Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if you could play one of the arcade’s biggest hits on your Game Boy screen, well [SHO-RYU-KEN]!
Name: Street Fighter II
Released on: Game Boy
Original Release Date: November, 1995
Words cannot suitably describe how massive Capcom’s Street Fighter II was. This arcade fighter transcended the world of quarters, ending up on home systems as the subject of a massive console arms race between Nintendo and SEGA, and became a massive part of the gaming zeitgeist in the early 90’s. Fighters like Ryu, Ken and Chun Li exploded onto the screen and into our hearts, becoming popular enough to spawn sequels, spinoffs, merchandise, comics, cartoons, anime and of course – The day the Street Fighter movie graced the cinema, was the greatest day of your life.
So, with this one game being so popular, naturally it would find its way on every system that was capable of a port, including systems that certainly weren’t capable – Let’s see which one of those that the Game Boy falls under, shall we?
Capcom logo, check. Street Fighter 2 logo and theme, check. Character select screen, che….Wait a minute. Right, the original World Warrior incarnation of Street Fighter 2 featured eight playable characters, with the remaining four characters being unplayable bosses. Alarm bells are ringing here, as there are nine characters in total, with a mash of standard fighters and the bosses. Dhalsim, E. Honda, and Vega are all missing. Would it really have been more difficult to add the remaining three characters? Meanwhile, the character portraits are very reminiscent of Super Street Fighter II’s artwork, which seems a little odd, but it certainly makes you think that this is a vastly cut down version of Super Street Fighter II. And I mean, vastly.
Moving onto the game itself, and you’ve probably noticed something that longtime Pug Hoof Gaming viewers have already seen – That this game is a Super Game Boy enhanced release, adding notable features like borders around the screen that match the location you’re fighting in. It’s pretty neat, works well and makes total sense, so it’s great to see a developer take the time to add a simple and effective feature. There’s a little use of colour for the energy bars at the top of the screen during fights, but that’s pretty much it. Disappointingly, the fighters are the same colour as the background, so at times it can be pretty hard to see what’s going on, especially when both fighters are the same character. Other fighters got around this issue by making one fighter a darker shade, but no such effort was put into the logistics of how four-coloured sprites can be visible on a detailed four-coloured background.
It’s also clear that the Game Boy really doesn’t do Street Fighter the justice it deserves. What separated Capcom’s fighter from it’s rivals like Mortal Kombat, is that every character felt different. They all felt physically different in the way the moved, jumped and attacked, and it went beyond each character having different movesets. For this port, the poorly animated sprites are incredibly jerky and as a result, every character feels just as bad to control, stripped of their individuality, save for different sprites and movesets. Chun Li no longer has her floaty jumps, and Zangief no longer feels like a slow, lumbering bruiser – Everyone is alike, and it really sucks.
While it isn’t Street Fighter as you know it, if you look at it like any other fighting game, it’s not completely terrible. It’s playable, if a little janky, and most of your favourite special moves are there, including a few from the Turbo and Super revisions – Although with only two buttons: Punch and Kick, there isn’t quite the depth you’d want from a game usually playable on a six-button pad and it further strips away the mechanics that made this game so great.
There is of course, two player link-up play if you have two Game Boys and two copies of the game, but for the best way to play multiplayer, all you need is a Super Game Boy and a Super Nintendo. As well as the aforementioned borders, the Super Game Boy allows two players to fight each other on the same console, using two SNES controllers. You’re still limited to the two button control scheme, but at least you’ve got a bigger screen to play on.
However, this all highlights the biggest problem with Street Fighter II’s Super Game Boy support. If you have a Super Game Boy, you have a Super Nintendo. If you have a Super Nintendo, you already have access to Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II AND Street Fighter Alpha 2. So, why bother playing this crippled version, when you can play any of those fully-featured editions?
Highlights: Super Game Boy backgrounds are a cool feature, and there is a slight allure in having the legendary arcade fighter on a handheld device.
Low Points: Street Fighter’s downfall is it’s ambition, with jerky graphics and stripped down gameplay that fails to replicate the arcade classic. Also, all of the Super Game Boy support is redundant when you could just play any of the superior Street Fighter releases on the Super Nintendo.
VERDICT: It’s not wholly unplayable, but it just feels less like a Street Fighter game, and more of a generic fighting game – Considering this game was released in 1995, while the world was moving away from Super Street Fighter II Turbo and crowding around Street Fighter Alpha in the arcades and on the new 32-bit home consoles, you have to wonder why Capcom bothered to port one of the greatest fighters of all time, to a system that clearly couldn’t have handled it.