"Pick Ryu. Try to duck and use rapid short kicks to set up a throw and find the blue beast, Blanka, eating your face a la Hannibal (only our mutant might not know to have a Chianti at the ready). Worse yet, the Japanese fireballer might find himself being slapped about by an obese countryman named Honda, fresh out of the bath complete with sagging towel and hairpins. The move is called the 100-hand slap, though Iím sure a dizzied, vulnerable Ryu would not have had a chance to count them all. "
4-1: The Unbalancing Act - from the last remnants of fan mail
[This chapter begins with an excerpt of a letter that was written to Ken Masters of Street Fighter II fame. It was found among Masters' abandoned things in his old penthouse, faded by time, stained by booze.]
How far youíve come Ken! Remember Chapter I? Remember a red-headed Ryu, your best friend and sparring partner, the player one to your player two, the limelight to your shadow? This was in the original Street Fighter II. From there you established yourself among eight other World Warriors as you all fought it out on a global stage against a new, more insidious tyrant than the Thai Boxer Sagat - Bison was his name. You and Ryu could now both be called the main attractions, yet you struggled to overcome banal nomenclature and sought real identity. You wanted to be more than just the 'red-clad Caucasian Ryu clone.' Chapter IIIís Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (hereafter, CE) saw all eight playable fighters from the previous installment have various moves and combinations tweaked, and the general 'game engine' speed was increased, nuances fine-tuned. Besides an alternate gi colour though, you were still the great white hype to Ryuís authentic Japanese ass-kicker.
Turn in your dusty volume to Chapter IV. The programmers at Capcom have done something out of character. Balance is usually the key to fighting games. Programmers strive to create balance among the fighters to avoid one-sided battles where the battle lines are pre-drawn and finales are foregone conclusions. But then - you know all of this.
Though your role in newer 'floatier', 46-hit combo Street Fighter chapters has been reduced, and your fifteen minutes of fame seems to have expired, you will be forever known by the faithful fighting fans as the star of the greatest of all fighting spectacles - this one. As always, we look ahead, by looking back. But Ken, didnít you find it strange when Turbo was released? Did you wonder at Capcomís decision to allow you to shine? Perhaps it was a technical blunder on their part?
[The letter becomes illegible from this point - end of excerpt.]
4-2: The Russian Bears his teeth as others look on
As it is, only one man can stand close enough to touch Kenís aura in this Chapter IV of the Street Fighter saga. His name is Zangief. Picture a hairy Russian behemoth wearing an outdated Mohawk and cute red briefs. Now picture him back-dropping Dhalsim, the Indian swami with the long limbs. The limber one must be on the ball with his teleportation skills to stand a chance. After disposing of the bendable man, the massive grappler might trade devastating German suplexes with the blonde, fan-haired American Air Force brute, Guile.
The Yankee will have to demonstrate heaps of his namesake, tossing slow-moving projectiles like golden, flashing Frisbees, and he will have to guard against those who might leap them, with his somersault kick. The Russian may find him troublesome, as his incredible size undermines his hang time and makes him a sucker for the dubious fighting system that Guile has so kindly illustrated for us: fireball trapping. But Turbo has come a ways from the original SFII, and even CE, and as such, the strongman can call upon his newly honed moving lariat to elude the camouflage-clad warriorís blasts and then, once within range, select from any number of punishing throws and slams from his sparkling arsenal.
4-3: Sheís got legsóand she knows how to use them
The nut-cracking Chun Li is a fan favourite - of that, there can be no doubt. Could it be that young male Westerners dug heavy-legged women with ample asses even before the meteoric rise of a certain limply-talented Latina? Chun Liís lightning-fast kicks, upside-down panty-exposing spinning attack, and penchant for stomping on the heads of cheating Exís and unsavory male suitors, might all play a part in the Chinese girlís universal appeal as well. Speaking of cheating - itís a bit harder to be a cheap bastard in Turbo.
Pick Ryu. Try to duck and use rapid short kicks to set up a throw and find the blue beast, Blanka, eating your face a la Hannibal (only our mutant might not know to have a Chianti at the ready). Worse yet, the Japanese fireballer might find himself being slapped about by an obese countryman named Honda, fresh out of the bath complete with sagging towel and hairpins. The move is called the 100-hand slap, though Iím sure a dizzied, vulnerable Ryu would not have had a chance to count them all.
4-4: The Invincible Ken Masters
Honda enjoys increased speed over his CE counterpart, Chun Li has a fireball, Ryu has a stronger hurricane kick, Guile has a two-hit somersault kick, Dhalsim still stinks, and Blanka has a vertical human cannonball in addition to his horizontal one. The single most powerful move in the game is still the hardest to pull off, and that is as it should be. Zangiefís spinning piledriver, a.k.a. The Screwdriver, can now be incorporated into combinations much more smoothly though, and its reach remains incredible. The big man can actually catch projectile hurlers beginning their tossing motion, and begin them on a motion with an entirely different conclusion. The unlucky victims trip commences like a dryerís spin cycle and ends with a hairline fracture. Itís a wonder competitors can fight in a second or third round after such devastation.
But as terrifying as Zangiefís wonderfully destructive descent is, the ascent of Ken Masters' fist - and his opponentís attached torso - outdoes it, and quite frankly outdoes any other notable move in any fighting game, in the context of the game to which it belongs. The Sho Ryu Ken, or Rising Dragon Punch, was there from the get go, but now the blue clad Ken finds his clenched fist alight with flames, fed by fury. And it suits him. His berserker rage (as his relentless computer-controlled style of attack is often called) can now be appropriately capped off with a four-hit combination that still ranks as one of the most satisfying in fighting games. The leaping punch, the standing uppercut, the twice-scoring, leaning in, broken parabola of the Dragon Punch. One more nominal jab added into the mix and Ken is all about dizzying, damaging congeries of fists. His flying uppercut will knock down not only Ryuís straight up and down Dragon Punch, but also Sagatís similar Tiger Uppercut, Guileís somersault kick, and anything else anyone else has to offer.
4-5: Terms of Endearment
Returning to the question of balance - Turbo obviously isnít then, is it? No - and somehow, that is why itís so brilliant. Try out Blanka for starters; heís powerful and his power moves are easy to pull off. Face a skilled Ken player though, and die a horrible death. Experiment with Chun Li (tell her I sent you) and find that she, as well as Blanka, should make mincemeat out of most anyone. And that includes Mike Tyson look-alike Balrog; transgender villain Vega, of mask and claw fame; the Thai-boxing sore loser from the first game, Sagat; and the all-around bad seed and despot, Bison. As with CE, you can select from these previously unplayable bosses, so consider the Spaniard Vega another good beginner pick. Just realize that Ken will have him fleeing to the Running of the Bulls with more enthusiasm than is healthy, with crumpled claw and shattered mask in tow.
The moral here is that there is a glass ceiling above the easy to use characters - serves them right for being so easy to use! The tough guys, Zangief and Ken, will give you much more difficulty as you strive to unlock their full destructive force, and as such, the force, once unleashed, is appropriately more powerful. Finding the game too easy to beat with Ken? Choose Ryu and think of him as Ken with a handicap. Still finding the game a walk in the park? Lean over from that comfortable park bench and push up some daisies as Honda, or worse yet - Dhalsim. Capcom has managed to make imbalance seem like the ultimate achievement. After all, if you want things to even out while playing a friend, you can both choose the same character. Turbo is more vibrant than CE, with more outfit colours, quicker gameplay and most importantly, more and improved moves that actually count. They count enough to make it a different game. They count enough to lift this Ken Masters vehicle, this seemingly flawed exhibition of strategic button-mashing to the absolute heights of one-on-one beat-em-ups. Count on it.
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 17, 2003)
There was a bio here once. It's gone now.
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