Streetfighter is a series that needs little introduction. With roots in the late 80s arcades, it’s been the subject of continuous evolution over the years: tweaked, enhanced, rebalanced and remixed to within an inch of its life, each iteration bringing small yet important changes to keep the series fresh. This tournament-style tussle, whereby you face off one-on-one against a roster of increasingly outlandish characters, has just received the collection treatment, marking its 30-year milestone. It’s an ideal time, then, to revisit one of the fighting greats on PS4.
This package features twelve Streetfighter games including the original game and several flavours of Streetfighter 2 and 3 such as Turbo, Alpha 2 and New Generation. The first Streetfighter is overshadowed by its younger brethren and in this company feels positively antiquated. It’s a one-go curio, nothing more, and only serves to accentuate the superiority of the sequels. Crude and rudimentary, you’re unlikely to find much enjoyment in the original, which only really has value as a history lesson. Thankfully, the other entries in the series fare better.
Streetfighter 2 exhibits a timeless quality; the game is as fun today as it was in its 90s heyday. Force of habit led me to select Ken and I was soon unleashing fireballs and dragon punches with satisfying ease. Punches and kicks feel meaty and meaningful as they connect, mated to convincing sound effects which lend them additional weight, whilst the visuals have been faithfully recreated. The contest is welcoming to all skill levels. Button-mashers will survive to the end on the lower difficulties, scraping through by spamming special moves, whilst higher difficulties demand a more tactical approach. As always, longevity comes from learning and eventually mastering each character’s move set, making multiple playthroughs more rewarding.
The games are lovingly curated, with access to a wealth of background information about each, along with customisation options for the display. This is always a subjective area, but for me the stretched, full-sized display really betrayed the age of the games, so I played them as the developers intended, borders and all. The menu system is easy to navigate and boasts a special move window for reference, too.
Where the games really shine is local multiplayer. There is no substitute for the back and forth rhythm of human vs human, the clash of two evenly matched opponents, or the spectacle of an unlikely victory as someone rallies from a beating and clinches a knife-edge match on just a sliver of health. Such battles strongly evoke the competitive spirit of the arcade and, for some, fond memories of the 16-bit era when people invested insane amounts of money importing the game before it officially arrived on our shores.
Of course, these days we also expect online multiplayer and four of the titles – Hyper Fighting, Turbo, Alpha 3 and 3rd Strike – do support that, albeit with varying degrees of success. Finding a match was relatively painless, however, some of the games were plagued with horrendous, staccato-like slowdown, rendering them close to unplayable. This may be down to the vagaries of my internet connection, however, I’ve seen similar comments online, which may point to a technical problem. Hopefully, a patch will be released to address any stability issues.
Reviewing the list of games, there is significant overlap and indeed some entries in the series feel superfluous due to the similarities between each iteration, with nuanced differences only really perceptible to true Streetfighter aficionados. It would have been preferable to see some of the spin-off puzzle games make the final cut, or perhaps a more refined online mode, rather than padding the collection with largely identical titles.
With a budget price tag, this collection is well worth picking up. It lacks the outrageous spectacle of some modern fighters, such as Injustice 2, and right now the online functionality needs work, but there is a timeless quality to this series which keeps it relevant and enjoyable today.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*