Super Street Fighter II Turbo marked the final game in the illustrious Street Fighter II series to hit North American arcades. The previous entry, Super Street Fighter II, had brought 4 new pugilists to the mix; Jamaican dancer Dee-Jay, future cosplay favorite Cammy, Fei "totally not Bruce Lee" Long, and everyone’s favorite abnormally gigantic Native American warrior, T.Hawk. While this title was well received both in arcades and on consoles, Capcom decided that the World Warriors still needed one last go-around before moving on with the series. This became 1994’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which fixed the problems of its predecessors and brought about some exciting new changes. Now, 14 years later, Capcom and developer Backbone Entertainment are bringing the final Fighter back in a whole new way, as Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix redraws and rebalances the classic one-on-one fighting game for its release on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.
Returning to Super Turbo was the increased game speed that was first brought to the series in Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting but omitted from SSFII. Capcom also shook up the gameplay of the series by adding a new set of moves that would soon become a series standby…Super Combos. These moves, which can be initiated after filling up the Combo bar at the bottom of the screen, unleash a powerful attack that supercharges that character’s signature special move causing major damage and acting as a momentum-changer in any match. Also new to Super Turbo was fan favorite Akuma, who was a hidden boss in the arcade game and became a playable character later on. HD Remix ups the ante on these changes, by further rebalancing every character in the game to provide a fairer experience for both newcomers and the hardcore fighting fans alike. These alterations fix some of the nagging issues that were left behind by the original Turbo release, many of which were discovered and exploited by the hardcore Street Fighter fans during years of tournament play. All of the improvements were tested on world-class players so that Backbone could be certain of their integrity.
HD Remix also brings in the obligatory online play modes, with new netcode that improves upon the choppy experience introduced in 2006’s Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting for Xbox Live Arcade. The online “Quarters” mode from the previous Live release also returns, offering a true-to-the-arcade experience where up to 4 players can line up in a game lobby to chat and watch other player’s battles. When the match is almost over, a player can put their virtual quarter on-screen that allows them to take the loser’s spot in the next fight. It is a clever addition that worked well before and should prove to be equally popular here.
The most impressive new feature by far in HD Remix is the newly-drawn and stunningly beautiful artwork. Capcom enlisted Udon Entertainment, who have released several Street Fighter comic books, to redraw every piece of art from Super Turbo in 1080p, and the results are nothing short of jaw-dropping. What is truly amazing about this overhaul is that Udon, despite redrawing everything from all of the ingame art to the HUD and character select screen, has kept the style and artistic flair that the original game had fully intact, creating a look that feels more like a natural evolution of the series’ graphics instead of a re-imagining. Everything from the ultra-smooth character animation to the new particle effects crafted for fireballs and electrical moves to the intricately detailed, yet lovingly familiar backgrounds feel more alive here than they ever have before, and the entire game looks more like you are playing an expensively drawn anime than a video game.
The only problem that I had with the graphics is that some of the background animation remains a bit choppy, just as it was in the original games. While I realize that this stays true to style of the original release, it looks a bit out of place when compared to the new silky-smooth animation of all of the fighters. For purists, Backbone has also included the option to remove the HD sheen, restoring all of the original arcade artwork and sprites and returning the game to its original 4:3 fullscreen aspect ratio instead of the HD version’s new 16:9 widescreen view. I wasn’t able to hear much of the sound at the event, but Capcom has mentioned that both the original soundtrack and a new arranged soundtrack would be available, offering both new and old flavors of the classic fightin’ tunes for players to enjoy.
I was able to play HD Remix on Xbox 360, and what I said about Street Fighter IV in my recent hands-on impression still stands true here; if you want to get the most out of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, you will need to use an arcade stick. I tried out M. Bison, T. Hawk, and Ken in the new release with the standard 360 controller, and while I was able to pull off many of the moves that I have been executing regularly in my 17 years of street fighting, the responsiveness in the controls and my ability to pull off the moves I wanted to, when I wanted to was greatly diminished when using the standard controller. Neither the D-Pad nor the analog stick offered the pixel-perfect accuracy of a joystick, and the 360’s button layout does not lend itself well to a fighting game that relies on six buttons for regular play. Using the Right and Left Triggers to pull off strong attacks felt unnatural and awkward, and using the face buttons for the medium and soft attacks was functional yet not optimum.
This is not to say that I thought the game’s controls were flawed in any way. The game plays perfectly, and the gameplay feels very much like it did in the original release. Dhalsim still has his Yoga power, Sagat still has his Tiger power, and T.Hawk still has the power to suck the fun out of whoever is misguided enough to pick him. Those who have been playing this game for years will be able to jump right in without any worries as it feels and plays very much like the arcade original. If you are not used to playing a 2D fighting game with a standard controller and you hope to climb the online rankings in HD Remix, you have to seriously consider picking up an arcade controller, as doing so will make your time with Street Fighter much more comfortable and much less frustrating. However, if you only plan on playing HD Remix casually and do not intend on unleashing long combo chains on unsuspecting opponents, the standard controller should do you just fine.
From what I played and saw of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix at Capcom’s event, I can safely say that it should live up to expectations and is worth picking up for Street Fighter fans in need of a fix. It manages to bring back all of the series’ nostalgia while at the same time blowing you away with its gorgeous new looks and gameplay tweaks aplenty. It should also help ease the painful wait for this Winter’s highly anticipated console release of Street Fighter IV. HD Remix is set to be released this month on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. Be sure to check back with TGR for a full review soon.