Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (2008)
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Platform: X-Box 360
Purchase Date: 11/26/2008

Are you ready to do it all over again?

Street Fighter II redefined the 1-on-1 versus fighting genre when it was first released in 1991 and all of its subsequent arcade revisions and home releases were nothing short of wonderful. One would think that this new release would be the ultimate version of this legendary title because how could you go wrong with adding new high definition graphics to an already time-tested classic gameplay? You can't, it's just impossible... Unless your are Backbone Entertainment.

It's still one of the best fighting games ever. Shocking!

Let's start with the good. The graphics are gorgeous. It makes you want to see the Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III redrawn into glorious HD. No additional frames of animations are added to the characters nor backgrounds but everything feels remarkably fresh and new. Of course, all of this is nothing compared to the visual splendor that is the upcoming Street Fighter IV. There is an arcade mode and some online options, both can be played with the classical gameplay intact or the newly tweaked "HD Remix" mode. The latter empowered a lot of characters with altered special moves and improved timing but it's going to take a lot of battles before one can recognize these tweaks as balance issues or smart redesigns. As long as you can find people with good connections, the online mode is almost lag free but you can't seem to escape the half-second freezes every so often. The original soundtracks still sound pleasing and the new remixed ones are serviceable.

The empty spaces on top of the characters' health bars remain empty in arcade mode.

Now for the bad. There is no scoring system in the arcade mode of the game. That's right, no local leaderboard. There is no sense of accomplishment for playing perfectly through the arcade mode because there will be nothing in the game that will be indicative of your battle performance. The screen would still pop-up with "First Attack" whenever it occurs and we all know that first attacks are supposed to be rewarded with a bonus score - here, there's no score accompanying it. This of course does not have any impact on the delicious online gameplay but Backbone Entertainment apparently forgot that the Street Fighter II experience is also about skillfully completing the arcade mode. So we are left with just half of the experience intact in the form of the brutal versus online play. There is no real reason to play through the arcade mode once you have seen all of the characters' redrawn endings. One may argue that the lack of a scoring system in the arcade mode should encourage players to battle it out online but the thrill of topping previous score performance in the past versions is sorely missed. What a disappointment and it's baffling that the major video game critics failed to notice this missing component. Capcom, stop handing over your high-profile projects to the mediocrity that is Backbone Entertainment. As the saying goes, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

RATING: 3 out of 5

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