Want to know how much Blanka weighs? Or what Chun Li's blood type is? Then Street Fighter 2 is the game for you. The manual is full of this kind of stuff. Why? Nobody knows. It plays no part in the game itself, and not even the most ardent Street Fighter fans could think the characters are, well, real. (Oh no! Thousands of Street Fighter fans.) Oh, what a faux pas!
For the benefit of folk who've managed to steer clear of the consoles, the saturation advertising and every playground in the world for the last six months. Street Fighter 2 is a beat-'em-up. But that's not all! (Thinks.) Oh, yes it is. (Cough.) (I remember that joke! Coo, takes me back a bit. Ed) it can be played two ways - either you're a single character out to beat up all the others in turn, or you take on a friend head-to-head. Whichever game you play, you'll have to master a complicated control method which involves pressing buttons and moving joysticks in strange ways. At least it's a little different, eh? Oh, please yourselves.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Street Fighter 2 is crammed with good points, bad points and, erm, ugly points. (Congratulations! I take great pleasure in awarding you the trophy for Most Tenuously-Linked Headline On Page Twelve. Ed) It's as if two sets of programmers were employed - one lot, studious and talented, intent on coding the best conversion possible, and another group who, basically, are crap. Let's take a trip through the game to demonstrate.
Loading the program is a nightmare. It suffers from the worst ever Speccy multiload (yes folks, this 128K only game is a multiload... but it doesn't come on +3 disk). After loading the first bit, choosing a one- or two-player game, selecting your characters and the country they fight in, setting the difficulty level and defining the keys, you're presented with the message 'Start the tape'. No block names come up and there's no indication of which chunk of code the Speccy's looking for. So you have to let the tape run through the entire first side to pick up on the anonymous blocks the program wants. (Hope the two fighters you picked are near the beginning, because Street Fighter 2 comes on a C60 tape.) And, after the fighters have loaded, you have to turn over and load the background graphics (though to be fair, you can turn these off from the main menu). And, yup, you have to run through the lot with no idea of the section the Speccy is looking for.
Then! When you've finished your fight (which doesn't take that long) you have to rewind to the beginning of the first side (this is no joke, folks) and reload the entire thing to select your next opponent. Truly, a game where you spend more time loading than playing. Five words spring to mind: stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid and STUPID. I had to snap various levels on to my +D just to save enough time to play the game. Ooo. I'm annoyed. (Better move on to the good points then. Ed)
Once the game has loaded (AARGHH!) and an obliging relative has woken you up, you can get on with the serious business of hitting somebody rather a lot. As we said in the preview a couple of issues ago, the graphics are very big (like Final Fights) and very fast (not like Final Fights at all then). The level of detail is. to be jolly honest, stunning. Rarely has a late-period Speccy game looked so good. And the artists haven't shirked on the backgrounds either - they're also packed with excitingly grouped pixels. The sound is okayish - some white noise thumps and crunches - but nothing special. Still, eh? (Well put Ed) As mentioned above, control is a mixture of button pushing and odd joystick movements.
Apart from the obvious punching, jumping and kicking, each fighter has a load of secret moves. The trick is, you have to work out exactly what to push and pull in order to access them. Some are fairly straightforward - to make Ken punch up and knock out any jumping opponents you pull him down into a crouch, then hit jump and fire simultaneously - but the majority will only be found by twiddling everything in sight. (Have those notepads ready, folks.) in addition, the fighters have special attacks, like piledrivers, fireballs and so on. Luckily, the manual tells you how to do these. Phew, eh? Playing against a Speccy opponent, I very quickly got bored, gameplay being reduced to the oh-so-usual hit the buttons at random nonsense. However, with two players it's a whole different kettle of lemons.
IT'S A KNOCKOUT!
Sample two-player Street Fighter 2 game: 'Ha!' 'Aarghh!' 'Oh, come on!' 'You rat' 'I felt that!' 'You complete rat!' 'Bite yer head!' 'Rats!' 'Didn't see that one coming, did you?' 'I hate you.' 'Another go?' You get the idea. Because of the sheer variety of moves each player can make, a bit of strategy creeps in to the game in the form of deciding who's the best character to beat your opponent's champion. You find yourself trying all sorts of unlikely joystick combinations to try to unearth those secret moves. (There's nothing quite like unleashing a move that your opponent doesn't even know exists, heh heh heh.) It is, to put in non-YS, sensible language, incredibly good fun. Or, to put it in YS-y lingo, it's a stonking corker with marvy graphics and the elusive cherry of playability perched on top.
Even the atmosphere of corporate facelessness doesn't spoil the game. (Eh? Ed) Let me explain. (Oh good. Ed) The manual is quite smart, detailing most of the moves the characters can perform in a friendly and readable style. Then! When you load the game (AARGHH!) you get a message saying 'Due to machine limitations, this version may differ from examples in the manual." So, erm, what you're saying then, US Gold, is that unspecified portions of the the manual are, erm again, useless. Or in other words, the profit margin wasn't enough to print a bit of paper saying 'So-and-so moves aren't available on the Speccy version' rather than leaving you to work out whether the move is really missing, or whether you're just not trying to access it properly. Well, thanks a bunch. (Steady on, Jonathan. Ed) But enough of this scampish sarcasm. It's summary time!
(Sound of small fanfare on plastic trumpets.) From the top - the one-player mode is very boring. Without another human player, the game is just another fight number. But! Grab that close friend and give 'em a joystick (using keys is far easier) and I think everyone will agree that Street Fighter 2 is highly playable and immense fun. What a tragedy then that it's been seriously injured (nay, practically crippled) by a horrible, asinine multlload system.
As with all beat-'em-ups it's a one-note game, but the diversity of moves and characters ensures it will last a good deal longer than most. (If your tape recorder can stand it.) Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to challenge Linda. She doesn't know about Zangief's spinning piledriver, and I'll feign innocence until (ar-har) she's in me power! (Twiddles imaginary moustache.) (Not so fast, you dastardly villain! You forgot that I have to check the page before it goes to the printers. Ed) Curses! Foiled again.
Uppers: Staggering graphics and speed and a huge range of moves. It's one of the best two-player games on the good ol' Speccy.
Downers: Dull one-player mode, and an absolutely appalling multiload system.
Twenty minutes of loading for five minutes of play? The unforgivably poor loader has basically ruined a Megagame.
Stuart Fighter 2
Street Fighter 2 has stopped the largest number of passers-by since Invaders. Mostly the gawpers have been people amazed US Gold could fit the game on to the Speccy, but a few have taken up the challenge of actually playing the blessed thing and comparing it to the umpteen other versions around. Stuart Campbell and his haircut are just such a truly inimitable pair.Okay, so Jonathan's pretty well covered Speccy SF2 as a game, but how does it measure up to the other format versions? Um... oh dear. The graphics are actually very close to the original (except colour-wise, obviously), but in all honesty the gameplay (which ought to be perfectly feasibly convertible) just doesn't cut the mustard. The Speccy is positively awash with keys, which ought to make recreating the coin-op's six-button control an absolute doddle, but the one-fire-button system used here doesn't work nearly as well as even the Amiga version, and the SNES leaves them both behind. Combined with the icky key responses, Speccy SF2 is more of a 'hit the controls at random and hope for the best' affair than ever.
A useful guide to Street Fighter 2 phrases
Although the Speccy version lacks the speech samples of the console programs, the manual handily prints all the things the fighters shout at each other. YS presents a short phrasebook that will gain you instant credibility wherever two console owners are gathered, as you interrupt their chatter by translating that enigmatic fightin' talk.Ha do ken: Hello, KenTatsu maki sen pu kyaku: I would like to purchase that oversized hamster. Do you accept credit cards? Please post my hamster in a tube to circumvent inconvenient quarantine laws.Sho ryu ken: Are you sure you're Ken?Yoga nugie: Yoda would like some nougat. (Baby talk.)Shadoloo: Follow that gentleman's convenience.(That's enough Street Fighter 2 phrases. Ed)
Now, ladies and gentlemen, what am I bid for this lovely family motor? Oh, be off with you, young shavers. Tch! I don't know. Young people today, eh? Back in my time we'd never have conjured a fireball without the vicar's permission.
'Eye arrer, eye arrer, eye arrer, eye arrer, eye arrer and showed her the way. Ooooh - eye arrer, eye arrer, eye arrer, eye arrer, eye arrer and showed her the way.'
Gridelda and Armington-Ainsley were the most famous detectives of... no, I'm sorry, but just what is that woman supposed to be doing? It's just plain silly.
Benjamin is modelling the very latest in off-the-hump laboratory assistant's gowns, and is sporting one of our 'Aarghh' deluxe rubber fright masks. He is posing against part of a pirate ship and can whistle the theme from Bonanza. The jumping men are a ruse.
You're probably wondering why I called you all here today. The murderer of Captain Sloop is in this room. Yes, it was a baffling mystery. But the killer made one small mistake. He foolishly wore a particularly nasty pair of trousers. I fear, Mr Overalls, your lack of fashion sense gave you away.