This week sees the release of the highly anticipated Street Fighter 4. To celebrate, Powet presents a special 2-part $20 Game of the Week/Lost Classics/Maximum Letdown Special on some of the highs and the lows of the franchise. This is part one, in which we will feature the original Street Fighter (as an example of why you can’t go home again) and the two games based on a certain movie starring Jean Claude Van Damme which just so happens to have a name and cast of characters similar to Street Fighter. This weekend we’ll take a look at Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix along with one of the more under appreciated bright spots of the franchise.

Maximum Letdown: Street Fighter (Xbox, PS2, PSP, Turbografx-CD, Arcade)

Lets face it, when Street Fighter 2 first arrived, how many people were familiar with the original? Who wasn’t at least curious enough to want to try the original after they played 2? Well, there is a reason why Capcom hasn’t revisited it as much as the later games in the series. To put it simply, because it’s crap. Yes, it established many of the conventions that the Street Fighter series was known for, and yes, it was unique for its time. However, as we’ve seen many times in gaming, just having a good concept means nothing if not implemented good enough, and the original Street Fighter is evidence of just that.

Players take control of series protagonist Ryu as he travels the world to take on its toughest fighters. A second player can join in anytime and take control of Ken and battle against Ryu in a one-on-one matcp similar to those 2-player vs modes seen in some old school video games (this is the reason why Ken and Ryu have similar movesets from Street Fighter 2 forward). Yes, the classic moves are here. However, the controls are so unresponsive and clunky, they are next to impossible to pull off. The computer is overly cheap as well. The enemies use all sorts of cool techniques, but I’m only stuck controlling Ryu. You’ll face Sagat in the end match, but you won’t see the infamous chest-scarring scene that sets up their future rivalry.

The original Street Fighter’s faults can be chalked up due to it being the first game in the series. With gameplay this bad however, it’s nothing short of a miracle that the series was able to spawn a sequel, let alone last as long as it did. At least gamers should be thankful that we didn’t get the ‘deluxe’ arcade game. Instead of six buttons, we got 2 pneumatic buttons, one for punches and one for kicks. The strength and speed of your attacks would be determined by how hard you hit the giant buttons. Needless to say, as bad as the game was, this would roll over a whole lot worse. If you must play this game, it’s available on Capcom Classics Collection Remixed for PSP and Capcom Classics Collection volume 2 on the Playstation 2 and Xbox. Maybe Capcom will do a remake with much more solid play control.

Now time for some fun facts.

Birdie, Gen, and Adon show up in the Street Fighter Alpha series, with Birdie’s skin discoloration in this game being explained as an illness.

This game is the first appearance of Eagle, the stick fighter who appears in Capcom vs SNK 2 and the portable versions of Street Fighter Alpha 3. It’s been strongly hinted that he is a homosexual.

The Turbografx-CD release of this game was retitled Fighting Street.

Maximum Letdown 2: Street Fighter the Movie – The Game (Arcade, PS1, Sega Saturn)
Thankfully, Capcom really got the ball rolling with the game’s sequel. Not only did it improve significantly on its predecessor, it changed the landscape of an entire genre, and rose to become one of gaming’s most significant titles. It evolved into a franchise, spawning spin-off games, action figures, comic books, cartoons, and eventually a movie*. This movie was like nothing ever seen. The animated feature showcased the characters that we loved in a new light, put an all-new spin on the conflict between Ken/Ryu and M.Bison, and provided inspiration for the Street Fighter Alpha games. Sadly, the movie that the game this Maximum Letdown covers is based on is not the one I just mentioned. Nope, this movie is a live-action flop starring Jean Claude Van Damme, a before-she-was-hot Kylie Minogue, a before-anyone-knew-who-she-was Ming Na, Raul Julia (in what would sadly be his final performance), and a bunch of other guys I never heard of as they made a complete mockery of the game that myself (along with millions of other fans) spent countless hours enjoying. As if that wasn’t enough, we would get a game based on the movie. So to its credit, this game was a first: a game based on a movie based on a game. To my knowledge, Double Dragon is the only other franchise that has had the ‘honor’ of having both a movie produced and a game based on said movie.

There are actually two separate versions of the game, both of which feature digitized representations of the actors, and both of which containing equally unresponsive play control. The arcade game, developed by Incredible Technologies (makers of the ‘classic’ Time Killers) eschews any form of a cohesive play style in favor of Mortal Kombat-ish juggles and air combos. The home versions, developed by Capcom and published by Acclaim played closer to Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, only clunkier. Players could either play in ‘Street Battle’ mode, which was the standard arcade mode, or ‘movie battle’ in which players played a Guile throughout the movie’s plotline, or at least something similar to it, as you branched off at certain points. Both games feature some strange line-up decisions. For instance, both the arcade and home editions leave out Dhalshim (makes sense though, as he is only a scientist in the movie). Additionally, Blanka, T-Hawk, and Dee Jay were nowhere to be found in the arcade game. Also, the line up features Blade, one of Bison’s foot soldiers. Arkane, Khyber, and F7 are all Mortal Kombat-style palette swaps of Blade. The home versions include Blanka and Dee Jay while also leaving out T-Hawk, and there are no palette swapped cyborgs. Sawada, a character who was heavily pushed as being the next big Capcom hero yet only appeared in the film a grand total of 10 minutes, is also included in both games and has an embarrassingly lousy move set. Meanwhile, Akuma is playable in both games, despite not being in the movie at all. Moreover, in the arcade game, he’s immediately playable (vs the home title where he’s only accessible via a code) which leads me to believe that the people at Incredible Technologies have no idea who Akuma is or his impact to the Street Fighter mythos. It’s as if they threw him in there just because someone who just so happened to have played Super Street Fighter II turbo thought it would be cool.

In closing, Street Fighter: The movie: The game is better than the movie, but that isn’t saying much. If one good thing came out of it, it’s that Raul Julia gave one of his best performances ever. His M. Bison was a worthy swan song. Of course, when your co-stars are Van Damme and Kylie Minogue, that isn’t saying a whole lot either. Well there is one other good thing, the soundtrack. It contained music from hip hop heavyweights such as Ice Cube, Paris, the Pharcyde, and Craig Mack. However, the best part of this album is the classic MC Hammer/Deion Sanders collaboration, ‘Straight to My Feet’. Peep the video for cameos from Guile, Sagat, Vega, Dee Jay, and some of M Bison’s shadowloo thugs. Who knew Van Damme was such the stepper? Perhaps his next flick should be the sequel to step up. This here is mid 90’s New Jack swing at its finest!

That’s all for now. Be back this weekend for part 2.

*There was a game based on the animated movie. However, it was one of those laser disc interactive movies not unlike Double Switch, and it was released in Japan only.