Shoryuken! Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku! Hadouken! It’s okay, James Matson is not having a stroke, he’s simply a bit excited about thrashing out a few rounds on Street Fighter 2, CE and Turbo on a variety of home platforms to bring you the best and worst of the bunch. Let the fighting begin!
Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 (and its variations) is arguably the greatest fighting game ever made. The argument you’ll get will be from Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur or Tekken fans but even if you don’t believe Street Fighter 2 was the greatest, there’s no denying it was one of the greatest. With a diverse array of fighters and awesome locations and special moves, Street Fighter 2’s success was evident in the amount of gaming platforms it could be found on. Street Fighter 2 saw release on everything from the Gameboy to the Megadrive.
We’ve checked out the back in our super secret Retro Domination games cave and discovered we’ve got Street Fighter 2/Turbo/CE on a variety of different systems, so we felt it our duty to briefly examine each incarnation of Capcom’s fighting giant to figure out which ones rock, and which should never, ever have seen the light of day. Today we’ll look at Street Fighter 2 CE/Turbo on the Super Nintendo, 3DO, Megadrive, PCEngine, Gameboy and Amiga CD32 platforms. It’s worth noting that we couldn’t match up exactly the same title across each machine, but the variations between 2 CE and Turbo are largely in the roster and locations so we feel it’s okay to substitute them where needed for comparison between systems.
PC Engine: Street Fighter 2 CE
You’ve got to give the PC Engine points for the fact it was released in 1987, featured an 8-bit CPU, yet can put out a Street Fighter 2 with smooth animation and parallax scrolling floors that rival the Super Nintendo version. Sure, the music and effects sound like they’re stretching the Hudson Soft HuC6280 chip to its limits and the colors are a bit washed out in comparison with some other platforms, but fluidity of game play is at the heart of Street Fighter 2, and the PC Engine version has this in spades delivering effortlessly on all the action you’d expect. A solid effort from a comparatively ancient platform, and we’d easily consider this one of the ‘must have’ PC Engine games to show off what the machine is capable of.
Sega Megadrive: Street Fighter 2 CE
The Megadrive version of Street Fighter 2 Turbo has a lot going for it, but seems to suffer a ‘but’ at every turn . The graphics are good, with background animations and parallax scrolling intact, but they suffer from an overall darkness that doesn’t’ seem to plague the other versions I’ve played through. Music and sound effects are generally well reproduced, but some of the digitized voice effects like Ken and Ryu’s special moves or the yelling when a character is KO’d have a ‘warbled’ effect to them that detracts from the action. Speaking of action, the game play seems to run at about 90% of the speed of the Super Nintendo (arguably the closest competitor console-to-console) version which isn’t a deal breaker, but makes you crave action that’s just a little more frantic.
Super Nintendo: Street Fighter 2
About as close to gaming perfection as it gets, the Super Nintendo version of Street Fighter 2 hits the mark in all the right places. Vibrant, colorful graphics, explosive sounds and music that does its best to emulate its arcade heritage all combine to deliver a top fighting experience. Having an actual Street Fighter 2 arcade machine up and running in close proximity to the SNES allowed us to pay careful attention to the sound reproduction, and the SNES samples really are as spot on as you could ask for. Coming in on par with the PCEngine in terms of game fluidity while providing a slightly more varied and colorful palette than either the Megadrive or PC Engine version, it really is hard to fault the SNES incarnation. Let’s not forget that all the fantastic sights and sounds are played out using the SNES controller which does a fantastic job of giving you all the kick and punch buttons you need, unlike other button-limited platforms where you have to toggle moves with a secondary or ‘select’ button.
Gameboy: Street Fighter 2
It’s important to say straight up that the Gameboy version of SF2 is missing a lot of stuff. The backgrounds are static, the fighters move choppily around the screen, and all kinds of familiar sights and sounds of the franchise are all but a memory. What can you really expect from a machine with a 2-bit colour palette and a single 8-bit CPU? It’s difficult to judge the Gameboy version due to the vast gulf between the tech specs of the platform versus the others in this lineup, so it all boils down to a single question. Is the Gameboy version still recognisable as a Street Fighter game? The answer, thankfully, is yes. Chun-Li’s hundred foot kick is there, the locations – stripped bare mind you – are there, and most (but not all) the characters are present. It’s a fun diversion if you’re a SF fan on the go, but it certainly doesn’t capture the majesty of the arcade.
3DO: Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
There are times when playing the 3DO version of Street Fighter 2 Turbo makes you forget you’re on a console and put you right back at the arcade. Graphically, the 3DO version is far and away the most superior in our lineup. Sprites are huge, color ranges are massive and the backgrounds come alive with vibrancy and animation. This is Street Fighter the way it was meant to be seen. The same can be said for the sound. Music tracks manage a richness and depth you just can’t produce on some of the older consoles in this lineup, made possible by the CD format. The game play is faultless and characters move seamlessly, 3DO Street Fighter is an absolute beast to behold.
There are however, a couple of niggling faults. The loading times are abysmal. You can fly to a monastery in Tibet, learn Yaanbao, fly back to your home town and kick seven shades of shit out of someone before the poor 3DO will have loaded your next SF2 fight. Also, the controller suffers when stacked up against the Super Nintendo’s graceful pad or the Megadrive controller. In the end though, these annoyances can’t get in the way of a stunning version of Street Fighter 2 that needs to be played on a big TV with the sound right on up.
Amiga CD32: Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
What a sad, sad state of affairs. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo on the CD32 takes everything that’s good about Street Fighter, ejects it into the atmosphere and leaves a stuttering, jerky shell of a game behind. The CD32 version has two things going for it, large sprites and great use of AGA color. Unfortunately that’s all for naught considering the game runs at about 2 frames per second, seems to have chopped about 50% of the animation frames from each character and is completely devoid of animation or parallax scrolling in the backgrounds. The music is okay, but you’re really left with an awful, choppy gaming experience that only looks good in still shots. It’s a real shame too, because the CD32 is a capable platform (check out some other CD32 fighters to see what we mean) and the controller is perfectly suited to a Street Fighter game, but there’s no escaping the fact this version of Street Fighter 2 is utterly butchered and should be avoided at all costs. For what it’s worth, the original Street Fighter 2 on the Amiga computer range is equally as whacked, and should be similarly avoided unless you’re after a good laugh.
So after all that, who is the winner? Our vote probably goes to the SNES version, with the 3DO incarnation following closely in its shadow. The Super Nintendo version of SF2 spreads its quality evenly across all facets of the game, from sound, to visuals and fluidity of game play. It’s simply a joy to play, and has endured the test of time well.
In terms of losers, the poor old CD32 take on Street Fighter 2 deserves to be burnt at the stake as a poor, poor effort without the easy excuse of platform limitations. The Amiga had some great custom graphics chips, the type that could – with some care and attention – easily render the types of layered locations and smooth fighter movement that Street Fighter is synonymous for. The most important thing to take away from all this cross-platform comparison however, is that Street Fighter 2 is amazing. It’s amazing on Sega, amazing on Nintendo, amazing anywhere, anytime. You need to find some version of it and play it, today. You’ll thank us.