Developer: Backbone Entertainment Publisher: Capcom Platform(s): Switch, PS4, XB1, PC
Review copy provided
Retro game collections can be a contentious subject. Depending on what games are included and how they’re implemented within the collection can often mean the difference between a great collection and an underwhelming one. Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection falls somewhere in the middle.
This collection celebrates the long storied history of the Street Fighter franchise, including arcade perfect recreations of some of the greatest hits in the Street Fighter series. Titles such as Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter 3: Third Strike are big features. Unfortunately, the collection also includes the original Street Fighter, so I guess they can’t all be winners.
Combining twelve different Street Fighter games, you can play through the arcade mode for each game, before remembering how hard the old school bosses were, or you can grab a friend and enjoy local versus matches. Capcom have also added a training mode for four of the games, Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Turbo, Alpha 3, and 3rd Strike, and you can enjoy online play with those games.
The core value of the collection does seem to stem from a heavy reliance on Street Fighter 2, as five of the featured games are different iterations of that game. It makes sense, considering that SF 2 was the most influential fighting game and the most updated game in the series, but aside from Super Turbo, a lot of those versions feel quite similar.
Unless you have a Street Fighter knowledge as comprehensive as the in-game Museum, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior vs Champion Edition, except for the boss characters becoming playable. Still, there’s plenty of variety to be found within the twelve games on offer.
The museum mode is arguably one of Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection’s strongest assets, as it compiles a host of Street Fighter knowledge from across the franchise’s 30 year history into one interactive location. A timeline of the series gives you an extended look at some of the highlights of the series, though it seems to gloss over Street Fighter X Tekken, while the character bios showcase some of the impressive sprite work that went into creating the fighters you know and love.
This love of the history also extends to telling you the different secrets each game holds. If you didn’t know how to unlock the dramatic battle mode in the Alpha games, or the requirements need to activate the fight against Akuma in Super Turbo, or even better, to be able to play as him, you can find out with this game.
Unfortunately, the main issue with the collection is that all the featured games are the arcade versions. Though they’re great versions in their own right, there have been home console versions of Street Fighter 2, Alpha 3 and Third Strike that far and away improve upon the core foundations of the game.
For example Street Fighter 2 has been given HD remakes and the recent Ultra edition on the Nintendo Switch, which added two new characters. Alpha 3 peaked with the Max edition on PSP, which included more characters and modes that helped to increase its longevity, while Third Strike: Online Edition saw improvements to the game’s UI and presentation, along with trials and challenges designed to help teach you the nuances of the game.
Without those features, the games on offer here can feel a little bit barebones. If you already own the home console versions of half of these games, 30th Anniversary Collection can feel like a pretty hard sell, and that’s especially true for the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Owning Ultra SF2 practically renders almost half of this collection redundant.
Another big thing that’s missing, especially if you’re a more novice player who just happens to appreciate the franchise, is the lack of a proper tutorial mode. Though the Street Fighter 2 games have a fairly low entry level, blindly wandering into the world of Alpha and Street Fighter 3 will just lead to pain.
The problems also extend to the online version of the game. Firstly, only the four aforementioned games have been given online support, which is annoying because it pushes games like Alpha 2 and Second Impact out of the spotlight. The differences between those games and their successors is stark, and to be able to explore that online with other players would have been fantastic.
Secondly, while the netcode seems solid, the actual matchmaking appears to be quite underdeveloped. There’s no ability to search by location or connection quality, leading to a good portion of games with enough lag to render the action on screen into a slideshow. In this day and age, fighting games require the online community in order to survive, but if changes aren’t made soon, this one might fade away.
It’s a real shame honestly, because despite the collection as a whole missing the mark, the individual games are still as enjoyable as they ever were, even if I’m not as good at them as I’d like to admit. Seriously, don’t look at my Third Strike win/loss ratio. It’s embarrassing. Though more could have been done to make the collection better value for money and less frustrating in terms of online play, Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection is still a decent assembly of some of fighting games finest.
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Though the games themselves far outshine the packaging that binds them, Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection is a fine celebration of one of the fighting game genre stalwarts. Plus, it's the only way to play Third Strike on current consoles, which makes it invaluable.
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