The sights and sounds of Street Fighter II bring me back to a time when I would spend every quarter I had on the arcade version down at my local pizza place. With the release of Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers on the Nintendo Switch, Capcom is hoping that your nostalgia is strong enough for you to drop $40 on a 30 year old fighting game. The classic fighting game from the 90’s features a revamped art style, HD graphics, and several new game modes. Ultra Street Fighter II features all of the original characters including an unlocked Akuma as well as two new fighters: Evil Ryu and Violent Ken. The game also features an online mode that was not yet available at the time of this review. Street Fighter II is seen by many as the pinnacle of 2D fighters, but has Capcom done enough to warrant the $40 asking price?
Capcom has gone to great lengths to breathe new life into this decades-old 2D fighter. The game features two distinct art styles: “Classic Style,” which includes the game’s original 16-bit graphics and “New Style,” featuring an HD cartoon kind of look to it. I’m a big fan of this colourful new art style and it almost looks like something out of a Miyazaki film. You can also choose between a new fully remastered audio track or just stick with the original. My personal favorite configuration is the new style graphics with the original game audio. While it’s nice that you can mix up the new audio and visuals in any way you like, it’s unfortunate that you can’t change them on the fly. You are forced to choose your settings in the options menu before you start a match. Speaking of menus, they’re clean and simple to navigate and the addition of several options for background themes is a nice touch.
When I first heard that Ultra Street Fighter II was coming to the Nintendo Switch I was excited by the idea of being able to play it on the go, but a little apprehensive about being able to play without a proper d-pad. I can safely say that the Joy-Con’s pseudo directional pad works surprisingly well and I had no trouble pulling off any of the moves. While the best way to play the game is with the Pro Controller, the Joy-Con does just fine for portable mode. The game runs at 60fps and in 1080p while docked and in 720p while in portable mode. I’m happy to say that the game looks fantastic in either mode and the new art style really brings the game into the 21st century. I did notice some minor frame rate issues while in portable mode but it wasn’t a frequent occurrence.
The game features several new game modes such as Buddy Battle and Way of the Hado, and also includes a Color Editor, so you can make all of you favourite characters green like the Hulk. Buddy Battle allows you and a friend to fight together in a 2-on-1 co-op mode against a computer opponent. While this mode doesn’t add much substance to the game, I did find it fun to team up with my five-year-old son and hand M. Bison a beat down. Way of the Hado is a first-person mode that has you flailing your arms around like you’re playing an early Nintendo Wii game while you try to perform a Hadouken or Shoryuken. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well and just isn’t very fun, and feels like something added in order to justify the $40 price point. The game doesn’t offer much in the way of unlocks, and aside from the ending cinematic for each character there isn’t much incentive to beat the arcade mode. As a bonus you’ll also get to access an Art Gallery in the main menu that’s filled with some beautiful artwork featured in the now out of print “Street Fighter Artworks: Supremacy.” The variety of ways to play the game head-to-head gives this version of the game an advantage over previous releases. Being able to switch between portable mode, desktop mode, and tv mode allows for multiplayer gaming in any situation. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the game performed in tabletop mode with each person using a Joy-Con as the control method. While not the ideal way to play the game, it’s still a ton of fun.
At it’s core Ultra Street Fighter is a fantastic 2D fighter that is accessible and fun to casual players, yet deep and rewarding enough to appeal to seasoned gamers. While some additions such as the graphical upgrades are welcome, the extra modes seem tacked on and don’t enhance the final product. An adequate online component may be the deciding factor for many people who are on the fence about picking up the game but unfortunately it wasn’t made available during the review period. Since the release of the Nintendo Switch, we have seen a “Nintendo Premium” applied to many of the system’s games and that’s the case here yet again. A similar game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix was released in 2008 for $14.99 on Xbox Live and eventually PSN. I think that the game would have been better off in the $20-30 price range but with Switch owners dying for new content it shouldn’t affect sales. While Ultra Street Fighter II certainly has some shortcomings, it’s a great version of a classic fighting game and its versatility makes it a must-own for anyone looking for a fun multiplayer experience on the Switch.
(At the time of this review the online component is not available, the score will be updated later to reflect its inclusion)
[Image source: Nintendo/Capcom]
Ultra Street fighter II: The Final Challengers is a great version of 30 year old fighting game. Although we feel the game is slightly expensive, the multitude of ways to play make it a must own for fighting game enthusiasts.
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