Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival Review
Posted by Dave Frear
A fun but flawed port
1991's Street Fighter II is a game that got people very excited and led to a surge of interest in the fighting genre. It's also a game that got updated a lot — new moves, new characters, new speeds... — while also being ported to numerous home consoles and computers. When the 10th anniversary year arrived Capcom decided it was the Game Boy Advance's turn to get a version of the game in the form of Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival.
You begin the game able to choose from sixteen fighters: the original eight World Warriors, the four bosses and the four “New Challengers”. The variety of fighting styles and special moves offered by the characters keeps the brawling interesting. From the agility of Vega and Chun-Li to the slower-but-powerful likes of Zangief and T. Hawk or someone different such as stretchy-limbed Dhalsim, there's a lot to experiment with. The “old” versions of the characters that were previously available in Super Street Fighter II Turbo (SSF2T) are not included but you can unlock two versions of Akuma – the second allowing you to hurl two air fireballs instead of just the one, which is ideal for those moments when you're not annoying your opponent enough already.
The main mode of play is Arcade where you pick your character then fight against ten others. If you're worried you'll get bored of smashing people's faces in, the bonus stages are back to put your mind at rest, allowing you to take out your anger first on a car and then later some falling barrels. The more you play, the more things you unlock including different game modes and the two Akumas. The other game modes fall into two categories: “Survival” and “Time Attack”, providing a variety of challenges such as seeing how quickly you can clear the bonus stages (including a second barrel stage) or defeat a certain number of opponents.
The controls work well, responding to your input nicely but unfortunately choosing the strength of your attack is not straightforward. With three strengths of punches and kicks and the GBA only having four buttons a workaround had to be found. Your first option is having two attacks on one button, holding the button longer to determine the strength. It does work but anything other than a very quick tap performs the “long” attack so it's not ideal. The second option is a method that would later be used in the GBA port of Street Fighter Alpha 3 although it works better there than it does here. To perform the third strength of attack you simply push the other two together. If you keep one of the buttons held down, tapping the other will perform the attack again, although (unlike Alpha 3) this doesn't always work.
If you are having trouble performing the special moves, the game features something called Easy Commands. Toggled on or off by pressing Select during the game, these allow you to perform special moves with simpler button presses such as forward + punch for a fireball and removing the need to charge for other moves. Super combos are also simplified with all bar Vega's being performed by simply pushing A and B together.
Visually the game looks the part, and although there have been some animation trims they're not as noticeable as they could have been thanks to the small screen. There are occasional moments of slowdown but generally the fighters leap around the screen smoothly. In some areas the visuals have actually had an upgrade: new and gorgeous artwork is used throughout including for the versus screen and post-fight, showing the victor in a dynamic pose. One gripe is that irrespective of the colour outfit you chose (nine available), the characters are shown with their default palette in the artwork. Characters only have one win quote and unfortunately in some instances not the correct one. As most people know three of the bosses had their names switched around outside of Japan and whilst that has again happened here, evidently someone got confused as M. Bison has the claw-wielding Spaniard's win quote, who in turn has the boxer's victory line, while NotTyson quotes the Shadaloo Dictator. It's easy to see how the error could have been made but it's surprising that no one noticed it before OKing the game's release.
The sound effects add a lot to the game with many thumps, crashes and the usual calls of “Hadouken”, “Tiger” and “Sonic Boom” and the music also works well. Complementing the on-screen action, there's quite a variety here such as the jungle theme of Blanka's stage, the flair of Vega's or the industrial sounding track on Zangief's stage. Compared to some releases there's not quite the same range of sounds used and it certainly can't compete with the wonderful arranged soundtracks that have featured in CD-based ports but the quality of the original compositions shine through and greatly enhances the experience.
As you play through the game some more visual changes become apparent. One minor visual improvement that features during fights is the flame effect. Previously characters (of varying sizes) hit with a flame attack shared an engulfed sprite but they now glow orange whilst smaller flames burn on them – less painful looking maybe, but also less daft.
More noticeable are the new stage backgrounds. Some remain the same but there are also eight new ones, although a few have appeared in (or closely resemble) other Street Fighter games. Some aren't as interesting to look at (Bison appears to be fighting in a storage room) but generally they work well with the best being the rooftop battle of Ryu's stage – or perhaps the very similar Akuma one with its red-orange sky.
Should you meet certain conditions during your playthrough of the Arcade mode you will face Akuma instead of Bison for your final fight. Unfortunately one of these conditions is that you should be playing the Japanese version of the game, as for the Western release something went horribly, horribly wrong and instead of fighting Akuma the game crashes. This in itself would be frustrating enough but it also messes up your saved data leading to gibberish or unbeatable times on the Survival and Time Attack modes.
Should you avoid wrecking your game, trying to beat your various times in these modes adds a lot of replayability. Arcade also provides plenty of enjoyment and though it's not as tough as some versions of the game, it can still provide some challenge when played on the higher difficulty settings. Of course the 2P VS is where most of the replay value comes from although it is a bit basic: pick your characters, set handicap, fight! Easy commands cannot be used in 2P mode which will please some players and frustrate others. One annoyance is the fact you can't choose what stage to battle on (it's always that of player 1's character) but it's still Street Fighter II versus another player and that remains a two-player experience that is tough to beat.
The characters, moves and music that made Street Fighter II great are all present and with Arcade, Survival, Time Attack and of course the 2P VS there's plenty here to keep players occupied. The new artwork and stages (even if there wasn't anything wrong with the old ones) generally work well making for an enjoyable title despite some trouble with the controls. Unfortunately there are other problems too and the biggest of those is the Akuma bug. It really is quite baffling that it went unnoticed until the game was released. Ultimately, despite its many strengths, Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival is a slightly disappointing anniversary gift.