To an outsider, it may seem strange that a game like Super SF II Turbo would hold up after all these years. So when news emerged that the classic was getting a digital facelift, it trigged a massive ripple of intrigue throughout the media and discussion boards. There's been a lot of buzz since designer David Sirlin's departure from Backbone Entertainment, and yes, I even got caught up in the whirlwind of gossip surrounding his struggles getting the game off the ground.
The truth is, he had a lot of help from Backbone, Capcom, the entire UDON art team assigned to the project, and most importantly... all of you reading this who are avid fans of the franchise. So really, this product represents a celebration of our unconditional love and passion for one of the most popular releases in the Street Fighter franchise. Many of you may think the fire was snuffed out long ago, but hop online and you'll come across a wide range of players now in their late 20s and 30s who can still vividly recall their arcade/console memories with the World Warriors.
If you're an old-school vet, an arcade alumnus, or just someone who likes to occasionally kick a few rounds of talking smack, this is one fighting treat you don't want to pass up.
It should come as no surprise that I've been unwilling to play anything else since the title's debut on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. With a rigid work schedule and a family, it's difficult for someone like myself to make the time to attend annual tournaments like NEC and EVO, so for me, this is the best alternative for catching up with old rivals (and creating some new ones, too).
SSF2T HD offers players two games in one: Classic and Remix; the latter of which I've become more accustomed to over the past two weeks since the title's debut. Classic mode is the perfect option for anyone that values the standard gameplay logistics intact, while the Remix mode grants player access to a whole new dimension of playing. Sirlin, an accomplished Street Fighter player of an exceptional tournament caliber, wanted to refine many of the elements of Super SF II Turbo that could potentially make the game more favorable to a broader audience (and yet, still satisfy the existing fanbase). In order to achieve this challenging task, he consulted with other high-level players throughout the Street Fighter circuit and carefully studied the Yoga Hyper Book (the Street Fighter bible) which contained frame data and hitbox properties, vital information that would prove useful for the entire development team to properly achieve the results they wanted.
The whole game has been extensively rebalanced and tweaked to near perfection giving old-school players a new twist and making the release more appealing for newcomers. Low-tier characters like T. Hawk and Cammy can actually hold their own against some of the more popular choices, including Chun Li and Guile. The latter, in turn, have gained new techniques of their own: Ryu now can execute a fake fireball (an excellent technique for baiting opponents who love jumping excessively) and Chun's Spinning Bird Kick now features an arc akin to Sakura's Shunpuu Kyaku. It took some getting used to at first, but now I've come to find it very effective for juggle setups or when I want to set up situations to zone my opponent. Then there's Guile's Roundhouse Flash Kick, which now moves diagonally toward the opponent and works better against retreating opponents and those who relish playing the turtle approach. Guile also has the ability to execute his inverted flip-kick at any point during battle by pressing Forward+Roundhouse. Naturally, I just focused on some of my personal favorites, but you can check out the full list of changes directly at Sirlin.net for more details.
Contrary to what some of you may have heard (or wanted to believe), the art development was the sole reason behind the game's extensive delays. It obviously didn't help that the community was often being openly harsh about how the game was turning out (spurred on by leaked pics of assets which had not been officially confirmed and created even more panic). Thankfully, the end result turned out to be favorable; though Akuma and Cammy don't see quite anatomically correct. Have you seen their heads? They look so alien). And for some reason, I can't seem to go a single day without having some player online commenting about Chun's boob size. Ah, the attention to details.
I wish UDON were given a greater level of artistic license to add more flair to some of the stages. Fei Long's level is dull as ever; and I would have preferred they bent the rules and gave us Dhalsim's stage from Alpha 2. I find the elephants so annoying with their rigid three-frame animation sequences. Considering all the struggles Sirlin faced to even get gameplay tweaks incorporated into HD Remix, however, I consider this a minor issue that isn't worth crying about.
The music featured by OC Remix was definitely an awesome treat, but a week after the game's release I couldn't take the new tunes and ended up settling for the classic tracks. (Have you listened to Dee Jay's track? It sounds like something you'd hear in an elevator or a doctor's office.) I am not trying to knock any of the talent, but it's an acquired taste that I just haven't warmed up to, and I feel the tracks are better suited for casual listening.
Moving on, the online connectivity is smoother than I ever imagined, but it's not quite perfect. It's a huge improvement over previous netcode efforts, thanks to GGPO founder Tony Cannon, who assisted Backbone Entertainment and Sirlin create the most robust virtual arcade experience online. Players can adjust the network settings to accommodate for poor connectivity, which should be rare and uncommon if you have a decent ISP. Every so often, you'll come across issues where the audio just randomly fades out, characters move out of sync, or life bars are incorrectly displaying the wrong fighter data (somewhat disorienting, especially when you're winning), but I am sure that Capcom is aware of these shortcomings and a patch is imminent.
The support for this title alone sent a clear message to Capcom that Street Fighter is still alive and well. If you're an old-school vet, an arcade alumnus, or just someone who likes to occasionally kick a few rounds of talking smack, this is one fighting treat you don't want to pass up. Hop online and bring the noise.