So, today Capcom released the sixth Version of Street Fighter II for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3, available on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 M$ or on PSN for 14.99$.
Wait – ANOTHER Street Fighter? Yes. And not even an original one, but yet another Version of Street Fighter II. Now I must say one thing: I am not a Hardcore Street Fighter player, and normally I would have ignored that game. But there was one thing that caught my attention early on: They are really making a new game here, not just a port.
I do not know about you, but I am not a very nostalgic person. Remember those days when we played games like Sensible World of Soccer, GoldenEye 007 or Mario 64? When I think about these games, I have good memories, yet I made the mistake to play them all again recently. And you know what? That good feeling is gone, because to me they feel dated. So I could not care less whether or not GoldenEye 007 is coming to the Wii Cirtual Console or Xbox Live Arcade, because that game just does not work for me anymore. I think DooM was so far the only real exception, but other than that, while I can still see why the old games were great and often groundbreaking, I just don’t find them very interesting to play anymore.
So my nostalgia usually breaks down to “What if we take this old game, but completely re-do it, without changing it’s heart? New Graphics and Sound, possibly a few minor bug fixes and balancing changes, and then release it”. And that is exactly what happened to SSF2THDR, which is why it caught my attention.
For those who don’t know, it’s essentially Super Street Fighter II Turbo (Released in 1994) with balance changes, new graphics and sound. The great stuff: Everything is an option. You can choose between the original sound or the new soundtrack (done by OverClocked ReMix, who are known for high-quality game music remixes, including the awe-inspiring remake of the Final Fantasy VII Soundtrack, Voices of the Lifestream). You can choose between completely remade graphics or the old 1994 Graphics. You can choose between the old and the new moves and balance. Or you can combine them, i.e. old sound and graphics but new balance.
If you want to read about the balance changes, David Sirlin (the designer of the game) has a list on his website. It’s fantastic to see that there is someone who really cares about the game and who is trying to make a game that is still competitively played today even better and more accessible. Essentially, everything about this game says “We REALLY care about it, we REALLY don’t want to make a crappy port, instead we REALLY want to make a better game”.
Now as said, I am not a hardcore Street Fighter player, I try not to rely on button mashing, but I am not at the level where I always know what’s going on in a match. I just finished Arcade Mode though. In video games, I usually tend to pick a fast character – I choose Princess Peach in Brawl or Mario Strikers, I choose Maxi in Soul Calibur, and I have chosen Chun-Li when I first played Street Fighter II almost 15 years ago. Yes, I am one of the Lightning Kick spammers, but I also enjoy the double-jump (especially when playing against Tiger Tiger Tiger Sagat) and the fireball. And she got an excellent upgrade in HD Remix: Her spinning bird kick now travels in an arc, which means that it will travel over fireballs. Take that Ryu! That is only one change, but it already felt more fun to play than previous SF2 Games. Use the Spinning Bird to come in and then Lightning Kick or Throw works better than double jump and pray the opponent does not Dragon Punch.
I have to say though that the Xbox 360 game pad is really somewhat crappy. While trying to execute her super combo, I more than once accidentally jumped. I am not sure if I want to get a Hori Fighting Stick just for that game, so I’ll have to practice a bit more with the D-Pad.
Anyway, I think that HD Remix sets a bar on how good Remakes should be done. It’s not just a sloppy port with some extras thrown in. It’s essentially a new game, done by people who really care about it and want to provide more than a simple cash-in. Now if they only would bring Street Fighter III 3rd Strike to Xbox Live Arcade as well…
It will be interesting to see how it compares to Street Fighter IV once that hits consoles on February 20, 2009, but in the meantime I will continue enjoying it and working on my skills with Chun-Li.