Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 08/31/04 | Genre: Fighting
I must admit it: I am a Street Fighter addict. Luckily, I can keep my addiction in check these days. Sure, I still fondly remember when I first played Street Fighter 2 the summer of its release at the beach. What followed were numerous quarters being fed into that machine and its sibling incarnations, rentals of Super NES versions of the same, the inevitable purchase of the SNES version, and the purchase of a good number of the Playstation versions. If these games had been single-player only, my obsession would have quickly died. In the style of a credit card commercial, "Dropping one of your closest friends with a well-timed Dragon Punch: priceless."
Street Fighter Anniversary Collection offers Hyper Street Fighter II, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, and the anime Street Fighter movie (I did a happy dance when I found out it wasn't the Van Damme movie). �Hyper� lets you pit characters of various SF2 versions against one and another in an all-star tournament. No, Hyper isn't all the complete SF2 versions bundled together, nor will you be able to play through each complete game. Instead you pick a character and then which version you want to play (you can pick from Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II, and Super Street Fighter II Turbo). You might pick SF2 Turbo Ryu and face off against regular SF2 Guile in your first match and Super SF2 T. Hawk in your second. While all the different versions of each character are essentially the same except for their looks, there are variations to their special moves. Ryu and Ken are invulnerable to attacks while performing a Dragon Punch in earlier versions, but less so as you play other versions; earlier forms of Blanka only have one rolling attack, but in newer editions he has a couple of rolling attacks that form an arched shape; and as Ken advances through the versions, his Dragon Punch has more range along with a more-pronounced flaming component.
I noticed something strange as I played through Hyper. It seemed easier to defeat certain opponents with different versions. Balrog lost against Chun-Li repeatedly, but a quick change to a different game version of Balrog let me advance. I had that experience with a number of the characters, so it didn't seem like a fluke.
SF3 held most of my interest. My only experience with it was a few years back in a hotel lobby while attending a conference. While I was sad to see that most of my favorite characters were not included, it didn't take much experimentation to discover that the new guys and gals were incarnations of most of them. That's always been a good part of the Street Fighter series; once you learn moves like �down + quarter-circle towards + punch = fireball� and �charge back for 2 seconds + towards + punch = Guile's Sonic Boom�, you are able to pull of the special attacks for a number of characters. As someone who is familiar with the games, I generally had a character's move sets figured out before the first round was over.
The real draw of any SF game is its multiplayer mode. Being able to mix it up with a friend never grows old. While the multiplayer aspect is as solid as ever, the ability to play against online opponents would have really knocked the Anniversary Edition over the top in my book.
The graphics for both Hyper and SF3 are dated. The characters and backdrops from Hyper appear to be directly taken from the original games which date back 15 years. SF3 looks much better in comparison, but even it is a 5 year old game. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that the graphics are bad. They are exactly what you found in the originals. Fans who have been playing the series for years should appreciate the nostalgic look, but newcomers who expect a lot of eyecandy will undoubtedly be disappointed.
Overall, the game delivers a solid Street Fighter experience. Old hands will enjoy controlling their favorite characters through Hyper's all-star line-up, and they should appreciate the newer experience provided by Street Fighter 3. Players who have never played Street Fighter before probably won't enjoy it as much as one of the newer games in the series, and you might want to try renting this before considering buying. For me, the game delivered exactly what I expected: solid gameplay with familiar characters. The only thing that I would have loved to see is online play.