30 years is a long time in gaming and very few series ever make it this far. Street Fighter has had its ups and downs, but here we are 30 years on from the original and the series is still as relevant now as it always has been.
Capcom then have seen fit to celebrate this third decade of their premier fighting series with a collection of various games and behind the scenes extras – some of which have never been seen in public before. Is this a collection worth celebrating or just some dusty memories that should be left in the past?
The collection includes 12 games from the series, however other than the original Street Fighter these are all various iterations on Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter III. I can’t help but feel this is a missed opportunity for what should be a celebration of all things Street Fighter from the last 30 years. Where are the spin offs, the puzzle games or even the excellent anime films? In actuality all you are getting here are a few variations on three titles from the ’90s and one original release from the 1980s that is frankly so bad it isn’t even worth mentioning.
There are some clever additions to the package that fans of the series are sure to enjoy though. Firstly four of the titles (SF2T, SF2HF, SF: Alpha 3 and SF3: Third Strike) all receive online play – both ranked and unranked – and completely customisable training modes; something that many players will find really useful.
Capcom certainly could have done more with the content, but the games that are available (bar the original) hold up exceptionally well even today.
Street Fighter II was considered the best game of its time and it still plays amazingly well now. The various iterations improve on the original in both subtle and not so subtle ways, adding new characters and stages, tweaking moves, adding supers (a mechanic still employed today), changing up the speed of the game and even tweaking the difficulty. Not only are these variations a testament to how popular Street Fighter II used to be, but they also show how glaringly broken the vanilla game was. Yet despite the sometimes hilarious issues, it is still a joy to play.
In its Turbo iteration Street Fighter II becomes one of the toughest and purest fighters ever made; the addictive speed, music and colourful graphics raise it well above anything else that had been produced at the time.
Street Fighter Alpha saw the series move into the more anime art style that it has more or less kept over the years. It is an excellent graphical style that suits the series so well. The cast of characters receive a good shake up with lots of memorable new additions bringing with them new stages and improving evermore with an undeniably brilliant soundtrack. Most importantly though the game tweaked and revamped the super system, adding additional strategy that has also more or less been used in every game since.
The various iterations here mostly add new characters and stages that ended up boosting the roster of fighters considerably. The version of Alpha 3 we get in this collection is missing a few characters from later updates, but is otherwise all intact.
Street Fighter III is by far considered the absolute best of the series with a combat system so deep and engaging that many people are still finding tricks in its intricacies to this day. It continues the anime look while adding much more detail to both the characters and stages. The most notable thing here is that SF3: New Generation only kept Ryu and Ken on the roster – the rest of the characters were all new including a new main protagonist and antagonist.
Street Fighter III brought with it many new additions to the combat most notably, dashing, parries and leaping attacks as well as the ability to recover in mid-air.
The various versions brought back old characters as well as adding some new ones, these come with various tweaks to gameplay and new stages. Most notable here was the reintroduction of bonus stages that had been left out of every game since Street Fighter II.
Digital Eclipse have done an excellent job of emulating each of these games and they are almost flawless in execution. The addition of the museum mode is a nice one and includes a timeline of the entire Street Fighter saga, as well as allowing you to see how animations have evolved for each character as time has passed.
I have to add a little note on the online play here as honestly it is a bit of a struggle due to the net-code being horrifically laggy. Around eight out of ten matches are almost unplayable in the current state. This is being worked on however and hopefully it will be fixed soon as it is an excellent addition to the package.
Overall and Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a brilliant collection of all the mainline arcade games we know and love, but in reality it is only a small slice of the past 30 years. Capcom could have given us so much more with this and I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed by the lack of content available.