I've spent some time with Ultra Street Fighter 2 on Nintendo Switch and while my review will have to wait until the end of the month, I wanted to talk now about the game's first-person mode, which, I'm sorry to say, is awful.
This probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise. When I reported on a Japanese video about the mode back in February, I thought the motion controls looked janky, but I wanted to experience them for myself to see whether they had come on since then. They haven't.
Street Fighter 2's first-person mode is called Way of the Hado. In it, you hold a pair of Joy-Con in front of your chest as if you are closing your fist around them. You play as Ryu and beat up waves of Shadaloo goons. The motion controls themselves are basic: you push the Joy-Con forward while holding them horizontally to do a Hadoken. You move one into the air to do a Shoryuken. You waggle from side to side to do a Hurricane Kick. You do the Hadoken motion while holding a couple of buttons for your Super. And press and hold a couple of buttons to block.
There's a lot that's weird about Way of the Hado that's worth flagging up before I get to the gameplay. First off, the graphics are from Street Fighter 5, which makes the whole thing look like Capcom's simply repurposed assets used for Street Fighter 5's story mode and shoehorned them into this Nintendo Switch game. Path of least resistance and all that.
This means Ultra Street Fighter 2 on Nintendo Switch has three different art styles - the old-school graphics, those graphics in high-definition, and the Street Fighter 5 graphics for Way of the Hado. It's an eclectic mix, to say the least.
UPDATE: Apparently Way of the Hado fuses graphics from Street Fighter 4 (the Ryu character model and stage) and Street Fighter 5 (the Shadaloo goons), which is even more weird!
Then there's the whole growth points part of it. Here, you get to level up Ryu by putting points into various stats including vitality, attack, luck, speed, defense and spirit. I think what Capcom wants the growth points system to do is encourage repeated playthroughs. You kind of need to level Ryu up a little bit before you can complete Way of the Hado on the expert difficulty, but it'll take a chunk of experience points to get him to that point. The thing is, you play the game for a bit and then you never want to play it again, which kind of defeats the point.
Now onto the motion controls. Dear me, they're bad. Half the time the game fails to work out what special move you're trying to do. Then Ryu will bust out a special move when you're not trying to do anything. The delay between real life movement and in-game special move is such that you can't react to what's happening on screen with anything approaching the timing you'd normally associate with a fighting game. It's really frustrating.
I can tell what the game wants me to do. If there's a Shadaloo goon up close, Shoryuken. If he's far away, Hadoken. If there are few up in your grill, Hurricane Kick. Then when the screen is filled with enemies, Super. Apart from that, block when there's an incoming fireball. It's not rocket science.
There are no combos. There is no spacing (Ryu doesn't move at all). There is no strategy apart from maybe saving your Super for when there are lots of enemies on screen. And crucially, there is no fun. You just fling your arms about and hope the Shadaloo goons go down. After five minutes you stop caring. Way of the Hado made me question not only my faith in Street Fighter, but my faith in all that is good in video games.
In desperation more than hope I turned to the options menu, and there found "change detection type". This lets you switch between "casual", which is on by default, and "technical" for the motion control detection. Essentially, you can adjust the precision for your charge-up pose, arm movement speed and end pose.
Great, I thought. This'll sort the waggle out. So I popped all three to the maximum number, which meant each required more precision. Back into Way of the Hado I went, expecting a more precise experience. All I got was more frustration, with half the Hadoken motions triggering a Hurricane Kick. It felt like the worst of the Wii waggle era. You end up wanting to smash the Switch to bits.
Now, I'm well aware that Way of the Hado isn't designed for core fighting game fans. It's designed for those who fancy something a little bit different, something that you can only do on the Nintendo Switch. That's fine. The problem is it's done so badly, I can't imagine anyone, hardcore or casual, having fun with it.
So just don't play it then? That seems fair enough. Ignore it. No harm done. I had thought that, but the more I played Way of the Hado, the more it offended me. As a Street Fighter fan of some 25 years, I feel I must speak: Way of the Hado is one of the worst things to happen to Street Fighter ever, and I say that as someone who's played Street Fighter: The Movie.