Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Review – Nostalgia Personified

0
186

For the last 30 years Street Fighter game series has defined the fighting game genre through its unique gameplay, creative artistic style and beloved characters. From its start as a humble fighter to a runaway phenomenon in the 90s and revival in mid-2000s, Street Fighter series has stood the test of time, becoming one of the most enduring and influential franchises in video game and entertainment history.

To celebrate its 30 years of success, Capcom is releasing the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, which collects the 12 most popular games from its franchise; a collection that ranges from the very first Street Fighter to very last sprite based mainline Street Fighter game.

This is not the first time Street Fighter games have been collected on to one disk. The series has a rich history of its games being stuffed together in one package; from the PS1/ Sega Saturn days in the form of Street Fighter Collection 1 & 2, to Street Fighter Anniversary Collection and Street Fighter Alpha Anthology on the PS2.

That said, none of the previous collections featured anywhere near 12 Street Fighter games in one package. Not only does the 30th Anniversary Collection feature so many games under one roof, but it also does not face the hardware limitations of the previous collections, thereby giving players an authentic arcade version experience, complete with smooth framerates and next to zero loading.

Though it is touted as a celebration of 30 years of Street Fighter franchise, this 30th Anniversary Collection is actually a celebration of first 12 years of the series; the arcade era of the franchise before the Fighting Game genre crashed at the turn of the millennium and was eventually revived by Street Fighter IV in 2008.

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a compilation that collects the arcade versions of twelve fighting games from the Street Fighter series. It includes the original Street Fighter (1987); five iterations of Street Fighter II, including The World Warrior (1991), Champion Edition (1992), Turbo: Hyper Fighting (1992), Super (1993), and Super Turbo (1994); three iterations of Street Fighter Alpha, including Alpha (1995), Alpha 2 (1996), and Alpha 3 (1998); and three iterations of Street Fighter III, including New Generation (1997), 2nd Impact (1997), and 3rd Strike (1999).

It is important to note that all of these are Arcade ports and not the most complete or definitive editions of these 12 games. While the first Street Fighter, Street Fighter 2 World Warrior, Champion Edition and Turbo arcade editions might be considered the best versions of those games, this is definitely not true in the case of most other games in this collection.

Most of the games in the 30th Anniversary Collection have seen home console releases that have added characters, music, modes and extras making them more complete editions of the base arcade versions. Depending on the person Super Turbo has Hyper, HD Remix and Ultra Street Fighter II editions, Alpha 2 has Alpha 2 Gold, Alpha 3 has Alpha 3 Max and 3rd Strike has 3rd Strike Online edition.

However the 30th Anniversary Collection does offer online multiplayer functionality for Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike; which are 4 of the most popular games of this 12 game collection.

The first Street Fighter is a relic of the past. While it was a pioneer in introducing many of the conventions that were made standard in later games, it has not aged well. From its rough character designs and sprite work to bad audio, stiff controls and ability to play only 1 character, every aspect of the game is outdated and not that fun to play for long amounts of time.

On the flip side, despite its age, Street Fighter II is still fun to play. The three different versions of the base Street Fighter II not only improve on initial 8 character selection, feature different colours, music remixes and gameplay speeds, but also feature subtle character balance changes and a couple of additional special moves.

With Super Street Fighter II, the game sees an addition of 4 brand new fighters for a total of 16 characters and a slew of additional moves and balance changes, which transitions into Super Street Fighter II Turbo; which not only adds a hidden character but also introduces the Super Meter and Super Combos to the Street Fighter Franchise.

Featuring a 13 character roster, Street Fighter Alpha is a prequel set between the original Street Fighter and Street Fighter II. It sees a huge departure from Street Fighter II’s art style to an anime aesthetic, introduces Alpha Counters, Air-Blocking, and Fall Breaking as well as revamps the Super Combo system introduced in Super Street Fighter II Turbo by adding a three-level Super Combo gauge.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 acts as a sequel and remake of the first Alpha game. It increases the playable roster to 18 and retains its predecessor’s mechanics but adds a Custom Combo System that, upon activation, allows characters to chain together any series of basic and special moves to create a Custom Combo until the Timer Gauge at the bottom of the screen runs out.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a direct sequel to Alpha 2 and increases the playable roster to a whopping 28 characters. It discards the “Manual” and “Auto” modes from the previous Alpha games and instead offers three different playing styles known as “isms” for players to choose from. A-ism being System introduced in Alpha 1, V-ism is the Custom Combo System from Alpha 2 and X-ism is the Super Combo System from Super Turbo.

Aimed as the first numbered sequel to Street Fighter II, Street Fighter III: New Generation featured amazing sprite work but discarded every previous character except for Ryu and Ken, and introduced 8 brand new characters for a total roster of 10. The game introduced Leap Attacks, Parrying and replaced Super Combo System with Super Arts.

As the 2nd installment of Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact increases the playable character roster to 14, revamps the arcade ladder from previous game and introduces Tech Throws and ability to spend Super Art meter for EX variants of special moves.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is considered by most as the pinnacle of Street Fighter III experiment. The game refines a lot of gameplay elements from 2nd Impact, it continues the overall storyline from where the first two games left off, introduces new stages, endings, and voice actors for certain characters and increases roster size to 19 characters.

Instead of loading each game separately, 30th Anniversary Collection allows players to conveniently play all 12 of these games by segmenting Arcade and Versus modes separately. Players can experience them in their original aspect ratio as well as in a bordered full screen or stretched wide screen, as well as view them with visual filters like CRT scan-lines, arcade-like blur or without any filter in their full pixelated glory.

While Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection might be the best place to play Street Fighter, Street Fighter II: World Warrior, Champion Edition, Turbo and even Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, the fact that it only includes basic vanilla versions of these 12 games means that players will not be able to play as Evil Ryu and Violent Ken from Ultra Street Fighter II, or as EX versions or Shin Akuma, Special Sakura from Alpha 2 Gold, they will find huge number of characters missing that are found in later editions of Alpha 3 and wont be able to play as Gill in 3rd Strike.

This issue of missing content is not just limited to characters but also extends to missing features. In each game players can only play arcade ladder or versus, missing World Tour mode, Reverse Dramatic Battle mode and any form of Trail mode. 30th Anniversary Collection also only offers training mode for Hyper Fighting, Super Turbo, Alpha 3 and 3rd Strike.

Despite all that missing content Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection does include a museum mode which contains several bonus features such concept art, pitch documents and facts about each release; a music player to listen to tracks across the series; an interactive timeline that chronicles the series’ history; and biographies that provide background information, stories, sprite art and animations for characters in the series.

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is not a collection of all Street Fighter games in the last 30 years. Not only is it missing the most recent editions of Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V, it also does not include the “aptly” titled Street Fighter The Movie: The Game, neither does it contain any of the 3D Street Fighter EX games, nor any of the Puzzle/ Gem Fighter games.

At the end of the day the 30th Anniversary Collection is a compilation of most popular Street Fighter titles from the heyday of the arcades. If you are a player who expects a collection of actual home ports optimized for respective consoles and the content rich definitive editions of each game, then Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is not the game for you.

However, if you are nostalgic about playing Street Fighter games in the arcades and what you are interested in is a virtual museum of 12 most iconic Street Fighter games with playable arcade ports, then Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection will most likely satisfy that itch and provide ample amount of nostalgia-filled entertainment.

Gameplay:

From character balance and special moves to game systems and mechanics, this is just as good as it gets. Street Fighter series is the pinnacle of 2D fighting game genre and 30th Anniversary Collection clearly shows why.

Presentation:

Even though every game here is an “arcade-perfect port” these are still 30 to 20 years old games. Whereas most character designs, sprite work and soundtrack stand the test of time, these games need to be viewed as a product of their time to truly appreciate their overall presentation.

Story:

Since these are old-school fighting games, there are no story mode or cinematic narratives in sight. Moreover, these games do not take their story too seriously and whatever lore is sprinkled in character bios and arcade endings is presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

Value:

Even though many of these games included in this collection have more complete versions on different home and handheld consoles, having 12 of the best 2D fighting games on one disk is still unprecedented and a pretty great package.

Verdict:

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a virtual museum of Street Fighter history in arcades from 1987-1999. Devoid of any bells and whistles, the collection contains straightforward ports of 12 arcade-perfect ports of Street Fighter classics, online multiplayer for 4 most iconic games as well as art, music and timeline that chronicles the franchise’s history. Everything needed to satisfy nostalgia of anyone looking for an authentic experience playing these classic games.