Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers Review

By Blair Nokes on June 14, 2017

Street Fighter 2 may very well be one of the most reputable and well known fighting games to date. Originally released in 1991 as Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, lead designers Akira Nishitani and Akira Yasuda merely expected this to do slightly better than their previous CP System titles like FInal Fight. Being the first one-on-one fighting game that offered a variety of characters, each with about 30 moves added layers of depth previously unheard of. Since its inception, Street Fighter 2 has been rereleased a number of times, offering new characters and modes. Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition released the following year, offering the ability to play as all four boss characters, Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting also released in 1992 with an increased speed in gameplay and a boost in available moves. Super Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers released in 1993 with the addition of Fei Long, T. Hawk, Cammy and Dee Jay, along with combo counters and reversals. Finally, Street Fighter 2 Turbo released in 1994, with the addition of a SUPER meter - a way to build up power and unleash devastating final blows, 'teching' which allows you to land on your feet from a hit as opposed to on your back, resulting in less damage, and also added Akuma as a secret playable character.

Since Turbo's release, there have been further rereleases in the form of compilations of the franchise itself until 2008 when Capcom decided to replace the sprites and backgrounds with UDON Entertainment's absolutely gorgeous high-resolution artwork with Super Street Fighter 2 HD Turbo Remix. This release was met with glowing praise, allowing many who grew up with the game to appreciate it in a new coat of paint, and also allowed newer gamers to easily access it as it was a digital release for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

With the release of the Nintendo Switch, fans were eager to see what was in store for new titles and exclusives. Amidst a trailer reel of promising rereleases such as Skyrim or Dragonball Z Xenoverse 2, there was also a showcase of what appeared to be the HD Turbo Remix of Super Street Fighter 2. This was only partly the case, as Nintendo had decided to help publish the game and with that, offered more content from the previous iteration and package it as Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers. The question is, being the seventh attempt at rereleasing this title, is it worth a septuple dipping?

Similar to the HD Turbo Remix, Ultra offers a choice of the current graphical palette or the original sprites if you prefer that instead. There's a wonderful nostalgia to the sprites but I found myself always wanting to see the updated art for each character, especially on larger displays.

There are a total of 19 characters in Ultra Street Fighter, with two brand new entries into the fray. Evil Ryu, and Violent Ken are the 'new' offerings for this rerelease, which may seem confusing since they may appear as reskins of Ryu and Ken. They are however, slightly faster variants, with additions and omissions to their overall movesets. Interestingly enough, it looks as though they may have taken some of Akuma's moves and divvied them between the two characters. For a title that has been released countless times under the guise of offering new characters, they don't really feel all that new.

Thankfully, some of the more positive changes and additions to the classic fighting game lie within the core gameplay, rather than the gimmicky characters. Tech-throwing has been added to escape oncoming throws, and hit-stun animations also appear to have changed. Curiously enough, the balancing done with HD Turbo Remix did not carry forward in this iteration, meaning Ultra Street Fighter retains the character balancing from Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. For those who spent enough time with the Remix, this means that Ryu's fake Hadoken, or Zangief's "180-degree" Spinning Piledriver do not return. It's unfortunate that they chose to leave these out, as some deeper training was involved to master Ryu's fake; a normal hadoken consumes about 55 frames, whereas the fake only takes 22. Dedicated fighters would telegraph the fake, forcing an opponent to jump overhead, only to find themselves open to a Shoryuken in response.

There are also four modes included in Ultra Street Fighter, with the showcase mode being "Way of the Hado." In short, it's a first person shooting gallery, where players take control of Ryu as he fends off waves of Shadaloo soldiers by using the Joy-Con's motion controls. They feel fairly responsive and accurate, and outside of the main arcade mode and online, it's a neat way to spend some time; they've even offered some basic level-up mechanics where your Ryu's health, attack, guts, defense, and luck stats all improve with the experience you gain.

Gallery Mode and Colour Edit mode aren't necessarily game modes, they're simply additional features where you can view over 1400 illustrations from an offical Street Fighter artbook, and Colour Edit allows you to customize the palettes on each character, and use them in all game modes, including online.

Final Thoughts

At a whopping $50 retail value when it first released, it's incredibly difficult to recommend based on the fact that it's a remaster of a 26 year old game; especially when HD Turbo Remix sold for almost 1/4 of that price. I don't personally feel the content here justifies the price, however the game itself looks and plays wonderfully. For consumers and fans, it really comes down to whether or not this is worth the investment, or if you would rather wait for the increasing lineup of titles releasing in the coming months. As it stands, Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is certainly the most complete Street Fighter 2 to date, and offers a lot of fun additives outside of the core game to increase the appeal.

Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers was reviewed using a Switch Digital Code provided by Nintendo. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
Gorgeous HD artwork for the characters and backgrounds.
A classic fighting game at its core, with 19 playable characters and ways to personalize them via Colour Edit mode.
Way of the Hado was a neat addition to the main experience, making decent use of the motion controls.
The pricetag is fairly steep for the seventh iteration of this title.
Since it's not based on HD Turbo Remix's balancing some omissions like Ryu's fake do not appear.
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