Just when you thought that you saw the last spin-off release of the never ending Street Fighter II, we get yet another version released, this time for the Nintendo Switch with Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers.  If you’re a fan of the long running series, then there is no doubt that you would have played a version of Street Fighter II over the years.  With so many versions released since Street Fighter II graced arcades in 1991, it’s been released on just about every format imaginable.  Yet, if I was to pick out a standout version of the game for me personally, a favourite of mine was Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis from 1993.

Then in 2009 (2008 for North America), we were blessed with another version of Street Fighter II, which from a technical and visual standpoint, we had what was possibly my favourite version yet with Street Fighter II: Turbo HD Remix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  Other then introducing various online and offline multiplayer functions, the most obvious change to this version of the game was its beautiful visuals.  Gone had the 224 pixel sprites as they were replaced with lush anime inspired visuals.

In a nutshell, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is an enhanced version of the 2009 HD Remix release; it even comes with the same multiplayer modes, only with a few new additions.  Just like 2008/09, The Final Challengers includes a singleplayer arcade mode with the option of being challenged by offline and online players with Ranked (results effect online rankings and leader boards) and Player match types, as well as online tournaments.

In essence, its Street Fighter II and the chances are that you’ll be well aware that no matter which entry in the series you’re playing, the gameplay is going to feel sublime and The Final Challengers is no exception.  However, what I would say that the analogue sticks on the Joy-Cons feel a little restricted in comparison to what other console controllers have to offer and its D-Pad is worse.  In fairness the analogue stick works fine, but if you own a Pro Controller, then I recommend this as the primary way to play this game.  Also, if you play online (which runs very smooth from what I have played thus far), using a Pro Controller can give you a distinct advantage against other players, because there’s a good chance that they will be using the Joy-Con’s.

Visually at quick glance, The Final Challengers looks just like HD Remix.  However, it is noticeable that this 2017 release looks that little more crisp and smooth.  One of the reasons for this (other than being on a more powerful system) is that the character art is at a more snug ratio.  For example, the playable characters in HD Remix were a little more stretched out in width, but the characters in The Final Challengers have much more of a natural ratio of size.  The game will also give you the choice of two graphical styles and sound settings in its original or updated form.  If you wish, you can even play in the original 4:3 aspect ratio sprite visuals, with the updated sound effects and vice-versa ( modern visuals are at 16:9 widescreen).

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers has an open roster of 19 characters, with no hidden characters.  Now we can select the usual gang from the get-go, including Akuma, as well as Evil Ryu and Violent Ken.  We also get two new modes exclusive to this version of the game with Buddy Battle (which is actually an updated version of Street Fighter Alpha’s Dramatic Battle) and Way of Shadaloo, with one of the two modes certainly being better than the other.

Buddy Battle will allow you to team up with another player simultaneously to take on a CPU player.  While the CPU will have a higher damage input and output, and despite you and your teammate sharing the health bar, it still feels like you and your teammate have the distinct advantage.  This mode is ok just to try out, but the truth is, if you’re playing Street Fighter II with a friend, then the chances are that you will soon be fighting against one another in versus, which is of course the best to play any game in this genre.

The other new mode, Way of the Hado, is well, a little lame.  What this mode requires you to do is play in a first-person perspective utilising the Joy-Con’s motion sensor controls.  In theory, it sounds like it could work, but in truth, its executed quite poorly.  You will have four main moves at your disposal, made famous by Ryu and Ken, such as the Hadouken, Shoryuken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku and Shinku Hadouken, as well as block.

You will fight off waves of enemies over three difficulties earning points as you progress and every now and again, you’ll encounter M. Bison in boss form.  However, while you have four main moves, you’ll probably just find yourself mainly using the Hadouken as it’s the easiest way to plough through the waves of enemies.  But this mode feels like a tacked on mode just for the sake of using the Joy-Cons and it requires very little skill to beat.  Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers doesn’t need this mode and in my opinion, it only exists for the sake of novelty.

As an added bonus, The Final Challengers features 273 pages of concept art images with over a whopping 1,400 illustrations.  As a nice touch, you can even listen to each of the fighter’s classic or modern stage music.  In addition, the game also features a Colour Edit mode, where you’ll be able to edit each fighter’s skin and outfit colours to be used in Arcade, Versus and online with 10 edits being stored for each character.  Having all this content including in Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers reminds me of the good old days of having all the content included in the base game, even if the game feels a tad overpriced having an RRP of over £30 at launch.  A £20 entry point would have felt much more reasonable in my opinion, so unless you’re in a hurry to own this game on the Switch, it might be worth holding out for a price drop.

In conclusion, if you’re a fan of the Street Fighter series, then you can’t go wrong with any version of this ever popular and beloved series, and if you’re a fan of the classic Street Fighter II especially, then Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers feels like a definitive version of this game.  The launch price may feel a little steep and the Way of the Hado mode feels pretty much pointless, but even after all these years, there’s little denying that Street Fighter II is one of the finest games of all-time and if you’re a Nintendo Switch owner and a fan of the fighting genre, then this definitive version of the game is a must own for fans.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

30+ years of gaming with no signs of ever stopping. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake