I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Street Fighter V. I love the way it plays, but I hate many other things about it – such as the way Capcom decided to release it in chunks and, because the local online fighting community is small and sparse, a lack of a decent single player mode. And don’t even try to bring up that atrocious arcade mode they finally patched in for us, with its ridiculously long load times, no option to continue without going back to the character select for yet more load times, and the bizarre fragmentation of the roster into various themed arcade modes – just give us a basic arcade mode with no frills and the quickest load times you can manage, you idiots!
So, as much as I love Street Fighter V’s actual play mechanics, during the times when no human opponents are to be found, I tend to get my single player versus fighting jollies elsewhere – The King of Fighters, Mark of the Wolves, The Last Blade… Mostly SNK games, come to think of it. It’s not because they’re inherently better or anything, it’s just that SNK has supported us pretty well with their single player-friendly retro archive of the last few years. If only Capcom would release their retro fighting games – oh wait.
Well, it’s about bloody time. I would’ve been content with one or two of the old Street Fighter games but Capcom has decided to pull out all the stops for Street Fighter’s 30th anniversary and release one big package containing every version of the game from Street Fighter 1 (1987) to Street Fighter III: Third Strike (1999) – all the old 2D Street Fighter games, 12 in total. All of them can be played online, but since they’re straight-up emulations of the arcade games, they’re also very single-player friendly when you’re waiting for a bout, with decent arcade modes and instant load times.
In this package, two games in particular – namely Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter III: Third Strike – are considered to be among the best fighting games ever made and I hear they’re still played in tournaments to this day, so even just for those two, the package is worth owning – although I don’t think the Alpha series gets nearly as much recognition as it deserves. In fact, it was the Alpha series I was most excited about when I heard this package was coming out, especially Street Fighter Alpha 3 which, along with KoF ’98, is one of the games that really taught me how to play 2D fighting games properly.
Once you’ve booted the package up, you’re presented with a menu asking whether you wish to play online or offline, which leads to the various sub-modes for those, and then you pick your game. Each game also has a little history writeup you can read, telling you how it contributed to the development of the series, which is a nice touch.
Unfortunately, since each game is basically an arcade ROM, we miss out on some of the better home version features we used to have, such as the extra characters in the console versions of the Alpha series. Since the developers were able to include a practice mode, they clearly can manipulate the ROMs to some extent. It’s the only small pity in this package that the home version extras weren’t included.