Fighting the urge.
It has been almost 30 years since Street Fighter II was originally released. Think about that. That encompasses almost my entire gaming life, heck most of my life itself. So to see this classic return to gaming is nothing short of nostalgic. What is shocking though is the price of admission. This game retails for $40. Granted, there are new features and some spruced-up visuals, but it still feels like a price tag taking advantage of game-starved Switch owners.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers retains the original code underneath its shiny new coat of paint. Meaning every hit box, slowdown, and exploit still exists. It is remarkable to say the least. Visuals have two options, as do the audio, allowing players to mix and match. The downside is that it is not possible while in-game. Meaning if I wanted to switch it up, I had to exit all the way back to the main menu to do so.
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
The new visual style is very reminiscent of the 360/PS3 HD re-release from 2008. The new overlay is gorgeous in still shots, but feels a little weird in motion due to keeping the original animation. Still, it is vibrant and colorful. I love it. As I mentioned the slowdown is still here, which won’t bother most as it is almost embedded into muscle memory at this point. Of course, for purists the original sprite-based mode is still present.
While the Switch has a lot of awesome features, the standard d-pad out of the box is not one of them. Playing this game with the default Joycons is a nightmare. Nothing feels good or natural, to the point I would rather use the analog stick, which I never do. I tried it with the Pro Controller, which is light years beyond the Joycons, but that is an extra $80 add-on. Playing in tablet mode with the Joycons separated is also not ideal. Control methods seem to be the Achilles’ heel of the system.
There are a few new additions to this version. The most notable is the Way of the Hado mode. This allows players to take on the role of Ryu in first person. There really isn’t much to this mode. After 2-3 sessions I had seen all it had to offer. It is a neat side activity from the main game, but also nothing more. Players use the Joycons to throw fireballs at opponents and try to survive. This mode is rendered in what appears to be the SF4 engine, which makes me wonder even more why that version wasn’t ported instead. It might have justified the $40 price point.
A color editor and gallery mode round out the features. I really loved the high resolution artwork contained in the gallery. There is a lot of neat concept art hidden in there. The color editor on the other hand is clunky and hard to use well. The sliders move far too slow. Again, all of this is wrapped in a package that feels sluggish and thrown together. Nothing feels polished, which is not what one wants to hear about a $40 remaster.
Finally, the reason my review is late is that online was not available to us until launch day. I tested it and found that it works fairly well for the most part. There are casual and ranked matches. Battle Points return to assess skill, and the feature to search for opponents while playing other modes all exist. There is nothing fancy about the online, but it does work. Most matches went off without a hitch.
This is a hard review to write. The quality of Street Fighter II is unparalleled, and it is still one of the most balanced fighting games ever created. The addition of Violent Ken and Evil Ryu doesn’t do much to the roster, and Way of the Hado is a diversion at best. However, the $40 price tag stings. Yes, we have all heard of Switch tax, but this feels like Switch robbery. This game should have launched at $15-$20 at most. This is a very solid game, just not one worth its current price of admission.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.