Games Review: Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection (PS4, 2018): Get a load of Ryu’s big package

The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a wonderful little package, collecting twelve of the best Street Fighter titles in sleekly presented single game format. Twelve Street Fighter titles, you might say? But didn’t they just release Street Fighter V? Well, hold onto your hats folks because the 30th Anniversary Collection doesn’t just collect the best of Street Fighter, it collects ALL of Street Fighter, including every reiteration, re-release, remaster and rejig of the classic Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter III. That includes no less than five different incarnations of Street Fighter II and three incarnations of its sequel.

For those with an interest in Street Fighter’s deep history, this collection is a well-rounded collection of relics, and a nostalgic trip through deep Street Fighter lore. As well as allowing players to relive these classic games in their entirety, the most popular games in the franchise – Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike feature online compatibility for versus fights. Largely, the collection functions as a fancy emulator for these classic games, and allow them to be played in a variety of modes including classic arcade, complete with artistic blurring, TV mode, and with or without a frame. For the savages out there, it also allows a full screen mode that stretches the game to fit widescreen format. Now, onto the games themselves:

Street Fighter (1987)

This was the game that surprised me most, because when all is said and done, the original Street Fighter is just plain bad. It’s incredibly strange to realise, especially when it spawned a series of genuinely great, classic fighting games that endure to this day. Taking the reigns of Ryu (sporting fiery red hair and his classic gi), players are tasking with defeating a series of generi enemies. Generally, fighting games give you a bit of room to breathe, lining up easier targets first, before pulling the confidence rug out from under you.

Street Fighter doesn’t care about your feelings, you worthless little maggot, and from the opening bout, the difficulty is set at a high ten, made worse by the unwieldy controls. Movement takes place by hopping back and forth in tiny little hops, which not only looks ridiculous, but gets you practically nowhere, and enemy attacks can knock off half your health in a single blow. Also, Mike Tyson is there. Probably because lawyers didn’t exist in 1987. The only way I got anywhere in Street Fighter was by button mashing, and still, I couldn’t get past Big Mike. Put this game in the bin.

Street Fighter II (1991)

Street Fighter II was a nice change of pace because the controls were intuitive, smooth and the battles were balanced and fair. More than that, the game was gorgeous, with unique character designs and a pixel art style that still features heavily in games today. I will admit that I lost in my first battle against Ryu, because instead of fighting me like a man, he hadouken’ed me to death – just one after another, like an absolute savage. Then Chun-Li cried until I restarted the game.

I thought I would have better luck playing as Ryu himself, but then I was put up against Dhalsim who, in addition to having powerful fire breath, could stretch his limbs Luffy-style to knock my teeth out. Truly, this man was evil, and it took my many years experience of button-mashing to make it through and onto the next round. In the next round, I was beaten to death by Chun-Li and her gloriously rendered thighs. Curse those thighs.

Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (1992)

This game is, as you might guess, nearly identical to Street Fighter II, but with a few little fixes. Chun-Li’s sprite is no longer the odd yellow colour found in the original entry, but has been updated to reflect her classic blue dress, and four new characters are included – Balrog, (who has taken over as the resident ‘I look like Mike Tyson, but am not Mike Tyson for legal reasons’ character), Sagat, M. Bison and my personal favourite non-Wolverine claw-wielding psycho, Vega. Vega’s a great addition to the Street Fighter line-up, because he’s superbly fast and slick, and he makes these strange ‘yooooo’ noises every time he moves. He’s also incredibly overpowered because of his speed, and made me feel like maybe I wasn’t so bad at this fighting game thing (I was).

Street Fighter II’: Hyper Fighting (1992)

In this title, I found the secret to beating Street Fighter II – be E. Honda. This dude had the most powerful chops in the game, and I got by just mashing square until the other dude gave up. It was great. Now, as much as I enjoyed beating games up with my bare hands, this title gave me pause, because I could find nothing different about this one as compared to Champion Edition on the surface.

People might deride the good folks at Bethesda for their many ports of Skyrim, but at least they change up the formula once in while – I had to Google the changes in this version of the game. According to my good friend and known Reliable Source Wikipedia, the changes are indeed only miniscule, with a tweaking of fighting speed (thus the ‘turbo’ in the title), a handful of new moves for some characters and minor balancing issues resolved. Could’ve fooled me.

Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (1993) 

Now, this title felt like something completely different, thanks to a brand new and incredibly stylish opening scene that showed off the intricacy and beautiful of Street Fighter’s pixel art. This game introduced the world to Dee Jay, Cammy, Fei Long and T. Hawk and featured a whole new host of gorgeous locations, including a mountainous region in gloomy England. It also adds a brand new combo tracker, rejigs the health bar interface, and updates a few of the in-game sprites. I could not for the life of me get past Cammy. Yes, she’s the first boss. Please don’t judge me, I’m trying my best.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994)

Knowing how abysmal I was at the previous Super Street Fighter title, I didn’t have high hopes for this entry. Featuring new animations – including an opening scene where Cammy licks her lips for some reason, this was by far the prettiest of all the Street Fighter II incarnations, featuring updated graphics as well as new features, such as the ability to lose weapons during battle. It also features the introduction of Akuma, but seeing as all of the enemies had far stronger attacks than me and I literally had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t come close to unlocking him. By this stage, I was beginning to suspect that Street Fighter wasn’t my forte, but I was enjoying myself anyway.

Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior’s Dreams (1995)

Street Fighter Alpha was a wonderful change of pace, because the game felt a lot more balanced, and enemy attacks were equally as powerful as my own. Surprisingly, it almost contains an entirely new roster alongside its new art style, including some incredible, forgettable names like ‘Guy’, who might as well be Ryu 2.0. Also included are Charlie, Adon, Sodom and Birdie, none of whom leave much of an impression.

Despite this, the game is fun and interesting, and the introduction of stylish super combos makes for very satisfying victories. It also changes up the art style of Street Fighter enough to make it feel unique and yet still retains the same charm. I don’t think I have anything bad to say about this title, and I enjoyed gameplay a lot more than the others.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)

This game features a combination of fighters from the original Street Fighter Alpha and the first two Street Fighter games, including returning appearances from Zangief, Dhalsim, M. Bison, and Akuma, who is no longer a secret character. You’ll be glad to know that Dhalsim is still the absolute worst character to ever exist and he’s still my enemy. It also features brand new characters Rolento, Sakura, Gen, and Dan. It plays much like the original entry, and features some fun new characters.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1998)

This title was a standout for me, because it was the first one to implement some form of framing narrative around the story – each character had their own story and purpose for fighting. In the case of Vega, who finally became available in the Alpha series, he was travelling the world in order to find Cammy, another returning favourite. Cody, Karin, R. Mika all debut in this entry, each bringing some great new techniques to the fight. This time around, I played as Sakura, and really enjoyed her quick style and imitation hadouken. The ability to choose which fighting style to play also helped immensely, as selection of the ‘simple’ control scheme meant that gameplay was easier to understand and based around ground and pound attacks. That meant a lot less hijinks and harder hitting attacks. Big tick from me!

Street Fighter III: New Generation (1997)

 

When they subtitled this game ‘New Generation’, they meant it – everything about Street Fighter III is a vast improvement on previous games, with more balanced fights, a great variety of styles and greatly improved visuals. Ibuki, Yun, Necro, Sean, Oro, Elena, Dudley and Alex all make their debut in this game, starring alongside franchise stalwarts Ken and Ryu. My favourite of the lot was Necro, who had a strange, snakelike moveset that reminded me of Cheng Fu from Double Dragon. My least favourite was Oro, mainly because he’s a bit of a weird dude, but also because my friend Jake once annihilated me with the character and I’ve never lived it down. I’m not bitter.

The fighting styles of each character were more strongly defined and unique this time around, and the art style of gameplay mode was phenomenal, featuring a variety of genuinely gorgeous locations. The leap between Street Fighter II and this entry is stark, and it makes for a much more enjoyable and fun title.

Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact – Giant Attack (1997) 

The introduction to this game featured Ryu repeated hitting a semi-nude man in the balls. Later, I found out this was Urien, who, along with Hugo and Yang (Yun’s twin brother, get it?), were the new introductions to this title. Much like subsequent Street Fighter II games, this one wasn’t an entirely new title, instead featuring a handful of new characters, the introduction of EX Special moves and tweaks to the single player mode. Not much else differs from the original release, and it’s worth skipping unless you really feel like playing a massive dude wearing a thong. No judgement here.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike – Fight for the Future (1999)

This was the final title in the collection, and another iteration of Street Fighter III, albeit one that felt totally, refreshingly different. Remy, the mysterious Q, Makoto and Twelve were the new kids in this title, with Makoto proving to be the most delightful to play. Strangely, some of the established character styles have been changed dramatically, with Necro taking on a more traditional and grounded fighting style, changing up the wild animation style.

Story mode of this game featured alternating paths where you could pick which opponent you wished to face, a refreshing change from the tightly structured narrative style of previous games. While some of the changes were disappointing, this addition of choice was great.

Overall, I had a great time with this collection. It’s a well put together collection of Capcom’s first forays into Street Fighter, even if some entries felt a little bit superfluous and unnecessary. Standouts included Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Hyper Fighting, as well as Street Fighter III. For fans of the classic Street Fighter games, this title should be considered essential.

Review Score: 8.0/10
Highlights: Solid collection of titles; great variety
Lowlights: Superfluous inclusion of some titles; original Street Fighter
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Review conducted on a PlayStation 4 Pro using a pre-release retail code provided by the publisher.