Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition Review

Developer: Capcom
Publisher:  Capcom

To say Street Fighter II was popular during the early to mid 90s is an understatement, being often credited as the game which revived the arcades for another decade. Capcom was also known for having a solid relationship with Nintendo at the time and as a result, Super Nintendo owners were the only subset of gamers who were privy to having a quality home port while Sega and NEC owners would have to take trips to the local arcade. Of course, PC gamers could get Street Fighter II for Amiga, Atari ST and MS-Dos, but the less said about those, the better.

However, as the story goes, by 1992 Capcom of America had noticed the growing popularity of the Genesis, in part due to Sonic the Hedgehog 2's success and urged the Japanese branch to consider developing for Sega's console. Eventually, Capcom of Japan acquiesced, and started developing games for the Mega Drive of their own accord though they never gave it the same level of support as they did with Nintendo's 16-bit machine. 

It's true the Mega Drive / Genesis had already received several Capcom arcade ports like Ghouls n' Ghosts and Strider before Street Fighter II's debut, but those were ported by Sega themselves under license from Capcom. In fact, roughly half of Capcom games developed for the Mega Drive were outsourced, either to Sega themeselves or other companies and Street Fighter II was set to follow in this trend. 

Yes, Street Fighter II for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis was originally outsourced to a smaller company, but rumor has it Capcom wasn't happy with the port and decided to finish development in-house. This means Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition was in fact, the first game Capcom developed internally for any Sega console.

Now, it's generally agreed upon that this game originally began as a port of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition but the end product incorporated features and gameplay tweaks from Turbo. I've seen conflicting reports regarding whose decision it was to add Turbo's features before Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting launched for the SNES, some sources claim it was from Sega while others from Capcom themselves. 

What this version has going for it, is that it's in fact, two games in one cartridge, but you'd never guess by reading the back of the box or the manual. This means you can select between the classic Street Fighter II ruleset or the Turbo gameplay additions. By choosing 'Champion' mode, you play Street fighter II: Champion Edition, this is the basic game with the bosses added as playable characters.

By selecting Turbo you can effectively alter the speed of the game, leaving it at normal or making incredibly fast, though personally, I never cared for the added speed. However, Turbo mode also adds new moves including Chun-li's fireball or Ryu and Ken's ability to do a hurricane kick in mid-air. Moreover, you can set the game speed to normal, so if you're like me, you can enjoy the added ruleset without turbo.

The first few times I played Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition I stayed away from Turbo because I didn't care for the extra speed and didn't realize gameplay tweaks were added. It wasn't until I decided to give it a couple of chances that I realized Chun-li and Honda were using different moves. Suddenly, everything clicked. Champion Edition eases players into the game, and Turbo offers some ruleset variation to those seeking a deeper fighting system with more balanced gameplay. I'm positively horrible at playing Chun-Li in Champion Edition, but the added fireball move in Turbo makes her a more balanced character and as a result I was actually able to finish the game with her .

To me, this is Special Champion Edition's main strength and I'm honestly surprised how little this is discussed. Essentially this is an amazing learning tool, at least, so long as you're using a 6-button controller. The A.I. is also a little easier than its arcade counterpart (though at top difficulty it completely destroys me) and the hit detection is simply perfect.

Unfortunately, though Capcom nailed the gameplay, it dropped the ball in the audiovisual department. The music ranges from good to disappointing; Ryu's and Zangief's stages sound fine and appealing but Dhalsim's theme is ear gratingly bad. The voices and sound effects don't fare much better; with each one being scratchy and muffled. Again, Dhalsim's stage is particularly egregious as the elephant trumpets completely drown out everything else.

Graphically, it's a little on the disappointing side as well. The animation and parallax scrolling are fine for the most part, but the colors used are often unappealing. Vega's Stage for example is to put it simply, ugly to look at. Other stages look fine but seem to have a little too much contrast. The sad part is, both the color and sound issues seem to stem from poor optimization rather than system limitations. There are several videos on YouTube of fans who cleaned the sound and colors by hacking the game while still making it compatible with a regular Sega Genesis / Mega Drive.

In the end, Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition plays like a dream, features more content than your average Street Fighter II of the era and is the perfect learning tool for newcomers and veterans alike. Unfortunately, its presentation is somewhat disappointing, with the issues stemming more from Capcom rushing to meet a deadline than the console's limitations.

- Arcade perfect controls and hit detection
- Two Street Fighter games in one cartridge
- A great entry point and learning tool for the series

- Disappointing use of color
- Grating, scratchy voice samples
- Some of the stage songs are a little weak
- While not mandatory, a 6-button controller is highly recommended

Final Grade: A-

I like this cover, I feel the colors combine well and having M. Byson in the background looming over the world is threatening enough, but what is up with Ryu's eyes? One of them is at least twice as big as the other. Oh well, at least the '24MEG' seal adds some cheese value. It's fun to think a cartridge of this size used to a selling point when we consider 24 Megabits translate to just 3 Megabytes.

Inside you'll find the cartridge and a manual. The manual is your usual fare for the PAL-region, they're shaped and organized like VCR manuals with small blurbs of text in several languages for each page. I will say they were at least kind enough to put some backstory for each character and all of their movesets while still giving you a few basic tip on how each special attack works.

With that said, my main problem here is that the manual never tells you some of the moves are exclusive to the Turbo edition. In fact, it doesn't even mention the gameplay differences between those two. So chances are you'll waste time trying to use Honda's sumo smash while playing the Champion Edition only to give up in frustration. This is my main issue with the manual, in these instances it actually confuses the player. 

Other than that, it's just a typical packaging, the cover is somewhat appealing but Ryu's stare freaks me out. Considering this was the first Street Fighter game on a Sega system, I expected more effort in its packaging.

Packaging Grade: C+

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