June 02, 2017

Ultra Street Fighter 2 The Final Challengers - Review

I have never been a fighting game fan, I could never master the more complex moves and as the years went on, they seemed to only get more and more complex, which made playing them even more of a challenge. With the release of Ultra Street Fighter 2 The Final Challengers though, I realised here is a game I could play.

Because this is a remake of a game that was released over two decades ago, long before fighting games needed to have story, there is not one to be found here, just a range of modes that will offer up quite a lot for you to do. For those that want the traditional arcade experience, that is where the arcade mode comes in, you select your character of choice, from the series originals or the two newcomers and then battle your way through 10 levels. Each of the fights will challenge you and should you fail, you can continue, even having the countdown clock before you can’t, it is a solid mode and one where you will likely find all your value from.

When you are tired of the arcade, you can set the game up to play in versus, which will let you take on another human fighter, or if you so desire you can fight against the computer. If you have a friend who also has the game, this is where you can link Switch’s and play against each other, with the final option here letting you watch two computer controlled fighters battle it out. The Versus mode is likely going to be your second stop in terms of game options, it is rounded enough and you can jump into battles without any hassle, making it perfect for those times when you just want to smash out a quick fight. Online is the same as versus, except expands from a local only option to the internet, the mode was not enabled until a day before launch, so it took a while to test out the feature and what it has proven to me, is that I am nowhere near talented enough to fight other humans. The mode was lag free, at least for the most part, but what lag I did have, I can put down to my connection, rather than the game or servers.

The other modes that the game brings with it are Buddy Battle and Way of the Hado and both are shockingly awful and not in a good cheesy kind of way. Buddy Battle is straight forward enough, you and a friend take on a single opponent, the catch you share a single life bar. Should you or your mate fall in battle it is game over, the problem with the mode is not the gameplay, but the lack of variety, there are only four enemies to fight and its not even one after the other. Each time you defeat one, you must return to the menu and then select a different opponent, being able to move to the next fight would be a welcome addition. The lack of variety here does hold the mode back, if there was more to do, then you would be able to find a lot of fun here, teaming up with someone to take down stronger enemies, well that could be something great.

One thing that is not good is Way of the Hado, this mode drops you into a first-person view point and has you using a JoyCon in each hand, to simulate your hands and fight waves of enemies. These might not seem like a bad mode, the problem is that the controls don’t work properly, I mean if I were to be generous, the controls barely worked for me 30% of the time, which is horrendous. Thrust both hands forward at the same time is meant to be your basic attack and while it’s the easiest to pull off, it still did not work most of the time and at first, I thought it might be my JoyCon, so I charged them up, even though they only came off the Switch for this mode, but nope, still not right. I then opted to swap to my other set of JoyCon and the same issues happened there, when I did manage to execute an attack, it was a welcome sensation, I was literally punching the air and seeing enemies get knocked out on the tv, it is just a shame those moments were few and far between.

The game also includes two extra options, one of which is kind of strange, the other is very cool. The colour mixer option, lets you take any character and swap the colours around, from their skin colour, to their main outfit and even accessories. Once you have made Ryu the colour of the Hulk or made Blanka nice and monotone, you can then take them into battle, selecting your pre-set when you choose your character. It does nothing to the game, just adds a touch of personalisation to the game, which is very cool. The other addition to the game is the gallery feature and while it’s not a true gallery, it is a welcome feature, as it is a digital reprint of a book, which was released around the time that Street Fighter 4 was and shows of a lot of artwork from over the series long history. While most of the text is in Japanese, it is still nice to see some of the history that the series has acquired over the years.

What the game has in terms of its presentation is a mixed art style, in fact the game has three distinct art styles and those god-awful menus. The main style is the hand drawn look, which was used back in the Xbox Live Arcade release of Street Fighter 2 HD, the look is sharp and stands out well and thankfully, the colours are not muted. The other main style is the traditional sprite based look, which is going to be a joy for the purists in the crowd, it however looks strange when you add your customer character to the mix. The final style comes into play when you are playing in Way of the Hado, the visuals are taken straight from Street Fighter 4 and while they look fine, at least for what is offered, they are so removed from the rest of the package that they just stand out far to much. The main issue with the visuals, is that the game promotes the option to swap between the classic and new looks, the problem is that you need to navigate back to the main menu, then into game options and then choose to swap them around.

Along with the swappable visuals, the game also supports modern remixes of the classic Street Fighter 2 music, so if you have a classic track, you can now enjoy that classic as well as the new interpretation of it. You can even select what music track to listen to, while you are looking through the gallery, something which is very cool. The downside to the audio is that the announcer is the same, no matter which version you select, it’s not an issue per say, it just does not click with what is being offered. Hearing a modern announcer ahead of the classic look and sound is strange, especially when the fighters revert to their classic sounding selves as well.

Ultra Street Fighter 2 The Final Challengers is a game that is very well put together, it brings forth the classic Street Fighter experience and lets players loose with some customisation, that does not impact the games perfect balance. The extra options and modes are all interesting in their own ways, but don’t quite offer up enough incentive for people who have poured years into the game already.

Thanks to Nintendo Australia for supplying the game for review

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