ONE INDICATION OF A TRULY CLASSIC GAME is obviously the rose-tinted-glasses test: is it still fun to play years after its release? But there’s another attribute that distances the timeless classics from the revolutionary: when its core mechanics are still present in games released nearly 20 years later.
For me, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is a game that holds true for both of the aforementioned criteria. As obsessive a retro gamer as I am, Street Fighter II is defi nitely my most revisited classic title (with the fi rst version released in 1991). And one of my favourite things about 2008’s popular Street Fighter IV was the familiarity of the control scheme and the gameplay; it was essentially a current-gen lick of paint to a simple and damn near perfect 2D fi ghting mechanic with a few fl ashy additions. Those who could pull off a hadouken or a shoryuken back in ’91 would feel mostly right at home here.
As a schoolboy, I was whipped up amongst the Street Fighter II hysteria along with the rest of the world. It was to the point where I would race, 20c coin in hand, to the fi sh ‘n chip shop for its 9am opening on Saturday mornings. It’s a one-on-one fi ghting title that allows the player to select from a host of unique, super-powered combatants from around the world (with multiple playable characters being a fi rst at the time). It established the fi ghting-game convention of command-based special moves ranging from slightly over-the-top spinning piledrivers to the completely ridiculous hand-generated fi reballs. The combat between characters is pretty well balanced, with each character typically boasting some countermeasure to any given strategy adopted by their opponent. In fact, the combat is even deeper than developer Capcom had initially intended; particularly skilled players can exploit a ‘bug’ and cancel or cut short certain move animations by stringing in a follow-up move. This effectively established the combo system that is fundamental to 2D fi ghting games to this day.
It’s gone through a number of mutations over the past two decades – ranging from a speed boost in Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting to the introduction of new characters and moves in Super Street Fighter II – but in any form, Street Fighter II is an exemplary formula for video-gaming fun. Previous Retro Corners have pointed you to a download link; I’m going to point you instead in the direction of any self-respecting video arcade; it’s the way Street Fighter II should be played.