There’s always been a certain mathematical elegance to Street Fighter II. That’s how 10-year-olds become so indestructible and undefeatable when playing.
They figure out the equations, cleverly represented by GUIs in the shape of cartoony fighters, and know exactly when to add, subtract and perform long multiplications on your character’s face.
Doing the maths of Super Street Fighter II is surprisingly easy on the mobile keypad. Indeed, the numbered buttons essentially aid in its operation.
Tap out the right codes, and the solution is as invariable as two fists plus two feet. Unfortunately, the solution turns out to be pretty much the same as it always was, with no new variables to give us a different experience.
To really fit into the Street Fighter II profile, this game obviously needs six attack buttons, and it’s good to see Capcom hasn’t attempted to dabble with that requirement. Buttons ‘7’, ‘8’ and ‘9’ take care of punches (weak, medium and hard respectively), while the star key, ‘0’ and hash provide the three kicks.
That leaves the top two rows for movement, and while this initially seems to fall short, in a side-on game it’s just about right. The top row is for jumping (to the diagonals as well, of course), and ‘4’ and ‘6’ for moving.
The only unusual button is ‘5’, which toggles between crouching and standing. This makes up for the lack of lower diagonal directions, but as luck would have it this method also means you’ve one less button to hold down to perform the crouched movements, so it’s a very welcome addition.
You’ve the usual, ever increasing array of fighters to choose from, who travel the world looking for a good brawl, and the whole shebang is immediately recognisable. The game speed is up to scratch, as are the graphics, though this isn’t an especially awe-inspiring feat these days.
What Super Street Fighter II lacks is any kind of update. There’s no denying it’s a pixel perfect translation, but other than even more new characters (which the game really doesn’t need), it’s a pure nostalgia trip with little reward at the end of it - and almost nothing to offer the pocket gamer who has no interest in the Capcom classic.
We’ve seen a lot of retro classics reborn lately, often on divergent systems (the difference between a full sized coin-op and a mobile phone being about the most extreme example), and it’s the ones that subtly evolve the franchise that manage to recapture our attention.
Street Fighter II is a difficult game to evolve - mostly because it’s so well ingrained in the modern gaming consciousness.
But even Pac-Man has had his pills tweaked to add new interest, and piling on brand new characters who perform exactly the same as the old ones really doesn’t cut the gaming mustard anymore.
And that’s the slight issue with Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers. It seems like sacrilege to suggest that there’s nothing all that special about Street Fighter II, but once its weighty nostalgic element is stripped away, an unadorned, direct port isn’t all that thrilling.
If Capcom had made the effort to add a game mode or two, like Bluetooth multiplayer, or figured out a system to play the game in landscape (75 per cent of the screen is background and sky) or something to reward long time fans for returning to the franchise, we would doubtless have been more enthusiastic.
Nevertheless, this is Street Fighter II through and through, so on a basic gameplay and conversion quality level, it’s everything we could expect.