On the surface, Capcom's Street Fighter and Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade seem like a fait accompli. And now, the most famous fighting game in the early 1990s makes its long awaited debut on the Xbox 360. The Hyper Fighting edition, for those who don't know, adds faster gameplay and some moves you can perform mid air. It was put out by Capcom to eliminate all the crazy hacking at the arcades that led to upper cuts that went all the way across the screen. In general, everything is faithful and fairly orthodox to the original Street Fighter II release.
I have always wondered why there were no fighters from Africa and why, in subsequent editions, Zangief continues to hail from USSR (which dissolved the year Street Fighter II came out). Looking back, modern critics have riled Street Fighter II for being needlessly complex in its special moves but veterans will feel right at home with every fireball and pile driver. All the sights and sounds are authentic including the announcer who is immortalized with his shouts of “Perfect”, “You Lose” and “Japan”. No background animation has been stripped and the only thing I found amiss were the elephant sounds at Dhalsim's stage. They didn't sound so whiny at the arcades.
The PC Engine used to have something close to six buttons that mirror Street Fighter II's controller layout. However, consoles have come a long way since then and now the Xbox 360's controller can only afford four buttons with the fierce punch and kicks moved to the shoulder buttons. It makes the game more difficult to play and definitely takes some getting used to. No matter what I did after mastering them, I still thought the controls weren't quite perfect. Then again, anybody who spent time at the arcades knew you were always randomly handicapped when playing on old Street Fighter machines because either the P1 or P2 controls were broken beyond repair.
Even without the control issues, Street Fighter II is one of the tougher fighting games out there. For the first few stages, you can probably get by with simple throws, punches and kicks. Indeed, I often beat E. Honda by repeatedly throwing projectiles at him. After about the third fight, you'll have to use some combos and special moves to really get ahead without relying on blind luck. There are some loopholes though. For example, having another player join and use all the unbeaten fighters will effectively let you win the game without fighting the vicious but configurable AI.
One of the most important features to Street Fighter II is the introduction of an online mode that lets you play a live human opponent. Does lag figure into play? Yes, for some games it does. But what's more disappointing is the opportunity squandered by Capcom. Street Fighter II was more of a communal game at the arcades than anything else. It was always about the guy in the corner with a crowd around him beating any new challenger who came by. I'm sure it isn't hard to add observers and listings of games by which player has the longest win streak.
Anyone who knows to get their quarters ready when your friend is dying in Round 2 or Round 3 of a fight with the computer AI will likely appreciate this infinitely replayable fighting game. Street Fighter II achieved near mythical status in the early to mid 1990s (Is it Roo or Rye-oo? Is Sheng Long an unlockable character?). There is a reason why it has continued to endure throughout the years. With its eclectic mix of fighters, Street Fighter II is a great high profile addition to the Xbox Live library. It clearly could have used more time in the shop, particularly for multiplayer, to make it more than just a regular port.