Tag Archives: Capcom

The Evergreen Street Fighter II


Speaking as a fan of Street Fighter III, which is a beautiful, deep, competitive game that didn’t receive nearly the attention that it deserves, it really has nothing on its predecessor. A rough calculation tells me that I’ve already bought Street Fighter II three times this decade, and playing the new HD Remix has really reminded me of just how brilliant this game is.

Besides its better, more iconic characters that have gone on to become archetypes in themselves, Street Fighter II is a game that just never seems to age at all, no matter how many times I play it, and that amazes me every time I return. The lick of paint for the latest release obviously helps, but looking beyond graphics it’s as much fun today as it ever was. Everyone must have at least some experience with this game, and you only have to play for a little while to feel at home again, even if you haven’t played since it came out, which is pushing two decades ago. It’s impossible to have ‘just one more game’, especially now that we have a version that works extremely well online.

What’s impressed me more than anything, though, is how playing online has shown just how deep a game it is, even compared to one that is so deliberately tough to master as its sequel. People know every in and out of every character and move, and some of the high-level players you’ll meet online can completely humble you, switching styles as they go and thrashing you, even with characters that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Even after all these years I can’t work out how to effectively play as a ‘charge’ character like Guile, and yet I can go online and be routinely humiliated by one of them. Such is life…

It seems like HD Remix has been timed to hype up a certain other fighting game due in February, and if that was indeed one of its purposes it’s worked with me. The previews are coming out and suggesting that the talk about Street Fighter IV going back to the deep yet accessible roots of Street Fighter II, appealing in the process to both the hardcore and casual fans – that’s ‘casual’ in the old sense, not the ‘plays Imagine Party Babyz’ kind – may actually be true. While that ‘back to basics’ marketing trick has lost its power not to make me suspicious after its repeated use on Sonic games, there just isn’t a better foundation for a fighting game than this.

Because of this, no matter how good SFIV ends up being, it won’t be its immediate predecessor that it’s held up against. Aiming to succeed Street Fighter II is ambitious, given that even the best new fighting games struggle to be played for three years, let alone seventeen, but again, this is the sheet to crib from. I hope it succeeds, and I bought an arcade stick as evidence of my faith – okay, so HD Remix had something to do with it as well – but I have my suspicions as to which Street Fighter I’ll still be buying with each new generation when 2025 rolls around.

Devil May Cry, but I certainly will…

Devil May Cry 4

Despite my (correct) assertions that Ninja Gaiden is the best of the current big three 3D actioners, I’ve remained something of a Devil May Cry virgin. I’ve gotten to first base with the series, having owned the godawful PAL version of the original, but when I got frustrated with that and saw the bad reviews for DMC2 I just stopped caring about the series, so I never went all the way.

Naturally, with Devil May Cry 4 available in demo form and shortly to be released in all its glory, now is the time for me to get cosy with Dante. And that’s the last love analogy, I promise.

I nabbed myself a copy of the Devil May Cry 5th Anniversary Collection, which contains the three PS2 instalments in all their NTSC full-screen full-speed glory. A good deal at their original retail price, but thanks to some credit they only set me back £20. If you need proof that now is a good chance to go back and get the last generation’s classics for ridiculously low prices – assuming you don’t have a 40GB PS3 ;) – there you go.

I haven’t even had the chance to touch the second two games, being that I’ve found the first one obscenely hard. For all the flak that Ninja Gaiden gets for being difficult, when I revisited that last year I can honestly say that I didn’t hit a sticking point like I did with THE FIRST BOSS in Devil May Cry; the same point at which I got stuck when I first bought the game. I was getting my arse kicked, to the point that I restarted the game from scratch and spent a while fighting the enemies of the second mission, getting enough red orbs to buy more powerful attacks. Essentially I was being forced to grind in an action game. And when I did finally beat him I immediately suffered a kicking at the hands (paws?) of some shadowy big cat thing.

But yet I’m still thoroughly enjoying the game, even despite the awkward button layout. I’m finding that it has the same well-pitched learning curve to the combat that I enjoyed in Ninja Gaiden. You can feel yourself getting better at it and although death can be frequent, it’s usually something that you did wrong. It’s the thing that both series do right and that the fireworks of God of War have no answer to. And of course NG makes you feel like a ninja, DMC a badass demon hunter, while both have far deeper combat and combo systems. It’s no contest, really.

The Devil May Cry 4 demo is fantastic, by the way. I’ve played both versions and you can’t go wrong with either (depending on how much £10 is to you), and it’s looking like a phenomenal game – Nero is a great character and playing the original at the same time really shows how much more polished the series has become. And then with any luck by the time I finish it off we’ll be mere weeks away from Ryu’s next appearance. Can’t wait.

The DMC4 Question Made Easy?

I’m sure I’m not alone as a multiconsole gamer currently deliberating which version of Devil May Cry 4 to buy next month. Although it’s apparently been developed for the PC and ported to the consoles, one would expect the PS3 to offer the definitive version in terms of graphics and controls. It also has the benefit of almost zero load times, besides a 45-minute install the first time it’s run.

In any case, I had a nasty shock earlier today when I looked to get my preorder in. I first visited Gameplay, and then had a look around the others and noticed something strange:

  360 Standard PS3 Standard 360 Limited PS3 Limited
Amazon £29.98 (-£10.01) £39.99 £32.99 (-£7.00) £39.99
Game £32.99 (-£7.00) £39.99 £34.99 (-£10.00) £44.99
Gameplay £29.99 (-£10.00) £39.99 £32.99 (-£12.00) £44.99
Play £29.99 (-£10.00) £39.99 £29.99 (-£10.00) £39.99

All prices were correct at the time of writing, and though Gamestation, HMV, and Shopto were also checked they all had only one edition listed.

Why exactly is this? The supposed price increase that Blu-ray would bring for PS3 games never materialised and every previous multiplatform title has had price parity across both systems. Game owns Gameplay which could explain the difference there, but both Amazon and Play are independent which suggests that there’s a uniform difference in RRP. Indeed, the sites all list the PS3 RRP as being higher.

I wouldn’t expect this to become a regular thing, and indeed a quick recce of the same sites revealed the same price (± a few pennies) across the consoles for big multiplatform releases like Burnout Paradise and GTA4, but it’s still a bit of a mystery. The conspiracy theorist in me is looking for signs of a moneyhat…

Racialist Evil

It was inevitable, and I’m sure when most of us saw that stunning Resident Evil 5 trailer we knew it would be coming. Barely a week later and the race card has been played (also see The Village Voice, amongst others). I dread to think what it’ll be like when (please don’t let it be ‘if’) the game comes out.

Besides the obvious point that there were no complaints over several games of largely white zombies – with few exceptions like the police chief in RE2 there were no black zombies, which is surely more racist? – but this is a game set in Africa where, shockingly, most people are black. Are we supposed to pretend Africa doesn’t exist like Bob Geldof keeps telling us we do? Or do we populate in-game Africa with white people? Or even Asians, since this is a Japanese game?

Ultimately, whichever way it goes we’re going to have complaints because this is such touchy subject matter. I just wish there weren’t so many reactionary idiots, and it’s telling that the first blog post about it complains that:

“…this video game is marketed to children and young adults.”

Ignorance is bliss, right? It should also be noted that the trailer is age-gated on gaming sites, as per new rules, meaning that visitors need to give their age in order to view it. While that won’t stop kids seeing it (at least not the ones with enough intelligence to realise that it’s only a game), it makes it easier to parents to moderate the content.

Nonetheless the more enlightened commentators on this have raised some interesting points. Could the virus and transmission thereof be an allegory for the AIDS crisis in Africa? And does the fact that the game is coming from an ethnically homogenous country like Japan where racism is perhaps not such a delicate issue, explain why the villagers look so threatening prior to infection?

I hope Capcom try their best to take the high ground by refusing to censor the game but ensuring that things are handled as sensitively as possible. That means, whatever they do, if they’re adding an overall (RE4 spoiler) Saddler figure to control the ‘zombies’ DO NOT make it a white guy. The way the story is going it could end up being Wesker, and I can’t begin to describe how unwise it would be to make a white man in military uniform kill black people who are being controlled by another white guy who happens to be tall, blond-haired, and blue red-eyed. I wouldn’t even touch that one.

Best of the GBA

Now that I’ve got Final Fantasy VI Advance, as far as I can tell there are no more big GBA games set for release. If it wasn’t before, it’s now going to be a home for nothing but budget pap. But let’s not mourn; let’s celebrate the life of Nintendo’s little handheld with ten of my favourites, in alphabetical order.

  • Advance Wars – While certain developers continue the vain struggle to make an RTS work on any console format (although the GBC has a little-known gem called Warlocked), Nintendo took a Japan-only series from 1988 and did strategy on the GBA. Not real-time, admittedly, but I need an analogy. Regardless, this was most people’s introduction to the Nintendo Wars series and proved to be an excellent fit for the handheld: deep, moreish, and just as easy to play in quick bursts. And that’s the hallmark of a well-made portable game.
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow – Choosing a GBA Castlevania is a bit like choosing your favourite child, but if I’m pressed this is my favourite. It doesn’t suffer the issues of Circle of the Moon (i.e. it was visible outside of direct sunlight). It’s also more of a challenge than Harmony of Dissonance, which was a cakewalk after COTM. Throw in the variety of weapons and the addictive soul-collecting system and the third time’s a charm for this series. Still buy them all, though.
  • Final Fantasy VI Advance – Ditto what I said about the Castlevanias. These translate amazingly well to the GBA, but FFVI gets my vote simply by being the best 2D Final Fantasy (don’t deny it). FFI/II haven’t aged too well, so they’re out. FFIV and V are both superb, though, especially V with the added customisation of the job system. The thing that this one has over them is just that little extra sheen that comes from being a later game developed on known hardware, and some real flourishes in the storytelling department that don’t come on the older, more linear games. You should still buy all of them.
  • Fire Emblem – Another perennial series that made its western debut on the GBA, think of it as Advance Wars goes to Middle-earth. Playing fundamentally the same as Wars, it brings characterisation and more story to the mix, with the unusual trick of permanently killing off characters should they fall in combat. I like it better than Advance Wars as you’re not controlling anonymous soldiers, but unique characters with enough of their own abilities to make that trick of restarting the mission from scratch if you get any of them killed difficult to resist.
  • Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap – There has to be a Zelda here, obviously. I picked this over the sterling port of Link to the Past (still a classic) just because of what a surprise it was, arriving with little fanfare and turning out to be a brilliant little Zelda game. Tons to do and featuring the charming animations from Four Swords, and presentationally let down only by the mildly annoying voice samples, it’s a slightly whimsical but no less essential take on the series. Plus it came to Europe first, showing that Nintendo only dislikes us rather than outright hating us.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga – Speaking of whimsy, this game almost defines the word. It wasn’t long ago that Nintendo kept such a tight grip on their flagship that something like this – to Super Mario RPG as Hot Shots is to Top Gun – would never have happened. It’s a great RPG in its own right, with some recognisable Mario hallmarks, but is also one of those rare games that manages to be funny. It has an Engrish-speaking boss, for God’s sake!
  • Metroid Fusion – Super Metroid is my favourite game ever, so I have to have this in here. While it tended to hand-hold – Samus now has an AI companion that tells her where to go – Fusion proved that it still works in 2D, even after the seemingly permanent shift into 3D first person. It also boasts some of the prettiest visuals on the system and brought to the table a truly threatening bad guy. Or girl. Castlevania has done it twice, so can we get a 2D Metroid on the DS, please?
  • Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival – Street Fighter II shouldn’t work so well with two face buttons, but this has been one of my most consistently played GBA games since I got it in 2001. In fact, this summer, when I was tragically limited to my Micro and one game, this is the one I chose. Since the GBA lacks a puzzle game as perfect as Tetris DX, this is my next best thing.
  • WarioWare: Twisted! – How many of these games have there been now? However many, this is probably my favourite, even up against the original. The use of a twist sensor is ingenious and the team of course comes up with a couple of hundred inventive ways to use it. For a new twist (ba-dum tish!), play it by spinning yourself, rather than the GBA, in circles.
  • Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 – The 2D platformer to rule them all, even twelve years after its release this game still looks and plays wonderfully, and will continue to age better than the early attempts at 3D of its contemporaries. It’s testament to how much talent was poured into this game that even with essentially the same components and art assets, a less able team couldn’t make something nearly as good as the original. For more on the game, read my retrospective.

Unless you want it to die, don’t forget to lobby Nintendo for an English-language version of Rhythm Tengoku. It’s a top game that hardly anyone’s heard of, and the GBA deserves to go out on an original title rather than a SNES port. Even if said port is one of the finest RPGs ever made.

Best of 2006 #2: Okami


I suppose that epic adventures featuring wolves with annoying cohorts must be du jour this year. Expect a flood of them in 2007, presumably with cover and blind fire mechanics.

Despite underwhelming sales (I blame the other wolf game) and the culling of the development team, Okami deserves all of the credit it gets. Zelda’s is a formula that remains infrequently copied and more infrequently equalled, but on their first attempt Clover made a game that could easily stand alongside any of Link’s adventures. Not only did it have an extremely lengthy quest to complete, but also took the audacious decision to almost completely break from the ostensible storyline barely 15 hours in. Zelda comparisons may be obvious, but when this is such a good imitation – with, it must be said, some wonderful flourishes of its own – they’re hard to resist.

And those graphics! I can’t extol the game without mentioning those. While Gears of War was comfortably the most technically impressive-looking game of 2006, Okami is almost certainly the best from an artistic perspective. The whole game looks like an animated watercolour painting, even down to the texture of heavy paper that lies underneath everything at all times. It’s stunning, and I just wish I could have seen it in 720p.

For those of you in the UK without the means to play the import, show Capcom the error of its ways by marking 9th February 2007 on your calendar. It demands to be played.