Street Fighter: the Movie

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Did you know that the 1994 film adaptation of the Street Fighter series of video games actually got an adaptation of its own? Y’know, the one with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ming-Na Wen, and Raul Julia that didn’t have crap to do with the games?  Why make anything based on that crappy movie? Because it was successful. Yes, Street Fighter made nearly three times its budget on a global scale! I guess the movie translated well to all languages in eastern Asia, where the games, along with the martial arts movies that inspired them, are most popular. I lived in Japan in the mid-1990s, and I saw firsthand that they loved to play Street Fighter Alpha 2 and X-Men Vs. Street Fighter in the arcade. Maybe the only reason a sequel (and one last scene after the credits was begging for one) wasn’t made was because the movie was indeed a bomb in America. But Capcom (the company that makes the games) is Japanese, so it had no problem making the game based on the movie that was based on the game.

Now, the fact that this game is based on the movie in and of itself isn’t terrible. Well, it is, but the reason why doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of this game. Still, the programmers seem to hate the movie just as much as we do, because everything in this game seems to have been hurried along as though they wanted to get this done as fast as possible. Or maybe Capcom wanted the game to hit arcades as soon as the movie hit home video. Or both. In any case, I wouldn’t recommend either watching or playing Street Fighter: the Movie.

Plot: 3 out of 10

The movie had an awful story. The story of the game was… still awful, come to think about it. The playable characters were interesting, but there really doesn’t seem to be any story except that M. Bison and his criminal organization, Shadaloo, are the bad guys, and Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, and Zangief are the heroes. Let’s be realistic. The plots of these games focus on characters, not story. It would take some tweaking to make a decent movie out of that. Instead, the movie was basically a 1980s style military action movie with Bison as a fascist dictator and Guile as the American hero. Ergo, the inevitable martial arts action instead of guns made no sense.

Is this game true to the movie? Perhaps unfortunately, yes. It may have been poetic justice if Capcom spit in Hollywood’s face like Hollywood did to Capcom, but this game is pretty close to the movie. Unfortunately, the endings are very uninspired. Not much thought is put into them. So we can’t connect to these people the way we could the original versions of them. And it’s not as though we didn’t need any help.

Graphics: 2 out of 10

This game uses digitized motion captures of actors who are paid to act out their characters moves and poses. Outside of Mortal Kombat, this was rarely a good sign. Of course, the still-standing polygon standard was right around the corner, although if I’m not mistaken, a lot of programmers for fighting or sports games still use actors to make the models look more real.

Truth be known, the models are pretty good. Until they move and you realize that the mo-capping is lousy. Nobody actually moves anywhere near as convincing as in other games in this series. This becomes annoying as you play more and the unconvincing activity of the characters becomes clearer and clearer. At times you can even see white outlines along the edges of models.

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Notice how much thinner they get in the second image. Great art, the way you can’t decide how big your characters are going to be.SFMovieGame2

Another big problem is that the models don’t go with the backgrounds. At all. It is as though they made the backgrounds first but couldn’t design appropriate models based on the tape. And having already spent the actor budget, they were stuck.

Sound: 7 out of 10

The only thing in this game that I kind of enjoyed was the sound. The songs are done well enough. As good as the songs of Street Fighter II? Don’t push it, but they provide an adequate distraction from the rest of the game.

The sound effects are very good representations of the violence that occurs. There’s never really much to say about them then whether they do that.

Gameplay: 3 out of 10

Very similar to Street Fighter Alpha. There are fourteen characters starting out plus a fifteenth who can be unlocked via code (check GameFAQs for that). Each character has one-button attacks, blocking, ducking, jumping, special moves, super moves when your super meter is full, and some other tricks like “desperation” attacks when your energy is almost nil.

The controls are very sloppy. Hit detection and control responsiveness are both weak. While the concept for the gameplay isn’t bad, the execution certainly is.

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Amazingly, we were so psyched by live-action video in our games back then that we overlooked horrible, horrible quality.

Challenge: 3 out of 10

One thing I’ve noticed about bad fighting games is that they almost always include cheap computer opponents. To compensate for a lack of skill, those responsible for these games pull off illogical counters and does special moves in impossible situations that go far beyond throwing fireballs without crouching first. The game’s not impossible, your opponents are just extremely unskilled but cheap.

Overall: 3 out of 10

I have to admit, I’m not sorry that this game sucks. Its very existence is owed to no more than that a crappy movie fooled people into seeing it. Had this game been any good, there would have probably been two or three sequels to the movie, which I don’t know if I could have taken. Besides, gamers have been abused quite enough by Hollywood, thank you very much.

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