I was very excited by the announcement of ULTRA STREET FIGHTER II: THE FINAL CHALLENGERS. I was even more excited to hear it was coming to the Nintendo Switch. Growing up I played STREET FIGHTER II on everything I could, from my Super Nintendo to my friends Sega Genesis and even throwing down quarters in the arcades. My favorite way to play however, was always at home on my SNES, so having Ultra Street Fighter II coming to my Switch was like welcoming home an old friend I haven’t seen in a few years.
Street Fighter II tells the story of different characters entering a world fighting tournament to pursue different dreams, goals, and ambitions.
For anyone who has never played a Street Fighter game, they are a 1 vs 1, 2D plane, fighting game. Each character has 6 basic attacks: light, medium, or heavy kicks and punches. Also in their arsenal is an assortment of special and super moves that can be used by doing certain button combos. I found myself mostly playing the game in handheld mode, so I expected the lack of a traditional D-pad to hurt my time with it. Surprisingly I found the Joy Cons segmented face buttons made it easier for me, personally, to use special moves and supers. The instant ability to take out the Joy Cons and switch to two-player fights at will was also a huge plus when I took my switch to barbeques over this past Memorial Day weekend! While a sideways Joy Con is hardly going to be the choice of diehard fighting game players, the functionality is a fantastic addition. The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can also be used to play the game, but I found its D-pad to be too squishy for me when compared to the Joy Cons.
This time around, USFII brings along a few new modes to the Street Fighter II repertoire. The first is Buddy Battle, which allows two players to choose a character and fight a single opponent, as first seen in the STREET FIGHTER ALPHA series. Playing this mode really got my friends who were Street Fighter noobs into the game. While I blocked attacks, they could usually stand behind me and practice inputs for specials. Players do share a single life bar in this mode so be prepared for a few losses if your inexperienced teammate gets overwhelmed. The second new mode is Way of the Hado. In this mode players control Ryu as he battles waves of enemies. The catch, is it is all done from a first-person perspective with motion controls from the Joy Cons. I was sure I would hate this mode but the controls were responsive enough that it was fun for a while. Way of the Hado does have the bonus of keeping my kids entertained for hours as they mess with the motion controls, so for that alone, thank you Capcom! To round out the package Capcom has also included a new gallery mode featuring over 250 pages of artwork from the now out of print Street Fighter Artworks: Supremacy. While I haven’t mentioned them yet, USFII of course includes the standard arcade, vs and training modes from previous games as well as online fights first introduced in SUPER STREET FIGHTER II TURBO HD REMIX.
USFII includes two sets of graphics modes: HD and classic. HD features remade sprites and animations first seen in 2008’s HD remix. Meanwhile, classic is the old pixelated sprites last seen in SUPER STREET FIGHTER II TURBO in all their 16-bit glory! Classic mode does play in a 4:3 aspect ratio though so it doesn’t fully utilize all the Switch’s screen real estate. Each character also has 10 sets of costume colors, but if that isn’t enough for you, a color editor has also been included to make custom creations. I hope to see you all online with my blue-skinned, teal-clad Ryu!
Like Graphics USFII includes two sets of audio: classic and remastered. Both sets of audio include rerecorded dialogue for character moves, the difference lying in how they pronounce attacks. Music is also different between audio sets. Remastered features remixed music that draws inspiration from the original themes, while classic sounds like nicer versions of the themes from the arcade versions of SFII.
What could it have done better?
Up to this point in the review I have not mentioned anything about the inclusion of the two new characters, Evil Ryu and Violent Ken. The reason behind this is I find their inclusion extremely redundant. Between Ryu, Ken, Akuma, Evil Ryu, and Violent Ken, we now have 5 characters that are similar in play style. It would have been cool if Capcom could have instead brought some characters in from the Alpha games since they take place before II in the official timeline. I am also not a huge fan of the remixed songs, so I am extremely happy Capcom included the classic tracks as an option this time around, unlike in HD Remix… cuz I mean, come on, that is NOT Guile’s theme!
With the inclusion of remastered content and the original classic content still being usable, Capcom has found a way to appeal to new and old fans alike! While there is some letdown with the two “new” playable characters, the new bonus content more than justifies the purchase (or in my case, 4th purchase) of a version of Street Fighter II. In total, Ultra Street Fighter II is the 10th version of Street Fighter II I have played over the course of my life, and I can say without a doubt in my mind, this is the definitive version of Street Fighter II!