Review: Ultimate Street Fighter 2—The Final Challengers (Switch)

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom / Nintendo Australia
Genre: Fighting
Rating: T for Teen
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Price: $39.99
The classic SNES game returns for a 30th Anniversary outing. The Street Fighter franchise brings back memories of writing down and learning combos in notebooks while making your friend wait until you managed to finally land that Hadouken! The two big questions on everyone’s mind are how has it fared after all this time, and is it really worth that $40 price tag?

Content Guide

Spiritual Content
There are some magical references, such as characters throwing fireballs or energy blasts.  One character is described as being a Yogi and practices Yoga as part of his fighting style, however, it is not made explicit as to his religious beliefs.  The character Akuma is described as being a demon and there are references to psychic powers as part of some characters abilities.
Violence
Given that this is a fighting game, some violence is expected.  However, in comparison to other games of its genre, the violence is mild and has a comic book feel to it at times. There is little to no use of blood in the game, and it is saved predominately for the still images when a character has lost, focusing on the bruises and cuts suffered from a fight.  There are no “fatality moves” and it is clear that characters are beaten to fainting as opposed to death.
Language
The language used in the game is mild, particularly when taking into account the rating of the game.
Sexual Content
Some of the characters wear outfits that would be considered inappropriate, for example, Cammy wears a leotard and beret. In certain angles, particularly her victory pose, this is revealing.  With the use of HD graphics, the developers have included movements and poses that are suggestive in order to make them appear more realistic.
Drug / Alcohol Abuse
None was seen during the review.
Positive Content
The story implied by the game provides a “good vs evil” scenario where the artistic license used clearly depicts the moral compass of the character.  A number of characters have stories driven around honorable purpose and trying to save the world.

Review

I can still remember the first time I picked up a SNES controller, my cousin was always the one who had the latest consoles and this was no exception.  A week after release and he was showing me the only game he had for it, a fighting game called Street Fighter 2.  We played for hours, and I didn’t win a single game.  The franchise has had so many variations that the naming convention has become a thing of mockery and confusion. The latest outing is no exception as, as part of the 30th anniversary of Street fighter’s release, Capcom bring us Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers.

It’s always hard to review a franchise that invokes nostalgic feelings, but the odd thing about Ultra Street Fighter 2 is that it clearly belongs on the Switch. During the review, I had the ability to travel a lot, and I found that it was so easy to just pick up and play. Even when waiting for a connecting train with a friend, table top mode meant that in seconds we were trying to throw hadoukens and land “spinning bird kicks” as if the 90’s had never left us.

Arcade mode is exactly as you’d expect from a Street Fighter game. Choose a character from the now expanded roster of 19 (or use the random function for that added thrill!) and then fight your way through exotic locations against a variety of stereotypical characters as you aim to reach the final four bosses of Balrog, Vega, Sagat and M. Bison himself.  However, fans of the classic game will be disappointed to find that the bonus stages of destroying a car (which can be described as mindless vandalism) and timing attacks to break barrels have been removed from this version.  There is a wide range of difficulties available—more than your standard easy, normal and hard modes.  But on normal and hard I found the level of challenge to be fun, spurring me on to complete a fight rather than giving up.  The game has had some balance changes, one of which include being able to break being held, along with a few changes to specific characters. I noticed for example that Sagat isn’t quite as difficult to beat as in previous incarnations.

The controls are fairly smooth and responsive in local mode and the layout of the buttons repeat themselves, making it possible to choose between using the shoulder buttons and the standard “SNES” layout.  However, the lack of a D-pad on the left Joy-Con makes executing combo moves slightly more challenging.  The analog stick does help with this to a degree, but for anyone who is wanting to play this more than casually among friends, they may want to consider a pro controller or even the anticipated fighting controller being produced by Hori.
Most people playing Ultra Street Fighter 2 will be interested in the multiplayer modes available.  Capcom has made sure there is a wealth of options for players by including two local modes as well as the more commonly desired online multiplayer modes.  Buddy battle lets you team up with a friend to take on the world’s contenders and declare yourselves the champions. Versus is the classic 2-player game where the short term bragging rights of you and your friends are on the line.  Both these modes work well and again, with it being local play, there is little issue with controller lag.  The local multiplayer is perfect for table top mode; literally a few seconds is all it took for my friend to claim her first victory. Apparently, I haven’t improved with age.
Online play is where the learning curve is at its steepest. Familiarity with characters and their combo moves is a must along with a good sense of when to block and when to attack.  After a few matches, it became clear that this would not be a mode I intend to use often.  There is some slight lag at times depending on the quality of the internet connection being used, and this can obviously cause some frustration, particularly when the margin for victory is narrow.
In order to justify the price tag, Capcom has included an additional single player mode.  “The Way of the Hado” is a genius idea in principle.  Using the built-in motion controls of the Joy-Cons to enable the player to throw Hadokens, Shroyukens and clear wave after wave of enemies with Tatsumakis. I say this is a genius idea in principle because, in truth, the game just doesn’t work well enough to make it enjoyable. I had to use a lot of force to register an attack, and when it was registered, it often performed a different move to what I had instructed. The general feel while playing was that I had gone back to the days of the Wii, waving my arms around at some bargain basement title as opposed to using the latest technology to its full potential.

The Way of the Hado – So much wasted potential

Aside from the additional game mode, there aren’t many changes from the Super Street Fighter 2 HD Remix that launched on the Xbox 360 and PS3 a few years back.  There are however some new character additions in Evil Ryu and Violent Ken as well as the inclusion of Akuma as a playable character from the start rather than an unlockable. The game also allows you to utilize a color palette to customize your fighter, which is a fun option, but time-consuming to select the colors.

Color palettes make for a nice customization feature, but it is time consuming

Graphically, the game contains two options: a classic and an HD offering. The classic mode offers slightly improved sprite art that stays true to the original game design and helps cement the nostalgia factor.  The HD mode again isn’t much different from the HD remix used for Xbox and PS3; it provids a more cartoon appearance to your favorite characters. Both art styles are gorgeous to look at in their own rights and a lot of time had been spent to make the aesthetics of the fights appealing. However this isn’t extended to the assets used between fights. The fonts and backgrounds appear to have been quickly added together as an afterthought, and while they don’t detract from the game itself, it is also something that stuck out to me while playing. The graphics are complimented with a similar set up in audio. The classic sounds replicate those on the SNES while the HD audio uses new voice acting to complement the characters, of which Capcom has done well to try and keep these in fitting with the character’s backgrounds.

Overall Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is a good game on the Switch, and the classic Street Fighter formula has clearly found itself a new home.  It allows a portable retro gaming experience that individuals and friends can enjoy. For a game that hasn’t had much added to it since its previous outing, there are many people wondering if the price is justified. there is some legitimacy to this concern; perhaps more characters or some improvements to the “Way of the Hado” game would have made the game live up to it’s full potential.  When everything is taken into account though, this is clearly a title that fans of the series will want to pick up regardless of the price, while casual gamers will enjoy if the right bargain comes along.

 

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The Bottom Line

The classic fighting game has again found itself a new home on Nintendo Switch. The basic gameplay is fun and the aesthetics are mostly outstanding, but the overall experience is let down by the addition of rushed gimmicky features.

 

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Gareth Tucker

Residing in the UK, I spend my free time working through an ever growing back catalogue of new and retro titles. I love RPGs of all types and generally go for games that have a rich story behind them.

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