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Game Profile
Xbox Live Arcade
GENRE: Fighting
PLAYERS:   1-2
August 02, 2006
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition

Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition

Super Street Fighter IV

Super Street Fighter IV

More in this Series
 Written by Glenn Wigmore  on August 07, 2006

Review: Yoga Flame! Tiger Uppercut! Sonic Boom!

People have been clamouring for Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting ever since Greg Canessa and his Live Arcade team announced the re-release back at CES, but the title has taken its sweet time to arrive. After numerous delays, this 2D arcade classic has finally made it to the Xbox Live Marketplace for the sum of 800 points ($10). Much of what the original game brought to the table is present with this Live Arcade entry, but there are some shortcomings in the presentation and online elements. These flaws do make for some head-scratching moments, especially in light of the title's lengthy development time, but the game still holds some of the magic that makes it so fun.

A lot was made of which version would actually arrive onto the Live Arcade, but MS made it quite clear that it would indeed be Hyper Fighting, the ?definitive version? (no World Warrior, here). The game seems fairly intact at first glance, but there are a few key omissions to the basic presentation. You'll still see the opening animation with a couple of dudes bopping it out in front of gawking onlookers, and the familiar Street Fighter II theme music plays into the title screen. The setup screens for controls and difficulty are slightly different (and high-res), and you'll be able to toggle the difficulty all the way up to seven stars for maximum challenge. What does seem odd is some of the audio in the opening menus (and even the actual game), as the announcer for the selection screen and the music itself seems somewhat tinny and slow. In the actual game, there are a few other odd audio quibbles, with the constant wail of the elephants in Dhalsim's level, as one example. Another odd presentation element comes from the display options. This Live Arcade version presents the action in a standard aspect ratio to begin with, but you can stretch the screen ? vertically and horizontally ? to fit the entire area of your screen. This doesn't provide a true high-definition experience, but to the game's credit, the stretched visuals do a fairly decent job.

The combatants available in the game remain unchanged, obviously, and the four boss characters are selectable from the outset. The great thing about Street Fighter II back in the day ? and to this day ? is the variance between all of the fighters. Many a player have called various tactics by certain fighters ?cheap,? but the game manages to fight through these potential pitfalls by providing a deep list of moves that each character has available to them. You'll be able to employ all of the famous (or infamous) tactics like Blanka's rolling attack, Ryu and Ken's projectile attacks (I won't bother spelling them incorrectly), and Dhalsim's teleporting, and each move remains satisfying and accurate.

The control in Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting has always been hailed for its precision and depth, and that remains pretty much the same, here. However, the 360 controller, as good as it is, was not made with 2D fighters in mind, and this will be evident. You'll find a serviceable input with the left thumbstick, but don't even attempt to use the d-pad. While the thumbstick provides reasonable control and movement, albeit with some imprecise moments, the d-pad is really not up to the task. The stiffness of the pad is chiefly to blame, but it also doesn't move as definitively as some of the older (and simpler) d-pads. All this being said, you should be able to block and jump with relative ease, and only occasionally will a jump not work or will a block be late. The punching and kicking works as always, and you'll be able to execute all of the various throws and combinations quite well.

The difficulty of the single-player component does seem as if it has been ramped up, even at the default setting. This may upset some, but others who revel in the challenge of this title may feel this was the right way to go. Either way, be prepared to fight hard when facing all of the game's characters, and maybe you'll even sharpen your skills with more than just one fighter while doing so.

Going online with Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting is really the main draw for this title, and this makes it all the more annoying that the online modes have some problems. The features are certainly robust, with ranked and unranked matches available, as well as the ?Quarter Match.? The Quarter Match looks to replicate the arcade experience by allowing up to four people to play matches and then rotate in a new player with a ?winner stays? format. The concept sounds great on paper, but the technical difficulties experienced make for some maddening moments. You'll often be dropped from these matches, especially when a champion loses a match, meaning the game is switching ?hosts.? Why the development team saw the need to change hosts in this instance is quite odd, and it often breaks up the flow of some good battles. Additionally, the Quarter Match was originally promised to have 16 players participating ? apparently, Capcom was unable to meet this goal and still had problems. The idea of this mode is somewhat hindered when only two others are in the game, since you have no choice where to put your ?quarter? and you'll be cycled in based on who wins and loses. Lag is a varying problem for this mode and the standard matches, but it does depend on the usual factors (connection, time of day, distance, etc.). Most matches were quite playable, but true purists maybe be deterred by the odd hiccup or lag spike. Leaderboards are available to keep track of the world's best, and this can certainly be fun, especially if you're good at the game. The online works, more or less, in its current form, but Capcom has some issues to address to smooth out the Quarter Match as well as some of the other odd quirks that crop up when going online.

Achievements are split between the solo and multiplayer aspects, and some of them can be quite challenging. You'll get basic achievements for getting a ?perfect? score in a bonus round (smash that car!!) and for playing an online match, but you'll also be taken to the limit with some of the solo achievements. Beating the arcade mode without losing a match is one thing, but completing the game without losing a round ? especially with this version's elevated difficulty ? is another. The achievements are pretty well balanced, and you should find good replay value in getting them all.

On the whole, it's good to see Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting on Xbox Live Arcade. The game preserves most of its heritage reasonably well, but the spotty sound and flawed online experience sour what could've been very sweet. If you've been waiting a long time for this one, it's still worth your time to check out.

Bottom Line
Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting has finally made its way to the Xbox Live Arcade, and this iteration replicates the arcade experience to moderate effect. The Xbox Live support is certainly the main draw, and that also makes it somewhat disappointing that there are some issues with its implementation. Regardless of this and a few other issues, Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting is worth the 800 points ($10) for those who busted their thumbs on this one back in the day, as well as for those who want an old-school experience that demonstrates the strong roots of the fighting genre.

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