Ah, the summer of 1994. It was bar none the single greatest summer of my life. I had just graduated from the 5th grade, the Super Nintendo was in its prime and my best friend Nelson and I were ready for one epic summer — the last of our innocence (see The Summer of Imports for more regarding that unforgettable summer). There were so many great SNES games released that summer, but none were any bigger than Super Street Fighter II. For years the Street Fighter II games dominated the market — it even became a way of life for many of us. However, the Street Fighter magic was starting to wane by the summer of ’94 but even then it remained one of the biggest games of my youth. It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years now since that summer of 1994. Damn…
STREET FIGHTER FOREVER
First let’s take a trip back in time. The year was 1991. An arcade game by the name of Street Fighter II burst onto the scene, captivating arcade goers everywhere. With its 8 character choices, variety of special moves, breathtaking visuals and endless strategies, it was the perfect storm. I was 8 at the time but I remember it well. Everywhere you went it was Street Fighter mania. Whether you were at your local mom and pop rental store, a trading card store, Pizza Hut or even a 7-11, one of these bad boys was sure to be there. We spent countless quarters, devoted untold hours into perfecting our craft and it became as Americana to us as hot dogs and baseball games. One of my fondest memories was beating my brother’s cocky friend when he challenged me to a fight at a 7-11 in the summer of 1991. I used Dhalsim and ended up perfecting him two rounds in a row. I’ll never forget my brother and his friends laughing at him. He never heard the end of it. There was an innocence back then that a small part of me still yearns for. Street Fighter II launched the fighting game genre to new heights and a slew of clones soon followed thereafter, not to mention Street Fighter sequels up the wazoo. It was a special time that is hard to explain to folks who didn’t live through it. It was a great time to be a young kid, seeing all these fighting games pop up, seemingly by the week at times, all vying for your attention and affection. The thing that amazes me after all these years is that the Street Fighter series still rules the roost. Always did, always will.
What also amazes me is how we play Street Fighter, in one form or another, still to this day as adults now. And it’s as fun as it ever was. I break these games out to play on a frequent basis and they still put a smile on my face. It’s one of those series that I’ll be playing 50 years from now, God willing. My brother and I still play the occasional round or two together. I guess it brings us back to our childhoods… when life was simpler. When all we did was finish our homework, take out the trash, watch Saturday morning cartoons, TGIF, WWF, Power Rangers, read Goosebumps, run in the streets with our neighborhood friends and oh yeah, play a crapload of video games. And of all those childhood years, 1994 will always be the one I hold in the highest regard
SUMMER OF SNES
1994 was a golden year for me in many ways. Particularly that summer. I just finished the 5th grade — the best school year of my life due to three factors: 1). my best friend Nelson was in the same class 2). we had the best teacher ever and 3). the school’s two cutest girls were in our class. As awesome as 5th grade was, Nelson and I couldn’t wait for the final bell of the year to ring. It would officially signal our freedom. We would have 2½ months to stay up late, sleep in, hang out, watch scary movies and play video games ’til the cows came home. The summer of ’94 was a great time to be a Super Nintendo owner as two of the most anticipated home games were set to come out soon: Super Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II. While the latter didn’t quite make it in time for the summer, oh we had plenty else to sink our teeth into. To this day I vividly remember the palpable buzz and excitement surrounding the much hyped release of Super Street Fighter II. Everyone was talking about those two titles everywhere you went. Silently, Nelson and I also kind of knew deep down that this was 16-bit’s last great summer. Things were set to change in 1995. The scene was bound to shift. You could feel it coming. There were 32-bit rumblings slowly building up. But 1994 was OUR YEAR. And man, what a way to go out ^_^
THE NEW CHALLENGE
Readers of Memories of Renting may recall that my brother shipped me at will back in the day. Too shy or embarrassed to go out and rent on his own accord, he sent me to task every Saturday afternoon, rain or shine. It wasn’t so bad, though. In fact, I secretly enjoyed all those trips and mini-adventures. It gave my dad and me some quality father-son time — there were many times where my brother’s choice title was rented out at the first two or three stores. In such cases my dad would then haul ass all over town taking me to five, even six different rental stores just to suss out my bro’s flavor of the week. Just a dad and his son out on the road together on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. They were like quasi-adventures to me, or missions. There’s a part of me that will always remember and cherish those memories.
And after years of doing anything constantly, you begin to become a master of your given domain. Kevin once told me, and I never forgot this: “Steve, you sure do know how to rent the hell out of games.” It became a badge of honor that I wore proudly. Although there were so many times where I saw games that I wanted to rent, I almost always came home with the title my brother requested. I had a 98% kill rate. I know this may sound silly but it was something I took great pride in. And then came my greatest challenge: Super Street Fighter II on the SNES. It just came out, summer of ’94, and my dad took me to The Wherehouse. I raced to the SNES section madly thumbing through the thick glass display cases. There were a few other guys fumbling around when I got there and I knew they were after the same holy grail. In that moment instinct took over and I sprinted to the counter.
A pimple-faced male employee, who looked like he was three weeks fresh out of his senior prom, glanced down at me. Panting like a rabid dog, I asked him if he had a copy of Super Street Fighter II safely tucked away somewhere. I figured it was so rare that maybe they kept it behind the counter in order to avoid the inevitable bloodshed that would occur otherwise. His expression immediately changed. Flashing me a clandestine smile, as if I had just shared the secret password he’d been waiting desperately all day to hear, he reached down behind the counter in dramatic fashion. “Kid, it’s your LUCKY day. This here is the last one we have.” He revealed from behind the counter a mint fresh copy of Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers on the Super Nintendo. The last copy no less! And right there, in that moment, my childhood was made.
I was speechless. Time felt like it stood still for a brief moment. It was my greatest haul ever. I caught the biggest fish. I found Bigfoot. I was going home with the prom queen! It was the longest five minute ride home of my life. My brother opened the door and you could tell he was expecting the worst. Even if I knew “how to rent the hell out of video games,” renting Super Street Fighter II successfully on launch day was right up there with building a rocketship in your own garage. Knowing that, I had to mess with him a little bit. I told him some BS story about how I was too late, etc. He nodded compliantly. “Well, you took your best shot,” he chirped. “YOU BET YOUR ASS I DID!” I eagerly revealed the prized trophy I had kept hidden behind my back. My brother’s jaw dropped and hit the floor. It was an instant classic memory!
Firing the game up, my bro and I sat back to watch the game’s intro in stunned silence. My brother and I simply stared at each other, dumbfounded, after Ryu unleashed his Hadoken fireball. Looking back, it’s just a silly little intro. But back then… IT WAS MAGIC. The kind of stuff that LEGENDS are made of.
THE NEW CHALLENGERS
THE STREET FIGHTERS
Solitude. Serenity. Ryu’s dojo is just the right place for him to perfect his craft. Opponents who enter the dojo never leave quite the same. I’m happy to see the scrolling crescent moon back. We sure missed ya in Street Fighter II Turbo.
Finally, after many years of rigorous training, Ryu has unlocked a fiery version of his Hadoken. When that fails, his trusty old Hurricane Kick and Dragon Punch gives him all the backup he needs.
Whereas Ryu is private, Ken enjoys showing off in front of a crowd. Talk about a showBOAT [*ba dum tish* -Ed.]
Flaming Dragon Punch fits Ken’s flamboyant flashy fighting style to a tee. All of his old tricks are back as well.
The quaint marketplace is drenched in burgundy hues signaling the coming of evening. A single mom looking to make ends meet washes dishes in the background as a worn out man begins to close shop. A lonely vendor (likely named Pee Wee Hung) chokes his chicken in public [… -Ed.] while Tung Fu Rue’s gentler and unassuming twin brother is out for an early evening pedal.
Putting her mighty legs to good use, Chun-Li’s classic leg based attacks return. The Kikoken, now encased in a bubble, burns out after ¾ the screen length.
Even though Blanka has revealed himself to the public for a few years now, clear photos of the “Brazilian Boogeyman” still yield a pretty penny on the black market. Photographers who brave the battlefield and risk becoming collateral damage may have a fortune on their hands to reap.
Adding to the variety of his rolling attacks, the Beast Leap (when timed properly) allows him to leap past a fireball and land right on his opponent’s grill. If all else fails, ZAP DAT ASS!
If there’s one thing Honda enjoys more than eating and a hard-fought duel, it’s soaking in a nice hot bath.
Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap makes even Ric Flair jealous. The Sumo Smash and Sumo Headbutt shows off his deceptive agility.
Elephants, the treasure of Indian culture, are proudly represented here. Four of them line the cobbled floor and they now make a racket during the fight, not just at the end of a round. A mural of an elephant god proudly hangs front and center.
Dhalsim was the first stretch fighter and many followed in his footsteps. Use this to your advantage right after you hit them with the Yoga Fire. Up close Dhalsim puts his thick skull to good use. His Yoga Teleport is good for tricking the competition. When all else fails, YOGA FLAME!
The Russian crowd only loves one thing more than drinking, and that’s drinking WHILE Zangief wipes the floor with an idjit foolish enough to fight the big guy.
You could say the crowd’s in good spirits! Look at this guy — still drinking like a mad man after all these years. Respect.
Zangief’s Spinning Clothesline works effectively against fireball-happy opponents. The Spinning Piledriver became de rigueur for all big wrestler types in future fighting games to emulate.
Proving it possible to teach an old dog new tricks, meet the Siberian Suplex… a bone-crunching double hitter!
Another new trick: the Siberian Bear Crusher is absolutely devastating especially when parlayed at the end of a combo.
The grim death of his best friend and former comrade, Charlie, has left Guile with a heavy heart. Above all else, anger. Guile has been out for M. Bison’s blood ever since. His stage is one of the true classics and that music still rings in many ears after all these years.
Having two of the coolest moves in fighting game history, it’s easy to overlook that Guile hasn’t learned many new moves over the years. The Sonic Boom and Flash Kick will never go out of style.
The lavish Las Vegas night life makes for a hell of a background. Battling under the bright Vegas lights, the crowd roars with each hook and uppercut thrown.
Never one to shy away from showing his physique, Balrog now enjoys doing the dirty work. Some critics think he’s a boxing HAS BEEN, but his hard hitting assorted rushing punches say otherwise. His new Shoulder Butt is effective at knocking out would be jumpers.
A bloodthirsty crowd has paid good money to see a grisly fight. A steel cage protects these premium spectators from the fighters. Vega has learned how to use the cage to his favor over the years. It’s a win-win for all… except for Vega’s latest victim.
Prince Pretty bounces off walls like nobody’s business. From there he has all manner of flying attacks. His claw is the great equalizer, and Vega is adept at flipping away to safety when things get too hot and heavy.
Of all the stages to get a makeover, Sagat’s is by far the best. The breathtaking sunset makes his background in previous Street Fighter games look plain by comparison. It’s also symbolic of how desperate he’s become to finally defeat Ryu. The sun will rest, but Sagat will not.
Everyone’s favorite 7 foot 4 inch tall Thailand bruiser is back and so are all his old tricks. Mix up the speed of his Tiger Fireballs and blast them out of the sky with the Tiger Uppercut or Tiger Knee.
It’s so cool how Bison flings his cape right before the match begins. A small crowd is gathered to anxiously witness if the maniacal tyrant can finally be stopped. It never gets old sending Bison’s ass through his golden statues!
Bison’s Scissor Kick can connect twice as well as his somewhat tricky Head Stomp. His brand new Devil Reverse (AKA Flying Psycho Fist) is pretty tricky as well. Of course, you can never go wrong with his infamous Psycho Crusher.
Set under the beautiful Northern Lights, Cammy enjoys nothing more than defeating her foe and then kicking back to enjoy the majestic view. Remember the music for this stage? INSANELY EPIC.
Cammy’s Cannon Drill strikes quick while her Front Kick discourages flying assailants. Also, watch out for her two-hit Spinning Knuckle.
Everyone is swaying and grooving to the beat of live music. The jazz band playing under the gazebo provides for a festive atmosphere. It’s just another day in paradise… unless you happen to be the one fighting Dee Jay. “A-ROO-GAH! MAX OUT!”
Interesting to note that of the four new challengers Dee Jay is the only one with a fireball. Knock opponents silly into next Tuesday with the Hyper Fist. His Double Dread Kick is perfect to end combos with.
Inspired by the Tiger Balm Garden of Hong Kong fame, this exotic palace is where the best battle for supremacy. The music here is awesome. And is it just me or did those roars at the end of a round sound exactly like Angilas?!
Good shit, Capcom. Such rich childhood memories there…
Striking fast and hard, the Rekka Ken can hit multiple times and even be used as a re-dizzy combo. Fei Long’s Rising Dragon Kick emits a blast of fire from his steel leg, scorching anyone caught in its warpath.
T. Hawk pleases the crowd with his amazing agility and earth shaking slams. Everyone has temporarily halted their business transactions to witness the latest T. Hawk pounding. He’s undoubtedly their favorite son!
Thunder Hawk rises like the phoenix. He also dives and swoops with the greatest of ease. His prized Storm Hammer is right up there with Zangief’s Spinning Piledriver for most damaging maneuver.
Classic bonus stages are back.
BONUS RANDOM PICTURES
“SOMEONE SAY PARTY?!”
Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now!
C’mon baby do the Blanka-motion.
I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now.
C’mon baby do the Blanka-motion.
My little baby sister can do it with ease.
It’s easier than learning your a-b-c’s.
So come on, come on!
Do the Blanka-motion with me!
[Not unless you’re Kylie Minogue in a bikini -Ed.]
GENESIS VS. SNES ROUND 3… FIGHT!!
I played both versions and prefer the SNES one. That’s not to say the Genesis port isn’t good because it’s great. Weighing in at a hefty 40 MEGS, it’s the biggest 16-bit title ever released in North America. I remember as a kid thinking how can a 16-bit game be 40 F’N MEGS? Fun times, though. It was a huge deal but I always preferred the SNES port. It looked, sounded and played better. Plus it’s hard to beat that classic SNES controller.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Super Street Fighter II arrived on the SNES with some controversy. While most publications swooned over the conversion, long time Street Fighter loving advocate EGM was not nearly as impressed. This was shocking. Between 1991 to 1993 EGM might as well have called themselves Street Fighter Monthly thanks to their endless coverage and Street Fighter covers. It surprised us all when they doled out less than stellar ratings of 6, 7, 7 and 8. This became the talk of the town but more on that later. Other magazines sang a different tune. GameFan scored it 90, 94 and 96% while Super Play issued it the biggest mark in their history: 96%. The EGM controversy still fascinates me to this day. Let’s head back 23 years to the scorching summer of 1994, shall we?
EGM had long been the proud flag bearer for all things Street Fighter. So it shocked the gaming world when EGM gave the SNES port of Super Street Fighter II less than stellar scores. It was made even more shocking seeing as how EGM was hyping up the SNES port for months prior. We all figured that EGM would rate the game with 9’s and 10’s. Little did we know…
WHAT YOU SAID, ER, VOTED
Over 10 years ago, February 2007 to be precise, I ran a survey asking readers to choose their favorite SNES Street Fighter game. Which SNES Street Fighter game is the consensus favorite? 10% voted for Street Fighter II. 39% voted Super Street Fighter II. Street Fighter II Turbo won the poll with a stirring 51% of the votes. I have to agree with the majority here. I love Super Street Fighter II but I do have to give Street Fighter II Turbo the slight edge. Although there’s more featured in the former, the latter simply plays a smidgen better.
Super Street Fighter II is one hell of a game. It’s easily one of the best arcade to SNES translations I’ve ever played. Four new fighters brings the roster to a whopping 16, three home bonus modes provide even more play options and the new colors, both in costume and stage backgrounds, are flat out awesome (Sagat’s stage is a mic drop). The combos are incredibly easy to pull off and the game controls like a dream. There’s really only one thing holding it back: those voices! It’s not the worst in the world by any stretch, but it IS a clear drop in quality from the previous two games. I’m happy Ken and Ryu now have different voices, but what happened to poor Guile? The sound effects, I’m sad to say, sound a little wimpy. Especially when you compare them to the satisfying WHACKS and THWACKS of the previous two SNES Street Fighter games. At the end of the day though, it’s easy to forgive this flaw since it plays so damn well. Thankfully, the music is still great as ever. But all in all, Super Street Fighter II falls just shy of being the complete package as a Street Fighter II Turbo.
Regardless, this remains one of my favorite SNES games. On a system that has literally hundreds of quality games to pick from, Super Street Fighter II sits firmly somewhere near the top. All of your old favorites are back along with four new warriors to master. While I’m not the biggest fan of the newbies, they do add credible value. The speed option is a nice home bonus; the fastest is not Turbo fast but is more than acceptable. It’s crazy to think it’s been over 20 years since I scored the last rental copy from The Wherehouse, and how my brother and I shitted our pants watching the arcade intro emanating LIVE from our very own living room. It truly brought home the arcade experience. Ah, those were some damn good times. Super Street Fighter II is one of the best fighting games on the SNES and it holds up incredibly well even more than 20 years later.