Street Fighter 2 on Switch is a disappointing release made worse by the rip-off price.
Value is an interesting concept. It means something different for each and every one of us. Some people wouldn't blink at the thought of forking out £35 for Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers on the Nintendo Switch. Me? I think it's a rip-off.
The question is, is Street Fighter 2 on Switch such a rip-off that I suggest people steer clear of the game? I've come to the conclusion that I have no choice but to do so. Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is so outrageously priced that I cannot recommend it to anyone.
Here's what you get for your money: a bastardised version of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo - yep, that game from 1994 - two new characters who aren't really new, a god-awful first-person motion control mode, a throwaway two-player co-op mode, a colour editor, online play and that's about it.
Now, the first thing I should point out is that Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo is a fantastic fighting game - perhaps one of the greatest ever. It's not exactly the most balanced brawler Capcom's ever made (the less said about Sagat the better), but it's a beautifully smooth, intricate and rewarding fighting game that stands up today. I love it.
Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is billed as the definitive version of Street Fighter 2, but it's best described as a Frankenstein. There's no speed select. There are no bonus stages in arcade mode. You have the option of playing with the original - and best - visuals, or switch to the divisive updated visuals from Capcom's own nine-year-old game Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix, the one with the jerky animations and ugly graphics drawn by Udon Entertainment.
Given the game has Udon's HD graphics, you'd think it would basically be Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix ported to Switch, but it's not. The Final Challengers does not include the balance changes made by competitive video game expert David Sirlin. Curiously, Capcom's stripped those out in favour of a few of its own. For example, grapple breaks have been added, and the combo timing has been adjusted to make it slightly more forgiving. But these are tweaks only the fighting game community will care about. Essentially, The Final Challengers is Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo on Switch.
Let's move on to the two new characters, Evil Ryu and the hilariously named Violent Ken (because vanilla Ken is such a pacifist). Evil Ryu will be familiar to Street Fighter fans - he is, essentially, the lovechild of Ryu and Akuma, with moves inspired by both characters. Violent Ken is, so the story goes, brainwashed by M. Bison and so has a bit of the old Psycho Power at his disposal. In practice, he's just a faster version of Ken, with purple fireballs, a dash move and a unique, two-hit overhead (forward + medium kick). You'd have to be brainwashed by Bison yourself to consider Violent Ken a true brand new Street Fighter character.
I've already reported on the terrible first-person mode, Way of the Hado, but in short, well, it's terrible. Give it a shot and then wave it goodbye. Buddy Battle is okay, but again, throwaway. Here, two players fight against the computer in co-op fashion, sharing a health bar that recovers slightly after each round. You can actually co-combo, which is nice, but the novelty soon wears off. It's good for killing time on a train with a friend, but little more.
And then there's the colour editor. Here you can change the colour of three sections of each character to create new looks. This is not a costume editor, more a palette swap editor. It's fun for a bit, and I can see people messing about with it to create Street Fighter abominations. I myself used the colour editor to create Zombie Guile as a metaphor for this soulless release. Here he is, in all his sickening glory:
It should be clear by now that I think The Final Challengers is a disappointing game. As a Street Fighter fan, I would have loved for Capcom to put more effort into the series' debut on the Nintendo Switch. If it had to be a definitive version of Street Fighter 2, it could have been so much better. An accurate port of Super Turbo at a reasonable price would have been enough for me - and I'm sure many Street Fighter fans.
But what claws at my disappointment, dragging it down into angry territory, is how much Nintendo charges for all this. £35 is an astonishing price to ask people to pay for what is, essentially, a 23-year-old game with online play. On Amazon, Injustice 2, perhaps the most fully-featured fighting game ever made, is only a fiver more expensive on PS4 at £40. Street Fighter 5 is £15.
Some will suggest The Final Challengers costs so much because it comes on one of those expensive Nintendo Switch carts (we've reported on this issue before), but I and the average person couldn't give two tosses about Nintendo's bonkers publishing policy. All I care about is this game costs £35 on cart and on the eShop. Just sell it on the eShop for a tenner and ditch the physical version, if it means the whole thing can stink of less corporate greed. Gah!
The Final Challengers has but one redeeming feature: an arcade mode. Hilariously, Capcom couldn't muster an arcade mode for Street Fighter 5 - and, over a year after its release, still hasn't. But here we are, with Street Fighter 2 on Switch, and there's an arcade mode. What a world.
It's a shame, because in many ways Street Fighter is perfect for Nintendo Switch. Going with a retro-themed release on the console makes a lot of sense. The Final Challengers is quick to get going, with super fast loading times. I reckon plenty of people who played Street Fighter 2 back in the day will see someone playing this on Switch in a pub or whatever and fancy a shot, using the Joy-Cons as fiddly little controllers for short bursts of nostalgia-fuelled fun. The problem with this, though, is someone will have had to pay for the thing in the first place. That person's not going to be me, and it shouldn't be you, either.