God I loved Street Fighter II. It must have been the bane of my parent’s existence. If we passed any arcade that had it (Arcades, remember them?) I would immediately beg them to let me play it. They’d normally say no of course, but that didn’t stop me asking. Every. Single. Time.
I don’t think it’s going to be possible for me to get across to you just how bloody much I loved this game. I was Street Fighter mad in the early 90’s and, due to the fact that arcades were far more prominent during that time period, I was normally only a Spinning Star Kick away from stumbling upon a cabinet that contained the magisterial fighting opera.
Once the game finally found its way to home consoles, I knew it would be only a matter of time before one of my friends got hold of a copy. That moment came when my buddy James acquired the original Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo. I still remember going round to his house and seeing the game in action for the first time. This was a game I’d only previously seen in darkened arcades, bowling alleys or service stations, but now here it was in all its glory on my mates Television. I’ll never forget the moment where my friend defeated the last of the 8 original cast, only to see three new faces pop up on the screen. Before I knew it, we’d been whisked to Las Vegas to take on suspiciously familiar looking prize fighter on the famed strip (To this day I don’t know why Capcom haven’t given Balrog an “ear bite” move. You’d think it writes itself?)
You may now be asking “Hey Mike, what gives? We thought you were going to wax lyrical about Street Fighter II Turbo, how come you’re devoting so much time to the original?”
Well, the answer is pretty simple. I wanted you to get some idea of how much I loved the original SFII because, believe it or not, I CHUFFING LOVE TURBO EVEN MORE!!!
I wouldn’t just go to bed with Street Fighter II Turbo, I’d mow its lawn, cook its dinner and tickle its nipples if it wanted me to. It is quite simply one of my all-time favourite games and I can’t imagine how bleak and miserable my already tortured existence would have been if I hadn’t had the sheer unbridled luck of sharing the same plane of existence as this cracking video game. I still remember the shock and awe I had when I saw it in an arcade and realised that, not only had the original roster had their moves tweaked and been given wicked new togs, but you could now play as the 3 sub bosses from the original game AND the big bad himself, M (I like to think the “M” is for Montague) Bison! (Oh, and I know that in the East his name is different but I’m a filthy Britannic mess and he’s Bison over here, so that’s the name I’m going with).
Younger readers may roll their eyes at the idea that a mere 4 new characters caused me to practically wet myself, but look at it this way. The original SFII had a roster of 8 characters, so Capcom had essentially added an additional 50% on top of the original roster! For 1992, that was Earth shattering stuff and blew my tiny little mind. I managed to get a few goes in at the Arcade on Turbo but a home version of the game eluded me. Basically, my parents were never going to buy a game like Street Fighter for me. The game was already notorious and my parents felt I played enough on my existing games anyway. They were understandably uneasy about the prospect of adding another game to my library, especially one so violent. I’ll never forget my father’s reaction when he spotted me some pennies to play Turbo in an Arcade once. Playing as Chun Li, I punched Guile straight in the gut, causing him to keel over and furiously puke all over the arena floor. I of course guffawed at this, thinking it was disgustingly awesome, but my father let out a shocked yelp at the violence before him. No doubt alarmed that his son thought this to be hilarious escapism, he promptly refused to let me play it again and instead shepherded me over to the Arcade’s resident Wrestle Fest cabinet instead.
Yes, my father found Street Fighter so vulgar he was prepared to indulge my love of Pro Wrestling rather than enable me to play it. Considering my family have treated my love of the grapple game as little more than a tolerable mental defect that I suffer from, that should tell you all you need to know about why I never owned a copy of Street Fighter as a child. They couldn’t stop me trading the game with one of my friends though. Luckily one game I DID have for my SNES was Legend of Zela: A Link to the Past and it was a game that another child really wanted to play. I’d played the fudge out of Zelda by that point, so I was happy to lend it to someone. When I heard that the other kid (I don’t even remember his name, how bad is that? I think he was Korean though) had Street Fighter II Turbo and was willing to lend that to me, I was practically ready to run to his house in Manchester and deliver the thing by hand. I would have ran all the way bare foot!
So yes, for a few glorious weeks I had SFII Turbo in my house. I almost wept when I had to give it back, so much did it wound me to do so. I’ll never forget the thrill of completing it for the first time and then seeing one of the cut scenes. Such things were new to me at the time and it took me completely by surprise the first time it happened. I still remember completing it for the first time ever with Ken and then watching as he got married and just thinking it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen. This wasn’t even full motion video either. I hadn’t even started off as Ken for that play through, he just happened to be the fighter I was controlling at the moment of my ultimate victory. It had been a long time coming for me to even get to Bison. Vega had been the absolute bane of my life on the original SFII and after finally forcing my way past him; I then had to spend just as long trying to defeat Sagat (Of whom I used to refer to incorrectly as “Saggett”). Getting to Bison was almost the definition of a “poisoned chalice” for me at that point and it took me numerous attempts to beat him. On this day, I was going through my usual routine of cycling through every character on the roster, trying to find someone who could finally put Bison away once and for all. I picked Ken expecting another hammering but, somehow, I managed to overcome Bison and complete the game. I couldn’t help but beam with pride as I saw Ken hold his bride in his arms. “I helped make that happen” I mused as virtual confetti fell across the screen. It has to be a better wedding present than a gravy boat surely?
I did eventually pick up a copy of this masterpiece in my teens when I stumbled across it at a market while on holiday in France. Yes, that is a thoroughly random way upon which to finally own this classic, but I got it for something like 5 Euro’s unboxed and I’m classing that as a bonafide steal. I called James all excited to tell him once I got back
“Mate, guess what game I found in France?”
“Judging by how happy you sound, I’m guessing Street Fighter II Turbo?”
Ah, Jimmy knows me well. He knows me well indeed!
I’m aware that I haven’t really analysed the actual game itself that much in this feature, but that’s only really because I assume even the most casual gamer has some idea what to expect from a Street Fighter title, especially someone in my age bracket.
Beat-em-ups are a bit of an acquired taste, especially now that they are all about ridiculous combos, and seemingly every franchise has just got sillier and sillier as time has progressed. Back when this game came out though, it was a simpler time. Ryu was the good guy who could throw fireballs and Bison was the bad guy who could fly across the screen. Everyone in the game hated him for one reason or another and they were all lining up to kick his arse in a Street Fighting Tournament. Nice, simple and easy to comprehend.
I’ve always found that SFII Turbo was more about knowing when to time your block and avoid the insane cheapness of some of the opposing fighters than having all the moves and combos memorised. To use Sagat as an example, he would throw both high and low fireballs at you, so you’d diligently dodge them only to walk right into a Tiger Uppercut. Sagat would then laugh at your pathetic broken carcass. Ah, memories.
Bison can be ludicrously cheap in Turbo, especially on the hardest difficulty, but I can proudly state that I have managed to complete this game with every single fighter. Granted, that was on the SNES version of the game which is slightly more forgiving than its Arcade brethren, but it’s my feature and I’ll pat myself on the back if I want to.
There. You don’t like it, you can swivel.
If you’ve never played this game, go and do it now. It’s seen releases to the SNES, Saturn, PlayStation, PS2, Original Xbox and Xbox 360, so it shouldn’t be too hard to track down for your console of choice. Just play it. Go on.
Why are you still here? Go and play the bloody game!
As always, I’ll post some footage of the game below.
Thanks for reading
You can take a look at YouTube Footage of the game courtesy of eVoluci0n by clicking HERE
While I have your attention, why not take a goosey gander at this other great content here on the site?
You can take a look at Ian’s excellent Rainbow Six Siege review by clicking HERE
Kane also gives his two cents on the same game, which you can read about HERE
And you can read Jorge’s excellent article on Wario Ware by clicking HERE