Street Fighter Anniversary Collection Preview
The collection went on sale in Japan as a 2-disc set, but here in the west (North America and Europe), the compilation will come packaged on a single DVD.
You might assume from the title that the collection includes a number of different games, but actually, it consists of just two (along with a smorgasbord of otaku bonuses)--Hyper Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
The first game in Street Fighter Anniversary Collection is called Hyper Street Fighter II, which, despite the name, isn't a remake of the now-classic Street Fighter II: Turbo Hyper Fighting. Instead, it's an amalgam of the first five games in the Street Fighter II franchise. Those of you familiar with the various incarnations of SF2 know that the characters changed quite a bit from game to game. Ken became faster but his attacks weakened, Ryu's attacks grew stronger and he developed a killer super fireball, Chun Li learned a vertical kick attack and gained a fireball of her own, etc. In the first SF2 game ("The World Warrior"), the bosses weren't playable. In "Champion Edition," they were. Likewise, Super Street Fighter II introduced four new characters--Cammy, Fei Long, DeeJay, and T.Hawk.
Hyper Street Fighter II allows you to pick any character from any of the original SF2 games. For example--if you want to pit "Super Turbo" Ken against "Champion Edition" Ryu, you can. At the same time, the game also contains every background from the first five SF2 games. If you liked the color scheme of a certain background (e.g. E.Honda's blue and yellow onsen in "Hyper Fighting"), you'll be glad to know that you can select it here. Finally, the soundtrack includes the original CPS2 music tracks as well as a set of "arranged" tracks that sound eerily similar to the tracks used for the 3DO version of Super Street Fighter II Turbo. You get the idea--any character, any background, any music selection from the first five games.
Capcom did its best to balance the game, but lopsided battles are par for the course when you pit a "Super Turbo" character against its less diverse "Champion Edition" counterpart. The CPU's AI has been beefed up to compensate somewhat for this. You might remember using jump-ups or foot sweeps to trick the CPU into attacking in the arcade or Super NES. Try that here and they'll counterattack with a fireball or open up with a multi-hit combo when you land. Ouch. Otherwise, the same attacks and combos that worked back in 1992-1995 will work here.
The second game on the disc is Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, and it's basically a direct port of the Dreamcast version of the game. Capcom chose to include this particular game and not one of the better-selling Alpha games for two reasons: (1) Because "3rd Strike" is a favorite of tournament players, and (2) Because it's the only Street Fighter game that hasn't yet appeared on a Sony console. Personally, I applaud this decision, since "3rd Strike" is a beautiful, balanced game that many people missed out on due to the Dreamcast's less-than-favorable pedigree.
Most people will be satisfied with this port of "3rd Strike." The controls and animations match the arcade version pretty well. The colors do look a little dull, probably because anti-aliasing was used to tone down the low-res game's rough edges, but that can be corrected somewhat by cranking the brightness on your TV or monitor. All of the combos that work in the Dreamcast game work on the PS2 version. For some reason, Urien is able to add an extra hit into one of his combo-supers, but that's the only "oops" that's been reported so far.
Both games include picture and artwork galleries that gradually unlock as you master certain characters. The "Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie" (1994) is also included.
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection is scheduled for release on August 31st at the low, low price of $29.99. Not bad for two games and a 94-minute animated movie.
8/11/2004 Frank Provo