Street Fighter II HD Remix

I see a lot of things slowly. I sometimes have to consciously work out what things are, and I miss many things in my environment simply because I don't have enough time to notice them: people on bicycles, for instance, or something I'm looking for on a shelf, or vacuum hoses. ("What's that thing—a snake? No, it's too big to be in anything but the rain forest. And it's not moving"). While needing time to process what I'm looking at is more of a problem in real space than when looking at a screen, I've found a tool that helps me learn Street Fighter II skills by slowing the game down to something that's more my speed.

A gray, rectangular gamepad with a red joystick on the left, blue Start and Slow-motion buttons in the center; on the left, red A, B, X and Y buttons in a diamond shape, flanked by blue L and R buttons and a Turbo button on top.

A while ago I bought a Super Nintendo Quick Shot for its joystick; its features "for professionals" like the turbo and slow motion switches didn't interest me at all. This week I finally hooked it up with Street Fighter II—again, for its joystick: I got tired of trying to do a "quarter-circle-forward" with a D-pad and analog stick—and I've discovered that its ability to render animations in slow motion is…really helpful, actually.

When turned on, the slow motion switch makes all movement visible one frame at a time. Without having to reflexively respond–the whole "fight or flight" thing—I started to think more defensively. Since E. Honda's stuck doing that silly hand-slapping thing on the other side of the screen, a hadoken would be really useful about now….When Chun-Li jumps at me, why don't I just uppercut her out of the sky? [The Dragon Punch is way too advanced for me at this point: I don't even go there.]

The slow-mo switch that can be found on many older enhanced controllers isn't the perfect accessibility tool—it would be nice if there were gradations of speed, rather than just the one-frame-at-a-time/default speed binary—but it does a pretty good job of something that it probably wasn't intended to do in the first place. Today, programs like CPU Killer can be used to slow down computer games so that people with disabilities can play them, and looks like it features gradations of speed. But it's nice to know that, even in the 16-bit era, some mainstream technology could make games playable to some gamers with disabilities.

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk grew up in a small Nebraska town called Papillion. Although she has a nonverbal learning disability that affects her visual-spatial skills (among other things), she's always loved video games. Her first game system was a Commodore Vic-20, which her mom bought at a garage sale for $20. With this little computer Tera learned to write Mad Libs in BASIC, to play chess and to steal gold from Fort Knox.

But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).

Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at
Tera Kirk

Latest posts by Tera Kirk (see all)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tera Kirk
Tera Kirk
12 years ago

Hi, Dale,

[quote=Dale Weir]I never gave much thought to the benefits of a slow-motion feature. It always seemed to be a cheating tool to me and not a learning tool.[/quote]

Honestly, I thought the same way–that’s why it took me so long to try it ;-).

Regarding customizable controls, and are petitioning Sony to build customizable controls into the PS3 at the firmware level.

While I can see that something like speed control or customizable color schemes might be intimidating for developers, there’s no excuse for not putting in captions for dialogue or the ability to pause/skip cut-scenes.

Dale Weir
Dale Weir
12 years ago

Interesting piece Tera. I really appreciate your gaming experiences and perspective. I never gave much thought to the benefits of a slow-motion feature. It always seemed to be a cheating tool to me and not a learning tool. I remember those controllers with slow-motion features (as well as programmable buttons and “turbo”) during the height of popularity of fighting games, shoot’em ups or other twitch-gameplay games. It was non-disabled gamers (like me) that were looking for a way to slow the action down so they could beat a level, end boss or just get past a sticky part of a… Read more »