Few pastimes in the world can conjure up the magical and warm feeling of playing a game that meant a lot to you as a kid. It could be whimsical nostalgia but to me it’s something more. It’s my childhood and all the great memories that come from a simpler time, before responsibility, taxes and bills.
With many older games readily available to download for a couple of quid, it’s a great time to be a lover of retro games. It makes me a very happy geek to know that newer or modern gamers can see what all the fuss was about and look back on where all of their favourite games or franchises came from. Along with all the classic Nintendo and Sega titles that mean a hell of a lot to me, there is one game that still fills me with joy each time I play it. That sublime game is Street Fighter 2.
Released in the arcades back in 1991 and then on home consoles the following year, Street Fighter 2 redefined the fighting game genre before it was even really a genre. Fighting games were mostly men fighting other men with one button moves that mostly ended with a punch or kick that was nothing special. There was just no flair! It didn’t feel that what you are inputting into the game was connecting and making an impact. When the first Street Fighter was released in the arcades it really wasn’t much different from things that had come before it but it was a good starting point for what was to come.
When Street Fighter 2 burst onto the scene it was an instant hit and rightly so. Gone were the boring graphics and characters with no personality or style. Each character was their own person with ambition, drive and unique fighting styles. Yeah Ken and Ryu looked the same, but watch someone play these characters and it’s a completely different experience. Whilst Ken players are more offensive and forward, Ruy players are more reserved and patient. Plus it had the first ever playable strong female in a fighting game, good old Chun Li, who opened the doors for all the future female gaming characters.
The story was interesting, the unplayable bosses were scary and you felt that you had actually accomplished something when you defeated that one character that you couldn’t get past. The controls were perfect, using the six button combination of different strength punches and kicks first seen in its predecessor. Oh and the music is incredible! Add to this an addictive two player mode that plays like a dream and you have the perfect fighter. No fighting game since has brought so much content into the genre that has become commonplace.
Plus without it, we wouldn’t have the pinnacle of special moves: the hadouken, and that my friends would be a crying shame!