Street Fighter: A multi-platform comparison

Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 (and its variations) is arguably the greatest fighting game ever made.  The argument you’ll get will be from Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur or Tekken fans but even if you don’t believe Street Fighter 2 was the greatest, there’s no denying it was one of the greatest. With a diverse array of fighters and awesome locations and special moves, Street Fighter 2’s success was evident in the amount of gaming platforms it could be found on. Street Fighter 2 saw release on everything from the Gameboy to the Megadrive.

As the owner of Street Fighter 2 Turbo/CE on a variety of different systems, I felt it was my duty to examine each incarnation of Capcom’s fighting giant to figure out which ones rock, and which should never, ever have seen the light of day.  Today we’ll look at Street Fighter 2 CE/Turbo on the Super Nintendo, 3DO, Megadrive, PCEngine and Amiga CD32 platforms.

  • PCEngine

You’ve got to give the PCEngine points for the fact it was released in 1987 yet can put out a Street Fighter 2 with smooth animation and parallaxscrolling backgrounds that rival the Super Nintendo version. Sure, the music and effects sound like they’re stretching the Hudson Soft HuC6280 chip to its limits and the colors are a bit washed out in comparison with other platforms, but fluidity of game play is at the heart of Street Fighter 2, and the PCEngine version has this in spades delivering effortlessly on all the action you’d expect. A solid effort from an ancient platform.

  • Sega Megadrive

The Megadrive version of Street Fighter 2 Turbo has a lot going for it, but seems to suffer a ‘but’ at every turn . The graphics are good, with background animations and parallax scrolling intact, but they suffer from an overall darkness that doesn’t’ seem to plague the other versions I’ve played through.  Music and sound effects are generally well reproduced, but some of the digitized voice effects like Ken and Ryu’s special moves or the yelling when a character is KO’d have a ‘warbled’ effect to them that detracts from the action.  Speaking of action, the game play seems to run at about 90% of the speed of the Super Nintendo (arguably the closest competitor console-to-console) version which isn’t a deal breaker, but makes you crave action that’s just a little more frantic.

  • Super Nintendo 

About as close to gaming perfection as it gets, the Super Nintendo version of Street Fighter 2 hits the mark in all the right places. Vibrant, colorful graphics, explosive sounds and music that does its best to emulate its arcade heritage all combine to deliver a top fighting experience.  Coming in on par with the PCEngine in terms of game fluidity while  providing a slightly more varied and colorful palette than either the Megadrive or PCEngine version, it really is hard to fault the SNES incarnation. Let’s not forget that all the fantastic sights and sounds are played out using the SNES controller which does a fantastic job of giving you all the kick and punch buttons you need, unlike other button-limited platforms where you have to toggle moves with a secondary or ‘select’ button.

  • 3DO

There are times – I swear – when playing the 3DO version of Street Fighter 2 Turbo makes you forget you’re on a console and put you right back at the arcade. Graphically, the 3DO version is far and away the most superior. Sprites are huge, color ranges are massive and the backgrounds come alive with vibrancy and animation. This is Street Fighter the way it was meant to be seen. The same can be said for the sound. Music tracks manage a richness and depth you just can’t produce on some of the older consoles in this lineup.  The game play is faultless and characters move seamlessly, 3DO Street Fighter is an absolute beast to behold.

There are however, a couple of niggling faults. The loading times are abysmal. You can fly to a monestary in Tibet, learn Yaanbao, fly back to your home town and kick seven shades of shit out of someone before the poor 3DO will have loaded your next SF2 fight. Also, the controller suffers when stacked up against the Super Nintendo’s graceful pad. In the end though, these annoyances can’t get in the way of a stunning version of Street Fighter 2 that needs to be played on a big TV with the sound right on up.

  • Amiga CD32

What a sad, sad state of affairs. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo on the CD32 takes everything that’s good about Street Fighter, ejects it into the atmosphere and leaves a stuttering, jerky shell of a game behind. The CD32 version has two things going for it, large sprites and great use of color. Unfortunately that’s all for naught considering the game runs at about 2 frames per second, seems to have chopped about 50% of the animation frames from each character and is completely devoid of animation or parallax scrolling in the backgrounds. The music is okay, but you’re really left with an awful, choppy gaming experience that only looks good in still shots. It’s a real shame too, because the CD32 is a capable platform and the controller is perfectly suited to a Street Fighter game, but there’s no escaping the fact this version of Street Fighter 2 is utterly butchered and should be avoided at all costs.

So after all that, who is the winner? Probably the SNES version, with the 3DO incarnation following closely in its shadow. In terms of losers, the poor old CD32 take on Street Fighter 2 deserves to be burnt at the stake as a poor, poor effort. The most important thing to take away from all this cross-platform comparison however, is that Street Fighter 2 is amazing. It’s amazing on Sega, amazing on Nintendo. You need to find some version of it and play it, today. You’ll thank me.

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7 Responses to Street Fighter: A multi-platform comparison

  1. Frank_fjs says:

    Love a bit of SF, it’s my favourite in the fighting genre.

    Couple of things re your comparison:

    – The PCE version does not utilise parallax scrolling. There is a bit of simple line scrolling here and there but full parallax scrolling is not present, and its absence is quite noticeable. In fact, no PCE HuCard game has parallax scrolling, though the CD add-on did bring along the ability to perform parallax scrolling.

    Re the controllers, whilst it’s true that the SNES has the luxury of having a stock 6-button controller, I don’t find it to be the best in terms of button placement (mainly referring to the shoulder buttons here). I think that the 6 button Mega Drive controller or the Arcade Pad 6 for the PC Engine are much better to play with.

  2. amiga4eva says:

    Hey Frank,

    I’m looking at a clip of the PCE version right here – seems like parallax scrolling to me? (WIKI defined as “a special scrolling technique in computer graphics, wherein background images move by the camera slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth in a 2D video game”, with the SF2 floors looking to be the raster technique specifically)

    I should point out I’m referring to the floors, which to me is the biggest visual plus or minus from each stage depending on whether it’s there or not. Everything else, like the foreground fence in the Zangief stage is a ‘nice to have’ but not the main attraction :).

  3. Frank_fjs says:

    Yeah, what you’re seeing there is line scrolling of the floor, it’s not the same as parallax scrolling (specifically, the raster effect – where 3 layers scroll independently). You’ll notice that the PCE version has static backgrounds whereas the SNES and Mega Drive ports do not.

  4. amiga4eva says:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree there – the floor fits what I believe to be within the definition of parallax scrolling, therefore the PCEngine version does have it, just to a lesser degree 🙂 but I’m hesitant to get into too big a debate about it as it’s rapidly putting both of us into the same obsessive category as Star Trek fanatics who endlessly debate what colour underwear Picard was wearing on episode 11 of season 03 of Next Generation.

    For what it’s worth, I always suspected he was freeballin’

  5. Frank_fjs says:

    Fair enough. 🙂

    I don’t classify what the PCE does as parallax scrolling (coming from a game development background) but the main point that we can agree on is that the ‘effect’ isn’t as ‘powerful/advanced’ as the SNES version – which makes me disagree with this statement…

    “parallaxscrolling backgrounds that rival the Super Nintendo version”

    I noticed this immediately when playing PCE games that are also available on other platforms such as the MD or SNES, this being that in side scrolling PCE games the background is static and moves in unison to the foreground and other layers whereas in the MD/SNES versions the various layers move independently.

    All that said, the PCE version is definitely my favourite. Pretty amazing that they crammed so much goodness into such a small medium – gotta love the HuCards!

  6. Parallax debate aside, thanks for the write-up! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on good ol’ SF, and as I didn’t even know about SFII on the 3DO, you have given me something else to buy. 😀

  7. Great write up 🙂 For me, it’s the SMD that’s my favourite, flawed as it is. The combination of faster speeds (dial the stars to get the speed very close to the acade IIRC) and the magic pad (the official Sega 6-button pad – the spiritual predecessor to the Saturn pad, which is still the best pad for fighting games) make it my pick 😉

    Mind, the audio is god-awful compared to the SNES and the graphics aren’t anywhere near as colourful. Capcom did an amazing job with the port though!

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