After seeing releases on both the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis consoles, Capcom figured they could capitalize one more time with a release on NEC's PC Engine system in Japan. While the game was considered a very faithful port of the arcade hit, waning sales and licensing issues kept the game from seeing a much-needed release on the TurboGrafx-16 console. Now Hudson has decided to give this little-known PC Engine port a release outside of Japan for the first time on Nintendo's Virtual Console service, but can it hold its own against the Super Nintendo and Genesis releases on the service?
Street Fighter II Champion Edition for the PC Engine is very similar to the Sega Genesis release: you have access to all twelve fighters in both the single-player and two-player modes. Since this is not a turbo version of the game, you will have to stick with the standard game speed, but for fans of the original release, this shouldn't be a problem.
As the original PC Engine control pad only featured two action buttons, the game has a control setup that will allow you to play with the Wii Remote if that's all you have access to. Of course this presents the same set of problems that went along with playing the game using the 2-button PC Engine pad: you'll have to use the "+" button as a low attack and then hit the "-" button in order to toggle between kicks and punches. If this sounds awkward and tedious, that's because it is. Luckily NEC did release a 6-button control pad with this game in Japan, so there is also an option to use the Classic Controller. The controls are basically the same as you'd find on the Super Nintendo release of the game and make playing it much more intuitive and fun than trying to constantly toggle between attacks.
The ability to play as all twelve characters, not to mention a very smooth play control scheme if you have a Classic Controller, make this PC Engine port of Street Fighter II CE a solid addition to the Street Fighter II library of games. Unfortunately, it doesn't really offer up anything over the other versions of the game on the Virtual Console service.
Visually, Street Fighter II CE is quite similar to the Sega Genesis release, although the slightly larger color palette of the PC Engine does tend to add a little detail here and there. The animation seems to be of the same quality as the Genesis version as well, although it's not quite as smooth as the Super Nintendo release. It's clear that the developers put a lot of time and effort into making this PC Engine port as faithful to the arcade version as they could and it paid off in the finished product.
As far as audio goes, Street Fighter II CE is a mixed bag. Many of the musical tracks are quite well done, but they don't sound a whole lot like the original versions. There's also the matter of the muffled voices the game makes use of: obviously compressed, the quality is not terribly good. In fact, overall the audio presentation in this version of the game is probably the lowest quality of all the various console releases, which is a bit of a shame considering how solid other areas of the game are.
When it's all said and done, you can't help but appreciate how solid this PC Engine version truly is, especially when you take into account that it's running on what is basically a souped-up 8-bit console. When you consider that there are already superior versions of the game available on the Virtual Console service, however, it's tough to recommend this unsung import PC Engine release of the game. If you're looking for a Street Fighter II fix, you'll probably be better off sticking with either the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis releases, but if you're one of those die-hard fans of the series that has to own them all, you'll likely find this PC Engine import more than adequate.