Given that Street Fighter is 30 years old, it's hard to imagine having to explain what it's meant to the world of video games. Street Fighter II still stands as one of the all-time great arcade games, saving a languishing arcade scene single-handedly in the early 90s. Anyone who grew up during that time remembers lining up at the arcade, putting their quarters up, and vying for supremacy.
Does the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection re-capture that spirit? In many ways, it does. This is a collection of a dozen arcade-perfect re-releases of the franchise's most classic games. Unfortunately, there are a couple of ways in which Capcom and developer Digital Eclipse don't quite live up to a championship pedigree.
Remembering The Old Days
There's a certain sense of purity in these classic releases. Everything fans loved about the old Street Fighter II, Alpha, and Street Fighter III games appears to be intact. The special moves, the counters, the parries, the music, the distinct looks and styles of each character, and everything else that made these games feel so refreshing are all here.
From a casual perspective, it's tough to imagine going back to the primitive sounds of Street Fighter II: World Warrior when the updated artwork and sound files or Super Street Fighter II Turbo are right there. But there is something fun about going through each game and seeing how the series has gradually evolved, giving the 30th Anniversary Collection a true "time capsule" feel, something I'll touch on in more detail shortly.
There's also a "warts and all" sense from these games, as all of these games' problems also come along for the ride. Let's get this out of the way right now. The original Street Fighter is a bad game, filled with janky controls, unwieldly mechanics, and ugly artwork, even for the time. But picking on the first Street Fighter is like fighting a training dummy at this point. The other issues involve some outdated bugs from older arcade versions, including a borderline game-breaking one from Super Street Fighter II Turbo where the difficulty in Arcade Mode is completely out of control.
Ultimately, those are minor nitpicks in what's an amazing collection of some of the world's best fighting games. Original game aside, all of these games hold up and are still incredibly fun, especially when playing against friends. Digital Eclipse's additions mainly come in the form of screen filters and detailed move guides in the pause menu, but aside from that, these are the arcade games as everyone remembers them.
Into the Dojo
The user interface for the 30th Anniversary Collection involves selecting a game and selecting a game mode from the collection's UI, rather than from the arcade game itself. That means accessing Arcade Mode, Versus Mode, and Training from the Collection's menus. If "Training" doesn't sound familiar, that's because it's a whole new addition to these games, albeit for only the four online-supported games. But the fact that there's a dedicated, modern Training mode for old-school Street Fighter games is a helpful addition for young newcomers that are discovering the old games for the first time and also for veterans looking to sharpen their skills.
For those who feel like they're all trained up and ready to go, it's time to head online with Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Both Ranked and Casual matches are available and this is where the Collection starts to trip up. Latency issues plagued my online time with all four games, with some of my sessions feeling outright unplayable. While the latency was not present in all matches, it happened frequently enough to raise my blood pressure a few notches, as I helplessly watched the stuttery framerate and listened to the musical hiccups. On top of that, there isn't really a way to search for users with stronger connections, the way players in Street Fighter V can. There are ways to filter out opponents by skill, but not by connection strength, which is an odd omission.
Lastly, it's a point that's been stressed enough times, but only having four of these games enabled for online play feels like a disappointment. The idea of reducing redundancies is understandable, but there's enough of a debate between Street Fighter Alpha diehards whether Alpha 2 or Alpha 3 is the best in the series that it feels like a shame not to have both playable online. Also, it could have been fun to see Capcom and Digital Eclipse play around with some of the online options, like allowing players to compete in "Best of 3" sets involving multiple games. While that might cause loading issues, considering the rest of the game is buttery smooth in that department, it would have been a negative worth enduring.
Beyond its arcade perfect ports, the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection truly shines with a massive Museum mode dedicated to the series' history. There's so much to check out for any diehard fan of the series, from concept art, to design documents, to the evolution of character designs, to fun little easter eggs. And of course, there's the game's historically great soundtrack, with players able to listen to the multiple iterations of their favorite characters' stage themes.
The most interesting thing here is a full-blown robust timeline of the series recapping the past 30 years. There's also an option to select many of the selections within the timeline to expand on it with artwork and additional historical facts. The timeline also doesn't shy away from some of Street Fighter's lesser moments, fully acknowledging the existence of the Street Fighter: The Movie video game tie-in and the infamous 1995 Street Fighter animated series. The Museum is for every Street Fighter fan and completionist looking to see just how far this series has come over the past three decades.
"Prepare to strike! Now!"
As a collection of Street Fighter games, it's hard to say anything bad about the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. It's a full-blown compilation of the very best fighting games in the world. (Also, it includes the original Street Fighter.) For anyone looking to play these classics with friends, it's hard to go wrong here and the robust Museum is the icing on this multi-layered cake.
For those looking for a good online experience, however, this collection will feel like a disappointment, especially compared to previous compilations released on last-gen consoles. Even if the 30th Anniversary Collection's netplay gets patched up, it doesn't fix that the online presentation feels somewhat bare bones, though the option to play Arcade Mode with online players able to "quarter up" at any time does feel like a cool addition.
In the end, it's all about bringing the fight and the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection can throw down with the best of them, making it a worthy challenger.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 digital code provided by the publisher. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is available now on Steam, the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Nintendo eShop for $39.99. The game is rated T.