First Impressions: Round One With Ultra Street Fighter II

Many modern-day Street Fighter fans cut their teeth on the Super NES version of Street Fighter II, the fighting game by which all others continue to be measured even to this day. It's therefore fitting that 25 years later, Capcom is releasing a new version for the Nintendo Switch. We were on-hand to play the latest entry in both London and New York City, and we're going to share all the details we found during our play session.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is very similar to the ridiculously named Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix which was released digitally back in 2008 for last-gen consoles; it features the same HD sprites that were made by famed Street Fighter comics publisher Udon and has the same cast, save for two new characters. Fresh to Ultra Street Fighter II are Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, both of whom have made appearances in other games, but never before in a Street Fighter II title.

Ultra Street Fighter II

Evil Ryu has a longer history than his counterpart, appearing originally in Street Fighter Alpha 2. Evil Ryu is a version of Street Fighter's main protagonist who has been tainted by the Satsui no Hadou - an evil power that turns those affected by it into battle-crazed monsters bent on destruction; it's the same power that series favorite Akuma uses. Violent Ken on the other hand is making his first appearance in a Capcom-produced game. Previously, Violent Ken has only appeared in one game, SVC Chaos, and Neo Geo-based SNK/Capcom crossover title in which he appeared as a playable character. Violent Ken uses M. Bison's psycho power, though he doesn't seem to gain much by way of new moves. Both Evil Ryu and Violent Ken retain the core move set of their normal counterparts, with the addition of a teleport for Evil Ryu and a command dash for Violent Ken, both of which can slip through enemies and their projectiles. Evil Ryu gets Akuma's famous "Raging Demon" super move, while Violent Ken unleashes a flurry of blows ending in a Shoryuken.

Capcom has also made a lot of under-the-hood alterations for Ultra Street Fighter II. The largest known change so far is that players can now tech throws, meaning that it's possible to break out of a throw - something that wasn't previously possible in the Street Fighter II series of games. Combo timing is significantly different from the original '90s games as well, making it easier for those familiar with newer entries like Street Fighter 4 to carry their skills over to the Switch version.

Ultra Street Fighter II - Sagat

Ultra Street Fighter II supports all of the Switch's control options, including single Joy-Con play, which makes it a nice "pick up and play" game for impromptu battles with friends. Hardcore fans will definitely want to opt for the Pro Controller above all else, but playing with a single Joy-Con was definitely serviceable - though obviously not the preferred method. Playing with both Joy-Cons in the Joy-Con grip also worked well, but for the best experience we imagine that Hori's arcade stick will be a must.

Right now, Ultra Street Fighter II has a roster of 18 characters, all of which were playable at the event. Capcom declined to comment on whether or not additional characters would be added before the game releases at an as yet undisclosed time, but we're not holding our breath. Capcom was willing to confirm online play, but was keeping quiet on finer details such as whether or not there would be a lobby system and how it would integrate with the Switch's smartphone app. There will also be a "Dramatic Battle" mode in which two players can team up against a single opponent (although classic mode recycled from past entries) though we were unable to play that in the demo; Capcom did state, however, that the mode would only support local co-op, meaning no online 2-on-1 action.

If you're a fan of old-school Street Fighter, Ultra Street Fighter II looks as though it will scratch that itch when it launches. We highly recommend keeping an eye on it, as there are still some surprises left to reveal.