I used to think I was competent at Street Fighter II. I never had delusions that I was good. But I thought was competent. Nowadays, I don't think that anymore. I picked up the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection on Switch earlier this year and it's done nothing but remind me that I'm terrible. It's weird.
Let me rewind a bit. I first acquired Street Fighter II on the SNES back in the day. Like most kids my age, I had become obsessed with this game via the arcade. In my case, it was a place called Dream Machine and though I was intimidated by the teenagers hanging out there, I HAD to play Street Fighter II. So it was a huge deal when the game finally hit home consoles. And Street Fighter II became part of a small handful of games that defined the SNES for me.
I loved Street Fighter II so much. Enough that I even asked my parents for each new SNES iteration that seemed to pop up annually. Super Street Fighter II Turbo is the penultimate version of the game. It is the perfect realization of everything that the game could be. It's amazing to look at that original release with its mere eight characters and slow framerate and then compare it to what it would eventually become three years later.
And over the years, Street Fighter II was the measuring stick of fighting games for me. A game needed to FEEL like Street Fighter II to suck me in most of the time. Indeed, it's why I - probably like so many retro fighter fans - really connected with Street Fighter IV many years later. But that's a story for another day. What I want to reiterate here is that I thought I was competent at this game.
I remember back in like 2009 or so my younger brother had a cookout and some of his friends had found a SNES at a yard sale. And what was included? Street Fighter II. Vanilla Street Fighter II! Though I hadn't really messed with the game in well over a decade; and though these 20-somethings had been playing it drunkenly for months, I managed to school everyone at the party. The muscle memory was just there. And it felt totally triumphant. Literally everyone at the party crowded around and cheered LOUDLY as I landed each winning blow and another challenger asked for the controller out of the hands of the defeated.
So yes, I thought I was competent.
This 30th Anniversary Collection is a great gift to fans of the series as it includes every arcade iteration of Street Fighter, II, Alpha and III. It's an insanely generous compilation. And I'm glad it exists. But at the same time I'm not. Because apparently I'm utter trash. Thanks for the reminder, Capcom. You've handled with this love and yet I feel pretty lousy.
Maybe the SNES port was just much easier than the arcade game? I don't know. But I do know that I'm seeing my ass getting handed to me on even the first challenger. I'm getting destroyed using old favorites like Chun-Li and Blanka. It's weird, y'all. And I don't feel good about it. Don't get me wrong, the game is still brilliant... the sprite work and the animations and the music and everything. Street Fighter II is still amazing, especially in its Turbo rendition. But I am not wonderful. In fact, I'm kind of sad.