Another Street Fighter is coming out right about now. Although, not as big a deal as it once was, this remains a popular and historically important series. Still, some time after I first played Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, I had this question: “If this is SFII, where’s the first?” None of the magazines covering it ever mentioned that game like they did prequels to Mario, Sonic, Final Fantasy, etc. There have been few releases outside of the arcades and even fewer re-releases of the original Street Fighter. It’s a shockingly hard-to-find beginning to this series. Why? Because it f*cking sucks! I actually have played this game and it’s brutal!
Plot: 3 out of 10
This game is about people fighting in a tournament and that’s it. You might think that because this is the game in which Ryu’s climatic battle with Sagat happens, that fight would be worth some more points, but it’s not. Number one, Capcom clearly had no inkling that this battle would mean so much to the avid fans. Number two, Sagat was demoted from the main villain of this game to henchman of M. Bison a game later and nobody ever looked back. Rather telling of the subject of this review, wouldn’t you say?
Graphics: 8 out of 10
Credit where it’s due: these graphics are actually more than passable, though some 1980s arcade games like Final Fight look much better. The backgrounds are well-drawn and detailed and the characters look almost as good. Unfortunately, that’s as positive as I can get with this game. Frankly, it’s an example of how gaming vets are dead wrong to think that the whole “graphics vs. gameplay” thing started with the end of the 2D era. This was 1987, well before 3D gaming began.
Sound: 2 out of 10
I’d say that lousy, annoying music takes the fun out of this game, but you can’t steal what someone doesn’t have. Additionally, the voice acting is off-key and fuzzy. By “fuzzy,” I mean like those old black and white newsreels of public speakers whose mics couldn’t do justice to their voices.
Gameplay: 0 out of 10
Yes, gameplay. The most important category of all. Because after all, you want to actually play the game. And this is where Capcom really chucked shit at the fan. The controls are extremely unresponsive, making special moves way too hard to pull off. Not only that, jump controls are clumsier than a hippo in a Florida swamp. You can master these wretched controls or get yourself a pilot’s license.
A (much) smaller issue is only two characters to choose from, both of whom handle identically, giving it as little variety as any fighting game can possibly have. You might think this game deserves leniency based on the time period, but Gauntlet had four fairly unique characters to choose from. No sale.
Challenge: 1 out of 10
I wasn’t exaggerating about the controls. It pretty much makes a truly challenging game essentially impossible because you’re handicapped. Unfortunately, computer-controlled opponents are quite smooth and agile. There is a way to win, though: use cheap tactics. For instance, I’ve beaten opponents by doing nothing but standing and punching. I am sickened just reading that last sentence.
Overall: 2 out of 10
The most amazing thing is not how horrible the original Street Fighter is. No, it’s the fact that a sequel was made that was actually great. Nobody would have given this series a chance, certainly not me, but it went from abject trash to what would be the most beloved game for a time. But if you’re a younger Street Fighter fan and want to try out some of what you have missed, do not play this game. Leave it in storage where it belongs.