There are some games that simply exist beyond the everyday, that have entered popular culture and taken on a life of their own. Arguably amongst them is Capcom’s iconic one on one fighting series, which has spawned nearly as many versions as it has spiritual successors. The fact that we’ve hit the thirtieth anniversary of the Street Fighter series is a sobering, desiccating thought, with little solace in the fact you don’t likely remember the original, yet, barring that first entry, time has undoubtedly been kind to this particular series.
Street Fighter’s Thirtieth Anniversary Collection is a celebration of the first twelve years of the series’ evolution, right from its distinctly humble beginnings through to the final outing of Street Fighter III. Each of the twelve different versions on offer here are based upon the arcade originals, and now, on Switch at least, you can carry all of them around with you.
It’s perhaps not the most diverse offering, as besides the deeply lacklustre original game what you’re getting is five iterations of Street Fighter II, three of Street Fighter III, then the run of three Alpha Games. The beauty of it is that you can probably find your favourite version from whichever generation you fancy.
Prefer Championship to Turbo? This collection has you covered. Want to play vanilla Street Fighter III? Sure, go ahead. Why not just tinker with the extended roster of Alpha 3? Here you can. Whatever it may or may not include, it’s a fascinating insight into the incremental changes that the series is so well known for, and for the elements that came and went, like the high-level parry system.
The emulation that Capcom have employed here feels spot on as well, with a small but useful range of display modes that maintain the clarity of the game’s 4:3 orientation, or add a few pounds to the characters if you really need a widescreen image. Besides that there’s a couple of visual filters, with the arcade one sure to get gamers of a certain age and disposition a little emotional. For those wanting to make a deep dive into the history of the series, there’s also the Museum which lets you take a gander at some beautiful art or brush up on the characters’ back stories.
Brilliantly, you can also take four of the games online, with Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting and Turbo, Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III: Third Strike all letting you test your skills against opponents from around the world. If you’re like me, you’ll probably find that your twenty year old tactics probably don’t wash, but for Alpha 3 and Third Strike – which are easily amongst the best 2D fighters of all time – it’s an amazing feature which should keep you coming back time and time again.
The biggest shame is that there’s no inclusion of Street Fighter IV, a game that the Switch is more than capable of running, and which would have finished off the collection in explosive style. The pessimist in me says that that’ll be because it’s being prepped for a separate release further down the line, but when Xbox One and PS4 players that pre-ordered got a download code for Ultra Street Fighter IV, or have access to it via backward compatibility, it leaves the Switch out in the cold.
The 30th Anniversary Collection also amplifies just how cynical the Switch’s release of Ultra Street Fighter II: The New Challengers was, only a short year ago. If ever there was an instance of feast or famine, then this is it, but Capcom’s less than player-friendly practices should be called out whenever possible. The argument that they dipped their toe into the fledgling handheld’s burgeoning library doesn’t hold when they are more than capable of so much more. It’s a shame that players may have been burned by that experience, as the Anniversary Collection is far more the game that Switch players deserve.
The key problem the Switch version suffers from is the Joy-Con controller’s lack of a proper D-pad, meaning if you’re playing undocked you’re going to be saddled with using an analog stick. There are more options if you are at home though, including the excellent Pro Controller, whose D-pad is absolutely spot on for the innumerable half circles you’ll be making, or the wired Pokkén controller for that matter. There’s also 8bitdo’s NES arcade stick and even a Hori offering if you’re serious, and the 30th Anniversary Collection is well worth being serious about.
The fact that Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection gives players a thorough insight into Street Fighter II, III and the Alpha series is recommendation enough, but when they’re so well presented it makes this more or less essential for fight game fans. Add in the Switch’s portability, and on-the-go multiplayer opportunities (if you’re both willing to forgive the limitations of the Joy-Con) and this is everything a Street Fighter fan could hope for.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch – also available for Xbox One, PC and PS4