Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review (Switch)

If you’re a person of my age, or even a little older, you’ve been playing Street Fighter II for more than 25 years at this point. I have very fond memories of sitting in bowling alley arcades, quarters lined up on the screen playing with a group of regular friends who were always there the same nights I was. Then there were home console versions of the game on the Super Nintendo and the Genesis. The game has evolved over the years and numerous iterations have been released in that time on most platforms available. Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers on Switch is the most recent version of the game to be available and the first since the 2008 release of Hyper Street Fighter II: Turbo HD Remix on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

ultra street fighter II 1Street Fighter has been done so many times over the last two decades that the balance has been honed to a razor thin edge. The 19 included characters are some of the most well liked in the franchises history and long time players know the fighting styles of these characters inside and out. It’s one of the most often played fighting games in the world and there’s good reason for that. It just works. There’s no question about that.

Ultra Street Fighter II on the Switch works beautifully. The arcade mode is standard and hasn’t really changed much since the beginning. You choose one fighter and you face off against the other fighters in one on one fights. You’ll progress through them until you reach the ultimate fight against M. Bison where the arcade mode ends. Each fighter has their own ending to the story mode that is different from everyone else and gives you a little background on why the characters were fighting.  One thing that could improve on the experience is if a company creates a fight stick for the Switch that you can use when playing the game.  The Joy-cons works, but they’re a little small and the shoulder buttons are very hard to reach when playing with them on their side.  It makes some moves a little difficult to pull off.  Not impossible, just more difficult than they should be.  A Pro Controller would mitigate this, but for casual play they work quite well.  I’ve never been one who could use the d-pad to pull off moves in Street Fighter so I couldn’t really tell you if the Switch d-pad is any better or worse than any other controller.  I use the analog sticks.  When using them in the Joy-con grip they were quite easy to use and I was able to pull off most moves with no problem.

The game comes with two different visual modes. By default it will be set to the new HD graphics that appear to have been improved even somewhat since the 2008 release. It includes nice new re-recordings of all the sounds effects and music as well. For those who prefer the classic look there is an option in the menu to switch back to the classic visuals and sounds. You can even mix and match them so if you wanted pretty HD visuals with old school sounds you could do that, or vice versa.

Ultra Street Fighter II 2Also included is a Buddy Mode which will let you and a friend (human or AI controlled) take on arcade mode. You both share one health bar and those health bars are not replenished between rounds. Ramp up the difficulty and go at it. I really found this mode to be fun playing with my kids as they’re weren’t well versed in all the moves, but still wanted to play along and get a few hits in. It’s a nice inclusion even if it’s not one you play often.

The one part of the package that just really falls apart after the first showing is the new ‘Way of the Hado’ mode. This mode is supposed to put you in the shoes (if he wore shoes) of Ryu. You, from a first person perspective, take on waves of enemy soldiers using all of Ryu’s special moves. All of this is motion control based and I found in my time with the game that they just don’t really work at all. When you first boot up the mode you can go through training to learn the exact motions to do those moves and there it works great. When you get into one of the three levels the mode offers, however, things fall apart very quickly. The game simply doesn’t recognize the motions you’re trying to do. It’s incredibly frustrating to try and attempt Hurricane Kick only to do a Hadoken or vice versa. Those two moves more than anything consistently register as the wrong thing. A Shoryuken on the other hand works brilliantly. It recognized that move almost every time. If you could complete the game that way it might be great. You just can’t. You also can’t do any standard moves like a punch or a kick. With only three levels to play through, and one of them being virtually impossible to complete, the mode just falls flat and is only fun for about five minutes before you abandon it and go back to doing something else in the game.

Ultra Street Fighter II 3One thing, however, aside from the fighting itself that is really great, is the included digital copy of the art book that includes hundreds of sketches of the game throughout its lifetime. The pictures are all beautiful to look at and the touch screen functionality lets you look at them, zoom in, swipe through the pages easily. It’s a nice inclusion for people who really like the see the game in concept and the artwork that was done and inspired by the game. There’s no interactive table of contents or anything that I found so if you want to get to something near the back you have to swipe through to find it. It’s a small gripe, but it’s a gripe none the less.

Is the game worth the $40 asking price the Capcom wants? That’s really up to you to decide. The game itself has been done so many times over the years and there’s a good chance you already own it in numerous forms. This is the first truly portable fighting game I’ve found that works really well and the Switch comes with built in multi-player for those moments when you’re on the playground or sitting around with friends and just want to get in a couple matches in a short time. That alone may make it worth the price for some people. Regardless you’re getting a beautifully crafted fighting game that has been balanced so well over the years it’s really hard to complain about the game itself. It just works and this could be one of those games that the portability and convenience could sell people on getting a Switch if they don’t have one. it’s inarguably one of the best versions of the game released to date.

Four Stars

Review copy of the game provided by Nintendo.
Played through arcade mode with a number of different characters.
Online mode was not available during the review.

Total Play Time: 11 hours

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