Now the Christmas period is well under way, I can’t help but think back to the games that I’ve been given as a Christmas present, especially the ones that chewed up every waking hour of the festive season. In particular I’m thinking of Street Fighter II Special Championship Edition for the Sega Genesis (or Sega Megadrive). It was released in October 1993, but only being 13 at the time I had to wait until Christmas to get my hands on it. I played this game so much that my hands were like gnarled claws by the time I went back to school.
So, I’m going to look back at Street Fighter II Special Championship Edition with the older, wiser eyes and slower reactions of middle age. How does it stand up to modern beat-em up’s?
All of the 16 Playable characters have their own story. It’s not fantastically detailed and apart from the odd pre and post battle comments you neither know nor really care about their own stories until you complete the game and see the two to three static cut-scenes explaining their own ending. I’m not going to judge it too harshly on this, after all who buys a beat-em up game for the story?
It’s probably worth saying at this point that you should, at all costs, avoid the Street Fighter II film. Seriously, just don’t.
The format is just as you would expect, and why not it was practically one of the founders of it. You choose one of 16 characters, each with various skills and go head to head against a number of other opponent, including the bosses (Balrog, Vega and Sagat) followed by the biggest bad of them all M. Bison.
Each match is essentially a best of three, you punch, kick and throw your opponent until their health or your health is reduced to zero.
There are three bonus rounds which are more fun than the game fighting part of the game. The first bonus match is to smash a car within an allotted time, then you have to smash barrels falling from some shelves and finally a stack of bricks.
The gameplay isn’t varied by today’s standards, to the point of repetitive, Maybe today we’d expect a little more for our bucks.
Graphics & Sound
Graphically, at the time it was top-notch and you couldn’t really see a great deal of difference between the Sega Genesis and the Coin-op versions. Graphically of course it looks very dated and basic, but how many games can you look at nearly 25 years later that have remained graphically perfect. The sound was also pretty damn decent at the time, the Ryu’s spinning kick cry of ‘Tatsu Maki Sen Pu Kyaku’ sounded a little more like ‘Tatsu-Maki-Sen-Purgakk’ which is a little too Klingon for my tastes.
The standard Megadrive controller doesn’t really have enough buttons for a beat em up like this. If you’re playing on a standard pad, then you have A, B, C for light, medium and heavy punch and by pressing the Select button you switch to kicks. This is doable but in no way ideal. You can only real way to play was to invest in a special pad with 6 buttons on it A, B, C and X, Y & Z. Mine also had a turbo button which was great for E. Honda’s Hundred-Hand Slap, Chun Li’s Lightning Kick or Blanka’s Electricity.
Most of the moves were based on moving the joypad down to forward and pushing a button, or back to forward and so on. Zangief’s piledriver (a full rotation of the pad and a punch button) is still insanely difficult to do mid-game without Zangief looking like’s he’s having issues.
So, it’s a mixed bag, but if you put a few extra quid in and a bit of practise you get used to it.
There are 8 difficulty settings. 1 is like fighting a bean bag where 8 can have you flying through the air, the victim of kick after kick without every landing or blocking. Though the stages in-between are well spaced, and I found that 6 out of 8 stars was a reasonable amount of challenge without me wanting to smash my joypad against the wall. Incidentally, Street Fighter II Special Championship Edition was the game that made me smash two joypads against the wall in frustration.
Back then this game had huge amounts of replayability. I suspect that this is probably because I wasn’t overburdened with games at that time. Sure, in Street Fighter Special Championship Edition you have 16 different characters each with their own moves and story, but looking at it now, there wasn’t a great deal of other things to drag you back to this game. This is presumably why the later Street Fighter games are ram-packed with modes, and online or multiplayer options.