Now this is more like it. Last May, still uncertain about the prospects of Nintendo’s Switch, Capcom tentatively tested the waters with Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers. The end result, though, felt more like a kick in the face; a bastardised version of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix, Capcom filled out the package with a suite of unwelcome extras in a clumsy attempt to justify the full-fat pricetag. People were upset at the unconvincing results, and you can understand perfectly well why. Street Fighter is more than just a game. It’s a cult at times, a worldwide cultural phenomenon at others; a cornerstone of communities that bring people from around the globe together, or just the best place to play with a friend for an evening of bawdy brawling. Street Fighter matters.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection gets that, and gives the series the respect it deserves. It does a more effective job than any harsh words online could in proving just how bad The Final Challengers was; for around the same price as that game, here you’re getting some 12 complete, perfectly ported games culled from the series in its pixel art prime, taking you on a journey from 1987’s slightly unconvincing original Street Fighter all the way through to 1999’s Street Fighter 3: Third Strike – the end of one particular, fascinating path Capcom elected to take the series, and a high watermark for 2D pixel art as a whole.
They’re great games – the creaky original Street Fighter aside, of course, though its presence as a curio is more than welcome – but you knew that anyway. No-one really needs reminding of the brilliance of Street Fighter 2, which remains just as vital today as it was upon its release in 1991, of the mastery and hard-edged challenge of Street Fighter 3 Third Strike or of the generosity and the vibrancy of the Alpha series which climaxed with Street Fighter Alpha 3’s vast roster of playable characters (which is capped at 28 fighters here, sadly, seeing as it’s the vanilla version that’s offered rather than the Upper update which added the likes of Fei Long, Dee Jay and T.Hawk). 30th Anniversary Collection presents near-flawless versions of the arcade originals, and while they’re fantastic to play, it proves just as fascinating charting the evolution of the series throughout its 90s pomp.
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