To say that the original Street Fighter II was a genre-defining game would be the understatement of the century. Not only did the game take the one-on-one fighting game idea and take it to heights never before reached, it also single-handedly kicked off a fighting game craze that's still in full swing to this very day and spawned more clones than you can shake a stick at. It also featured several minor upgrades throughout its days on various 16-bit systems, so while this first iteration is still the one most fans will remember most fondly, it's also the weakest release in the series.
The gameplay in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is as varied as its cast of fighters. You can choose between 8 different fighters, each with their own unique fighting style and arsenal of moves. While you have light, medium, and strong punch and kick attacks, you also have a variety of special moves at your disposal as well. These can be executed by swirling different directions around the d-pad of the controller in conjunction with various button combinations. While these special moves are devastating when executed properly, they also tend to leave your fighter open to attacks.
You also have the ability to defend against attacks by pressing in the opposite direction your fighter is facing. It's this careful and strategic blend of one-on-one fighting that made the game such a draw in arcades and such a sought-after cartridge on the Super Nintendo console.
While the control in Street Fighter II is extremely responsive and easy to pick up, it's the slow pace of the game that probably makes the game feel so dated. After seeing various upgraded releases like Street Fighter II: Turbo and Super Street Fighter 2, it's difficult to go back to the slower-paced intensity found in this original release. It also doesn't help that you can't play as any of the bosses in this iteration. In truth, as fantastic a game as this was when it was first released, it got even better with each new version.
Street Fighter II was the first 16-meg cartridge made available for the Super Nintendo console and it looks like it; it was one of the first home video game conversions to mimic its arcade counterpart nearly identically. For so long, game fans were forced to accept the inevitable dip in quality when an arcade title was ported to the various home consoles, but Street Fighter II proved to be the exception to the rule. The characters were enormous in size and animated quite fluidly, especially considering it was a 16-bit title. Even the backdrops were astounding in their quality and detail. Capcom obviously spared no expense in bringing their monster-hit arcade fighter home to the Super Nintendo console and set the new standard for what was expected from a home console port from then on.
As if the unbelievable visual tour-de-force wasn't enough, Capcom even managed to recreate the arcade title's music and sound effects perfectly on the Super Nintendo console. Even the voiced dialog of the various characters is spot-on and gives even more credibility to this amazing home console port of the game, and further shows off the Super Nintendo's impressive audio capabilities.
Unless you just long to relive this classic in its original form, you'd be much better suited saving your Wii Points for one of the later releases like Super Street Fighter 2 if you want to get the most from what this series has to offer. Sure, this original release is still fun all these years later, but compared to the later releases, it's really beginning to show its age, and the 50Hz PAL version is so sluggish it's nearly unplayable. But if you just can't hold out for that Street Fighter 2 fix any longer, there isn't a better fighting game available on the Virtual Console to date than this legendary classic.