Review: Street Fighter II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting (Wii U eShop / SNES)

The need for speed

Although many will accuse Capcom of flogging the Street Fighter license within an inch of its life, the company wasn't solely to blame for the production line of incremental updates which appeared after the release of the original Street Fighter II. Unscrupulous arcade owners would "hack" arcade boards to increase the speed of the game or make characters perform different moves, thereby prolonging player interest in the game. Capcom's hand was forced; to counter the hacked boards it released Street Fighter II': Champion Edition and Street Fighter II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting (also known simply as Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting). Of course, such releases also helped the coins to keep rolling in, so it's not like the company had much to complain about; the hacked boards effectively spurred the franchise on.

Given the huge popularity of the SNES port of Street Fighter II, it was almost inevitable that the Turbo edition of the game would also make the leap to domestic hardware. Like its predecessor, Street Fighter II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting is a faithful replication of its coin-op parent, with a few minimal differences in terms of visuals and sound.

As the title suggests, the biggest change here is the speed at which the game plays. Street Fighter II feels quite sluggish these days, but Turbo is refreshingly nippy, making for fast-paced and tense contests. You can select four different speed levels by default, with more obtainable using a special cheat code. To be honest, the fourth speed level will be more than enough for most players — going beyond that simply turns the game into an unplayable (but undeniably amusing) mess. For purists who prefer the pace of the original, you can select "Normal" mode, which basically grants you Street Fighter II': Champion Edition — an early iteration of the game which allows for single character bouts (with different coloured costumes to allow you to see which fighter you're controlling) and the ability to select one of the four boss characters: Sagat, Vega, Balrog and M. Bison. Both of these enhancements are naturally accessible in Turbo as well.

By increasing the roster of fighters from 8 to 12, Capcom gave the game a surprising amount of additional depth. However, it didn't ignore the original combatants, with many given moves which drastically alter the way they play. Chun Li's fireball is one of the most notable (apparently inspired by a move used in a hacked Street Fighter II board), and Dhalsim's Yoga Teleport makes the character a much more attractive — not to mention deadly — proposition. Other fighters are subject to balancing changes to bring them more in line with the rest of the cast, but generally Turbo offers a more agreeable selection of characters than the first Street Fighter II.

More fighters, a faster pace and the ability to both play as the same character make Turbo a much better option for competitive players than the original game. The solo portion of the title remains an addictive and enjoyable draw, but it always feels like it's a training mode for the multiplayer element of the package. Despite the lack of many genre staples — there's still no mid-air blocking or "Super" combos in Turbo — it's a much more enticing prospect in two-player than its SNES forerunner. Additional cheat codes — which allow you to switch off special moves for a unique handicap mode — add even more complexity to the overall social experience.

However, Turbo suffers from the same problem that Street Fighter II does — played with the benefit of hindsight, it's not the best version of the game out there. With Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers also available on the Wii U Virtual Console for the same price, Turbo is stuck in an odd No Man's land — it's superior to the original, but not as polished and feature-rich as its direct SNES successor. This will of course matter little to those of you who fondly remember Turbo but didn't spend as much time with Super Street Fighter II, but it's a consideration for newcomers.

Conclusion

Street Fighter II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting was undoubtedly a big deal when it launched on the SNES back in 1993. The Street Fighter craze was in full force and it was genuinely exciting to see the original game refined and improved in such a manner; you could finally play as the four boss fighters and the additional speed injection made things much faster and enjoyable. Turbo is an improvement over its SNES-based prequel, and offers more depth and entertainment as a result.

However, context is important here, and with Turbo releasing alongside Super Street Fighter II, you have to look at the wider picture. The sequel has more characters, better visuals and a cool "Elimination" mode, which makes multiplayer fights even more addictive. Nostalgia aside, it's the better option if you're looking for the best Street Fighter outing on the Wii U Virtual Console, but that's not to say that Turbo isn't worth a look — it's faster than Super Street Fighter II for one, and for some players, the need for speed overrides other concerns.

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