Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Savor Summer with Final Street Fighter II

The second the weather is anything but subzero, my mind fills with images of Super Mario, Nintendo Power, and Sega Genesis.

Summer once meant endless hours to obsess over video games, from playing and reading about them in magazines, to designing levels and original game concepts by hand. One summer I plunked down $150 on back issues of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, planted my ass on the floor, and absorbed hundreds of pages of Blue Blur lore. Another summer I nuked my way through an entire 1,000 level Duke Nukem 3D add-on. I mean, why not? I had the whole summer.

Time speeds up when you’re an adult. Summer vanishes in a mishmash of deadlines, bills, and what to make for dinner. Three hours with the PlayStation isn’t an epic afternoon, but time you could have spent taking out the garbage or looking for a new apartment or finding a better job.

The excitement of the changing seasons wore off a long time ago and I settled into a life of “just another day.” But the promise of summer still flicks that gaming switch in my head, and the Matt who read GamePro all day and played Nintendo all night smiles and says, “so what’s our plan today?”

And the answer on this sunny, nearly-summer afternoon is redesigning Street Fighter II.

As Capcom’s newest brawler, Street Fighter V, struggles to win over gamers who find the experience too limited, I remember the hours I spent on the Street Fighter II series on SNES and Genesis while the summer sun melted the pavement just outside my window. Later revisions of SFII added new playable characters, more attacks, and updated graphics and sound, but the core gameplay remained fresh and satisfying.

Hyper Street Fighter II, released in the early 2000s, was supposed to cram everything from the previous five games into a single, “greatest hits” masterpiece. It sounded like a dream come true for longtime fans.

Except it wasn’t. It was Super Street Fighter II Turbo with a few new features. Hyper felt rushed, a cash-in praying on a dozen years of nostalgia, similar to SFV’s current woes. So pulling a page from my younger self’s book, I got to thinking today, “what could I do to make this better?”

If you’re not a Street Fighter fan, the following might not mean much to you. But rest assured, it makes Summer Matt giddy as a schoolboy. A schoolboy with a Super NES. Who should be writing a press release right now.

I propose the last, definitive version of the game that started the one-on-one fighting craze of the ‘90s: Final Street Fighter II.


Play as all previous versions of characters, including "Old" Super Turbo and "bosses" from World Warrior.

Yeah, Hyper had a lot of character versions, but it was missing something. Remember how bad Sagat used to beat your ass way back in World Warrior when there were only eight playable characters? Remember how watered down Sagat and company were when you finally got to play them in Champion Edition? You felt cheated, didn’t you? Problem solved.

OK, so the four boss characters were overpowered as heck in Champion Edition. But not nearly as much as their World Warrior versions. Game balance be damned!

CPS1 “demixes” of Cammy, T. Hawk, Fei Long and Dee Jay. Include CPS1 light attack chains and differing properties for existing moves that are in line with World Warrior, Champion Edition, and Hyper Fighting respectively.

Back before Street Fighter went “super,” it made its home on the Capcom Play Choice (CPS1) arcade hardware. Super and Super Turbo used the power of the newest version of the board, CPS2, to add four “New Challengers.” And from that day forward, I’ve always wondered how characters like Cammy would have performed on the old hardware. What cheap tricks and unbalanced BS could players have unleashed to protect their tokens? Why not find out?

CPS1 and CPS2 music choices, like in Hyper SFII.

Here’s something Hyper got right. Cammy’s CPS1 theme is bangin’.

Include both the player and the CPU versions of Akuma, selectable without a code.

Akuma was a secret boss in the final arcade version of Street Fighter II. You could play as him if you entered a convoluted code that more often than not ended up with you selecting Ryu in a brown uniform instead, but he was pretty lame in comparison to the CPU version. Look, if you’re playing as a broken boss character, does game balance really matter anymore? Unleash the Raging Demon!

Chose any uniform color, regardless of character version.
Sure, in Hyper SFII you could play as World Warrior Guile, but he couldn’t wear his pink or purple tank tops from Super. WHAT IS THE POINT OF PLAYING AS GUILE IF I CANNOT BE PURPLE?

Toggle for boss names: English and Japanese options.

Back in the day, Capcom named the boxer in SFII M. Bison. Fearing legal action from Mike Tyson’s lawyers, they decided to change his name. So instead of just calling him “Punchy McGee” or something, they rotated the names of three characters, forever confusing the masses. Vega the dictator became M. Bison, Balrog the claw wielding Spaniard became Vega, and M. Bison, the boxer, became Balrog.

Anyway, if you want your boxer to be called Bison instead of Balrog, or your dictator to be Vega instead of Bison, you should be allowed to do so.

Include all stage backgrounds, as well as options for which version to display. Include a random mode for variety.

Hyper’s only got the art from Super and Super Turbo. Screw that.  I want to decide if Ryu’s stage is saturated in the glow of the setting sun like in World Warrior, or bathed in moonlight like in Hyper Fighting.

Allow player to pick the opponents' fighting style in arcade mode: All from one version of SFII or a randomly chosen mix.

All of the computer opponents in Hyper were their Super Turbo versions. If I wanted to play Super Turbo, I’d dig out my 3D0. Variety is the spice of life (and nostalgia), so give me that overpowered Champion Edition version of Bison and Chun-Li sans fireball in the same play though. Keep my on my toes, damnit.

Include a low tier path in arcade mode that has players fighting the weakest version of all 17 characters. End with a new, nerfed version of Akuma.

Because I want to feel like I am the best Street Fighter II player ever.

Do the same for a high tier path. End with Akuma.

Because I want to feel like I am the worst Street Fighter II player ever. 

Thank you for playing! Presented by Capcom (I wish).

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