For fighting fans, this one legendary battle cry echoes in their minds with every button press, every charged move or every thrown opponent. But much more than a powerful attack, the longevity of this blow owes everything to a powerful sequence of arcade titles that revolutionized the fighting genre. There’s a reason why fifteen years after the launch of Street Fighter II, players still compete in tournaments or have massive debates over which version has better fighting mechanics. To these hardcore gamers, your definitive title has arrived. Capcom, on the heels of the successful Mega Man Anniversary Collection, has followed with Street Fighter Anniversary Collection.
If you take a look at the box, the game trumpets “two classic fighting games,” Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition. In fact, this is somewhat of a misnomer; in actuality, the Street Fighter II: Anniversary Edition hosts five separate versions of the Street Fighter II titles. Apart from the original Street Fighter II title, you’ll also find Street Fighter II Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II Turbo. For the uninitiated, this means that you’ll have the potential option to choose a fighter from the seventeen warriors scattered across these five iterations.
You’ll have the option to choose any one of these five versions initially upon starting within Arcade or Versus mode. This choice will also govern the specific artwork of each fighter and sound files within matches, so astute players (or serious fans) will notice the difference in costumes or art style from version to version, as well as the differences in story endings in the Arcade mode. However, it’s the versus mode that may inevitably provide the largest amount of replay, as players will be able to set up matches between these five editions to see which version of each character is best. Granted, it’s quite difficult for, say, the original Ryu to stand up to his Super Street Fighter II Turbo version, but you may have more of a chance with a later edition character.
By contrast, Street Fighter III: Third Strike is completely different, owing much to a redefined combat system and animated style. Perhaps the most noticeable facet of the Third Strike title is the introduction of newer characters into the Street Fighter universe, most of which have never been seen by players before. Focusing much more upon parrying and counterattacks instead of continual cornering attacks or persistent ranged attacks, Third Strike is a much faster, much more technical fighting game. It also provides larger, more extreme attacks thanks to the Super Arts maneuvers.
By contrast, the inclusion of Third Strike in the collection does seem somewhat slighted. It’s the only version from the Street Fighter III series found in the game. Both New Generation and Second Impact editions have been excised from this anthology, so it comes across as more of an afterthought than a legit addition. Other players will also notice that the computer, regardless of version chosen or character selected, does take advantage of every “cheap” move or buggy attack available to it. Yep, if you were infuriated with any of these maneuvers in the arcades, you’ll find them even more annoying at home. Better brush up on your combos, because they’ll completely be tested in this game. Fortunately, even the most expert fighter can draw on resources like the BradyGames strategy guide, which details not only the various differences between game versions, but effective combos, super moves and other attacks to help you gain the upper hand. The collection also demonstrates a lack of extras, such as online play or unlockable extras, diminishing the collection’s status even more. I know there’s a lot of art and media assets that Capcom has, but they’ve been left out. In fact, the primary bonus feature is the inclusion of the Street Fighter II animated movie. This is a nice surprise, but the censored version of the movie is a definite disappointment to any anime fan.
The movie also suffers from darker video transfers in some scenes. While this doesn’t plague the visuals in any one of the six game versions represented in the collection, you may notice some chunkier textures or not entirely smooth animated characters in certain sequences. You’ll also pick up on some slowdown that will pop up from time to time, which can be somewhat unfortunate. On the other hand, each version of the game is as close to a perfect translation of the arcade titles as you could get. Additionally, sound effects and voice clips, such as those announced at the end of a match, are virtually exact to that of the arcade. Music is just as well recreated, although players will have the option available to choose from the original score or the remixed score (quite a nice feature).
Fighting fans will be pleased to know that the spirit of the Street Fighting franchise is alive and well in this collection. While not fully comprising the complete scope of this ground breaking series, the Anniversary Collection does a great service to fans by providing six solid recreations of Street Fighter games. Most players will not be impressed because of the lack of extra features or secrets. However, if you’re a fighting devotee, this is a great addition for you because it will give your skills a challenge.