Review by CMoon
"Best vision of the World Warrior"
With 2D fighting just about gone for good, a review of this defining classic might seem untimely--but the GBA has reminded me with its incredible port of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo just how great SF2 was. Not that I had entirely forgotten, I still pull SSF2T out for my Saturn and play it now and then. But truth be told, even SSF2T is a long shot from the original World Warrior. Few remember a period when Ryu and Ken were (short of a pallette swap) the same character, you couldn't play guile versus guile and boss characters were unplayable. These were all changes introduced in Champion Edition before all the weirdness of hyper-fighting came in and messed with the classic formula. Thus, CE was really the best vision of what the original Street Fighter 2 was supposed to be.
Like shooters and side-scrollers, Capcom's new 'fighting' genre really wasn't story dependent. True, some characters did have pretty decent stories (Guile, Chun Li) while others were completely insignificant (Dhalsim, Honda). The now playable boss characters just had text with a small 'boss' picture that appeared at the top of the screen.
I believe the soundtrack and effects were entirely recycled from World Warrior. SF2 still has one of the most memorable soundtracks in the video game kingdom, and for the time SF2 sounded great. Still, the tiny GBA version of SSF2T sounds vastly superior than the mono, tinny sound that Champion edition produced at the time. Still, for 1992 this was still good sound.
When World Warrior first appeared, its graphics were easily a 10 out of 10. There were simply more frames of animation than any other video game was sporting at the time. Like the sound, most if not all of the graphics (sprites) were recycled. The biggest change here was pallette swaps--second player colors were added and many of the backgrounds had some of their colors switched out. There was really no reason to change something that wasn't broken, and Champion Edition's graphics were still top-notch. The problem however is that detractors would begin to accuse Capcom of milking their fleetship franchise. The flipside is that future competitor, Midway, would 'secretly' upgrade their Mortal Kombat series instead of having multiple editions.
Once again, spot on but with nothing new added. More of a gameplay feature, but it was commonly held at the time that the original World Warrior very occasionally spat out a random special move to 'hint' to the player that there was more than just punches and kicks. I was a firm believer in this theory at the time, but having gone back and played emulations of World Warrior I found no real evidence for it. What is absolutely certain however is that there are no random moves in Champion Edition. Oh, one thing that CE did introduce in the control scheme was Balrog's (Bison) charge punches. This was the first introduction of moves that could be done by holding down buttons and then, after a delay, releasing them. It's too bad Capcom didn't use this for more characters, since it ups the possible ways of executing moves significantly. On the whole, SF2 (as a series) does not have the most creative approach to its MASSIVE 6 button + joystick control scheme, but they do quite well and it is one I'd take over about any other fighting game.
The original World Warrior had fantastic gameplay, and if Capcom was going to indeed just milk its franchise, in no way could I award it such a high score. Champion Edition added almost everything any player could have asked for at the time, and perhaps a little more:
NEW MOVES--Most characters had either something improved about their already existing moves, or occasionally an entirely new move was added. Dhalsim for instance could now do his drill kick/head spear at any time in the air, Honda's hundred hand slap could now advance, Chun-Li had her new neck breaker kick. The list is actually pretty long. There certainly wasn't a player who wasn't happy with the character changes, and if there were, they would have to be guile players. Why? Guile would actually be toned down over the course of several games. I believe the first change introduced here was a slower jab and the addition of the utterly useless (yet far too easy to accidentally execute) flying knee. Fortunately, Guile would never be excessively toned down the way Ibuki was in SF3:TS.
Ryu and Ken deserve special discussion since it was only in CE that they became seperate characters (at least, as far as gameplay was concerned). In truth, this had the effect of adding a new character to the game. Ryu now had faster fireballs, a more defensive uppercut and a strong hurricane kick that knocked down. Ken on the other hand now had an arcing uppercut (though not flaming) and a hurricane kick that was weak but could hit multiple times and occasionally stun. Ken's fireballs were normal speed and couldn't as effectively be used for fireball traps or wars (Ken would now lose fireball wars if he got in one with Ryu.) These differences between Ryu and Ken are taken for granted now, but at their inception they roused new interest in the 'karate twins' that had begun to bore hardcore SF2 players.
SAME CHARACTER BATTLES--That's right, for the first time, players could now face off against each other with the same character. For non-shoto players, this was quite significant, and now that Ryu and Ken had become seperate entities, the ability to play Ryu versus Ryu actually meant something!
BOSS CHARACTERS PLAYABLE--This too was a huge advancement. The boss characters seemed quite radical compared to the playable characters. Vega (Balrog) could climb up the wall of his stage or stab his characters with a claw, Bison (Vega) could fly back and forth setting things ablaze. Actually getting to play these weirdos was a major step forward, though at the time many people considered playing Bison cheap (his flaming torpedo did tremendous block damage!) Like Super Street Fighter 2, CE added 4 new playable characters to the roster. That along with all the changes and tweaks that EVERY character received made every one even remotely interested in SF2 get in line with their quarters.
MISCELLANEOUS--Champion Edition also sported several other modifications that made it a worthy upgrade to World Warrior. First on my list is improved AI. For many players, WW was already getting old. The AI fell into some extremely predictible patterns that felt nothing like the rush of playing against another person. Capcom significantly upped the game with improved AI. Not genius like SF3, nor cheap and dirty like SSF2T, CE was fair yet seemingly intelligent.
Another change was the speed of the game itself. WW was a flat out slow game, and while CE wouldn't even approach the speed of Hyper Fighting or Turbo, it was a significant step up.
A pretty silly question when one considers it. Being well balanced (probably the most balanced SF2 game), having more players, new moves, better AI, etc., CE was the perfect vision of what World Warrior should have been, thus its replay was unparalleled. This is the game that comes to mind when people think of classic SF2, NOT World Warrior. The game was far more prevelant than Hyper Fighting, and even became the basis for several crappy bootlegs that cut or spliced bits of the code in order to produce what might be compared to an extremely early version of the 'versus' games (IE all moves could be done in the air, massive speed increases, etc.) But despite all that would come after it, Champion Edition is still a fun and extremely playable game. Realistically, it takes a strong game to stand the test of time, but CE has done just that. Although not exhibiting some of the creativity sported in SSF2T, the alpha games or SF3, CE is a solid, deep and well rounded early fighter that would set the mold for dozens of fighting games to come.
Overall Score: 8/10 (Not an average)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/18/03, Updated 04/18/03
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