Since its inception, Street Fighter has been the benchmark that other fighting games live up to. The gold standard that helped crystallize the genre and inspired everything that came after it. Only a few other names in gaming hold this lofty position, and newcomers of the genre are pretty much required to study up on the art of the Hadoken. Thankfully, for its 30th anniversary, Capcom has seen fit to stuff the franchise's entire arcade into a single product. Twelve different fighting games, each with their own unique balance and historical significance. Add in a detailed batch of historical extras and a jukebox full of OSTs, and you've got a museum-quality collection that's well worth your time.
Starting off, you have the original Street Fighter, which is a historical oddity more than anything at this point. The game's historical documentation does its best to prop this one up, but nobody is going to get much honest enjoyment out of it nowadays. The movement is stiff, the fighting is simplistic, and the simulated speech is reminiscent of Sinistar suffering from a cold. Still, you can't have a full collection without this game. It's important to know the context of what the genre was like before The World Warrior flipped it on its head.
Speaking of, the rest of the roster more than picks up the slack. Street Fighter II is fully represented here with five different iterations. Outside of roster additions, the changes are subtle, although the graphical leap from the CPS-1 to CPS-2 games is fun to see. The entire Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter III trilogies are also here. This lets both fanbases duke it out as to which entry in a given trilogy shines over the others. Sadly, Alpha 2 fans won't be able to defend their turf online, since only Alpha 3, Third Strike, Super Turbo, and Hyper Fighting support Internet play.
I was able to get into a few worldwide scraps, which only served to remind me why I usually stick to Marvel. As far as netcode goes, I didn't run into any issues personally, although there have been more than a few reports of poor experiences. You can jump into an arcade mode and wait for new challengers a-la Quarter Match, which is a nice option. Still, veteran players may wish to go back to some of the XBLA releases of these games due to their added features and console upgrades.
This collection is all about preservation, as you'd expect from developers Digital Eclipse. In that regard, it is an excellent showcase for the Street Fighter franchise. Although jumping in and out of menus does rob the game of its quarter-munching style just a tad, everything you'd want from these games is here on modern systems. Every hidden code and workaround is here as long as it wasn't patched out back in the day. Even lesser-known aspects of the arcade games, like the Alpha series' Dramatic Battle mode make the jump. A handy info screen for each game lets newer fighting connoisseurs know how to access every juicy secret.
This is all well and good. I'm beyond thrilled that a seminal franchise such as this has hit modern consoles. However, it is unfortunate that these are straight arcade ports without any bells and whistles. None of the extra characters or modes added in later console releases of the games are here. You can't access older patches of a game, and you can't choose different versions of the same character like in Street Fighter IV. Tertiary games like Street Fighter: The Movie and Super Gem Fighter show up in the game's timeline. That's fine, but they sure would have been great unlockable bonuses. It's understandable that the devs wanted to focus on the core series, but it does make the experience feel sterile.
At least the presentation holds up its end of the bargain. Each game is as smooth as it was in the cabinet back in the 90s. Each series of games gets their own side art to fill out our modern widescreens, although there are some zoom options to fiddle with if you like. Speaking of fiddling, you can also turn on the now-standard array of CRT filters. They're always fun to flip on for a moment, but playing with them beyond that is just silly.
On the flipside, I have almost nothing bad to say about the museum extras included here. The star of the show is a full deep dive into the development of Street Fighter 2. Presented with authentic development artwork alongside captions, this slideshow will be fascinating to anyone interested in these games. It includes a ton of material that has only been hinted at online, including the roster from the canceled pre-Final Fight version of the game.
Alpha and Street Fighter 3 don't get nearly as much in-depth coverage, but there's still plenty to dig into. The character bios feature lengthy histories for every playable character and frame by frame showcases for their special moves. There's a full soundtrack listing that includes every piece of music and select sound effects from each game. The aforementioned timeline mentions everything Street Fighter, even stuff that Capcom might want to forget.
Playing the games is nice, but all this background material is the real reason to get excited. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is truly something worthy of exhibition. It preserves the arcade experience and the history surrounding it in an accessible package. It educates and gives good context to each release, and it lets new players catch up on what they missed. Nothing will ever replace those smoke-filled dens of my youth, but Digital Eclipse's collection comes pretty close.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection review was conducted on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by Capcom. It is also available on PC via Steam, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
While it's disappointing that there aren't more extras, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is still an excellent museum piece for fighting game historians and would-be quarter jockeys alike.
- Arcade Perfect Ports
- Tons of Bonus Material
- Great Value Proposition
- Clunky Menus
- Lack of Playable Extras
- Limited Online Support