Published on June 11th, 2018 | by Sean Warhurst
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection PS4 Review
Summary: As a complete package, the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a must-buy for anyone with even the slightest interest in the fighting genre; from shaky beginnings to the behemoth it’s become now, this look back into the series’ storied 2D past treats the franchise with the reverence that it deserves.
A Historic Hadoken of Nostalgia...
One of my earliest gaming memories is waiting patiently at the bowling alley to play the latest smash hit title, a little fighting game from Japan with bizarre characters, such as an electrified green ginger Brazilian beast and an Indian Yogi with hyper-elongated limbs; raised on a steady diet of Mario and other similar cutesy platformers, the gritty, violent world of Street Fighter II was a startling revelation, making me realise that video games can possess nearly the same brutality as seen in my favourite 80’s martial arts action flicks.
Street Fighter II was massive at my school, with surreptitious trading between fellow students of the manga comics and animated film that soon followed in the wake of the game’s success, and I even spent a healthy portion of my childhood snuggled up at night clad in my Ryu pyjamas, G.I Joe licensed action figures of Sagat, Vega and Balrog resting comfortably within arm’s reach.
Suffice to say, the Street Fighter series was responsible for informing a large part of my gaming education, opening me up to the world of fighting games and their flamboyant and bombastic character rosters and special movesets, a love that persists to this day.
So, it was with great anticipation that I booted up the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, ready to dive back into the series that played such an important part in my childhood and see whether or not my muscle memory held up to the punishing difficulty of these earlier iterations in the longstanding franchise.
With Digital Eclipse at the helm, who have a fairly solid track record porting classic titles across to current generation consoles, and a hefty twelve titles to play through, including the often neglected 1987 Street Fighter, this collection also features online play for four select games and a veritable goldmine of timelines, concept art, character pitches and much more available to view in the museum… In fact, the only thing that I can think of that is missing, from a completionist standpoint, is the much maligned film tie-in game, which abandoned the classic character sprites for motion captured fighters in the vein of the Mortal Kombat titles and is probably best left relegated to the dusty back shelf of time.
As mentioned above, there are twelve different games on offer here, spanning the series from the very first entry up until Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike; as expected, much of the collection is dominated by the legendary Street Fighter II, with five – Count ‘em, five – different flavours of SFII for fans to pick from.
Also included is the Alpha series of games, which served to act as a more accessible entry point for casual players after the mainline series became as hard as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s wrinkly cajones, increasingly focusing on move-cancelling, complex inputs and pixel perfect attacks for the hardcore fighting audience.
Playing through the games in order, the first thing I noticed is just how much of a wet fart the first game actually is.
With none of the charm or flair of its venerated sequel, most will take a cursory glance at this before moving on to the real meat of the package, which is absolutely fine with me. It’s nice to have the origins of the franchise bundled in here but it’s honestly little more than a curiosity to make fans greater appreciate the huge leap forward that the second entry achieved.
The second thing I noticed is that… Well, I kinda suck at Street Fighter II these days. I’m not sure whether it’s a case of not having played the game in nearly a decade or simply a case of having Old Man Geppetto reflexes, but I found myself struggling with the difficulty at times, most noticeably with the vanilla version.
Despite this, the classic gameplay that fans came to love is present and accounted for here and the additions to the roster and different stages present in each game only serve to build upon this incredibly solid foundation, bringing us to Super Turbo, which shook up the movesets and added new special moves into the mix that could drastically alter the tide of battle in ways that weren’t viable in the previous games.
Overall, if this collection had simply slapped the SFII titles together and was put on the market as is, I’d probably still recommend that fighting fans pick it up, so pure a slice of fighting game history that these games are.
Thankfully, there are also three SF III titles and the Alpha series included as well, making this collection a lot of bang for your buck; of the latter, the third entry is probably the one most will find themselves sticking with, such are the quality of life improvements over its predecessors.
For an old fuddy duddy with all the nimble finger dexterity of Edward Scissorhands holding a Dualshock, the Alpha series was easily the most welcoming of all the Street Fighter games, allowing air blocking and easy chain combos and boasting heavily stylised anime art design inspired by the animated film.
Street Fighter III is a return to the hard as granite difficulty of the latter titles, tossing in Super Arts and, perhaps most importantly, the new parry move.
This seriously shakes up the dynamics of the game and, if you can get your timing down, you can easily interrupt combos and launch your own devastating attacks with the simplest of ease. This brings defensive play to the fore in a way that the previous game lacked, and although some purists debate its inclusion, cancelling a super attack and unleashing a flurry of blows when previously you could only hope to block the attack… Well, it’s extremely satisfying when pulled off correctly and incredibly humbling when used against you effectively.
Perhaps the biggest draw behind this collection is the ability to play against online opponents; whilst it’s admittedly pretty awesome to have Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Street Fighter II: Turbo, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Street Fighter Alpha 3 all feature online functionality, the slim selection on offer is a bit of a letdown and the connectivity can be lacking at time, with frequent lag spikes and dropped connections.
I’m certain that patches will be released that will address the unreliable online netcode, but as one of the major incentives to snap up this collection, it’s a damn shame that only one in three battles would actually work properly every time I jumped online ready to kick ass and take names.
For those who are so inclined, there are a few options to tweak the visual appearance of the games, such as the prerequisite CRT scan image and the like; the “Arcade” setting doesn’t really resemble any arcade monitor I’ve ever used, but maybe that’s just me?
This collection really does serve as a time capsule of sorts for the series, allowing fans to go back and pore over the tweaks and refinements between each entry at their own leisure; playing through the games in sequence is truly a fascinating insight into the cycle and evolution of game design.
Besides the convenience of having twelve titles available to play at the drop of a hat (even if five of them are just different versions of Street Fighter II), being able to scrap with others online is a godsend… When everything works, that is.
In terms of how accurate these are to the arcade originals they’re sourced from, well, I’m not really qualified to get into semantics but they feel fairly responsive and true to memory; it would have been nice to have some of the extra bells and whistles that came from the later console releases of these games rather than simply the arcade ports, but beggars can’t be choosers.
As a complete package, the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a must-buy for anyone with even the slightest interest in the fighting genre; from shaky beginnings to the behemoth it’s become now, this look back into the series’ storied 2D past treats the franchise with the reverence that it deserves.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection includes the following titles:
- Street Fighter:
- Street Fighter(1987)
- Street Fighter II:
- Street Fighter II: The World Warrior(1991)
- Street Fighter II: Champion Edition(1992)
- Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting(1992)
- Super Street Fighter II(1993)
- Super Street Fighter II Turbo(1994)
- Street Fighter Alpha:
- Street Fighter Alpha(1995)
- Street Fighter Alpha 2(1996)
- Street Fighter Alpha 3(1998)
- Street Fighter III:
- Street Fighter III: New Generation(1997)
- Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact(1997)
- Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike(1999)
Primary Format – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Game Genre – Fighting
Rating – M
Consumer Advice – Violence, online interactivity
Game Developer – Capcom
Game Publisher – Capcom
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst