Bringing over one of the best in the overly long string of Street Fighter II titles, Capcom’s first effort for the Live Arcade is a guaranteed success. With some minor problems (including what felt like an agonizing waiting period for it to be released), it’s a definite purchase for anyone with fond memories of this classic. The online multiplayer is easily worth the price alone.
In fact, it may be a better game if it only had multiplayer. Single-player is obscenely difficult, even more so than the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection on the Xbox. The AI mysteriously finds a way to perform charge moves while walking forward, repeating special attacks without a delay, and causing far more damage than they should. For the Live Arcade’s dedication to reach out to casual gamers, this was not the best decision. A newcomer will be crushed in seconds, even on the lowest setting.
There have been no changes made to the single player affair aside from the difficulty. All twelve of the memorable fighters are present, as are their stages. Remixed music failed to make the cut, obviously due to a size limit imposed by Microsoft on Arcade titles. Animation routines for both the players and backdrops are complete.
Controls are a surprise. Aside from the obvious problems with a six button fighting game being played on a controller with only four face buttons, the d-pad performs far better than expected. The analog stick is also an option, but the standard pad is enough. Missed moves are a rarity, and out of a hundred attempts, you could count the failures on one hand. It’s not an arcade stick replacement, but it’s a more than worthy way to play the game.
Online is where the game earns its 800 point price, though it does have some problems. Quarter Match is a hyped feature that is, sadly, only available in player matches, not ranked. Here, players fight to stay on and play, while others put their customized virtual coins down for their next shot at the top spot. Aside from not allowing a newly joined player to watch the current match if it began before joining the session, it’s a nice way to play with friends and battle it out for supremacy in Street Fighter II’s in-depth fighting engine.
Ranked play offers exactly what would be expected: One-on-one battles in a best of three melee to determine the winner. The lobby system is kept simple without much in the way of flair. Finding a match can occasionally prove difficult, as sessions rarely stay open for more than a few seconds, time out errors are frequent, and you’re unable to see your opponent (or their rank) before selecting a match. The only way you’ll know who you’ve played is to set up your own match or wait until the results screen at the end of the fight.
Lag is entirely dependent on your connection. The game runs perfectly if you select the right rooms. The ping indicator while in the lobby lets you know if it will be a problem. There is no input delay with a steady broadband service. If things do become problematic, the game feels like it slows down instead of skipping frames (which it occasionally happens as well).
The ranking system, while well set up with a nicely designed points feature, is, sadly, ruined. At any point during a match, if a player quits, there is no penalty. It’s not recorded as a loss for the quitter or a win for the legitimate player. While it curbs the problem of an unintentional dropped connection, it defeats the point of a ranking system entirely. It’s been a problem with all Capcom fighting games online.
The other issue causing problems is this same game, along with other Street Fighter titles (like the superb Street Fighter III), is available on the Xbox in the above-mentioned Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. It can only be called a case of “selective backwards compatibility” that the previous release will not play on the Xbox 360. The extra games and, of course, full Xbox Live support would probably be a better choice for most players given its usual price hovering around a meager $5 more than this Live Arcade edition.
For those without an original Xbox however, this is a fine adaptation. Unlike the majority of the Arcade’s simple, quick to pick up games, Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting easily becomes the deepest game available for the service. For the majority of gamers, this is a common sense purchase, minor issues or not. It was worth the extended wait.
Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Violence. This game can also be found on: Playstation 2, Xbox.