In one of the very first issues of Otaku USA, we featured an interview with Rey Jimenez, one of the producers behind this highly-defined return to the legendary fighting streets, and it certainly seemed timely at the moment. Turns out it was much more in-advance than we could have imagined, as the long-awaited remix slipped further and further into 2008, eventually landing earlier this month. The only problem with delays like this is that it gets the community bubbling. Will it meet the far from hushed expectations and demands of Street Fighter II fans? Will it completely destroy the game that birthed countless future fighters?
Now that it’s out, none of these concerns seem even remotely valid. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is a title that has me-someone that’s played so much SFII over the years that he thought his will to continue completely drained-staying up late and pummeling the series’ iconic characters like it’s 1994 and we’re hanging out with the one kid down the street that owns a 3DO. That kid may have made a foolish financial decision, but plopping down fifteen bucks for this revamp is anything but.
“Aside from the gorgeous visuals,” one might start their grueling inquisition, “just what exactly is so ‘remixed’ about this game?” A fair question, and the answer is… pretty much everything. The visuals are the most notable, as expected, and for the most part UDON Entertainment’s squad of skilled artists has made a game that really shines. There’s some awkwardness that’s unavoidable, though, because changing the actual skeletal structure of SFII‘s oddly proportioned fighters would cause more of a hit-box fueled stink than any amount of remixing could muster. The art really stands out on larger characters, like E. Honda or Sagat, both towering over everyone else and virtually filling the screen. The slick backgrounds still pulsate with all the animated action of cardboard cutouts, but any more and they would just be distracting.
The music and gameplay also received some remixing. The result of the former is a pretty solid collection of efforts from the OC Remix site and, as much as I love the original soundtrack, it’s nice to have some fresh jams to go with the new coat of paint. I haven’t been following the hardcore SFII fan community too much, so I’m not sure what the heavy hitters think about the remixed and rebalanced gameplay, but anyone that isn’t feeling the changes has the option of playing the game in classic mode. To the uninitiated or passing fan that hasn’t spent the past decade-plus scrutinizing the way each character clashes against the other, though, similar experiences will be had across both.
There’s a distinct lack of modes outside of the expected in SSFIITHDR, which is only kind of disappointing on account of how long everyone has been anticipating the release. It’s a very straightforward fighting meal without too many side items, but having online versus modes that actually work should quickly dispel any initial disappointment. To anyone that played Capcom’s original Xbox Live Arcade iteration of Street Fighter II, I feel your pain. It was like seeing an old former socialite friend after a decade, only to realize he was now a borderline recluse and couldn’t go out in public without having violent, room-wrecking spasms. I believe the technical term is “crapped the bed,” but HD Remix, in comparison, is obviously what they intended with their first crack. Online matches typically kick off without a hitch, though there were a few instances in which I experienced an odd alternative to lag slowdown: frame skipping. It wasn’t long before that cleared up, though, and it’s been smooth sailing 95% of the time, allowing for as much headset yelling to my friends across the country as I can muster in a single night.
One caveat deserving its own brief paragraph is this: be careful of which method of control you choose. Anyone playing this on PS3, in my opinion, shouldn’t have much of a problem. Then again, I’m partial to the Dualshock’s directional pad, and it doesn’t have much competition when put side by side against the 360’s hell-born plastic devil. One could write a pretty uproarious, if entirely unnecessary, comedy routine based solely on that d-pad’s inadequacies, so anyone planning on getting “serious” with this may want to invest in something more reliable.
Super Street Fighter II TURBO HD Remix, in addition to holding the title of longest… title, is also the best overall version of a game that’s seen more versions than most series see actual sequels. Even if you have no nostalgia for SFII, it remains one of fighting’s greatest champions, and will probably continue to hold up another 15 years down the line, once we’re hooked up to tubes, basking in its ultra hi-def re-remixed glory.
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
System: Xbox 360 / Playstation 3