Monday, December 1, 2008

The definitive fighter for the fans by the fans... The Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Review

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix has been through a lot since its announcement in the beginning of last year. You can tell that it is Capcom's biggest and most ambitious downloadable game to date considering how popular the original Super Turbo is for fourteen years. From the new art courtesy of Udon Comics, the folks that also do the art for the Street Fighter comic books, and the new rebalanced gameplay that was consulted by professional players, this ain't your ordinary downloadable game or port. This HD Remix feels like a high budgeted fan-made project for the fans that is still fun and nearly perfect as a fighting game. As if Street Fighter is back in a big way with Street Fighter IV, Super Turbo HD is a reminder why fighting games are still around and its renaissance has just begun.

The biggest purpose for this HD Remix is the rebalanced gameplay since the original Super Turbo was fairly unbalanced for a while. Higher tier characters like Balrog and Dhalsim dominated while low tiers Cammy, T. Hawk, and Fei Long struggle to compete among the rest of the roster. Lots of changes have taken place for this rebalance even though most of them don't seem so obvious at the gate. While it still plays the Super Turbo we all know and love for more than a decade, the new changes make it a completely different game and there is a reason to use every character because they were changed mostly for the better. Some characters gained new moves like Ryu's fake fireball and Bison's fake slide while the majority of the cast have easier inputs for their special moves. For example, Zangier and T. Hawk are even dangerous with their simpler commands for their special throws and E. Honda can absorb fireballs with his jab Sumo Headbutt. Akuma is also now playable and balanced enough to be a viable character like he is in later Street Fighter games, but he is still difficult to beat in the single player arcade mode. If you're not a fan of the new changes, you can still play HD Remix the classic way and it is still as good as it was in the 90s, but the new changes do make the rebalanced mode more fun for veterans and friendly to newcomers.

ST HD Remix offers single and multiplayer modes typical of the fighting genre with the standard 12-stage arcade mode of defeating eight opponents and then the four bosses (Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and M. Bison). In the original Super Turbo, the difficulty was notoriously hard with the computer A.I. nailing combos and reversal attacks like nothing as if they were human characters. Now in HD Remix, the difficulty is toned down to an easier level as if it is a warmup for the online mayhem. Speaking of the online multiplayer, it is the best online fighting game out now with the best netcode for a fighter (near GGPO-like) with lagless matches. The online's structure is the normal quick and ranked match options along with the quarter match feature that was in the disappointing XBLA port of Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting. There is also a tournament mode to set up brackets of players to match up. Of course, your connection does matter when playing online, but my experience online has been nearly perfect despite some laggy moments, disconnects, and random bugs revolving the display of health meters and the screen itself.

Graphically, this HD Remix feels like a whole new game thanks to the new art done by Udon. The move animations still feel the same as they were fourteen years ago with these new sprites and even the projectiles and flame effects are unchanged. The stages themselves are also remade with the new art and now the detail is there in the background of various people doing random things. The game also goes widescreen because of being HD and still looks beautiful as if it is a comic book on whatever size TV it is on. Even the endings are remade with the new art to tell the characters' stories better. For purists, you can still turn on the old sprites for the characters, but the stages don't go back to their original ways so the old sprites in the remade backgrounds feel out of place.

As for the sound, a new soundtrack was made specifically for this HD Remix courtesy of Overclocked Remix, a recognized group of remixers for video game music. It is perhaps the greatest soundtrack for a fighting game with these remixed tunes using different genres of music from the rocking Ken BGM, the jazzy Vegas-themed Balrog BGM, and the epicness of Fei Long's stage. Even though it may not feel like true fighting game music for some, these tunes are simply good enough to play even in everyday activities. If you're not a fan of the remixed music, there is still the old-school music to bust out to if you prefer that. The sound effects and voices remain unchanged, but I am bothered when I usually hear the left side player's voice and don't hear the right side player's voice at all. Also, some voices were changed for the better like Guile's Sonic Boom voice returning to his old Street Fighter II ways and even a new announcer, but other nitpicky sound bugs like the music not playing sometimes when playing online matches prevent this amazing game from perfection.

Even though Street Fighter IV will be the true second coming of Street Fighter II and the center of the fighting game renaissance, Super Turbo HD Remix is how a remake should be handled when in the right hands. It is the definitive fighter for the fans by the fans from the rebalanced gameplay allowing the whole roster to be competitive, the new art by Udon, and the awesome remixed soundtrack. For 1200 Microsoft Points (or fifteen bucks), you're getting a lot of game out of this HD Remix for fighting game fans. There is enough depth for newcomers to try the game since it is easier to pull off some moves and supers for the majority of characters while veterans have to adjust to the changes that some old tricks might not fly in this remix. Despite some bugs and sound issues, HD Remix is close to perfection as a downloadable game and a complete package and it is the perfect time to play fighting games again.

Score = 9.5/10

  • Amazing rebalanced gameplay allowing the whole roster of characters to be competitive
  • The new art by Udon comics make the game feel like an actual comic book
  • Even with the rebalanced characters, the game is still as deep as ever
  • A special remixed soundtrack that feels like a tribute to the original tunes.
  • The best online netcode for a fighting game that is near GGPO level
  • Various sound issues like the 2P side not saying anything
  • Random bugs like weird health meters and black screens do happen

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