We've seen more than 30 years of Street Fighter being one of the premier fighting game franchises. Sure, the series has fallen off in recent times, but being relevant in the industry for three decades is nothing to scoff at. To celebrate the birthday of one of its tentpole franchises, Capcom is releasing Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection today.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection brings twelve classic Street Fighter games, from 1987's Street Fighter until 1999's Street Fighter III: Third Strike, to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. Putting together this gaming anthology fell to Digital Eclipse, the folks behind the excellent Mega Man Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection. If you've mess around with either of those games, you have an idea of what to expect here, but let's do a full rundown.
The games in this collection include Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III: New Generation, Street Fighter III: Second Impact, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Collection brings a number of these titles to modern consoles: Street Fighter was last available in Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, the Alpha titles haven't seen a release since 2006, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike's last launch was Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
What's intriguing is all of these games are the arcade originals. A number of fans have only engaged with the Street Fighter games in their console iterations, which offer additional characters and modes. If you boot up Anniversary Collection expecting those releases, you'll be out of luck. As far as I can tell, every game is the original arcade ROM, meaning the balance changes that came with later releases aren't present here either. If you're a fan of Hyper Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha 3's World Tour mode from the PlayStation release, or the remixed soundtrack of Street Fighter III: Third Strike's Dreamcast edition, none of that is here. It's a bummer, as I miss those extras and would've liked to see them here in the Collection.
There are some game options and extras, but most are outside of the games themselves. There's a few scanline options, but none of pixel smoothing filters that irked players in Third Strike Online Edition are available here. You can also choose to have the game's presented in native letterboxed style, a Full option that stretches the game's vertically, or a Wide version that stretches the game horizontally and vertically to fit your screen. I went with Full, which maximizes the viewable area without messing with the aspect ratio.
Before you boot up a title, you can change game speed or difficulty, depending on which game you're loading (likely based on the game's original arcade switch settings). I wish these were universal options for every game, letting you turn the timer on/off or change the number of rounds; it's a pretty basic option overall, but not available here. A number of games also have easter eggs accessed by different button combinations, like Dramatic Battle in Street Fighter Alpha 3. You'll find all of these Easter Egg combos in the game's description text.
When you start up Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, you'll be greeted with a number of play options: Offline, Local Play, Online Play, Museum, and Options. In Offline, you can play in the basic Arcade mode, Versus mode for local play, or a Training mode. (Switch owners can do two-player local play with detached Joy-Cons.) It's worth noting that Training mode is only available in four of the twelve games: Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike.
Training Mode is still the original arcade versions, but with an enhanced set of options in the pause menu: you can change the difficulty level, choose new characters, see every character's special moveset, set your health and special meters, or tweak the sparring dummy. You can even record a series of moves for the dummy if you want to practice against a specific combo or something. It's not as robust as the training modes we're used to in titles like Street Fighter 5, where the game walks you through each character, but at the very least you can practice your fighting skills.
Local Play lets you create or join lobbies and tournaments when a number of folks are sitting together in the same area. (I don't know if this option is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as I was playing on Nintendo Switch.) There's also an option to set the input lag for local play, which is intriguing.
Online Play is not available for every game in the Collection. Instead, it's just the titles available in Training Mode: Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Online Arcade works like the old arcade experience, letting you play the game with online players occasionally intruding into your game. (You can set the matchmaking frequency.) You can also jump straight into Ranked or Casual matches, or create a lobby to bring together multiple players with the ability to spectate.
Online on the Nintendo Switch version of Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection was... less than adequate. The Casual and Ranked matches I played were anywhere from solid to jittery, and I couldn't find any open lobbies. Whether that's because lobbies weren't in operation or no other reviewer loaded one up, I have no clue. I opened my own lobby to check if the latter was the case, but no one ever joined. There's no region or ping select available, so who you connect with in Online is completely up to chance. Another odd move is while you can create a lobby for any of the four available games (with a per game toggle), you can't do the same in a search for Ranked or Casual matches: instead, you choose one of four games to search for and hope that someone else is searching for the same game.
The package is rounded out by the Museum, one place where Digital Eclipse excelled in Mega Man Legacy Collection. The Museum includes a full release timeline for every game in the series, with historical details and concept art for games included in the Collection. A character roster covers every character represented in the Collection, with biographies and frame-by-frame looks at their special moves. A music player lets you listen to every track from every game if that's your poison. Finally, a Making Of section offers the original pitch documents for Street Fighter, a lengthy slideshow look at the making of Street Fighter II, and concept art for Alpha and III.
As an owner of previous releases and compilations, I admit there's a gap between what Collection is and what I wanted. I miss the rebalanced version of the arcade games, Hyper Street Fighter II, the additional characters and World Tour mode of the PlayStation release of Alpha 3, Hyper Street Fighter Alpha, and the remixed soundtrack of Third Strike's home release. I think this collection would be better with at least some of those options.
There's the additional stumbling block of online play, which was less than great during the pre-launch review period. Capcom and Digital Eclipse might improve this post-launch, but if online play is your focus, you might want to wait to pick Collection up.
As an overall package, it's good enough though. You get twelve Street Fighter games in arcade perfect form, which is great for long-time fans. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a celebration of the series history, made show of these games in their original release states. It's a snapshot of various points of time in the Street Fighter series. If that's what you're looking for, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is meant for you.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is an arcade perfect collection of twelve titles across Street Fighter's grand history. Unfortunately, it's missing some of the bells and whistles of their console counterparts and online play is a bit rough. Despite those problems, local play is a winner and the Museum is packed with content showing a real love for the franchise's history. If you know what you're getting into, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a great compilation, just not a perfect one.
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