‘Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers’ Review: Hadoukens On The Go

We’ve made it very well known that the majority of the “new” games on the new Nintendo Switch console/handheld hybrid have been ports. While most have been very capable games, and near perfect translations from earlier versions to the new Switch version, Capcom’s Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is, by far, the oldest port to be polished for the hot new hardware. The core Street Fighter II game was released in 1991, not only FIVE console generations ago, but there are gamers who will be playing this on the Switch that were not even born yet when Ken and Ryu and Chun-li and Blanka first began their quest to win “the world tournament.”

But this isn’t really a bad thing, as Street Fighter II is a timeless classic that has been played for well over 25 years, and the franchise itself is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This is a beloved title — a true game changer — and it is a perfect fit for the infancy of the Nintendo Switch, as it bring with it a new mode that shows off some of what the Switch can do, and makes the full-fledged console game 100 percent portable. So, wins all around.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers doesn’t reinvent the egg. If you’ve played a Street Fighter II game in any incarnation then you know what you are getting. The classic fighters are all here, including a handful of others that were added to later versions of SFII, like Cammie, Akuma, T. Hawk, and Dee-Jay, and new for this game are two variations of Ryu and Ken: Evil Ryu and Violent Ken. They play the same as the regular Ryu and Ken, but they look cooler, and their attacks are way more powerful.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review

The game play is just as tight as you remember, but the Switch offers many new ways to play. The pro controller is the way to go, of course, but Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers can be played with the Joy Cons together or even a single Joy Con, for those of you with tiny Trump-sized hands. This is also a game that can be taken on the go and played anywhere on the Switch’s screen, which is nice. In the handheld mode, the touch screen can be used to launch special moves. While it’s a nice feature, it takes away some from the ability to pull off combo button presses, which separates the true fighters from the pretenders. Yeah, I said it.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review

The graphics are colorful and retain the option for classic 16-bit designs, or updated smoother resolutions. The backgrounds are still static, with only certain parts “moving.” I found this nostalgic, at best, as all I was really concerned about was beating my opponent, whether in Arcade mode or online. The music conjured up memories of Saturday afternoons in the arcade wasting quarters, and later sitting in my dorm room in college with a SNES fighting my roommates and neighbors. There is a lot of nice nostalgia here, and that is a definite draw.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers has the usual game modes, like Arcade, Versus, and Buddy Battle, which allows 2-on-1 fights, and there’s an online option to take your skills global. Online has casual and ranked matches for international bragging rights. One mode stands out above the rest, because it takes the most risks for the franchise. Way of the Hado puts the power of Ryu in the player’s hands. Using the Joy Cons, the player has to get up off the couch and physically act out Ryu’s iconic moves to defeat wave after wave of Bison’s soldiers in a first person perspective. I found this mode extremely fun, as it got me off my ass and moving, which is always nice. And the haptic response of the Joy Cons works well here, but the player has to be smooth about it. Standing there and moving your arms erratically trying to launch a Hadouken as if you were a lumberjack sawing trees won’t work. You have to be deliberate in your arm movements, like Ryu, to launch a Hadouken or a Shoryuken, or any of the other moves. Once the timing of the movement is down, Bison’s men don’t stand a chance and you can play over and over for bigger and better scores.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review

The Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers package also includes the ability to edit the fighters’ costumes (colors, at least) and a gallery that showcases the art of the legendary series through its 30 years. These additions help celebrate the long and storied history of Street Fighter II, and reminds us all of how far the series has come in terms of its place in not only fighting game history, but video game history!

All in all, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is a nice stroll down memory lane. Taking such a classic game and polishing it for the hottest, newest game system on the market seems like a strange call, but a few seconds into that first fight, all is forgiven. The Switch is a perfect console for this game, as the controller options and the ability to take the entire game on the go for pick-up-and-fight matches with friends and strangers is a huge bonus. The Way of the Hado game mode adds something new and exciting, and showcases the Switch’s Joy Cons much like Wii Boxing did in 2006. This is classic Street Fighter II, one of the most beloved fighting games ever, and as Capcom celebrates the franchise’s 30th anniversary this year, it’s nice to revisit this wonderful, iconic game.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is available now for the Nintendo Switch in both retail and digital options. This review is based off a game code provided by Nintendo.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review
out of 5

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