If you want to revisit the heyday of Street Fighter II in the palm of your hand, Ultra Street Fighter II is the game for you. It is a pitch-perfect version of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, with a few extras to justify the new title and the Nintendo Switch release. Ultra plays about as well as you remember it, in either classic style or in HD mode with hand-drawn art and remixed audio.
What's been added to the mix? First up, there are additional control methods taking into account the Switch's unique Joy-Cons. You can enjoy Versus play on a single system, with each player taking their own Joy-Con. It's cramped, but it works in a pinch and remains one of the best selling points of the game.
Ultra Street Fighter II also offers the Way of the Hado, a new Switch-exclusive fighting mode. Here, you play as Ryu in a first-person viewpoint. Way of the Hado works on a conceptual and practical level: the mode makes sense and the motion controls work... most of the time. A Hadoken is an outward push with both Joy-Cons, while the Shinku Hadoken is the same with the inner buttons held down. The Shoryuken is an uppercut with your right hand and swaying both Joy-Cons back and forth pulls off the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. Finally, blocking has you holding both Joy-Cons up while holding the bumpers.
Trapped in a Shadowloo compound, Ryu has to fight groups of soldiers and occasionally M. Bison himself. With a Joy-Con in either hand, you throw Hadokens, pull off a Shoryuken or two, and clear out a space with your Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. Fill up the Super Meter can you can even throw out an enemy-clearing Shinku Hadoken. You have a choice of Stage Battle or Endless Battle. Defeat minions, block, stay alive. In Endless Battle, you just do that forever.
That's it. The mode never gets deeper or more interesting. It's a cool diversion for a bit, but ultimately, it's the return of Wii Waggle. It works well enough, but could be better. It's a mode that doesn't particularly blaze its own trail or need to exist, except as a bullet point for marketing.
Capcom also created some "new" characters Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, aggressive palette swapped mixes of Ryu and Ken. Evil Ryu has been in other Street Fighter games before. Violent Ken actually made his debut in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, but this is his first shot in a real Street Fighter title. They're fine characters cobbled together out of Ken/Ryu's movesets and art, with Akuma's special effects. Not 100 percent unique, not entirely a copies either.
The list is rounded out by further character balance changes that weren't present in HD Remix, with Capcom starting from Super Turbo as a base. The combos seem slightly easier to pull off in this version than I remember in HD Remix and Throw Techs appear for the first time in SF2 ever. The Dramatic Battle Mode that has popped-up in some previous Street Fighter titles appears here as Buddy Battle, allowing two players to face off against a single AI foe. There's also a Color Editor, allowing you to edit the character colors to your liking. It is missing Super Turbo features like a speed select or bonus stages, which is odd given the pedigree.
Ultra Street Fighter II is essentially the final step in a series that began way back in 1991. It's the hidden sequel to Super Street Fighter II Turbo that never was. If you want classic Street Fighter II action on your Nintendo Switch, this is a fine game to pick up. Go in peace and enjoy the game.
The major issue I have with Ultra Street Fighter II is going to be a contentious one. Regardless of how you feel about value judgments in reviews, I can't justify a wholehearted recommendation in this case. Ultra Street Fighter II is $40. This is a title that is essentially an enhanced port of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, a game that came out in 1993. As a $20 game, I'd say this is a solid release. At $40, this needs to be much better. It doesn't even stack up to classic Capcom Street Fighter releases.
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix came out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2008 and cost $14.99 at launch (still available for $9.99). Street Fighter Anniversary Collection offered the remixed Hyper Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III: Third Strike together for $29.99. The equivalent price point for a re-release was either Street Fighter Collection for PlayStation, but for $40, you received three Street Fighter games each. I know this because I bought most of these collections, including the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, which remains my gold standard for SF compilation releases.
I've purchased Street Fighter time and time again, and this is one of a few times where I feel the asking price isn't worth the final product. Ultra Street Fighter II proudly proclaims the 30th anniversary of Street Fighter in its opening title cards. While what's here is nice, it could've been so much better for the asking price. It could've been a great collection of Street Fighter's history on the Nintendo Switch. It's not like Capcom put forth no effort here, which is what's disappointing.
I love remakes, remasters, and re-releases. But I love them when they're done well, when a player is given enough improvements and features to justify the price. Ultra Street Fighter II just isn't there for me. If you want to play Street Fighter on Switch, this is the only game in town, I just wish the overall package was better.
Ultra Street Fighter II is an admirable effort; a pitch-perfect version of Street Fighter II on the Nintendo Switch. Capcom has re-balanced the game from its Super Turbo release, thrown in the Super Turbo HD Remix art, and added some additional Switch-only modes. Unfortunately, the whole package just feels adequate. Ultra Street Fighter II doesn't feel like it goes above and beyond for the series' 30th anniversary and the asking price is steep for what's there.