"Panasonic should thank their lucky stars (well, not so lucky) that Capcom allowed their favourite sons, Ken and Ryu to play on the 3DO's abandoned, decrepit property. Super Street Fighter II Turbo (SSFIIT) remains one of the few bright spots in the dark annals of the now defunct system's lifespan. Unless you absolutely abhor one on one fighting contests, this game is a must have for the 3DO owner. "
Panasonic should thank their lucky stars (well, not so lucky) that Capcom allowed their favourite sons, Ken and Ryu to play on the 3DO's abandoned, decrepit property. Super Street Fighter II Turbo (SSFIIT) remains one of the few bright spots in the dark annals of the now defunct system's lifespan. Unless you absolutely abhor one on one fighting contests, this game is a must have for the 3DO owner.
Capcom is notorious for their unending sequels and side stories, using prefixes and suffixes such as 'super', 'turbo', 'alpha', and even 'X' to squeeze life out of even the most badly beaten dead horse. So try not to get put off by the clumsy title. A short history lesson is probably in order, to discover why such a convoluted title was necessary in the first place.
Street Fighter II featured a cast of eight playable characters. They are: Ryu, the stoic Japanese karateka; Ken, his flamboyant American equal; Chun Li, much more than the token female character; Blanka, the supercharged savage; E. Honda, the surprisingly agile Sumo; Guile, the U.S. Air Force tough guy; Dhalsim, the limber-limbed Yoga practitioner; and Zangief, an immensely powerful but plodding Russian wrestler. In a one-player game, disposing of these seven combatants (you didn’t get to fight yourself, after all) would uncover three boss characters. Balrog, a Mike Tyson clone; Vega, a masked, clawed, narcissistic Spanish fighter; Sagat, the Thai-boxing mountain of a man; and the ultimate bad guy, M. Bison, the ''Psycho-powered'' malevolent militant.
The Champion Edition to SFII improved on these foundations, speeding things up some, and allowing for the three bosses to be selectable by players. A Turbo: Hyper Fighting successor to that game managed to speed things up even more, utilizing the same group of characters and changing the dynamics of the fighting to a considerable degree. Perhaps SFII was the most balanced of these three; certainly Turbo featured Ken and Zangief as the most powerful characters by far. Zangief’s Screwdriver (or Spinning Pile driver) could be executed through enemy projectiles from further than two inches away. Ken’s Dragon Punch was invulnerable, thus enabling him to pull it off through any oncoming attack. It also had enviable range, allowing for unavoidable 'fireball trapping', which usually resulted in very one-sided matches.
Fast forward to SSFIIT. With the advent of the prefix 'Super', five characters (more on the fifth later) were added to the dirty dozen. Cammy strives to usurp Chun Li as the strongest woman in the world. The spunky British blonde makes a grand entrance in proper army leotard, complete with thong and go-go boots. Native Indian giant T. Hawk (or Thunder Hawk) gives Zangief a run for his money as the game’s strongest character. Fei Long is as blatant a rip off of Bruce Lee as Balrog is of Tyson (this is further evidenced by the Chinese fighter’s ending). Finally, last, but certainly not least, is Dee Jay, a horribly stereotypical Jamaican character who wears a grin that cannot be erased from his face through any means other than his obliteration. Curiously, he wrests control of the 'title' of best character from Ken, his combos proving to be 'too much' for his opponents, echoing his same boastful sentiments after his victories.
Ken has probably taken the greatest hit in this game, in what was ostensibly Capcom’s attempt to level the playing field. His axe kicks require special joystick moves to execute now, and while his uppercut still has as much reach as always, it is no longer invincible. It seems to be Ryu’s time to shine between the two rivals; he has learned a useful rushing punch, his fireballs are stronger and faster, and his recovery from throwing one is better than his American counterpart.
The other mainstays got revamped as well; the most notable additions being Chun Li’s new rising kick and fireball, which help her to deal with fireballers like Ken, Ryu and Guile; the increased speed of Zangief, and the speed and depth of repertoire of one Edmund Honda (he has improved as much as Ken has done the inverse).
But what really makes this super version of Street Fighter II super, are the… supers! Any attack technique that you execute - whether it is blocked or not - swells a power meter at the bottom of the screen. When the meter is full, you will be able to perform your character’s super move. If it connects, in all cases it will wreak a multiple hit, raging, near-unstoppable havoc on your opponent - and his vitality bar. Even blocking these moves will result in lost energy for the defender, and some character’s supers, because they are throws, cannot be blocked. T Hawk, Vega, and of course Zangief all have this distinction. Your only recourse when these guys fill their meters is to head for the hills, doing everything in your power to keep them from pursuing successfully.
There is nothing more satisfying than hanging on to your last yellow sliver of vitality against an opponent with a third of theirs left, only to pull off a five-hit, screen-illuminating supernova, bluish-black shadows left in your wake, Matrix-like.
Finally, lest you think that I have trouble counting (not all the time), the fifth new character is named Akuma. If you’ve never seen him, imagine Ryu in a black gi, wearing sandals, a red ponytail and a contorted facial expression. He is a secret character who must be 'unlocked' him for play, by way of inputting a certain code. To face off with him is rather a different story - however, similarly, a certain sequence of events must take place before he steps in for M. Bison in the final battle.
SSFIIT even has a hidden option that allows you to play utilizing the SFII Turbo: Hyper Fighting character attributes (sans supers of course). It is difficult to find a more comprehensive 'old school' fighting game (read: no 3-D and no 48-hit combo possibilities) at the time of this game's release, or even now. It runs smoothly on the 3DO, effortlessly, with the same slowdown quirks (trying to follow a thrown fireball) that you’d find in the arcade versions. The seven-button controller allows for the implementation of all six button functions that the game demands, and customization is, of course, easy. The sounds are as impressive as the voices are wacky - and all of this is faithful to the coin-ops. If there is a weakness in the armour of SSFIIT, it is the graphics. While everything is drawn superbly, the colours seem slightly faded. Aside from this minor nitpick, there isn’t much to complain about - even the load time between rounds is respectable.
It comes down to the simplest of things: do you own a 3DO? Yes? Then you must own this game. It will be your centerpiece for any and all bragging rights in defense of your much-maligned console, and will tempt many an unbelieving PSX owner to bring the party to your house.
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 13, 2003)
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