Street Fighter II: Nostalgia Review

A New Challenger Approaches

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
Super Nintendo | Capcom | July 1992

Nostalgia Reviews look back and highlight the greatest games of previous generations. The review is rooted in fond memories and appreciation of the game during that era. There are times when memories differ from reality or modern techniques are superior to earlier design.

Fighting games belong in arcades. Players line quarters up and challenge each other to matches where the best contenders can turn twenty-five cents into hours of play. Only the arcade stick and six button layout can properly control an onscreen combatant and allow for the variety of moves necessary to balance the fighting genre. This was true until Capcom released a near perfect, arcade replica of Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo. This release was a surprise shoryuken, which launched a focus on fighting games for consoles and saw many copycat franchises. Though others tried to replicate Street Fighter’s success, no one was able to defeat the champ.

What is a Critical Hit!

Balance is key. SFII contains eight playable characters with their own unique abilities and disadvantages. Ryu is an entry level fighter, able to fire hodukens (energy projectiles), complete minor combos, medium damage output and an average reach. SF II BattleCharacters like E. Honda or Zangief are twice the size of the smaller Chun LI or Dhalsim and move accordingly, packing twice the punch at half the speed. Blanka is able to unleash a multi hit electricity attack, but must be in close proximity to pull it off. Fan favorite Guile, well at least in the USA, can unleash kicks with a long range and power but if he misses, leaves himself wide open for a counter attack.

Attacks choices are punches, kicks or super moves. The player can use a light attack which is quick but doesn’t do much damage, heavy which, as it sounds, is the opposite or a medium balanced attack. All of the characters use these basic attacks differently to create a unique style and feel. While attacking, the player can attack high or low. To defend, players press back on the controller and when an opponent attacks they will block all incoming damage. Unless it’s a super attack. These special moves chip away small amounts of health even when blocked. Knowing when to retreat, block, push the offensive and unleash a super is necessary to earn victory.

There is an ebb and flow to the battle system within SFII. The series introduces combos to the fighting genre, a series of attacks that the opponent cannot interrupt, but they are not overpowered and unbalanced (as they are in some modern games). A smart player can use the environment to their advantage and back their rival into the corner. This will limit their options when blocking or dodging and allow an offensive player to “cheese” the player into submission (a series of attacks which the loser deems unfair). Chun Li, contains a unique ability to jump off the back wall and reverse the momentum of the battle further expanding the rock-paper-scissors options.


The selectable combatants behave differently, and their moves are also pulled off through varied means. Finding the right combination of on screen style and controls is important for the player. Ken and Ryu (a palette swap of each other) launch fire balls by performing a quarter circle forward and punch. Guile must hold back for two seconds than forward to launch a projectile. Those same controls on Blanka, will have the green beast hurling forward towards the opponent. These differences can make a player much more comfortable with one warrior over another, even though the on screen results are similar.

The single player campaign pits the player against all available opponents in a two out of three match. There is no story available, just a simple graphic of a plane flying from one part of the country to the next. The stages are based off the area and country of the foe. E. Honda, the sumo wrestler, fights in a bath house; Guile, the solider, fights on base and Dhalsim is fought in a Buddhist temple. After defeating the other world warriors, the player will square off against four boss characters. These rivals are not playable (in this version at least) and ramp up the difficulty incredibly.

What is Not Very Effective…

By today’s standards, there is a sever lack of gameplay modes; only the single player campaign and versus choices. Also, gamers had to enter a special code if both players wanted to pick the same character which felt like an unnecessary barrier to entry.

SF II Battle 2In between rounds there would be a mini-game where the player would destroy a brick wall or a car. I always told myself the car belonged to M. Bison, it made me feel better when he crushed me in the final stage. These mini-games did not add anything to the game, but were a diversion from the rounds.

There is a severe difficulty spike when fighting boss characters. Vega is able to leave the field of battle entirely and then launch an attack against the player. Once you understand the pattern it is possible to avoid but can be daunting the first time you face him. Sagat is able to launch projectiles faster than the player can through the controller input. The worst offender is M. Bison who is unbalanced. His movement is as fast as the lighter warriors but hits as strong as a heavy.

Status Summary

SFII is the reason Street Fighter remains a household brand today. If you enjoy fighting games, then you will enjoy SFII because of the variety of character choices, combat balance and distinctive stages. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to this entry but it is a purely distilled and enjoyable fighting game that revitalized the arcade market and created competitive play in the home.

Score: 9.5 /10

+ Character Balance
+ Details in Character Design and Stages
+ Unique Control Schemes for Fighters
– Difficulty Spike on Final Four

Level Up, Friends!