Review: Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (SNES)

Street Fighter made super

Gazing back into the mists of time, you can’t help but be amazed that Capcom managed to get everyone so excited about each new Street Fighter II update. On the Virtual Console alone we’ve already had two versions of the game, and now here’s the third! Thankfully, the improvements between the first SNES release and the ‘Turbo’ update were enough to justify the hype, and the same is true here.

Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers isn’t what you would call a complete overhaul, but it certainly represents a larger evolution than SF2 Turbo ever did. The most notable addition is obviously the four new fighters: British secret agent Cammy, Bruce Lee look-alike Fei Long, baggy-trousered Jamaican DeeJay, and towering native American T. Hawk. While it’s always nice to see some new faces in a game like Street Fighter, these guys are something of a mixed bunch.

Cammy has obviously passed into videogame folklore and is one of the more popular female Capcom creations (even managing to appear in Dreamcast shooter Cannon Spike), but the remaining three combatants have always struck us as a bit average. MC Hammer impersonator DeeJay is especially annoying, and it should come as no surprise to hear that he was the only fighter in the game to be created by Capcom USA.

Not to be outdone by the new challengers, the existing roster of fighters has been slightly modified. Ryu now has a ‘flaming’ fireball (back to forward motion + punch) and Ken has a flaming Dragon Punch that does more damage than Ryu’s – meaning that for once, there is a significant difference between the two fighters. There are numerous other changes that subtly shake up the way each character plays without ruining what made them so great in the first place, and naturally you can play as the four boss characters here, just as you could in SF2 Turbo.

Graphically much remains the same here; there are some neat new backgrounds and the characters have a little more animation here and there but this is essentially the same game as before. The arcade version was the first in the Street Fighter series to run on Capcom’s CPS2 system and it was pretty unrealistic to expect the SNES to replicate the updated visuals faithfully. Still, this is undeniably attractive.

Those of you that like to be more sociable when it comes to gaming will be overjoyed to hear that with this update Capcom really pulled out all the stops. There’s a plethora of multiplayer modes, including the excellent ‘Elimination’ tournament.

When Street Fighter II was first released on the Virtual Console many were shocked at just how slow the gameplay was after years of Capcom speeding up their fighting games. If you were one of those people then prepare to be slightly perplexed once more – Super Street Fighter II is a tad slower than the previous ‘Turbo’ version (when cranked up to the full speed setting, which is accessed on the title screen by pushing left or right). The slight difference in speed is hardly game-breaking and those who found the breakneck pace of the fully-overclocked Turbo edition will probably be happier as a result.

The biggest failing of Super Street Fighter II is the fact that it was surpassed so quickly by the follow up Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Rumours abound that Capcom rushed the first Super Street Fighter 2 out in order to counter the growing hype surrounding Midway’s Mortal Kombat. The ‘Turbo’ edition of Super Street Fighter 2 – which was never converted to any 16-bit machine – is a much more ‘complete’ affair, with faster gameplay, the welcome addition of ‘Super Combo’ special moves and the debut of Akuma/Gouki, who would go on to become something of a SF legend.

Conclusion

It’s regrettable that the SNES didn’t get this more desirable ‘Turbo’ update, but what we have here is still a fantastic proposition. If you love the super-fast gameplay of Street Fighter II Turbo then you might be disappointed by the drop in speed seen here, but once you’ve gotten used to it you will find this is a much more accomplished proposition.