The aging champ makes another comeback.
[image1]A phenomenon called the "double dip" routinely strikes consumers of popular entertainment. Why pay for a DVD, CD, or videogame only once when you can pay for it a second or third time, with just a few minutes of extra content thrown in to sweeten the deal? But in this case, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix's extra bells and whistles include a complete graphical overhaul and a stellar soundtrack, and doesn't disturb the delicate gameplay balance of the arcade classic.
It's hard to fault this anniversary gift to Street Fighter fans for taking few risks. After all, who wouldn't pay extra for a super-high resolution version of their favorite old games? The upgraded graphics may be excellent, but they're the only real surprises in store.
[image2]Any drastic changes to Street Fighter II except for the graphics and sound would cause hundreds of thousands of pissed-off fans to buy a ticket to Japan and shoryuken the shit out of Capcom HQ. As a result, this remake is as by-the-numbers in terms of gameplay as possible. It feels like classic Street Fighter II and it looks like a flawless, modern anime. Even online, the lag has been minimized and smoothed-over in a way that makes it feel like your opponent is playing you on the same arcade cabinet.
The extra characters Cammy, T. Hawk, Fei Lang, Dee Jay, and Akuma are all highly appreciated additions, especially since they were absent from the last online-enabled Street Fighter II released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2006. Their home arenas are also among the most colorful, vibrant backgrounds in this HD version—the pastel-clad natives in Mexico and salsa dancers in Jamaica are especially stylish standouts.
[image3]However, it's disappointing that onlookers in the backgrounds are not nearly as well-animated as the fighters in the foreground. While it seems that nearly every fighter's frame of animation has been reproduced perfectly, the stilted movements of the spectators are jarringly simple. Would it really have been too distracting to make the background characters act a little more lifelike, to match their perfect anime stylization?
These minor faults—jerky background characters and a lack of add-on extras for the sake of variety—may seem silly when we're talking about a gorgeous remake of one of the arcade's few luminaries. Still, the lack of renovation below the surface might make the celebration short-lived. Instead of building a new game that will endure for many, many years, fans could tire of this remake once they realize it's still the same old game with a fresh coat of paint.
Until then, the online competition is still fierce, and while we wait for the inevitable HD remake copycats (like, say, Super Mario Bros. with every goomba and turtle still exactly where we left them last time), this Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix will ignite happy memories of arcades long since shuttered and relocated to our home console hard drives.