May 26, 2017
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers ticks all the reminiscent boxes that make me happy, as I remember times in my childhood, destroying my opponents as Cammy, avoiding Hadoukens from Ryu and having very confused feelings about Zangief (feelings that I am no longer confused about as an adult, bear-loving gay man). Loading up Ultra Street Fighter II on the Nintendo Switch is retro and genuinely fun to play portably with friends, but the price of this package is just a little bit steep for this particular hit of nostalgia.
The original classic fighting game its referencing was released in 1994 holds up very well today. It’s one of the most loved fighting games of all time for a reason, and I love playing it now just as much as I did over 20 years ago. The game feels smooth, the characters are all memorable and unique, and overall the visuals are great, allowing you to switch between the original graphics and the updated HD graphics that faithfully upgrade everything, making it feel fresh. The audio gets the same treatment, so purists can experience everything as it was initially.
It’s such an enduring franchise because of the tight mix between conventional punches and kicks, along with the supernatural elements like fireballs, electric shocks and more. Ironically, this version of Street Fighter II is more feature-packed than Street Fighter V was when it launched last year, as it includes an arcade mode (!). While not the most perfectly balanced fighter, every character has their own defined pros and cons that make their trademark moves unmistakable.
The Switch controllers don’t feel as great when it comes to the actual gameplay, mostly because there is no D-Pad, making special moves a bit trickier than usual. This is even more noticeable when playing with two players on separate Joy-Cons. The Pro controller does fare much better, but when a fight can sometimes rely on a clinch move to get the victory, not being able to consistently pull them off is a little bit frustrating.
There’s also a couple of new characters (the comically named Evil Ryu and Violent Ken), and a new mode called Way of the Hado, which allows you to use the Joy-Con controllers to Hadouken and Shoryuken your opposition in 3D. It feels like a tech demo more than anything else, and the novelty wears off pretty quickly. It feels particularly useless with ARMS around the corner, a fighting game that truly uses the Joy-Cons in an effective way, but it’s an okay distraction. Buddy Battle comes under this same category, allowing you and a friend to fight opponents together.
This is all fine, and as a reasonably priced downloadable game I would recommend Ultra Street Fighter II for the Switch on merit alone. Unfortunately, it comes RRP is $59.95 here in Australia. That’s a pretty tough pill to swallow, given the majority of included new features are largely cosmetic. No matter how drastic the improvements are, that’s an expensive price tag, and in this case the improvements just aren’t that drastic.
- Portable multiplayer Street Fighter!
- Gameplay holds up
- Updated graphics and audio
- Joy-Cons aren't well-suited for fighters
- Additional modes are a bit silly
In terms of having a multiplayer fighting game to play on the go, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is right at home on the Nintendo Switch, and I’ve had many public battles with friends in tabletop mode that, for me, justify this as a must-have. Even with the love I have for this game, the overall price is steep; this keeps it from being a strong recommendation, unless you absolutely live and breathe the nostalgic Street Fighter experience.