There are lots of good video games. There are fewer great retro video games. But only a select handful of retro video games qualify to hold the titles ‘Pioneer’, ‘Groundbreaking’ or ‘Legendary’.
The first version of game came out in 1991 for arcades, and the world has never been the same since. A year after the colossal success of World Warrior, Nintendo jumped on the bandwagon and brought Ryu and gang to the SNES. It’s fair to say that Capcom as it stands today was built on the foundation that Street Fighter II provided. While the franchise has had a few misses since then, the original is still a fantastic game and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
It’s nearly impossible to have been around gaming and not know about the Street Fighter series. If you are one of the select few who haven’t been introduced to its awesomeness, Street Fighter II is a 1 v 1 fighting game, a genre that the franchise singlehandedly championed through the early days of gaming. Fighting games weren’t all that popular back then, but Street Fighter II changed all that.
Street Fighter II can be credited for most of the gameplay elements that fighting games employ today – the use of several distinct characters, flimsy storylines explaining each characters motivations and a deep, competitive combat system. The arcade version of the game was so popular that a whole host of games like Primal Rage and Mortal Kombat followed in its footsteps.
The SNES port of Street Fighter II came with a lot of hype, with Nintendo claiming that it would be a near-perfect replica of the arcade experience. And for the most part, they are right. The basic gameplay elements, combat and physics are ported intact, making this a sheer joy to play. While it may seem like the same game, there are a few changes in the SNES version. The music is more simplified, there’s no intro cinematic and some graphical elements are toned down. But these are only visible if you’ve really been an avid player of the arcade version. Otherwise, this is a perfect port.
World Warrior features slick character animations, colorful stages and several powerful characters and moves you can sink your teeth into. The roster features a total of 8 characters, each with their signature fighting style and abilities. There are also 4 different boss/mini-boss characters you have to overcome. In addition, there are a dozen playable locations to choose from.
Learning how a particular character works is a lot of fun. Through trial and error, you’ll slowly realize the strengths and weaknesses of each character. Some characters fight better at range (Dhalsim, Ken), some like to get up close and personal (Chun Li) and others are competent at both ranges (Ryu, Sagat). Ryu and Ken are the most accessible characters for new gamers, but as you get good at the mechanics you can find the fighter that best suits your playstyle. And herein lies the true essence of Street Fighter – it is a game that different people can be really good at without having to follow the same patterns. While some fighting games throw in generic characters just to pad out the roster, Street Fighter II has a roster with truly unique characters that don’t look or handle like anyone else.
The SNES version of this legendary fighting game does justice to the arcade version and is one of the reasons why the console became so massively popular. The 6-button setup on the controller works delightfully well and you’ll be executing flashy moves in no time. This game also pioneered another concept in fighting games – combos and chaining moves. Got your opponent in a corner? Pummel them with fireballs or spinning leg attacks. They’re trying to get out of a tight situation? Suplex them back into the corner.
Street Fighter II: World Warrior is an absolute classic. It has a great difficulty curve, solid controls, delightful graphics and an entertaining soundtrack. Even though the console port isn’t an exact replica of the arcade version, it still retains all of the good elements from the original. Even today, several decades later, World Warrior is a good-looking game. In later years, several different versions of Street Fighter II hit the shelves, changing different things to make it more competitive and faster. Even so, the original holds up as arguably the finest 2D fighting game, and one of the best games of all time overall. Pound-for-pound, you can still pit it against games like Soul Calibur and Tekken and come away with the superior fighting experience.
Remember – when in trouble, down + forward + punch. Enjoy the hostilities!