Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition – Sega Megadrive / Genesis Review

Retro Resolution Retro Review

System: Sega Megadrive (Genesis)
Developer: Capcom
Year: 1993
Genre: One-on-one fighter

Street Fighter II - Megadrive - Ryu vs Ken
Street Fighter II – Megadrive – Ryu vs Ken

Enter the Dragon (punch)

The seminal one-on-one martial arts fest that is Capcom‘s Street Fighter II: Championship Edition (SFII:SCE) hardly requires introduction. Arriving long after the SNES version the 1993 Megadrive port most likely staunched a haemorrhage of 16-bit gamers jumping ship to Nintendo’s platform simply to play the greatest fighter the world had ever seen.

SFII:SCE combines elements of two sequels to the all-conquering arcade machine Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, namely the Championship and Hyper editions; the former bequeaths playable bosses, the latter ten user-selectable speeds providing a gaming experience ranging from ‘snails on Valium’ to ‘Benny Hill on speed’.

Combat ensues against an array of stages set throughout the globe, incorporating impressive parallax scrolling and animated background characters (many of which inexplicably perform unintentionally amusing hand movements). The arenas are sharp, vivid and colourful. Whilst the anime-styled fighters are similarly well portrayed the necessary omission of animation frames lends a staccato feel to the bouts, but not to the detriment of the tremendously visceral gameplay.

Street Fighter II Special Championship Edition - Sega Megadrive
Street Fighter II Special Championship Edition – Sega Megadrive

The distinctive graphics are complimented by the selection of lively FM renditions of the coin-op tunes, along with suitably brutal digitised cracks and thuds of flesh impacting flesh. In stark contrast is the copious sampled speech which unfortunately suggests that Ryu arrived at the tournament with a severely infectious cold; as a result everyone sounds like they desperately require Strepsils.

Whilst for some the graphical realism and gore of contemporary brawler Mortal Kombat was initially more alluring, when the demonic enjoyment of Sub-Zero’s spine-rip wore thin the depth of SFII:CE won through. Mastery of the twelve martialists’ wide array of special moves took dedication and rewarded the talented fighter, especially in the matchless two player mode.

A six button controller is an absolutely vital companion for this game. Any attempt to decimate an opponent with the standard pad is thwarted by the need to press ‘start’ mid-battle to swap between punching and kicking. Precise control is  essential, for this is certainly no brainless button masher;  on all but the easiest difficulty settings attempting to deploy a Track and Field style approach simply results in a swift and massively humiliating defeat at the hands of your opponent.

Over twenty years and countless sequels, prequels, and special editions later, for many Street Fighter II: Championship Edition still takes on all comers, and wins.

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