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|[ 01/02/04 ] = Hyper Street Fighter II Impressions .01|
There is no better way to start off the new year than with Street Fighter coverage. And with new Street Fighter coverage, at that! The release of Hyper Street Fighter II - Anniversary Edition has finally come, and I've been able to sit down and play it (thanks to Dex). With Hyper Street Fighter II, Capcom got everything from all of the past Street Fighter II titles (not Street Fighter Alpha), brushed off the dust, and threw everything into one fat package that will undoubtedly please fans of old times. Here, in no particular order, are my first impressions of the game.
First off, the beginning of the game. The new intro is a compilation of the spinning titles screens from SFII, SFIICE, SFIIT, and SSFII, all inserted at various points throughout the Ryu Hadoken intro from SSFIIT. It is similar to that of the SSFTIIT intro, but with the intro screens from the previous games in the Chun-Li, Cammy, and Akuma segments of the original. If anything, the intro awakens the feeling of classic Street Fighter within the player to prepare him/her for what is to come. The Player Select screen was taken directly from SSFIIT (as was the rest of the game's design), and displays the classic Street Fighter characters (again, no SFA characters); Ken, Guile, Chun-Li, and the rest of the SFII gang are selectable in all of their classic glory. Before selecting a warrior, however, a Play Mode must be selected. The Play Modes of HSFII are essentially similar to that of SFA3's ISM system, and allow the player to choose one of various ways to play the character they have chosen. The Play Mode system in Hyper Street Fighter II allows the player to choose Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II, and/or Super Street Fighter II Turbo versions of each character. That is, HSFII allows the player to choose any fighter from any past SFII game. All of the Special Moves, normal attacks, animation changes, and damage ratios that each character had in their respective titles have been left in HSFII. Some examples are Ken's powerful Shoryuken from SFIICE, M. Bison's rotten Psycho Crusher from SFIICE, Sagat's SFIIT Tiger Uppercut priority, Guile's SFIIT 2-Hit Flash Kick, and Dhalsim's SSFII Stun Yoga Fire, just to name a few.
In fact, Capcom has made the system strict in adherence to the chronology of the series; characters are only selectable in the Play Modes respective to the titles that they were originally selectable in (for example, Cammy cannot be selected if the SFIICE Play Mode is chosen). In other words, match-ups that were never-before possible in past SFII games are possible in HSFII! From match-ups like SFIICE Ken VS SSFII Ryu and SFII Guile VS SFIICE M.Bison to SFII Dhalsim VS SSFIIT Dee Jay or SFIIT E. Honda VS SSFIIT E.Honda! The match-ups in HSFII are virtually endless. Some of the coolest match-ups are from the characters that represent the total opposite ends of the spectrum; SFII Mode characters against SSFII Mode characters! I also like to pit SFIIT Mode characters against SSFIIT Mode characters when I have the chance, just to see who's better (SFIIT characters all the way, motherfuckers!). Just as in SFA3 with the ISM system of play, HSFII's Mode system is a blast, and makes for some truly intense battles.
Upon first glance, one would conjecture that the characters played in the Play Modes pre-SSFIIT, due to lack of a Super Bar, would pale in comparison to that of the SSFIIT Play Mode characters. This couldn't be farther from the truth. The pre-SSFIIT Play Mode characters fare well in comparison to the SSFIIT Play Mode characters, and in some cases even seem to outdo them completely. Characters like SFII Guile, SFII Dhalsim, SFIICE M. Bison, and SFIIT Ryu, who were said to have been powerful in their respective titles, still seem to carry their own in HSFII when in battle with SSFIIT characters. The SFII characters have some leverage, From this, one might also ask if combos from the old games have been retained. The answer is yes. From Guile's notorius 4-Hit Four Fierce and Re-Dizzy combos from SFIICE and SFIIT, to Ken and Ryu's Re-Dizzy combos in SFII, it seems Capcom has left the combos from the previous games untouched. As for the SSFIIT characters, the long combos of Dee Jay, M. Bison, Chun-Li, Akuma, and Fei Long seem to have also been retained.
As briefly mentioned earlier, the design of HSFII is essentially that of SSFIIT. From the Character Select Screen and life bars, to the VS Screen and text font, the game looks like SSFIIT. The stages are also the same as those found in SSFII and SSFIIT, but with additions from the SFII versions (Ken's stage has the barrels, Ryu's has the wood sign with Kanji on them). Also noteworthy is the artwork of HSFII, which is directly influenced by what mode is chosen for a character. For instance, if SFIICE Mode is chosen, then the SFIICE artwork for the character (if applicable) will be used on the Player Select, VS screen, and in the life bar portrait during the fight. It's cool to see that Capcom put all of the portrait artwork from the past SFII games in HSFII; nostalgia is great. Similarly, it seems that all of the endings from the past SFII titles were also carried over. Kick ass. As for audio, HSFII's music consists of remade SSFIIT tracks, and lots of the sound effects and voiceovers from the old games have been carried over, as well. I have to say that the new tracks in HSFII sound great; I was pleased with the way the composer of the new tunes enhanced the old songs, but not to the point of unrecognition.
Last but not least, the bones I have to pick with Capcom about HSFII. Although the game is great in several ways, there are some parts of it that imply somewhat of a rush-job on Capcom's part. Before I had actually played the game, I heard from various sources that when playing against CPU opponents only the SSFIIT Mode characters appear; and what I heard was correct. Why is this? In Capcom's other most recent 2-D efforts (Street Fighter Alpha 3 Saikyo Dojo, Vampire Chronicle, Capcom VS SNK 2 EO) the CPU opponents come in different flavors, so what happened with HSFII, Capcom? Come on; would it have hurt to have CPU opponents with randomized modes? Also, on a minor note, while the artwork from the previous games is great to see in HSFII among that of the SSFIIT artwork, the way in which it is presented in the portrait under the lifebar during gameplay is awkward; while the SSFII and SSFIIT character artwork enjoys a fitting blue background in the lifebar portrait, that of SFII, SFIICE, and SFIIT look somewhat depreciated with a drab, black background that doesn't match. Again, a minor detail, but when you play the game, it will make you wonder, "just why did Capcom do this?" And chances are, you will then ask the question, "would it really have been that much trouble just to make the lifebar portrait colors of each mode's artwork match?" After going into photoshop and dicking around with the various brushes and such, I came to the conclusion that it couldn't have been too hard to perform such a task (considering that programming the rest of the game was probably much harder).
These shortcomings irritate me mainly because again, all the same big-mouth assholes on the web and in magazine columns are going to use them to shit on yet another Street Fighter game, and it's going to be hard for me to argue against the fact that HSFII may have very well been a rushed title. Don't get me wrong, I love Street Fighter. I don't want to hear these assholes bitch (again) about how they don't like HSFII for this and that bullshit reason, but it will be pretty hard to disagree with some of the gripes when the shortcuts Capcom seems to have taken with HSFII are considered. Plainly put, my first impressions of HSFII are that it is of course a good game, but there are a few immediately noticable flaws that keep it from achieving the perfection of Street Fighter Alpha 3 Saikyo Dojo or Vampire Chronicle.
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