Street Fighter II may be considered old-fashioned by today’s standards, but it will always be remembered as the game that single-handedly pioneered the fighting game genre. Its history of accolades and historical significance draws a laundry list longer than any other fighting game property to date. Yet in spite of its past successes, I can’t help but feel the latest compilation package is greatly understated and doesn’t live up to half the merits its garnered over the years.
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection offers fans two of the most compelling titles in the series. The first game, Hyper SF 2 essentially is a consolidated amalgam of the first Street Fighter II games. Taking a cue from the Dreamcast edition of Vampire Chronicles, fans can finally indulge their ultimate dream match-ups by pitting such characters as Guile from the original Street Fighter II installment against his counterpart from Super SF2 Turbo. Each character, despite their identical likeness, vary in speed and strength.
The second game, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, previously available only in the arcades and the Dreamcast platform is not only more visually stunning, but offers a much greater compelling gameplay experience. Despite the extensive number of hours logged with Hyper SF2, I must admit that I am beginning to enjoy Third Strike immensely more day by day.
Graphically, the game is substantially several notches better than its Dreamcast counterpart and according to popular opinion, plays a lot smoother too. Parries for examples feel relatively much easier to execute, despite the fact that I have yet to pull off magical comebacks as recently demonstrated by Japanese player Daigo at this year’s national tournament, Evolution 2004. Some things I’ll just have to accept will escape my range of ability.
Despite the exceptional variety of possibilities available for you to open a can of virtual whoop-ass on your friends, Street Fighter Anniversary Collection doesn’t offer any significant bonus incentives to motivate fans or even casual players to keep playing. One can’t help but feel that Capcom literally was just being plain lazy when opportunities to include a bevy of artwork, interviews, or even hidden games of some sort (Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo perhaps?) To its credit, the ability to create custom soundtracks and the inclusion of the SF II animated movie are novel touches, but even that’s not enough to excuse the lack of one of the most wanted elements missing altogether -- online play. And seeing as this celebratory package is in tribute to the Street Fighter installments released over the past 15 years, I was really disappointed to see the Alpha series left out of the equation. Time will tell if it may end up showing up in a future compilation or quite possibly as an added bonus for Xbox owners.
I won't deny that I am being hard on the game. And perhaps it's simply the purist voice in me talking, as I've remained a diehard fan since its 1991 arcade debut. It's just difficult to shake the thought that Capcom seemed too much in a rush to get the PS2 edition out the door. Yet in spite of personal quirks, SFAC succeeds in offering avid fans the chance to relive old experiences and give newcomers the opportunity to experience one of the most phenomenal franchises ever developed.