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Super Street Fighter II Turbo: Revival – Review

Nostalgia isn't something that you can feel unless enough time passes, and now that I am a bit older, I can feel nostalgia creeping up on me. It seems that others are aware of the creeping as well, because lately, I can't help but find all sorts artifacts from my childhood suddenly showing up for sale. Transformers are back; He-Man is back; and even Scooby Doo is back. With regards to Scooby, I actually had a terrible suspicion that it would be a bad movie even before watching. However, for the sake of nostalgia, I was willing to give it a chance. Sadly, not only were my suspicions confirmed, I was also denied a trip down memory lane. The main characters resembled more like caricatures out of popular teen movies instead of what I remembered from the original cartoon. I understand that an update of sorts might be necessary, but by changing the characters, the essence of the original cartoon was lost, along with any nostalgia I might have felt for it.

Like Scooby, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival is a remake that has also lost its character. When first released in the arcades, the Street Fighter games offered a complexity and depth that far exceeded any game that had been released at the time. Its mark was the incredibly precise controls, which enabled players to use far more intricate strategies that would not have been possible otherwise. Sadly, Revival is not a bearer of this legacy. It has lost all the precision that defined the series. If anything, this particular port shows how woefully inadequate the Game Boy Advance's controls are for a Street Fighter game. The handheld has only four buttons when the game needs six, and control pad does a remarkably poor job of executing the motions necessary for many of the special attacks.

In order to get the four GBA buttons to work like six, the developers had to make the face buttons do double duty, with each button producing two attacks. This was achieved through timing: a brief tap will produce a weak attack, and holding the same button down longer will produce a stronger attack. Through this method, Capcom was able to make one button work like two. Unfortunately, because a single button is doing double duty, precision is sacrificed for the sake of functionality. In a fast-paced battle, the control scheme doesn't allow the player to properly choose between the weaker and stronger attacks.

The control pad also made Revival difficult to play as it did a remarkably poor job of executing the round motions required for many members of the Street Fighter cast. After spending a good time struggling with the control setup, the best I could do was a few rudimentary combination attacks. Incorporating a special attack into a combo was unreliable at best, and incorporating super attacks into a combo was completely impossible. Super attacks were, in fact, difficult to perform in general. For a series that was defined by clean, precise controls, it's bitterly ironic to see that Revival plays as anything but.

Beyond the controls, what is truly frustrating is that Capcom was willing to make changes for the Game Boy Advance version, yet those changes did not extend to the controls. For Revival, Capcom was only willing to make changes to improve the aesthetic look of the game and nothing else. This isn't to say that the new look is unwelcome, because in some parts, the facelift is rather dramatic. The old character portraits, the endings, and the opening sequence have been completely redone with exceptional new artwork. The new art is detailed and hand-drawn, and contain some of the best renditions of the original Street Fighter cast I have ever seen. Thanks to the art, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival now has a slick look, with a polish that previous ports did not have. However, it's a moot point since Revival is not an art book. The game surely looks better, but gameplay has gone in the other direction.

It may be a little contentious of me to suggest this, but perhaps Capcom should have considered changing the Street Fighter engine in favor of something different. The most obvious change that comes to my mind would be to use a four-button layout instead of six-button one. Their longtime rival, SNK, has been using a four-button layout for years. Capcom themselves have switched to a four-button layout as well for two of their arcade games, Capcom Vs SNK and Marvel Vs Capcom 2 (actually, there were six buttons for this title, but two of them were used to summon team mates). Super attacks could have also been simplified in the same manner as the Vs series, speeding up the gameplay and better integrating them into combos. The game would not be like the arcade after such changes, but at least the end product will retain its playability. It could still have the tight controls that the Street Fighter games were famous for.

Generally speaking, remakes and re-releases appeal to our nostalgic side, reminding us of our past experiences. While it's not always necessary to stick closely to the original, a remake/re-release should at least try to capture the essence of the original. In the case of Revival, it was as disappointing for me as Scooby was. In force fitting the control scheme onto the Game Boy Advance, the essence of the game was lost. And for myself, the essence of any Street Fighter title has always been the clean, precise controls, which, unfortunately, was not apparent in Revival. If anything, Revival did more to ruin my memories of the old Street Fighter games, because I don't ever remember playing a Street Fighter title with controls as poor as this one. Rating: 6 out of 10.

- Published January 8, 2003
Category Tags
Platform(s): Game Boy Advance  
Developer(s): Capcom  
Publisher: Capcom  
Series: Street Fighter  
Genre(s): Fighting  
ESRB Rating: Everyone  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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