A few games have a very dear place in my heart and Street Fighter II
is one of them. When I used to spend a majority of my time in the arcades, Street Fighter II dominated my playing time there. I shudder to think of how much money I spent playing the game. The announcement of Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting
coming to Xbox Live Arcade was one that had me foaming at the mouth. The thought of reliving my old arcade days and playing the game against thousands of other Street Fighter II addicts really had me excited. The game was delayed and delayed and delayed again but it’s finally out. So was the wait worth it?
The basic premise of the game is a fighting tournament where you choose one of twelve fighters. Most of the fighters have unique fighting styles and powers. Ryu and Ken are can throw fireballs and dragon uppercuts. Blanka can quickly roll across the screen to hit your or shock you with an electrical field. Zangief's the wrestler of the group with devasting throws and a feared spinning pile driver that takes off a massive amount of health. Hyper Fighting
also lets you play the four boss characters that were unselectable in the original Street Fighter II
. The goal is the win two out of three rounds either by knocking out your opponent in the time limit allowed or surviving with more health than the other person when the timer hits double zero. Really, if you don't know about Street Fighter II
, then you're either very young or have lived under a rock for the past 20 years.
On the Xbox 360, there are some improvements in the display portion of the game. You can play it in the normal 4:3 aspect ratio but if you have an HDTV you can stretch the screen out to fit the widescreen entirely. Even though it's old school 2D graphics, I thought the game still looked great on the big screen. It reminded me of the time when one of the arcade operators hooked the game up to a large screen rear projection TV giving everyone a nice big view of the action. There aren't any visual improvements to the game but I, for one, like the classic look as is.
Single player wise, the game feels like what Hyper Fighting
was back in the day. I've played the game on my MAME emulator a few times and the game feels exactly the same. Controlling the characters can be a bit tough with the Xbox 360 gamepad though. The optimal setup would be the have the six buttons easily accessible on top like one of the old Sega Genesis controllers but having the triggers be one of the kicks or punches can be awkward. Even switching them to the bumpers doesn't seem to help me much. Pulling off charging moves like Guile's flashkick or Blanka's vertical roll seems pretty difficult with both the analog stick and D-pad. Horizontal charging moves such as those by Balrog, Blanka's roll, or Guile's sonic boom are easier but I still have a little trouble pulling them off with the gamepad. Rotating moves are a little easier such as Ryu and Ken's fireball and Zangief's spinning pile driver. If you can find the Hori Dead or Alive stick, it works out quite well with Street Figter II Hyper Fighting
. I was able to dragon uppercut and fireball with ease with a full sized stick, but the Xbox 360 controller gave me fits.
Street Fighter II
was never known for its AI and this is certainly the case here. The computer will be able to pull off moves that can't be done by any human such as Guile walking forward and flash kicking you. The game seems to have its difficulty upped a few notches as it's not as easy even on the one star difficulty level after around the third guy. Capcom might have done this in order to make the achievements a little harder to reach but this can frustrate new players and in some part, old school players as well.
Now the big selling point of the game is the support for Xbox Live Arcade and this is where the game falters. First off there were connection issues. When the game first came out and up until recently, I would only be able to connect to a person 1 out of 15 tries. It's pretty frustrating to try and get a few matches in online only to spend the majority of the time trying to get a solid connection. It's no exaggeration in the fact that I spent more time trying to get a good connection with someone between matches then it was to fight the matches. An update recently came out that seems to have fixed this issue but the online play is still not solid as the dreaded lag rears its ugly head.
Lag can really hurt online games and if you're a fighting game that needs to be quick on the response to react, lag can really ruin an experience. It seems matches are a lot more lagged now with the update than it was before. Whether they relaxed the conditions on connecting to an opponent so that there's a small amount of lag is acceptable or some other culprit, I find many more lagging matches online. The lag doesn't have to be that bad to throw you off either. On vs mode with friends, I was able to play all the characters for hours and have very little trouble pulling off horizontal charge moves and Ryu and Ken's fireball. Hop onto an online game and watch my character stand there being stupid by punching or kicking normally when I need a special move pulled off to counter my opponent. The small amount of lag I experienced in many online matches was enough to throw off the requirements needed to pull off some special moves. Both charging and rolling moves were affected and it didn't make for a very fun game.
One of the features that was touted early on was the quarter match. Simulating an arcade environment, you could reserve your place in line against the winner of an opponent. In the old days, you'd place a quarter on on the machine to signify standing in line. There was talk that you could watch the match while you waited. Even Xbox.Com had an interview with a producer
from Capcom stating this. Sadly, what you get in Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting
is a static screen with who's ahead of you and who's fighting currently. With games like Dead or Alive 4
giving you the ability to spectate on a match, there's no reason that this game shouldn't have it too. Quarter match is also limited to four total players as well. I was always at arcades where there was 8+ people waiting to play during the games' highest point of popularity. I hope that Capcom updates the game down the road to allow for more players and for spectating to truly pay homage to the arcade experience.
At 800 points, Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting
is a game of great memories and broken promises. The lag during online play makes the experience very disappointing but the single player or playing another on the same machine can be great fun for two experienced fighters. Luckily, the nature of XBL allows the game to be updated and I hope Capcom continues to improve the game. Even with the problems, it's still one of the biggest XBL sellers so there's a big audience for the game. Let's hope that Capcom doesn't do anything to lose that audience and keeps at it so that we can get a truly great Street Fighter II