Street Fighter Failure

It doesn’t bother me when I hear people talking about Street Fighter II in reverential tones, calling it a shining beacon of quality from its era.

It doesn’t baffle me when I hear people say it’s one of their favorite games of all time.

I’m not fazed when I hear people saying they still play it regularly to this very day.

What I will wholeheartedly disagree with, however, is anyone who makes the claim that Street Fighter II has stood the test of time and holds its own against modern fighting games.

Quite simply, that is not true.

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Anyone who says that has obviously spent too much time playing Street Fighter II and neglected to play any fighter made within the last decade or so.

I think it’s a case of the happy, gaseous clouds of nostalgia muddying people’s judgment and making them forget what it’s like to be a newcomer to the game.  It’s easy to say that a game is simple or that it isn’t difficult to learn when you’ve been playing it for well over a decade.  Such experience does not make for a particularly objective position from which to judge the game.

As a relative newcomer to the series, I can say with some certainty that this is not a casual game.  It is not an easy game to get into or an easy game to learn.

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Sure you can press buttons and do stuff within minutes.  Sure you can look up the special moves and throw fireballs without too much hassle.  But doing these basic mechanical functions is deceptively simple compared to the skill it takes to be even close to acceptable in an actual fighting situation.

When it comes to this, Street Fighter II’s learning curve is a brick wall.  The easiest of settings will laugh at the pathetic attempts of people who have never played the game before and there is absolutely no way within the game itself to learn better technique or improve, short of dying over and over and over again.

Frankly, it’s infuriating.

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Despite the many hours I have now put into it in my attempt to learn the revered ways of the Street Fighter, it remains one of the hardest, most frustrating fighting games I have yet played.  That’s quite a statement coming from someone who has tested the waters of Virtua Fighter and thrown controllers with remarkable speed after playing too much Dead or Alive.

I’m not knocking the basic mechanics of the game, really.  Though they are certainly dated and lack some of the depth and variety expected of a modern fighter, there is definitely still some fun to be had with them.

Even as the computer ceaselessly whalloped me into the ground on the easiest available difficulty setting, I still enjoyed kicking people in the face with Chun-Li, bouncing around the stage with Cammy, and setting people on fire with Dhalsim.  Classic stuff.

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For a game of its age it really has held up amazingly well.  That doesn’t mean it stands up perfectly against more modern games, however.  I guess my main complaint is that, for a game that is lauded for being simple and easy to pick up in comparison with other fighting games, I didn’t really find that to be the case at all in my own experience.  At least not with regard to anything deeper than surface level play.

Truthfully, I suppose my primary complaint is difficulty.  I was really hoping that my purchase of the shiny, new, stupidly-titled Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix would allow me a pretty, slightly modernized way to finally get into the vastly influential game that I missed out on playing as a child.

While most of the elements are there for this to occur, the difficulty is the one glaring issue that keeps me from actually having fun with it.  The game desperately needs a difficulty designed for newcomers like me that would allow players to feel better about themselves while stomping on low-level computer players and learning the ropes of the game at the same time so as to later step up to a harder difficulty or, gasp, other human players.

As the easiest available difficulty setting is clearly only meant for people who already know what they’re doing, sadly it seems I will once again miss out on the Street Fighter phenomenon as it just doesn’t seem worth it to me to continue to slog through such an overly intimidating experience.

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Street Figher IV looks to be aiming to create an experience that is more or less Street Fighter II with 3D graphics, which I consider a promising sign.  I’m hoping that, since the stated purpose of the game is to draw players back in that may have strayed from the franchise or even attract new people to the series, the designers will actually take these less experienced players into account and give them an experience they can enjoy as well, and not just series veterans.

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