I imagine it must be incredibly hard for a publisher to commit to a console when it hasn’t even released yet. Even more so when that console is coming off a relatively unsuccessful one. Nonetheless, Capcom brought to the Switch that which they know how to do best – another port of Street Fighter II. The 3DS had Super Street Fighter 4, which was a pretty solid package. Ultra Street Fighter II: The New Challengers is no such thing – instead feeling like a haphazard afterthought that never truly reaches it’s potential.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The New Challengers is essentially an enhanced port of Super Street Fighter II HD Remix, which is itself a remake of Super Street Fighter II Turbo. It sounds convoluted, but I’ll make it much simpler for you. Ultra Street Fighter II is a port of a game released nine years ago with minimal changes and an ambitious price point. If I sound down on Ultra Street Fighter II it’s because I am, it feels like a bit of a rushed afterthought rather than a truly new iteration of Street Fighter II.Which is hard because as a game Street Fighter II is quite decent and has aged moderately well – but there’s experiences available elsewhere that are more complete in almost every way that makes Ultra Street Fighter II look like a bit of a rort. The game itself is the same as any Street Fighter game, allowing you to take on a gauntlet of opponents until you unlock a short ending and do it all over again. It’s a design decision that feels old school yet has been eclipsed by other games (even on the 3DS).
The new features are sparse but still noticeable. Evil Ryu and Violent Ken have been added to the roster bringing the total roster up to nineteen. Both characters are slightly modified variations of already existing ones, so while they occupy new slots on the roster itself they hardly break any new ground. With such a wealth of characters to choose from in such a storied franchise, it’s disappointing to see the only two new additions being recolours and slight modifications of already existing ones.Another new mode, Way of the Hado, serves as a both perturbing yet distressing reminder that the Switch could probably run Super Street Fighter IV (I mean, the 3DS could), which features a wider breadth of content than what’s on offer here. Instead, Way of the Hado attempts to leverage the Joycon’s motion controls to provide a first-person action experience. It admittedly works rather well, the Joycon’s motion control capabilities feel better and more responsive than the Wii ever did. There’s just not enough meat to this experience to ever raise it beyond a joyless tech demo.
What’s most frustrating about Ultra Street Fighter II is that it could have been so much more. The game underlying it, Street Fighter II, still plays well. But it’s highly likely that you’ve played this game somewhere elsewhere before and at a more reasonable price. It’d be great if they brought some of the colourful cast of characters introduced in previous games and “demake” them into the Street Fighter II style. Perhaps even worse, this revision of Street Fighter II isn’t the most recent one either.The Switch hardware does a great job at salvaging the otherwise disappointing package of Ultra Street Fighter II. There’s a multitude of options for players looking to fight each other whether in their homes or out and about. Unfortunately, while online play will be coming at launch, we were unable to test it for this review. There’s heaps of ways to play multiplayer regardless.
In terms of presentation, Ultra Street Fighter II does a good job at updating the visuals, though some may not appreciate the artistic direction the new visuals take. For purists, the original visuals are selectable. For those who want a more modern, widescreen enabled take on the formula the updated visuals look great – though they suffer a weird compression when crushed down to the handheld mode of the Switch.Besides the visuals themselves, the game’s sound has been reworked too though like the visuals they can be switched for series purists. The new sound effects are good – lifted directly from Street Fighter 4 – they make the battles feel a bit more involved than the comparatively quieter ones in the classic sound sets. The music itself is more controversial, once again opting for divisive remixes of classic tunes that don’t quite reach the quality of the originals.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The New Challengers feels like a lazy afterthought from a developer reluctant to commit fully to the Switch. It’s so frustrating given that Street Fighter II is itself a classic game, but Ultra does little to provide reason to purchase it yet again. Way of the Hado and an Art Gallery are nice touches, but ultimately superficial and fail to justify the game’s price tag.
The Nintendo Switchversion of this game was played for the purpose of this review. You can read our review policy HERE.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the fact that the online functionality is not yet live, the score below is in-progress.