Street Fighter, the name alone garners respect amongst video game enthusiasts. For many, Street Fighter 2 was their first foray into fighting games, bursting onto home consoles in the early 90’s and birthing millions of deep seeded sibling rivalries for decades to come. Like million of others, I revelled in the 1 on 1 competitiveness of these titles in which gameplay knowledge and execution were the only real secrets to victory. Unfortunately, due to where I grew up, I was never really able to immerse myself in the fighting game genre the way that I wanted; Huddled around cabinets with friends, vying to be the ‘guy to beat’ in the brutal ‘winner stays on’ ruleset that was king in so many arcades. Instead, I had to make do with my apparent inferior home console ports of some of my favourite games, and only got to hear about how much more incredible the arcade releases were through monthly video game magazines and later, through internet forums and videos. In fact, it’s safe to say that despite my adoration and admiration for the Street Fighter franchise, the only Arcade Perfect version I ever got to play was the original Street Fighter 2. The rest of the franchise, from Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, to 3rd Strike, I only ever got to play on home consoles.
Now, that has all changed. Now, with the release of Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, I can ecstatically state that I have played arcade perfect versions of almost all the core Street Fighter titles released in the last 30 years. And fuck me sideways, they are good and they are hard. Included in the collection, you will find arcade perfect ports of Street Fighter (yes, the original. It is shit.), Street Fighter 2 and all its children, Street Fighter Alpha 1, 2 and 3, as well as the 3 versions of Street Fighter 3 that were released over the years. That’s 12 games, 12 arcade modes, 12 sets of characters and 12 separate times that M.Bison can make you his bitch.
I have always prided myself on being pretty decent at fighting games. Usually beating the piss out of my mates in couch comp play and holding my own at a couple of local tournaments when I was younger. However after jumping into the world of competitive online with later fighting titles, I learned just how shit I really was. This same lesson has been retaught during my time with Street Fighter 30th anniversary in the form of the basic arcade mode. I’d always heard that the arcade mode on the arcades was much harder than consoles to force you to spend more quarters, but had never experienced it for myself. After attempting to beat Super STreet Fighter 2 Turbo’s arcade mode and getting caught on Blanka in the SECOND LEVEL and trying to best him close to FIFTY times. It’s safe to say that I have been humbled by these arcade beasts, in the most dramatic of ways.
One of the other areas I REALLY noticed a difference when compared to the home console version of the titles was in the Music and sound effects. In a lot of cases, you can actually make out what characters are saying when the execute their special moves, instead of the muffled garbage that I was used to hearing on my Super Nintendo. The music also appears to have much more range in terms of the midi synthesizers present. High pitched highlight noted I had never heard before improved upon themes I had heard a million times before and I found myself closing my eyes and imagining what it would have been like hearing these, late at night, while you and your friends loiter around the local cabinet decked out in double denim and looking rad as fuck. Waiting to destroy an innocent passerby who thinks he can defeat Shen Long, and stand a chance.
I don’t want to spend much time talking about how the games control because, well, you’ve probably played them before. But it was incredibly satisfying to be able to pull out my fight stick with unnoticeably input lag and sink hour upon hour into the games’ arcade, training and online modes. The animations are crisp and clear and I was really impressed by the overall style and fluidity in 3rd Strike, specifically the character’s battle stances. The way they transition to and from their default poses, and bob and move around in the brief moments where they are motionless is somewhat mesmerizing and makes me feel a little bummed out that I didn’t get to experience these nuances while the games were new in arcades. As I’m sure it would have been even more impressive then.
For the people who follow Street Fighter lore, there is a gallery/museum option that lets you read bio’s about all the characters in the series and a neat timeline that shows you where each game was released as well as big moments in the franchises history. Other than this though, there isn’t really too much in the way of ‘extras’ due to arcade machines of yesteryear usually only containing a versus mode and an arcade mode. But the inclusion of online play is a welcome one and my time in matches was near perfect. Little lag and great netcode means battling opponents online feels almost as good as playing couch comp. The online leaderboards are also neat to see and will hopefully keep the games competitively viable for the foreseeable future.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary is a triumph in terms of games preservation and a pleasure for fans of the Street Fighter Series. A must own for collectors and arcade enthusiasts alike. It is available now on all major platforms and I highly recommend revisiting what are arguably, some of the most defining and greatest games of the past 30 years.
The Good: Street Fighter fans rejoice! This is the best collection available to date and an absolute dream if you were a fan or the original arcade releases.
The Bad: If you have never played or been into Street Fighter, or have no interest in the series, there probably isn’t much here for you.
The Final Verdict: You should already know if this game is up your alley. If you think it might be, then get it. It is.
Gameplay - 9/10
Visual Design - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay - 7/10
Personal Enjoyment - 9/10