As we continue with our Street Fighter month here at Silver Soul Gaming it’s time to look at the title that put the fighting game genre at the forefront of arcades, Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior. So here is a little back ground before we get into the review. (Disclaimer this review is based on the arcade and SNES version of the game and not a reflection of the content of the 30th anniversary collection that is to be released)
Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior was released worldwide in arcades from February 1991 and is the sequel to the 1987 arcade game Street Fighter. This is the game that is credited as popularizing competitive fighting games in arcades and giving the arcade game industry a new breath of life with companies like SNK, Midway and SEGA creating and releasing fighting games into arcades in the same year and for many years following. After over 12 months of dominance in the arcade Capcom made the decision to port their hit game from the arcade to the Super Famicom (SNES) in June of 1992 in the Japanese territory and across the world within the following months. The game has also been ported to many other systems during the course of its life time including the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 and various other home consoles.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (Arcade 1991)
Street Fighter 2 follows the same gameplay features that was set before with its predecessor utilizing a six button attack system, a two out of three round fighting system and command based special moves, while implementing some new additions of its own for this revolutionary title. The new features that were introduced with this title are as follows.
- A diverse cast of playable characters with individual fighting styles and unique special mechanics.
- Ending animations/cutscenes for each character upon game completion.
- A combo system where attacks can be linked to deal more damage.
- Draw game/Double K.O. (achieved when both players deplete their opponents health at the same time.)
- Competitive multiplayer gameplay with a possible 56 different matchups possible when playing against another person.
These features have become standards in the industry and their influence can be seen in games like Mortal Kombat (1992 Midway), Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters ‘94 (1991 and 1994 SNK), Virtua Fighter (1993 SEGA) and World Heroes (1992 ADK/SNK).
The story of Street Fighter 2 is rather simple each fighter is involved in a worldwide tournament devised by M. Bison to determine who the strongest fighter in the world is and the player travels the globe taking on all entrants in the tournament. M. Bison is the leader of Shadaloo a criminal organisation with many enemies in the tournament and his three highest minions serving as sub-boss fights before fighting the leader at the end of the tournament. The reason for the tournament is unclear apart from trying to determine who is strongest and the motivations of M. Bison are ambiguous at best. Each characters ending adds some context to their motivations for taking part in the World Warrior tournament this can be seen with Chun-Li and Guile who entered to defeat M. Bison and avenge someone that was hurt by Shadaloo and Bison.
The core gameplay of Street Fighter 2 is a vast improvement from its previous instalment with more smooth fluid gameplay and control. Comprising of a total of twelve stages with only eleven being used as a battleground (you cannot fight the character you have chosen, this was changed in later versions), eight playable combatants with four secret boss characters and 3 bonus stages to increase your score as you travel the world fighting your way to the final confrontations culminating with a unique end cinematic for each playable fighter.
The stages are highly detailed with animations added to the backgrounds and characters sprites are larger than the previous game with smooth fluid animation behind them with an improved frame rate and gameplay speed. The music that is unique to all character stages has much more clarity and is less shrill and uncomfortable to listen to. The command based moves are much easier to perform with the improved frame rate and animation fluidity allowing the inputs to go through smoothly when performed.
All characters apart from Ken and Ryu have their own individual move sets and different inputs required for each attacks, but it has to be noted that the input movement for a lot of attacks remains the same. For example some attacks require a quarter/half circle input motion to perform the command where as others require a charging motion where a direction is held for a few seconds and then the opposite direction is inputted to complete the motion. Like the previous game command based attacks have varying levels of power depending on the attack button pressed along with the command motion. Some characters have projectile based attacks while others have close quarters high damage strikes giving players a deeper level of strategy when playing either against the CPU or against an opponent.
The games roster has a wide range of diverse characters, Ken, Ryu and Sagat return with drastic redesigns which are more aesthetically pleasing to look at and there are nine more characters added to the game with eight of them being playable and four being exclusively used by the CPU. Here is a full list of all characters in the game. All names presented are the localised names and thus some are switched around between the English and Japanese releases for legal purposes.
- Ryu, a Japanese karateka seeking to hone his skills.
- Honda, a sumo wrestler from Japan.
- Blanka, a beast-like mutant from Brazil who was raised in the jungle.
- Guile, a former USAF special forces operative from the United States, seeking to defeat the man who killed his best friend.
- Ken, Ryu’s rival and former training partner, from the United States.
- Chun-Li, a Chinese martial artist who works as an Interpol officer, seeking to avenge her deceased father. She is the only female character.
- Zangief, a pro wrestler from the USSR.
- Dhalsim, a fire breathing yoga master from India.
- Balrog, an American boxer, designed with a similar appearance to Mike Tyson.
- Vega, a Spanish torero who wields a claw and uses a unique style of ninjutsu.
- Sagat, a Muay Thai kickboxer and former World Warrior champion from the original Street Fighter, who was scarred by Ryu in the end of the previous tournament.
- Bison, the leader of the criminal organization Shadaloo, who uses a mysterious power known as “Psycho Power,” and the final opponent of the game.
The boss characters are playable in later versions of the game but that will be covered in a later piece.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior ( 1992 SNES/Super Famicom)
The home port of Street Fighter 2 for the Super Nintendo and Super Famicom is the most well-known home port of the game featuring all characters (with some receiving slight tweaks and alterations due to limits of the SNES and Super Famicom) and stages but lacking two of the bonus stages with one of them being replaced altogether. It is possible that this was due to hardware limitations or unfamiliarity with the system (this was remedied with the later versions albeit with the modified bonus stage set up).
The games sprites were slightly altered in size and detail with some background details also being modified, yet this has no impact on the overall gameplay or experience. There is also an omission of some of the sound bites from the arcade version but again this has no impact on the actual gameplay. There are some additional features added to this version which includes a dedicated V.S. mode, several cheat codes including one that allows both players to select the same character and even a special end credits cinematic added to the game as a reward for completion while fulfilling special requirements.
Gameplay remains unchanged for the arcade mode there is no difficulty with command moves and game speed, you still fight he same amount of opponents that you would in the arcade port with the only change being the bonus stage appearing after four fights rather than three and the omission of two stages that are replaced with just one. While playing the home port I noticed no difference gameplay wise and the difficulty was fair and balanced at all levels like its arcade counterpart with adjustable AI difficulty to allow players to play the game at their own skill level making the game accessible, but with the inability to practice against the boss characters the difficulty can be very punishing if you haven’t played the game before.
Overall I think that Street Fighter 2 The World Warrior is a good game on its own within the arcade and the home but when compared to the revisions and expanded versions of the game that were released in subsequent years it doesn’t stand up when compared to them. If you are a fan of Street Fighter, fighting games in general or a collector for the Super Nintendo and the Super Famicom then pick this up so you can experience the game that set the bar for all that followed in my opinion.
There are very few if any negatives to this game that I can see, the arcade version is finely crafted and the home port is more than competent with the only downside I can see from both versions is a punishing difficulty for new players and a slight lack of speed when compared to the games that came after it. With that in mind I’m going score this game using a star rating without any comparison to its follow ups and updates.
I give Street Fighter 2 the World Warrior 4.5 out of 5 with the one negative criticism I can give is that when playing both versions of the game the difficulty of the game is way too punishing late on when you play at the more intermediate difficulties with the inability to practice against the bosses if you are a new player without prior experience.
Owner of Silver Soul Gaming, writer, and podcast host, Silver is a disabled gamer that utilizes her passion for the industry and skills to write to find purpose.