a tiny control pad. They work fine in a pinch since there are enough buttons for the job, and the layout isn't bad. However, those with large hands will find them to be too small for prolonged gaming periods, so they're only an option if you haven't invested in other controllers.

There's no argument that the gameplay in Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is timeless. It strikes the right balance between technical flash and grounded mechanics to provide an experience that captivates all types of fans, whether they're jumping into fighting games for the first time, stopped playing from Street Fighter III onward, or never stopped playing fighting games. The various extras, however, feel half-heartedly done. From the Buddy Battle mode to the abysmal Way of the Hado, few things feel fully fleshed out, while parts of the presentation fare worse than the work Backbone Entertainment did almost 10 years ago. At least the online works fine this time around, which may be enough to entice some players. With a price tag of $40, the game represents a very steep cash grab, so unless you're adamant about getting Street Fighter II on the Switch, it's best to wait for a sale or a price drop.

Score: 6.5/10

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