Name: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Platform: XBLA, PSN (Reviewed for XBLA)
Facelifts are funny things. Facelifts for adults in a mid-life crisis – not so good. Facelifts for muscle cars and home interiors – for the most part...pretty sweet. These choices are relatively black and white, but there is a gray area in the subject of classic game remakes. There is a charm in those antiquated pixels, and often with massive aesthetic changes come complete overhauls of the mechanics that made the game fun in the first place.
Seventeen years after its initial release in arcades, Street Fighter II has gone under the knife for a spruce-up from Backbone Entertainment. Well, if you want to get technical, it's really 14-year-old Super Street Fighter II getting the update, but if you're going to be that anal about it, you need to cool out. What it really comes down to is that the fighting game community has received a drastically prettier version of the seminal fighter that gave us combos, coin-op-induced-carpel-tunnel, and a game title that seems to grab a new word or acronym every single year.
Let's get down to the nitty gritty – SSF2THDR (see what I'm saying?!) is Super Street Fighter II, slightly tweaked to make it easier for newbies to get into the flow of the game, but without losing what made the Capcom brawler a masterpiece. Although some moves have been made easier to perform, there is an option to roll-back the gameplay to a classic setting, if you're like that. What matters most is this baby is smooth. Whether you're a beginner or a vet, SSF2THDR will perform a half-circle fierce kick to your heart the instant you send a vanquished foe into a slow-motion nose-dive.
The graphics are splendid, beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous. Enough can not be said about how great the new sprites and levels look. Udon Entertainment obviously has a passion for the characters, and it shines through in their work. Seriously, google them or just visit their page, I’ll wait. If you're digging what you see in those still images, your eyes will melt once you load up the full game. Animations are smooth, the game plays just as rapid fire as it did on any arcade cabinet, and the presentation is super-sleek.
As far as features, the game has what it needs. Nothing over-the-top, but also no glaring deficiencies. There's the standard single-player tournament mode, a training mode (complete with hit-boxes if you want to get into legit contender form), and a full slate of multiplayer modes (local and online). Online play is quick and seamless. The slightest lag and slow-down could easily ruin what is an extremely precise fighter, and this game’s net-code seems to handle its business.
Also, if you're in a throwback mood, you can revert to the classic sprites and music. Sadly, you can't go back to the old-school levels, which is a bit of a tease. It would have been nice to fully put the game into classic mode (if only to shut up your buddy who says they would totally school you in orig SFII), but at least some of the options are available.
Here's the only issue – if this game could be so masterfully re-created, so well crafted from a blend of original gameplay and much needed updates, all wrapped in a beautifully hand-drawn package that shines in high-definition wide-screen format – why can't every classic game be remade in such a way? If there is one issue with Super Street Fighter II HD Remix, it is that it makes me upset that every game remake can't be this good.