Capcom's Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight is not a typical Street Fighter game. If you go into this relatively obscure NES action title knowing you won't hear "Hadouken!" shouted once, you may be able to enjoy the experience. However, Street Fighter 2010's depth and surprisingly intricate gameplay will likely be lost on all but the most patient of gamers, thanks to a punishing difficulty level that rivals any of the toughest NES games ever created.
Taking place in the "distant future" of 2010, Street Fighter icon Ken is now a hardened bionically enhanced space explorer who sets off on a journey to save his friend Troy. It should be said that the story — which is not very detailed and makes little sense — is different from the original Japanese version, which doesn't feature Ken. Capcom changed the main character to Ken for its western release to connect the title to the Street Fighter franchise, if only in a cursory way.
But the story doesn't detract or add to Street Fighter 2010. The gameplay is what makes the experience unique. Ken goes from planet to planet, taking out all sorts of aliens and enemies along the way; each stage tasks the player with targeting a specific enemy or group of enemies. While Ken doesn't have his move set from the main series, he can shoot in several different directions — in addition to left and right, Ken can shoot vertically and horizontally, as well as on a slant. The agile character can also climb walls and do backwards flips. While the surprisingly complex controls are quite impressive for an NES title, they don't work flawlessly; Ken will latch onto a wall or pole when jumping or running, ruining the player's plan to jump or shoot. His energy projectile weapon (which comes from his fist) can be upgraded by collecting power-ups — these are absolutely crucial to defeating enemies.
After the objective is complete, Ken has a limited amount of time to get to a portal and end the stage. The excruciatingly difficult first stage will be the deciding factor for many players. The game doesn't try to teach players the mechanics, instead expecting them to learn as they go. While it's satisfying to finally master the controls, some will be very frustrated to see the "Game Over" screen so soon into their playtime. The difficulty can sometimes feel cheap, too, thanks to the sticky walls and poles.
Street Fighter 2010's dark colour palette suits the space-themed game well, but Street Fighter fans will miss the bright, cartoony graphics they're used to. The sound design, while competent, is not up to Capcom's lofty standards, especially when heard through the tinny 3DS speakers. Finally, the Ken sprite is disappointingly generic, leaving players to control a rather typical "space marine" for the duration of the adventure.
For fans of extremely tough titles, Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight will probably be a lot of fun, yet those looking for a traditional fighting game — or a game with the "Street Fighter" personality — should look elsewhere. Street Fighter 2010 is best looked at as a relic, an interesting experiment in a beloved series that tries to do something different and doesn't entirely succeed in execution.