The new challengers are heading into the arena... and why are they flailing their arms?
Street Fighter II is one of the most nostalgic fighting games ever. With controls that anyone could grasp, it made for an instant classic that I enjoyed with many of my friends. This was the first time I've played a fighting game too, which was pretty much an unknown entity to me beforehand. Many versions of the game followed on the SNES, which made it hard to pick one years later on the Virtual Console. Despite that, I am always down for a round of this game. Now it comes to the Nintendo Switch with new features, but the main game is still the same classic fighting action.
At its base, this is still the Street Fighter II that you know and love. You use six buttons and your swift movement skills to overcome foes on your own, locally or a variety of other ways. When I started using the Switch Pro Controller or Joy-Con Grip, I instantly got that itch again for what the game is all about. I normally look at move lists to determine my fighter of choice then practicing with them to get their nuances. There is a training mode available if you want to get the basics, but I found the best way to try someone new is to just jump into the fights.
Talking about characters, Ultra Street Fighter II offers 19 of them to play around with. There are distinct semi-additions to the roster. While you could find Akuma in previous entries, he is now playable from the hop here. New to Street Fighter II are Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, which debuted in other games of the franchise. They both have their short and absurd backstories, but I found the changes from their regular versions quite minimal. Each gets a special move added, but they don't change my perception in the grand scheme of things. It is nice that they are there but they won’t blow most people away.
Though a couple of the characters are new, the modes are what would be expected in a modern fighter. We have Arcade mode in which you fight twelve battles and try to get to end of the journey. It was the main way I picked back up the ins and outs for the characters. You get some stilted backstories at the end, but that is about it. Just like in the old games, a second player can join at any time. Next up is the Buddy Battle. Known as Dramatic Battle in other games, it is here that you team up with a friend or AI ally and destroy every opponent in your path. You will continue as long as you keep crushing your foes. It is a great mode for beginners as well as those looking for a new challenge. If you want single matches, then there is a Versus mode as well. You will able to fight Player vs. Player, Player vs. CPU, CPU vs. CPU or Local Battle that connects two Switch consoles with one another. Pick your favorite characters, choose a stage and you are good to go. Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers does also offer an online mode, but we haven't been able to try it yet.
Another new addition is something that isn't in 2D at all, but it takes place in a 3D first person perspective. The Way of the Hado sees you controlling Ryu by using the motion control of the Joy-Con. Your goal is to defeat a bunch of M. Bison's henchmen in both stage based and endless options. How do you do this? Well, you perform Ryu's special moves by the doing motions associated with it, such as thrusting forward to throw a Hadouken or pulling the controller back to block. While that sounds neat on paper, it never felt right when I was doing the motions. It mostly ended with me doing a bunch of Hadoukens and usually reaching the end of the stage. Maybe it requires more of a learning curve, but I wasn't exactly having fun when going from enemy to enemy.
Although Ultra Street Fighter II works best as a TV game, the other Switch modes get some love as well. As a handheld game, I found it comfy to play, though I would use the stick instead of the separated D-Pad. No matter if you are playing on the television or on the go though, the game looks quite sharp. I like the updated art and music, but you can opt for the originals in the option menus along with adjusting the controls and everything else you need for the perfect fight. As a tabletop game, I tried using the singular Joy-Con with the straps attached. I thought initially that I would dislike it, but it is quite nice if you want to play a round in a pinch. Naturally, nothing beats a regular controller setup, but a single Joy-Con can get the job done if required.
Talking about the handheld screen, there are some things that you can only do in this specific mode. Similar to the Nintendo 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV, you will able to quickly select four moves if you enable Light Mode. In the Color Editor, with which you can create your own character costumes, you can drag the elements around so that you can get the color right. Finally, Capcom did see fit to include a 320 page artbook from 2009 called Street Fighter Artworks: Supremacy. This digital version can be viewed both ways, but in handheld mode you can pinch, swipe and tap on the touchscreen to quickly get a better look at the pages. It is nothing too insane, but it shows that they found ways to include various options.
While I don't think that Ultra Street Fighter II will set the world on fire, I got some enjoyment out of it. It is a competently made title that will please those who enjoy endless rounds of the game. All of the basics that you want are here with some fluff on the sides. I look forward to busting this out when I am traveling with friends or for occasional local multiplayer matches, but it doesn't have the same staying power as some other multiplayer games. Of course, there are still things that we need to be put through its paces such as the online modes. At the very least, don't buy this solely to play the Way of the Hado mode.