Welcome back to part 2 of our Street Fighter special. In the last part, we looked over some of the franchise’s more infamous parts. In this one, we look at Street Fighter EX, which was a highly controversial entry in the series, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and as an added bonus, we’ll take a look at a little known Dreamcast/Arcade title featuring characters from the franchise.

Lost Classics: Street Fighter EX + Alpha (Playstation)
sfexDuring the late 90’s many companies which made 2-D fighting games were trying to jump on the 3-D fighting bandwagon, and we got titles such as Midway’s Mortal Kombat 4, SNK’s Samurai Showdown 64 (which is not a Nintendo 64 title but a Neo Geo CD title), and Capcom’s Street Fighter EX, which were all 3-D iterations of classic 2-D fighters. Midway stuck with the 3-D format with MK5 onwards (albeit with a whole new engine). SNK occasionally took one of it’s fighting series into the third dimension (most recently with King of the Fighters 2006), but still creates 2-D fighters. Capcom had flirted around with 3-D fighters before, releasing the arcade versions of Takara’s Battle Arena Toshinden 2 before developing Star Gladiator. After Star Gladiator, they decided to take their flagship fighter into the third dimension. While many purists despised the move , just as many enjoyed the take of the series. Thankfully, even after the EX games, Capcom continues to produce 2-D fighting games.

For the most part, EX feels like the 2-D SF games, only a bit slower in pace. Most of the classic characters, such as Ken, Ryu, Guile, and Chun-li are here (strangely enough, Ken and Ryu’s hurricane kicks have been replaced with Dan-style flying kicks which can be chained in a combo), and they have been joined by several new faces. While some of them are Ken/Ryu clones, many of them have interesting movesets (even if they are a bit reminiscent of certain characters in past Street Fighter games), and at the very least deserve a shot in a 2-D Capcom fighting game. My personal favorites are Pullum (a middle eastern princess with moves similar to Cammy), D.Dark (a disfigured ex-soldier whose moveset is a mix of Rolento, Vega, and Fei-Long), and Caracker Jack (a trainer for Shadowloo whose fighting style is best described as ‘Balrog with a baseball bat’). M.Bison and Akuma show up also, and they are joined by Garuda, an evil ghost samurai. For the PS1 players disappointed that their version of Street Fighter Alpha 2 didn’t have Evil Ryu, EX contains his 3-D form as a hidden character.

The arcade version of Street Fighter EX has seen a revision, EX +, which contains all of the time release characters (Allen, Blair, Kairi, etc). This PS1 version is called + alpha, to signify that it not only contains the time released characters from the arcade game, but also home exclusive characters Dhalsim and Sakura. The home release also contains several other exclusive play modes, such as a 3-D version of the classic barrel-breaking game, and a training mode which drills you through each character’s moveset, and allows you to unlock the game’s extras. The soundtrack is composed of all new music, rather than remixes of the classic Street Fighter anthems. Even so, it’s a blast to listen to, and it gives me the same feeling I had when I first played Street Fighter 2 all those years ago. The backgrounds are bright and vibrant, even if the character models look somewhat blocky.

Besides EX and its sequels, Capcom didn’t do much with 3-D, save for a lackluster sequel to Star Gladiator, and the sleeper hits Rival Schools, Project Justice, and Tech Romancer. They didn’t step into 3-D again until just recently with Street Fighter 4. Even though many purists hate EX and consider it a blasphemy towards the franchise’s 2-D roots, this is every bit as fun as its 2-D predecessors. More open minded fighting game fans will enjoy this game. Maybe now that Street Fighter 4 did so well, people will be more forgiving towards this spin-off.

Fun Fact:
This game was developed by Akira, and not Capcom. In fact, several characters in Street Fighter EX don’t even belong to Capcom. Allen and Blair appear in a Namco game called Fighting Layer, and Skullomania appears in Fighter Maker 2.

$20 Game of the Week: Super Street Fighter Turbo (Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network)
ssiithdrStreet Fighter II started a lot of trends in the fighting game world. However, one dubious trend it started was the multiple revisions of itself. Now granted, this was before downloadable content or even booster discs, and at least one revision was needed (such as Championship Edition letting players play as the bosses), but before the next new Street Fighter game was released, we had no less than 5 editions of Street Fighter 2 (and that’s not even counting all the ports, online editions, and portable remakes). Anyway, Super Street Fighter II Turbo was the definitive version of Street Fighter II. It tweaked the movesets of every regular character in the game (that includes the 8 world warriors, the 4 bosses, and the 4 new challengers from Super Street Fighter II), added the super combo feature (actually borrowing it from SNK’s games), added in new hand drawn endings, and [in what could possibly be seen as an attempt to compete with Mortal Kombat] a hidden character named Akuma, who you could even play as if you entered the correct code. Like its predecessors, players ate this up, and thankfully it was the last version of Street Fighter II before the first new SF game (not counting the horrid movie tie-ins), Street Fighter Alpha was released.

Nearly 15 years later, Capcom decided to revisit several of their classic titles, particularly Mega Man, Bionic Commando, and Street Fighter. Capcom decided to do high definition remakes of two of it’s titles, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, and Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Super Puzzle Fighter came out shortly after, but SSFIIT would take a while in development. Backbone Entertainment, the project’s developers were redoing the character sprites, backgrounds, endings, and adding in new online modes. During its development of SSFIIT HD Remix, Capcom announced a huge shocker: Street Fighter IV. It seemed for certain that SSIITHDR would be moved to the back burner, despite the reassurance of its developers that it would be on its way. Just as it seemed that all would be lost, we saw what the developers were working on, and it was beautiful. The visuals had been redone by comic studio Udon (the guys behind the Street Fighter comic book), the music was being done by overclocked remix, and game’s fighting system was being retooled with the assistance of Backbone developer and veteran SFII player David Sirlin. This would be a fighting game by Street Fighter fans for Street Fighter fans. Moreover, it would help pass the tine until Street Fighter IV hit.

The game includes various tweaking options. You can play in new HD remix mode, or play under the original SSFIIT ruleset. There is a dip switch-like option menu to tweak any part of the moveset. You can also select which soundtrack to listen to, and you can even play with the old SSIIT sprites. Add in a training mode, new display modes, and an online complete with spectator matches, leaderboards, and voice chat. In short, it’s everything a fan could want, short of an all new Street Fighter game.

So after 5 titles, did we really need another remake of Street Fighter 2? When it’s this good, the answer is a resounding yes. Weather you are a die hard fan of the franchise, or just a fighting game fan, then you would do well to spend the money (or MS points) and download this title.

Lost Classics: Cannon Spike (Arcade, Dreamcast)
cannon_spikeCapcom ans Psikyo collaborated on this 2000 title. It can best be described as Smash TV with Capcom characters. However, there is a bigger focus on boss battles, and the stages are shorter. You have your choice of several characters, most of which hail from other Capcom titles, the most notable of which are Charlie and Cammy from Street Fighter. Players can also choose from Ghost ‘n Goblins’ s Arthur, Three Wonder’s Shiba, and Simone, who is the the only new character in the game. Mega Man and Darkstalker’s B.B. Hood are also in the game as hidden playable characters. Each character has a selection of ranged, close-ranged, and special attacks. 2 players can team up, and the stage order is different depending on which characters you select. Among the game’s enemies and bosses are zombie dogs (not unlike those from Resident Evil), giant robots, and a mutated Vega. Even though the game is short, players will have fun shooting up everything. Maybe one day Capcom will start on a sequel which will feature bigger levels, and an actual dual-analog control scheme. Cannon Spike may not be complicated, but it’s mindless and intense action from the time you start the game until you finish it.