Videogames don’t come any more iconic than Street Fighter II. It’s a true ground-breaking classic if ever there was one, and one of those select handful of titles that could be labelled as a cultural phenomenon, such was it’s devastating impact at the time of it’s release, way back in 1991.
Since then, and especially all throughout the ’90s, Capcom has frequently sought to build upon their wildly popular franchise with various spin-offs and newly-refined (and increasingly-hardcore) follow-ups. In the case of SFII, the zenith was probably reached in 1994 with the fifth iteration, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and it is this edition of the game (more specifically Super SF2X For Matching Service, the Japan-only Dreamcast port) that forms the basis for the gameplay in HD Remix.
As the title implies, the game has been treated to a rather lavish makeover by various artists, mostly SFII enthusiasts. For the visuals, Capcom turned to comic book publishers UDON Entertainment, to redraw the game’s iconic characters and backgrounds for high definition displays in full 1080p resolution. The end result is nothing short of fantastic. The original graphics are left pretty much unaltered, including the character animations, but everything is redrawn to great effect with a slightly cartoony look.
OverClocked ReMix, the videogame music tribute website, was chosen to provide the game’s music with several composers producing newly-remixed versions of the original soundtrack. Again, the result is fantastic with some real hum-dinging renditions of the tunes you know and love. The sound effects and speech have never sounded clearer either, and a special mention must go to the pre/post-match intermission jingles, which fairly boom out of both stereo channels to marvellous effect.
Although that previously-mentioned Dreamcast edition, on which HD Remix is base, was a damn fine game and the best home version of SFII that money could buy, gameplay quirks and balancing issues will inevitably come to light after a decade of play, especially in a game that’s played competitively.
HD Remix seeks to iron out these kinks and make some special moves easier to perform, even introduce new ones like Ryu’s fake Hadoken. Optional “dip-switch” settings for seemingly trivial actions and occurrences further underline that no stone has been left unturned in the pursuit of excellence. It’s clear that just as much effort has gone into overhauling the gameplay, as the graphics and music.
Purists can of course opt to shun HD Remix’s new bells and whistles and play with the classic sprites, music and gameplay rules in 4:3, but they’d be playing an inferior product. Capcom’s decision to make this something of a community project with many specialists collaborating could definitely have backfired, but its turned out to be a great decision with each of the contributors delivering in style to make it a real labour of love.
The icing on the cake is how well the game plays against online opponents since it’s virtually lag-free and a joy to play. The usual Ranked or Player match options and leaderboards are on offer, along with a Tournament mode for up to eight players to duke it out. As a Versus game, HD Remix is without equal as far as downloadable titles go.
Which is just as well, since Single Player options are thin on the ground. Just the typical Arcade mode, plus a Training mode which, it has to be said, is pretty comprehensive. A simple Score Attack or Survival mode is pretty-much de rigueur in games of this type though, and would’ve completed the package better.
Really though, that’s all there is to criticise about this wonderful game.