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Street Fighter 2010 (NES) artwork

Street Fighter 2010 (NES) review

"Six years late, but still not my worst attempt at timeliness!"

Street Fighter 2010 (NES) image

As a man of vision, I knew it was my destiny to pen a review for Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight, once 2010 finally arrived. Clearly, that would be the perfect time to give the bizarre little title some additional coverage. As a horrible procrastinator, though, I'm only just finally following through on my plans. Better late than never, right? Guys? Anyone?

If I hadn't already tipped my hand in the preceding paragraph, I might try to argue that actually, I'm only writing about the game just now because it took me six years to process everything that makes it so unique. Even when compared to the standards of weirdness set by a number of hilariously eccentric NES titles, Street Fighter 2010 is an odd duck. It released before Street Fighter 2 turned that fighting series into really big news, and it feels like an attempt to make sure the overall brand remained prominent ahead of the heavy hitter that went on to become a legend. The Japanese version of Street Fighter 2010 apparently had no connections to Street Fighter whatsoever, so you can assume that any references found in the American port were put there because someone figured a random action game would sell more copies if it was loosely tied to an existing property.

When I say "loosely tied," I'm not kidding. The average Street Fighter game gathers a bunch of fighters from around the world and has them compete in hand-to-hand combat to determine who is the best. Each character might have a personal story, and the final boss might be a feared dictator, but that's just flavor added to spice up the constant array of one-on-one battles. In 2010, you find out that major character Ken retired from fighting to pursue his true passion and work as a world-renowned scientist. That's not the sort of occupation one might expect from a guy who spent much of his life getting kicked in the head, but who am I to judge?

Ken and his partner, Troy, are working on some big project that could give people superhuman strength. One day, however, Troy is mysteriously killed and said project is stolen. Ken, now acting considerably more like a guy whose life has revolved around getting kicked in the head, decides that the only option is to replace much of his body with bionics. This process turns him into a cyborg, and soon he embarks on a mission to bring his pal's killer to justice. From there, you'll go through a series of 19 or so levels that are scattered over multiple planets. The whole tale is a sad reminder of all the stuff we didn't achieve by 2010, here in the real world.

I don't know if "level" is the correct term to use when describing this game's various locations, since many of them consist of a single, multi-screen room where you face off against a particular enemy before jumping into a warp gate and being whisked to the next challenge. A few other stages play out in roughly the same manner, as well, except you're expected to shoot down a bunch of weaker foes in order to get the warp gate to spawn. Every once in a while, you actually get to run through an actual level--usually one of the auto-scrolling variety--before reaching a boss. And then there are the interludes. You'll visit these near-pointless locations after finishing a sequence of several levels. A psychedelic background wavers in the distance, and you often have nothing to do except wait until a gate to a proper location eventually appears. In other cases, you'll have to shoot a few weak foes and--on one occasion--one of the game's bosses makes a surprise appearance.

Street Fighter 2010 (NES) image

If there's one especially noteworthy aspect to 2010, it's the way it wastes absolutely no time in showing its fangs. You'll fire up the game, scroll through the opening text and enter the first level. For a moment, you have a chance to learn the ropes, as you shoot a few weak monsters that slowly attempt to home in on your position. You also can blast orb-like objects to uncover power-ups that improve your gun range. Then the boss appears and will likely chop you up without much effort. And again. And again, again and again. By the time you've managed to conquer your frustration and eventually have overcome this monster, you'll likely also have gained the skills necessary to make it through nearly the rest of the game. At least, you'd better hope so. If not, the level you visit much later in the campaign (where you fight two of these guys at once) will cause some serious problems.

So here's the deal: you can fire to the left, right and overhead. By manipulating the controls a bit, you also can fire a larger shot that angles up and, with some dexterity, you can pull off a jumping back-flip that allows you to shoot at foes beneath your location. Your weaponry is really basic and capable of firing only in certain directions. Meanwhile, the boss is fond of moving around, preferring to come at you from just a bit above or below your shots, before turning on the jets and sending itself hurtling toward you. Although any weaker enemies in the vicinity don't pose an actual threat, it's easy to crash against them as you concentrate on avoiding the boss. And while you can withstand multiple hits, you lose some of your weapon strength each time you take damage. Your bullets then won't travel as far, which makes the confrontation that much more difficult.

Subsequent areas are similarly challenging. Other than those empty interlude rooms, nothing comes easily. One auto-scrolling level bounces back and forth, forcing you to repeatedly blast re-spawning foes while trying to guess whether it's actually safe to rush past obstructions, or if the level will suddenly scroll in the opposite direction and trap you. One boss would be fairly easy, if not for its large snake buddy who keeps crashing through the bottom of the screen, trying to catch you and drag you down to an optional sub-level. And the final level is pure hell. You'll fight multiple bosses from earlier in the game before finally meeting the main villain for a two-part confrontation -- all of which must be done within a strict time limit. I first played this game as a rental back in high school, and that particular battle marked the place where my journey ended. I simply couldn't get past my foe's first form before time expired and I perished. Not since the original Super Mario Bros. had I been so stymied by a timer.

Street Fighter 2010 (NES) image

Note that I did come within striking distance of the game's closing credits over the course of a three-day rental, which indicates that while the game is tough, it's doable if you're persistent. Since you are allowed unlimited continues, you can practice on tough bosses until you've figured out a good play to defeat them. And since levels are short, generally revolving around a boss, you can easily advance beyond familiar threats. This is the sort of game where you might feel like you've run into a brick wall, but then you'll conquer that adversity and advance through four or five more stages before slamming into a new obstacle.

I don't know that I'd call 2010 a particularly great game, but it is original enough to be interesting. Due to your limited firepower and the way enemies love coming at you from different angles, it often feels like you're under-equipped to handle challenges. But there's something fun about a game that's (more or less) an extended boss gauntlet, with only an occasional auto-scrolling stage to clear along the way. The game isn't the sort of thing I'd consider a likely cornerstone of anyone's NES library, but it's a fun, challenging title that makes for a good weekend project. And once you tie in minor tidbits and trivia, such as its hilarious commandeering of the Street Fighter name, the unlikely adventure is the sort of novelty that has to be experienced at least once!


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (March 14, 2016)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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