Street Fighter II is seen as one of the best and most important games of all time. The original game garnered so much praise and developed such a large audience that it quickly became a re-release machine for Capcom. Multiple versions hit arcades and consoles, and this trend has continued to this day. Now we have what seems like one of the last re-releases with Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, combining together the best version of the seminal game, with a few new things on top. But some major stumbles in the new content, with a very high price tag creates a package that’s not worth it for most.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is very much the same game you might remember from the SNES. At least, you’ll think it’s the same game, but it plays faster and has some new mechanics that have been brought over from newer titles. It’s the sort of remake/re-release that plays to nostalgia well, by crafting an experience that feels like how you remember the game, by updating it in key ways that play to your fuzzy memory.
A new graphical style is the biggest thing you’ll notice, taking the sprites of Street Fighter II and updating them for modern times. Aside from some stiff animation, the new graphics work well. The game looks great both on your TV and the Switch screen, and if you want that extra shot of nostalgia you can toggle to the old style from the options menu. Unfortunately you can’t do this mid-game, as many other remakes have allowed, but it’s still nice to have as an option.
The titular additions are two new characters to the Street Fighter II roster. For longtime fans this is a huge deal, marking a change that hasn’t happened in 20 years. Unfortunately these new additions won’t impress anyone but the most die hard of fan. Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, to anyone not deeply ingrained in Street Fighter mythos and fighting strategies, are pretty much just palette swaps, rather than wholly new creations. It’s nice to have some more variety, and these fighters do offer their own style, but few will actually appreciate it, or find them that integral to the gameplay.
The Final Challengers’ other new major mode is called Way of the Hado, and it is amazingly terrible
Likewise, the new multiplayer mode that’s been added to Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is somewhat baffling. Buddy Battle lets you team up with another person, or an AI partner then go 2v1 against an opponent. This was featured in past Street Fighter games, and I’m sure it has its fans. I, however, found it to be an odd and almost useless addition. If I was introducing someone to the game, or had a young child who wanted to play with me, then I might see its use, but as a fun and competitive mode it falls flat.
At least it offers something to the mix though. Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers’ other new major mode is called Way of the Hado, and it is amazingly terrible. This mode is exclusive to this release, as it uses the Joy-Con as motion controllers. Players take to a first person perspective, fighting off waves of enemies as Ryu. At least, you would if it worked anywhere close to as you might expect.
The motion controllers on Nintendo Switch are great, and can be used to offer up some fantastic gameplay opportunities. In Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers they fail completely though. Looking through the move list you’ll see what you’re supposed to do, and you can test it out, with the game grading your performance. It simply doesn’t work though. Movements don’t register correctly, positioning seems to be totally screwed up. And in the end you can pretty much just spam the same two moves to run through most of the mode. You won’t want to though, because it’s utterly boring to play, even without the control issues.
So the new stuff in Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers isn’t all that great. That’s not the end of the story though, because this is still one of the greatest fighting games of all time. Putting it on the Switch was a great idea as well, offering the best version of a great game in both home console and handheld form. Being able to whip out your Switch and play Street Fighter II with anyone, anywhere is a great feeling.
The problem with this is that Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is priced as a nearly AAA title. Pricing usually isn’t a big part of reviews, but when it’s this egregious it does cause concern. Those purchasing this game on launch day will be spending $40 in the US, which is just absurd for what you get in the game.
Similar versions of this game are available for less than half the price of this Switch edition. They might not have everything that Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers does, but the big additions here simply aren’t worth worrying about. Way of the Hado is a novelty at best and will earn about 15 minutes of your time before being ignored completely. The new characters are great for hardcore fans, but anyone else will probably stick with their tried and true favorites. And the newish Buddy Battle isn’t all that interesting outside of a few specific use cases.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers isn’t a bad game, especially thanks to the handheld nature of the Switch. It is, however, an amazingly overpriced game at launch. Offering a graphically upgraded version of an over 20 year old game, it’s still giving you one of the best fighters out there. But the new additions beyond graphics aren’t worth worrying about at all. If you have to have Street Fighter II on your shiny new Switch then it’s worth getting on sale, but everyone else will probably want to skip this re-release.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
- Available On: Nintendo Switch
- Published By: Capcom
- Developed By: Capcom
- Genre: Fighting
- US Release Date: May 26th, 2017
- Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
- Quote: "An overpriced package that offers little new content, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers isn't a marvelous return for this venerable series. Being mobile is great, and the game looks good, but everything else about this release is skippable for all but the most die hard SF fans."