Tag Archives: Capcom

Mega Man 11 Review

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After Mega Man 10 came out nearly a decade ago, Capcom slowly went silent on the Blue Bomber. One of their most prolific franchises, Mega Man has always been known for its excellent action platforming, wonderful characters, and excellent soundtracks. Other than perhaps Street Fighter,  the series is synonymous with the company name. After Keiji Inafune (the most recognized name attached to the character) left Capcom, however We rarely ever saw a mention of Capcom’s most recognizable series, or any of its spinoffs. For years many wondered why. Leading up to the release of Mega Man 11 here, the game’s director Kazuhiro Tsuchiya was interviewed by Game Informer. He reasoned that after Inafune left Capcom, the company wasn’t certain they could do an entry on the same level of the previous ten games.

PROS: Great visuals. Level design. Gear System is an excellent new mechanic.

CONS: The soundtrack, while good, doesn’t reach the lofty heights of older games.

NICE: The little touches you’ll notice throughout the adventure.

Well thank God the people behind this iteration decided to step up, and take a risk. Because Mega Man 11 is pretty great. It gives long time fans the challenging action-platforming they’ve come to expect. But it also builds upon the foundation that was solidified way back in 1987. In a way, they could have come out screaming “THIS AIN’T YOUR DADDY’S MEGA MAN!”, and they would be accurate. But before some of you worry, that proverbial Father will still find a lot to love about Mega Man 11.

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The storyline is tied to the game’s fancy new mechanic; The Double Gear System. Basically, Mega Man has two new powers he can use temporarily for a few seconds by pressing the corresponding shoulder button. Pressing the left shoulder button increases his attack power immensely. Pressing the right shoulder button temporarily allows Mega Man to go into a bullet time state like in the Max Payne games. Everything will go into slow motion, allowing you to quickly move around obstacles, and attacks.

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The emphasis however is on that word; temporary. You’ll only have a few seconds to use these powers. If you go beyond that, you’ll overcharge the move, and you won’t be able to use it again for several moments. So you really can’t rely solely on this feature to get through the entire game. But throughout the many stages you will reach sections where you may just find them helpful enough that you don’t lose a life.  In any event when you start the game you’ll find like most of the series, there’s an opening run of cinema screens that set up the arc. This time around Dr. Wily remembers back in his youth he created the Double Gear System. A device that accelerates the speed, and power of robots. But his research was barred when most of the other scientists in the community including Dr. Light feared (with good reason) the horrors that could arise from its abuse. Being the quintessential evil mad scientist, he decides all of these decades later to implement it. He kidnaps the latest run of Dr. Light’s robots, programs them for evil purposes, and installs the tech in them.

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Par the course, Rock begs Dr. Light to install the technology in himself when it is brought to his attention that he likely wouldn’t be able to stop Dr. Wily without it. So Dr. Light reluctantly does so, thus setting up the campaign’s backdrop. As is the case with the rest of the series, you’re going to go up against each of the Robot Masters. Then move onto Dr. Wily’s latest castle stronghold. Unlike some of the older games like Mega Man 3,4,5, or 6 Capcom doesn’t try to fake you out here. There are no Wily stand in castles to go through before Dr. Wily’s inevitable castle run. However that doesn’t mean that Mega Man 11 is particularly short. Even though it is one of the cut, and dry entries (think Mega Man, Mega Man 2, or Mega Man 7) the stages here are quite long. Every stage in the game now has three checkpoint rooms, and have a fair amount of obstacles to get through. Many of the Robot Masters employ mini boss rooms along the way as well. Sometimes twice.

 

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For those who have not played a classic Mega Man game before, you’re able to choose to play the stages in whichever order you choose. The hook is the Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanic that pertains to the Robot Masters you face at the end of every stage. When you defeat the Robot Master, you acquire their signature attack. Each one of the Robot Masters is weak against one of the other Robot Masters’ attacks. Not only do you need to beat all of the stages, but figuring out which boss is weakest against which attacks makes them more manageable. It’s also useful in determining which order will get you through the game the fastest.

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But even if you don’t figure that out on your initial run there are tools to help you. Returning is Auto’s shop. He’s the giant green robot who crafts items for you to buy with screws. As you collect them from fallen enemies, you can spend them on extra tanks to replenish your weapon ammo, and health meter. You can buy upgrades to your primary weapon, and even some items to negate some of the environmental hazards.  And even seasoned veterans may find themselves picking up lives, and E-Tanks because Mega Man 11 can get pretty difficult at times. Not only are there the expected Mega Man tropes, like robots jumping out of pits you’re trying to jump across, or crumbling structures you’re going across, but many new pitfalls too.

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Mega Man 11 is also very creative. Every Robot Master has a terrific design, and like all Mega Man games, their stages are built around their themes. Acid Man’s stage has many pools in which enemies will throw in chemicals. Each of which makes the pH level more lethal. Torch Man’s stage sends a column of fire after you, disintegrating everything in its path. Bounce Man’s has a deceptively deadly layout. It’s layered with cute looking enemies, bright pastels, and more. But upon further analysis you’ll find it one of the most challenging stages in the entire game. Block Man’s stage has a lot of falling boulders, and even some maze structures you need to get through as quickly as possible. Tundra Man’s stage is the quintessential ice level. But with plenty of wind gusts to make things difficult. Impact Man reminds me a lot of Optimus Prime. But with blades. But his stage feels like a continuation of the Guts Man stage in the original Mega Man. Of course with far more trick jumping, and a dash of Quick Man’s Mega Man II stage. Then there is Fuse Man’s stage. One of the highlights of the game, it involves a lot of puzzles centered around time. Rounding things out is Blast Man’s stage, which involves an evil theme park motif. You could almost place it in a Batman match against the Joker. The little henchmen robots throughout the level are cool because while they’re a nuisance, they’re also necessary. It’s a lot of fun.

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But as hard as the game may be, Mega Man 11 is always fair. When you fail you’ll know the onus is on you. Maybe you panicked, and jumped into something. Maybe you were hit by a laser, and fell down a chasm. Maybe the Robot Master shattered your dreams when you got to them on your last life. In all of these cases you won’t be able to blame anybody else. And yet, there’s something compelling about that. The sort of thing that always makes you want to attempt it again, and chip away until you come out on top.

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But Capcom has also put in multiple difficulty settings this time. The original NES outings usually had but one setting. Mega Man 10 had an easy, and hard setting. Mega Man 11 has four of them. Newcomer sets things up for those of you who have never played a Mega Man title before. Up from that is the Casual setting, which is geared for those who may be lapsed Mega Man fans. Then there’s the Normal setting which is the one geared toward seasoned veterans. But the game also has a Super Hero setting. This setting goes beyond the Normal setting by removing most of the pickups in every level, and increasing the damage enemy attacks do to you. Honestly, the four settings are pretty close to reaching about each player type. If you honestly have never touched a Mega Man game, you may want to get your feet wet with the first one.  Veterans may want to just dive into the Normal setting. But whichever way you decide to go, you’ll have a pretty good time with it. Although there is a sense of pride if you can clear it on one of the higher settings.

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With the well crafted level designs, and bright, colorful visuals that bring it all together one has to wonder if there’s anything wrong with this one. And to be honest, not that much. Again, the characters look like the evolution of Mega Man 8 (PS1/Saturn). The game looks beautiful. The backdrops are high quality, crisp blends of 2D art, and 3D models. Everything looks like it belongs in the Classic series though which is one that mostly appeared on the NES. Even 9, and 10 recreated that 8-bit aesthetic, and sound. But Mega Man 7 (Super NES), and Mega Man 8 took that same style, but updated it for their 16-bit, and 32-bit platforms. So this looks like an extension of those styles. If you ever wished more of the games looked like the artwork in the manuals, and other media you’ll be more than pleased here.

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And again, it isn’t just about how good it looks. It’s that the great visuals fit the narrative of each of the Robot Masters the way it has in all of the mainline games. This is also the first game in the classic series since Mega Man 8 to involve voice acting. It isn’t bad, but your mileage will vary. Some of it veers toward what was done in the PS1/Saturn classic. Bounce Man seems to really elicit memories of fighting Clown Man as the voice work goes for the high-pitched cuteness of an anime archetype. Some of the other actors went in other directions with their respective characters. And all of it works. But you’ll probably enjoy some more than others. As for Mega Man himself, again, he sounds perfectly fine. But if you’re coming into it after Mega Man 8, it’s a completely different take, and delivery. So how much you’ll like it may depend on whether or not you love the way he was portrayed in the eighth installment. As far as the soundtrack goes, it isn’t bad by any means. The electronica goes well with the action, and there are distinctive themes for each of the stages. However, it doesn’t stand out the way the rocking chip tunes of 1-6, 7, 9,and 10 do. The songs in Mega Man 8 also felt more memorable than these do. Be that as it may, I really wouldn’t call any of it bad. Just different, and depending on what you prefer, you may agree or disagree. Which is fine.

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Once you do complete the game though there are a few things here to make you want to play it again. The first being the challenges. As in the last two games, you can try to run a battery of missions with the goal of reaching achievements. Some of these can be done in the main game, but the majority are found here. You can also go to a gallery where you can read bios of all of the major, and minor enemies in the game. They even have the voice samples here so you can listen to them all. There’s not too much else in the way of extras, though on the Switch there is a surprise if you play the demo before playing the full game.

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Overall, I quite liked Mega Man 11. I played through it on Normal, and found that this time out the Robot Masters’ respective stages were as challenging as Dr. Wily’s Castle stages, which isn’t always the case in these games. Even still, I had a fun time. I yelled at myself for messing up at times. But I had fun rising to the challenge, and overcoming the obstacles it threw in my way. Which is the joy that all of these games deliver. All while delivering a new tool for you to use. Which you don’t have to. It is possible to get through the game without touching the Double Gear System. Though you’ll probably want to. At least on some of the tougher bosses. Still, this is a great entry in the long running series, and I can easily recommend it to not only fans, but to almost anyone who is remotely interested in it. It won’t be a cakewalk. But it does have that addictive “One more match.” feeling the series is known for. Don the mantle of the Blue Bomber, and save the world. If only the music could have been *that* much better it would have been perfect. As it stands, it’s still a highly recommended Mega Man game. Or Rock Man if you prefer.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

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Super NES Classic Edition Review

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Well, although I’m up, and around again I still haven’t been medically cleared to leave the home on my own, or return to employment yet. So what to do? What to do? Well, when you’re shut in between the rainy weather, and waiting to go in for your follow-up, there’s little you can do. So why not take inspiration from my good friend Peter, and open something some people wouldn’t?

PROS: Respectable build quality. Play Star Fox 2 legitimately!

CONS: Light on extra features. Cannot play Star Fox 2 right away.

SAVINGS: The unit has a number of games that cost a lot on the aftermarket.

To be fair I actually opened up this system a few weeks ago. I won mine at RetroWorld Expo 2018 thanks to the raffle held by the always great Super Retro Throwback Podcast. So do give them a listen, they do some terrific interviews, and discussion with a nice radio morning show feel. In any event, now that I’ve spent some more quality time with it, I figured I would give my impressions.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Deviot, you’re so late to the party on this one. We know it’s pretty damned cool.” But that discounts the plethora of people who still don’t have one, as they were on the fence, or wanted to wait until they saw how the scalper phase went. (It went pretty fast. You can find these things everywhere now.) For those who were on the fence, you’re probably wondering about things like input lag, filters, or simply how well are these games emulated. All of which I’ll get to in due time.

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For the five people who don’t already know about the device, it’s the second of Nintendo’s all-in-one plug, and play consoles. Atari’s Flashback, and AtGames’ continuation of the series led to a slew of players in the market. And while AtGames hasn’t done so well with their emulated take on Sega consoles, their takeover of the Atari Flashback line went fairly well. From there they did an Intellivision plug, and play, a Colecovision plug, and play, along with others. Other companies jumped in, and so Nintendo capitalized on the craze by introducing the NES Classic. Which was infamously short-packed, and under-produced leading to the majority of them being scooped up by scalpers. Many thought the Super NES Classic would follow suit, but thankfully it hasn’t, and Nintendo re-released the NES version too. So you can pick either of these up now.

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The mini console comes in a box that is very reminiscent of the one the original Super NES came in, with a black background, and grey striping along with stylized lettering. The company did an excellent job of making geezers like me, remember what it was like when we finally got our hands on one back in 1991. Upon opening the kit, you’ll find a poster, and documentation packet. Obviously the mini Super NES control deck, a HDMI cable, a USB cable, a USB Power adapter, and two Super NES controller replicas.

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I have to say, I was really impressed with the build quality of the device. Granted, I know there isn’t much to it, as it’s mostly one resin plastic shell in the shape of a Super NES. Still, considering how the company could have opted to go with a flimsy, or brittle plastic to cut costs, they didn’t. It feels very much like the same build as an actual Super Nintendo Entertainment System. So kudos on the presentation. Note that when you actually want to use the thing, the front of the unit is actually a face plate that comes off. It’s tethered to a plastic ribbon so it doesn’t get lost. Behind the faceplate are your controller ports. These are the same ports that you’ll find on the Wiimote controllers for the Nintendo Wii. Which means that if you should ever lose, or break one of these Super NES replica controllers, you can use a Wii Classic controller. It also means that if you have a Wii, or a Wii U with Super NES games you’ve purchased on it, you can use the Super NES Classic’s controllers with those as well. With this in mind you might just want to get the spare controllers for the mini just to use on your Wii U if you find you own most of the included games on it on your Wii U already.

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As for the controllers, they feel exactly the same as the ones made for the Super NES back in the 1990’s. The same textured surface. The same glossy buttons. The attention to detail here is wonderful. If you sold or gave away your Super NES years ago, this will feel very familiar to you if you pick one up. It even has the same rubberized Select, and Start buttons. Some have derided the length of the cables, and, I’m not going to lie. They really could stand to be a bit longer. You can buy extension cables, but realistically most of us will have to sit closer to the TV like we did as teenagers.

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As for the interface it’s simplistic, but nice. There’s a brief setup where you pick your language, and then your thrust into the home screen. If you go poking around though, you will find an options menu. Here you can choose display options like the aspect ratio, filters, and borders. Really the sole filter is a CRT filter which emulates scan lines, and color bleeding. It’s okay if you really prefer the look of an old TV. There’s also the standard 4:3 that doesn’t have the filter, and then there’s pixel perfect, which basically makes the games 4:3, and crisper. But that also means you’ll see every last square that makes up every character, and background. It’s interesting because some games look completely fine, while others like Super Castlevania IV have a bit of inconsistency. My Brother who isn’t nearly as into game collecting as I am noticed this when visiting. There’s nothing wrong with the game, but you can see the backgrounds, and enemies have more details in this display mode, than Simon Belmont appears to. Of course the bigger the TV the more noticeable it is. Still, if this level of crispness turns you off, you can always opt to play the game with the CRT filter on. It really will come down to personal preference.

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As for the game selection, it’s a really good one. There are some games I personally may have chosen instead, had I been a Nintendo decision maker. But on the whole, there is a nice variety of games here, covering almost every genre. Final Fantasy III (6), Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, Secret Of Mana, and The Legend of Zelda III: A Link To The Past are here for your JRPG/Action RPG/Adventure fix. You also get a lot of classic platformers. Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, Kirby Superstar are all here. Covering your action platforming you have Mega Man X, Super Castlevania IV, and Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts. You’ve got F-Zero, and Super Mario Kart for some arcade racing. Star Fox, and the previously unreleased Star Fox 2 are on the device for rail shooting. Kirby’s Dream Course is the lone puzzle outing, although Superstar does have some puzzle modes. Super Punch-Out!! is an underrated inclusion here, and of course Super Metroid is one of the best exploration games of all time. So naturally that is on here. Street Fighter II’s popularity hit its fevered pitch on the 16-bit consoles, so naturally one of the iterations would have to be included here. Street Fighter II Turbo is the iteration chosen to appear here, and it is definitely one of the fan favorites in the series. Fans who preferred the larger roster in Super Street Fighter II might be disappointed, but there are other inexpensive ways to play the Super NES port of that game elsewhere. Finally, fans of the run n’ gun genre get Contra III: The Alien Wars.

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On paper, picking this mini system is worth it for these games alone. Consider that (at the time of this writing) the original physical Game Paks of many of these titles are expensive. Super Metroid goes between $30, and $40 loose, alone. Earthbound is prohibitively expensive for many people often going for well over $100 by itself. For anybody who simply wants to buy one of these games legitimately, and play it, the Super NES Classic Edition is a pretty good value proposition. As for the emulation of the games, they’re very good. All but the most astute fan can go back, and play these without noticing much of a difference. If you go through the extra work of hooking up the original Super NES on a TV, and standing it next to your new HDTV & Super NES Classic setup, you can notice slight differences. Differences in color that might matter to an absolute purist who will insist on playing the original Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts Game Pak. If you absolutely require a 1:1 experience without exception you’ll want to empty your bank account. For everyone else a .98:1 experience is still pretty impressive.

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As far as input lag goes, I honestly haven’t noticed much of any, and I’ve played my unit on three modern TVs. A 50″ 4K unit by Samsung, a 20″ 1080p Insignia (Best Buy), and my trusty 32″ 720p Element I keep because it has legacy ports. In every case, the games played fine. Any input lag that is there will be noted by only the most scrupulous players. Top-tier speed runners, and tournament level players may want to spend on the original console, and games for those purposes. But again, for those who want to buy these titles legitimately, the Super NES Classic Edition is a wonderful option.

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Even some of those collectors who normally might pass on it may consider giving it a go as it is presently the only way to buy Star Fox 2. And while it won’t wow you the way the original did, or the way Star Fox 64 did on the Nintendo 64, it is still an interesting one. It includes features that weren’t seen until later games in the series. If you’re a big fan of Nintendo’s long running franchise, you may just want one of these for that game. Although it is strangely locked behind the first game’s first stage. You aren’t allowed to actually play it, until you defeat the first boss in the original game. Weird.

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Overall, I quite like the Super NES Classic Edition. While I feel it could use some more visual options for those who don’t like how old games look on new displays, and it could have used a more convenient way to create saves (You have to press RESET.), I do find the build quality quite nice. I also found that they added a cool fast forward, and rewind function to the save state software. So you can pinpoint the moment you want to start from. I also like that they put some of the harder to acquire titles on it, and it is nice that Star Fox 2 finally sees the light of day. The controllers are also versatile for Wii, and Wii U owners, as you can use them with games purchased digitally. It’s also a great proposition for those who want to experience what they weren’t around for without having to invest in a 20-year-old or more console, and cartridge technology. Newcomers can get their feet wet here, and see what the fuss over the 16-bit era is all about. Interestingly, Nintendo has put up PDF scans of the Super NES manuals for all of the games included here.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review

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What can be said about Street Fighter II that hasn’t been said already? The original Street Fighter while by no means a horrible game, was mediocre in a few ways. It had some sluggish movement. Special moves did a ridiculous amount of damage. However, performing special moves was inconsistent. Sometimes the hit detection seemed off. The soundtrack wasn’t very good. It had grainy audio. Yet there was a ton of promise in it. It had wonderful characters, pretty cool graphics, and it was still a cut above earlier games like Karate Champ. But it still could have become just an obscure one-off.

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Thankfully, Street Fighter II scrapped the parts that didn’t work, fine tuned everything that did. Then added a bunch of new features. You could play as characters other than Ryu, and Ken. Plus you could really compete with other people for something other than score. Every iteration of the game added, and refined more. You could play as the bosses. You could play at a faster speed. You could play as newer characters. You could do finishers. Every iteration also changed character attributes to try to bring everyone just that much closer. Not only was it leagues ahead of Street Fighter, it became a phenomenon. So now there’s an even newer version of a twenty-six year old game to play on the Switch. With a collection around the corner, should you still get this?

PROS: It’s Street Fighter II. One of the best games of all time. On the Switch.

CONS: Doesn’t add all that much bonus content to the package.

I’VE GOT NEXT: It does bring a taste of the arcade era in portable form.

Ultra Street Fighter II is a pretty awesome game. It’s Street Fighter II. That’s already pretty awesome. That’s a given. But what makes this iteration worth playing over another? Chances are you own at least some version of the game. If you don’t, and you have a Switch, well then this is a no brainer. For a lot of other people though, they’ll need more than that. For the five of you who were around in the 90’s, and somehow never played the game, what you do is simple. Pick a character, beat the other characters in two-out-of-three bouts, until you get to the final boss, and beat him too. Beyond that, you can play against other people for supremacy.

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But if you’re a long time Street Fighter fan, you’ve played this before. So again, you’re going to ask “Why play this over my Super NES Game Pak, or my Anniversary Collection for my PlayStation or my Anniversary Collection on my Xbox 360? Or any other version for that matter?” Well, there a few reasons. A few of which are pretty compelling. The Nintendo Switch being a tablet means convenience. It also means you can recreate some of that bygone era of arcades in a public space. For instance, one of the first things I did when I purchased my copy was go out for coffee. While there I played the game, and a couple other people noticed. They inquired about the system, and we talked about playing Street Fighter II after school in the arcade as teenagers. These kinds of moments lend themselves to rekindling some of that. Strangers can challenge you in person now as you can give them a joycon, you have a joycon, and before long someone shows up with a quarter to say “I’ve got next.”

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It’s also great for a game night. Street Fighter II, in spite of the technical aspects of it, is still an approachable game. Newcomers who weren’t around for it when it was new, can still pick it up, and have a good time. It has a fair amount of depth, and complexity. But it isn’t going to look impossibly daunting to someone who has never touched a fighting game before. At least not compared to something like Guilty Gear Xrd. We all have that friend who insists the party starts with something like Guilty Gear Xrd.  Anyway, It’s a lot of fun for newcomers, and veterans alike which is a big reason why Capcom likely chose to update this game for the Switch.

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In terms of new additions, the obvious one is the ability to play with either the original coin-op graphics or to play with the newer HD Remix inspired graphics. There isn’t any difference in game play between them. When playing in either style everything looks terrific. The HD style looks crisp, vibrant, and detailed. All of the art assets from Udon, are completely on point. The coin-op graphics are also crisp, vibrant, and detailed. They also display in 4:3 aspect ratio which is great. Sometimes a retro release still comes out these days, that zooms or stretches everything into 16:9 by default, and looks just awful. Not the case with Ultra Street Fighter II. Now sadly, there isn’t anything in the way of CRT simulation filter options with this game. So if you do play with the older graphics, you’ll see every last pixel. Personally, I always preferred sharper images. So even in the 90’s playing crisp Super Street Fighter II for MS-DOS on a monitor looked nicer than blurred Super Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo on a TV. But I know not everyone feels the same way. If you don’t, and seeing all of the squares bugs you, you may want to stick with the new style.

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A couple of other things were thrown in too. You can play the game in a Co-op version of the arcade ladder. Basically turning the bouts into handicap matches. It’s definitely something to try to see if you’ll like it. But it isn’t as fun as the core game you come into a Street Fighter II release for. The same can be said for the Way Of The Hado mode they’ve included. Now to be perfectly honest, I really like this mode. It’s a really fun mini game that you can break out at parties because of two reasons. First, (at least for me) the motion controls were spot on. Second, after you use the trainer to figure out how to hold the joycons for each move (Kind of like the Wiimote, and nunchuck for gestures in some Wii games) you can go into one of two modes. A story-like mode, or an endless mode. The story-like one has an ending you can make it to if you’re good enough. The endless is there more as a high score arcade game. It uses some of the graphics from Street Fighter IV to make a first person mini game. In it you throw fireballs, dragon punches, and other signature attacks as Ryu to beat up M.Bison/Dictator’s goons. Over time they can shoot fireballs back at you, and do other moves. Fortunately, you can also block. Again, it’s honestly a fun distraction. But, also again, it’s just that. It isn’t going to keep you engaged nearly as much as the core game you buy USFII for.

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The game does have online play, and it seems to be fine most of the time. It’s about as good as Ultra Street Fighter IV‘s is. 85% of the time you’re going to get a good to great connection, and have an awesome match. 15% of the time, you’re going to get a jittery mess of a match, possibly a disconnection. I tried this mode at home where I have a good internet connection, at hotspots where things are mixed, and a relative’s, which has a good connection. I had pretty much the same experience everywhere. If you find you don’t have a great wireless connection to your router, you can buy the wired, USB Ethernet connector for the Switch. That can improve things a bit. In the case of the game though, it really comes down to the net code.  Again, most of the time it seems fine.

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Some of the other bonus content in the game includes some in-house Street Fighter series art from Capcom. These were taken from a now out of print book. It’s really great stuff. You can’t use the Switch’s photo function on it though, likely out of piracy concerns. Still, it’s worth thumbing through it, particularly if you love art. Separate from the gallery is the option to add background themes to the menus. Nothing you’ll be excited about though. Some will love the included sprite editor though. It works a lot like the one that came way back in Capcom Vs. SNK 2. You can change the colors of three different sections of any given character, and save them in added color slots. This works in both graphical styles, and subsequently these edits will be playable in the game.

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In spite of some of the bonus content, and the inclusion of online battles this feels like a barebones release though. The extra stuff here does give you a little break from the mainline arcade, versus, and online battles. But that’s just it. They’re minor diversions. Even though they’re fun, they’re not really fleshed out enough to keep most people engaged. Most players will likely try them, and then go back to the one on one fights. Had there been even more graphics options, like a simulated CRT filter, or more characters or backgrounds it would give old-time fans more to get excited about.

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The three new characters you do get are ramped up versions of Ryu, Ken, and Akuma. And they’ve appeared in other Capcom fighting games before. Evil Ryu, Violent Ken, and Shin Akuma (whom you need an old school sequence code to use) are all fun to use. But they all have insane damage potential. Shin Akuma is even barred from online competition. So some of the top-tier players who play in tournaments have their concerns. For the rest of us, they also take a lot of damage. So average to good players who don’t need to bother with tournament level stuff like obsessing over frame data or lists won’t care. As is the case with most Capcom fighters, the trainer does let you see inputs, and some other information.

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On that note, I do want to talk about controllers with this one. Playing the game with the joycons on the console or in the grip is fine. For the most part. It feels pretty close to using a standard game pad, though I found sometimes the analog stick would read a forward jump, as a jump. Playing the game with the joycons as two separate mini controllers is not that bad. It’s not great, and you’ll have to get used to rounding your index fingers to press the Z buttons. But it works. It basically follows the format of the Super NES controller. So if you’ve played any version of the game on the Super NES, you’ll know what to expect. That said, while it’s something you’ll live with when playing other people at Starbucks, you’ll probably want another option for home. There are a host of options for the Switch. The pro controller, aftermarket controllers, and even an arcade tournament joystick by Hori. Depending on your preference, and budget you’ll probably want to invest in one of these options at some point if you haven’t already.

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In the end Ultra Street Fighter II is worth getting for a number of scenarios. Bringing the aforementioned arcade experience to a public setting. If you’re a fan of the game who no longer has an old console or computer version knocking around. Or if you’re getting back into it for the first time in years. Or if you’re just a big fan of fighting games in general, and you’re building a Switch collection. It’s a really fun version of Street Fighter II. With SFII being as timeless as classics like Pac-Man, Centipede, and Space Invaders it’s also a pretty safe bet. Just don’t expect much more out of it than a really fun update of Super Street Fighter II Turbo. The other stuff is nice to try, but isn’t the headline act. Also remember this version of the game isn’t included in Capcom’s upcoming collection.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

Mighty Final Fight Review

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Toward the end of the original Nintendo Entertainment System’s run there were a number of great (and not so great) titles that came out as the Super NES was coming into its own. Capcom put out a number of these games as the console began to fall by the wayside in the last few years. Mega Man 6, Rescue Rangers 2, Duck Tales 2, and of course Mighty Final Fight.

PROS: All of the protagonists are here. Action translates well.

CONS: Short. A sharp difficulty spike near the end.

LEVEL UP: There is an NES Double Dragon style EXP system.

Mighty Final Fight came out at a time when the Super NES was seeing a number of arcade beat ’em up, and tournament fighter ports. Capcom had already ported the Final Fight arcade game to the console albeit with a number of things removed to be able to fit onto the cartridge.

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Knowing that the NES couldn’t handle the game, Capcom made this an entirely new game set in the same universe. Even though it is technically far less capable as the cut down Super NES port of Final Fight, in many ways it is a much better game.

Mighty Final Fight has an almost identical storyline. Mayor Mike Haggar’s daughter Jessica is kidnapped by the Mad Gear street gang. So he decides to take matters into his own hands, beating the crap out of every last criminal he sees. Until he gets to the boss of the entire Mad Gear operation. Joining him again is Jessica’s boyfriend Cody, and Cody’s friend Guy who was absent in the initial Super NES arcade port.

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So the NES game already has one leg up on its younger brother here. Game play is also pretty close to the Super NES. Characters can be grappled by approaching them diagonally, then they can be dispatched by any number of moves. All of the throws, pile drivers, and special moves are back.

Once, again pressing the attack, and jump buttons at the same time will execute a special move. Using these moves also takes away some of your life bar just like it does in other versions of Final Fight. But here is where the game begins to veer off into spin off territory. Mighty Final Fight takes a page from the NES port of Technos’ Double Dragon. You will see a meter on the lower right section of your HUD. Next to that is an experience counter.

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As you pummel bad guys you will raise the number of experience points. When you get to the maximum number, the bar will fill up further. Each bar within the bar you fill increases your health meter, your damage output, and decreases the amount of punishment you take upon being hit. Using grapple moves will give you more points. So playing as Haggar means you’ll want to be using pile drivers. Using Cody or Guy you’ll probably be doing a lot of throws. Interestingly enough, choosing Haggar starts you out with three full bars of experience, while choosing either Cody or Guy will start you out with one.

Leveling up to a certain point will also unlock an additional move for you to use. Unlike the arcade version of Final Fight or its ports, the weapons you can find in oil drums are character specific. Haggar will always have a hammer. Cody will always have a knife, and Guy will always have shurikens.

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Of course Mighty Final Fight also differs in the actual stage layouts. They keep the general theme of the arcade machine’s stages. The game even has a map similar to the arcade game’s in between levels. But you’re getting an entirely different run of levels. In the first stage you’re fighting through the streets, then a rooftop. Stage two you’re fighting your way to an area that resembles the next to last stage in the arcade version. Stage three is a section called Old Town which has some minor similarities to the arcade’s West Side stage.

At least in terms of style. Here there are sections with giant pits in the road, and the action leads to wrestling arena like the arcade machine’s second stage finale. Stage four feels entirely like an alien experience. It is supposed to be the factory district, but instead has a warehouse area. You also end up on an elevator leading to a bar. This brought me back to The Simpsons Arcade game moment near the end of that game’s graveyard level. The final stage is called the Bay Area but has little to do with the arcade game’s. Instead, it’s a hodgepodge of the arcade’s Uptown, and other parts of the game.

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Mighty Final Fight also rearranges the order of the bosses, and even replaces a couple of them. You’ll still fight Damnd at the end of the first stage. But after that you’ll see Abigail, then Sodom, then a palette swap of Sodom who is supposed to be his relative. You’ll still fight the same final boss in Belger, except this time he is a cyborg. Mighty Final Fight also makes you rematch two of the bosses on the way.

The game has a super deformed look, and goes for a bit more humor. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the nicest looking games Capcom put out on the NES. But it might throw you off coming into it from any of the other Final Fight games. Everything looks like it was inspired from the Technos Double Dragon NES ports. Big heads with detailed, yet tiny bodies rule the character designs, and stages are incredibly short, yet filled with challenges. Many key enemies return for this installment, though not all of them. You’ll see Poison (who was edited in the Super NES port of Final Fight), Andore, J, among others. As I said before, the game play is almost identical, though you’ll only ever see two enemies at a time. That doesn’t make them any less cheap though. They’ll still try to sandwich you, and force you to memorize exactly when to throw an attack at them.

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The music in the game is pretty good. None of the arcade game songs show up, but the original songs here fit the action very well. Unfortunately they aren’t very memorable or iconic the way the mainline game’s soundtrack is. Sound effects are about what you would expect. Similar smacks, and smashes you’d hear in River City Ransom, Double Dragon, or Bayou Billy are here, and sound great.

There isn’t too much to complain about with Mighty Final Fight. Some might feel it could be a little bit longer.  It is also fairly challenging if you don’t remember exactly how to read enemy patterns in the series. Enemy attacks tend to hurt you a lot, and they’ll even use the environments to their advantage, kicking you into pits, or off of ledges. They’ll also sandwich you, forcing you to use your desperation moves.

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But over time you can become acclimated to these patterns, and once you start decimating them with enough of your grapple moves the game becomes a lot easier. Still, some may balk at the initial difficulty. The other thing to keep in mind is the cost if you’re a purist. In most cases an NES Game Pak will cost you at least $150. That’s just the cartridge. Expect to pay several hundred dollars if you find it with a box, and manual.

Fortunately there are other legitimate ways to play this. The Capcom Classics Mini Mix compilation on Game Boy Advance included it. This can be had for around $7. Or if you have the 3DS or the Wii U, the ROM is on the eshop as a download for a mere  $5.

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Mighty Final Fight is easily worth a recommendation for any fan of Beat ’em ups. It controls well. It retains the game play of the arcade cabinet it is loosely based off of. It’s one of the nicest looking games in the NES library. It also happens to be as fun, and interesting as later Final Fight games.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Mega Man Legacy Collection Review

Around eleven years ago now, (Wow, time flies!) Capcom entrusted the defunct Atomic Planet to bundle the Mega Man Classic series, a couple of arcade games, and extras onto the XBox, PlayStation 2, and Gamecube. What resulted was a playable but often far from perfect emulation. On the one hand people loved having the games on one disc, but over time the flaws started to annoy lifelong fans of the series. Now Capcom has taken another stab at entrusting a company to do a collection. Is Mega Man Legacy Collection a better one, than Mega Man Anniversary Collection?

PROS: Mega Man’s first six games from the NES on your PC, XB1, PS4, or 3DS

CONS: Digital Eclipse’s emulator isn’t quite what they’ve hyped it as. No MM7-10 or side games.

DR. WILY: Newcomers may weep when they get to his eyebrow raising castle bosses.

Do I really need to go over the games themselves? Probably not, but I’ll give a synopsis for those too young to remember any of the Mega Man games, or the five people who don’t know who he is. Mega Man is a series of games that were helmed by Keiji Inafune starting back in 1987. In the game you play as Rock, a robot who offers to have his creator Dr. Light turn him into a combat robot after Light’s, colleague Dr. Wily goes insane, and programs Dr. Light’s other robots to take over the world. Mega Man then goes on a mission to destroy the six reprogrammed robots, before confronting Dr. Wily himself. The characters, and story were inspired by classic anime like Astro Boy, and Neo-Human  Casshern. But obviously beyond the themes they go in their own original directions. Each game has a formula with a few minor variations as the series goes on. You’ll have the option to tackle each one of Dr. Wily’s robot masters in any order you choose. Upon picking one, you’re thrown into an action platformer stage, and have to fight your way to the end. To help you there are energy cells for your life bar, as well as your weapons acquired from defeated robot masters. When you get to a boss, defeating them, will give you one of their powers. The key is discovering the order to do the stages in, as each boss is easily defeated by another bosses’ weapon. Defeating all of the bosses moves you onto Dr. Wily’s castle, or the castle of other series villains.

While the first game sold adequately, the second game became a smash hit, and would cement Mega Man (Called Rock Man in Japan) as one of Capcom’s earliest franchises. The games themselves are all quite good. Though some may feel fatigue with Mega Man 5 or 6 as you know what to expect by then. But even those games are pretty good, and bring some new things to the series formula. Mega Man 6 was originally not published by Capcom in the US, but by Nintendo, who had even done a Nintendo Power contest urging those who entered to create a boss character. Capcom had done this contest for years in Japan, but Nintendo’s promotion opened it to North America as well. two North American winners had their characters featured as bosses. Knight Man by Daniel Vall’ee, and Wind Man by Michael Leader. Mega Man 6 even features fake bosses, where upon defeating them you won’t be seeing the usual power absorption animation. Instead you’ll go back, and find the right boss room to defeat the actual robot master rather than the decoy.

Anyway, MMLC isn’t a flawless emulation. The developers talked about an engine they made, to recreate the game experience. But at the end of the day it’s an emulator. It doesn’t simply run the ROMs, it pulls all of the assets from them though, and tries to emulate the experience of running the games on the NES. So don’t go in expecting a completely recreated experience. You’re buying the ROMs, and running the assets (Graphics, music, level maps) through the emulator.

The emulation is pretty good though. Music sounds pretty close to the way it does on NES versions of the games, the colors are pretty close, and things seem to control pretty well. I haven’t noticed any major problems running these titles on my PC. Though there was one point in Mega Man 1, A fire column sprite in the Fire Man stage flew off the screen instead of freezing when shooting it with the ice shot. Beyond that one instance it ran fine with zero issues in performance. The emulator does attempt to recreate the performance of an NES though. So do expect some slowdown when a lot happens on the screen at the same time. On console things may be a little murkier depending on the input lag of your particular TV. But for most people, this is going to be a perfectly fine experience.

MMLC also adds a few options, and extras to incentivize a purchase. Like a lot of other emulated bundles, the games allow you to turn on a few different viewing modes. You can stretch the games to full screen, or play them in their original aspect ratio. You can also choose from CRT monitor, or CRT SDTV filters that will add scan lines, and blur to the graphics to simulate the look of playing on an old television set. This is nice if you’re one of the fans who doesn’t like the crisp blocky pixels most emulators display. There are also optional border designs you can turn on to simulate an arcade cabinet look. The PC version also allows you to turn off Vsync to increase some performance, though if you have a computer near the minimum requirements you may see a wildly fluctuating frame rate.

Other bonuses include archived concept art from Capcom, some of which is also in the Mega Man Anniversary collection. You’ll also be able to play the game soundtracks through an in-game music player. All of the catchy robot master themes, and songs are here. You’ll also see cover art for the albums.

Each game also features the original Japanese Rock Man cover art in the launcher. There are also a number of challenges you can take part in to get on leader boards, and unlock achievements. Achievements are done in a bronze, silver, or gold system. Where the faster you can complete the task, the better your rank. You’ll also have to beat all six games, and complete challenges in order to enter all of the challenges. Some of the challenges are even Boss Rush modes where you’ll fight each boss in a row, on a single life bar.

Mega Man Legacy Collection is worth getting over Mega Man Anniversary Collection if you want an experience that’s closer to running these games on an NES. You won’t get Mega Man 7,8, or either of the arcade games, but you won’t see all of the alterations, and cuts either. That said, if you happen to own a Wii U, you can buy the individual ROMs separately (Except for Mega Man 8), and those emulations are even closer to the real thing, save for some slightly darker colors. On the other hand buying this collection is still $15 instead of buying the games on the E shop for $30. Of course nothing tops having a working NES, and the 6 Mega Man Game Paks. But if you don’t still have those from your childhood, or you’re new to Mega Man, that is an expensive endeavor. Each game goes for a minimum of $25 as of this writing, with some being almost $100.

From a value perspective Mega Man Legacy Collection is a good one. Emulation is much better than what we saw in the last compilation. If you’ve long since lost your NES, or you haven’t played these games elsewhere already it’s worth picking up. If you already have the anniversary collection, you might want to buy this collection to get closer representations of the NES games. But if you’ve already bought these games on the Nintendo E shop, or you have the NES Game Paks there’s no need to buy these games again. The extras are nice, but don’t warrant a double or triple dipping.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Clay Fighter Tournament Edition Review

Ah, 1991. Capcom had given us the glorious Street Fighter II. A sequel to a ho-hum, tournament fighting game. It created a host of clones, while reinvigorating both fighting games, and arcades. Nearly every fighting game that has followed owes at least something to Street Fighter II. But with every popular idea, there is usually a parody waiting.

PROS: Nice graphics. Decent animation. Good play control. Funny!

CONS: Some of the humor dates itself. Not as fun as Street Fighter II Turbo.

THEME SONG: As iconic as Street Fighter II’s introduction music.

Clay Fighter Tournament Edition isn’t the first Clay Fighter. It’s technically an upgrade of the first game. It works in the vein of a Street Fighter II Turbo. Expanding the content, along with some tweaks. But just like the original vanilla version, it’s a parody of Street Fighter II. It also has a few jabs at Mortal Kombat, although there aren’t any fatalities to speak of. Actually, as you’ll see it mocks the entire fighting game genre.

Clay Fighter TE has its own storyline. It’s silly, and preposterous but gives you a reason as to why these characters exist. As well as why they’re beating up each other. One day a meteor falls from the sky, and completely levels a carnival. When this happens, all of the various performers are mutated into stop motion behemoths. Each of them are stand ins for the archetypes you see in other fighting games.

Bad Mr. Frosty is Clay Fighter’s Ryu. He is a snow man who spreads pain rather than joy. He is the flagship character of the series, appearing in every iteration. There are a host of other favorites like Helga, the opera singer. Taffy, who is made of, well, taffy. Bonker is a psychotic clown character. Because you can’t have a carnival or circus theme without one. But he’s honestly a pretty fun character here. There’s Ickybod Clay, a reference to Sleepy Hollow. There’s Elvis Presley impersonator Blue Suede Goo.  There’s Tiny, who of course is not tiny at all. He’s the game’s Zangief. Rounding it out you have The Blob. Who is quite literally a blob of clay.

The art, and general look of Clay Fighter is awesome. Each character has gone through a painstaking creation process. They were modeled in clay, then animated in stop motion, and then the animated frames were scanned into the game. The finished product looks somewhere between Street Fighter’s airbrushed look, and Mortal Kombat’s digitized actors. It would have been easy for Visual Concepts (Yes. That Visual Concepts) to have slapped some clones together or digitize their own actors. But the extra effort goes a long way here.

Stage backgrounds are also really cool. As with the characters themselves, the stages are mostly clay models that were photographed, and placed in the game. You can tell which parts were drawn in to go along with the photos, which can be a little jarring. But for all intents, and purposes these are some well crafted backgrounds. Moreover, the fighting system in Clay Fighter TE is pretty good. It’s clear the designers knew eventually the jokes would stop being funny. So they had to keep you playing. Rather than do it with more gimmicks, they built a solid game underneath it all. There is definitely enough here to make you fire it up every now, and again.

The fighting system does borrow a lot from Street Fighter II. Most of the characters moves are performed with similar quarter circle movements, or back, and forward charges. As for the regular moves it also borrows Capcom’s 6 button layout. There are weak, medium, and strong attacks for both kicks, and punches. Tournament Edition also takes a page from SFII Turbo by implementing a speed feature. So if you’re used to zany speeds in your fighters there’s something here for you. With that said, the game’s mechanics aren’t quite up to the level of Street Fighter II. The hit boxes around characters are a little bit more forgiving, and some characters have special moves with very similar inputs. Sometimes you might want to have Bad Mr. Frosty throw a snowball fist, only to perform his ice breath instead.

While that is certainly bad news, it isn’t so bad that it takes away from the fun. The moves do work, but you’ll have to learn the specific  differences in their commands. This way you’re consistently doing the special moves you want, instead of accidentally doing the ones you don’t. The game also does let you get in a number of combos, and two in one attacks. While you wouldn’t think a parody game could be competitive, Clay Fighter Tournament Edition actually can be. Even if it isn’t likely to be in a high-profile tournament these days. Those who simply love the fighting game genre should still find some fun in it.

Clay Fighter Tournament Edition has your basic modes. There is the standard arcade mode where you have to beat the roster, then a boss. Strangely, the game will have you re match three characters once you beat the roster. Once you’ve done that, then you can go up against the final boss. The game’s boss is a little bit underwhelming though. It is just a bunch of clay balls animated to make out a face. It can use all of the characters’ various projectile moves. On higher difficulties the boss, and the game in general is a challenge. Often times things veer into cheap territory. But if you want the game’s best endings you’ll want to play the game through on its harder settings.

Beyond the arcade ladder is the standard 1 on 1 Vs. mode. Each player picks a character, the number of rounds needed to win, and their handicap. Aside from that there is also the Tournament ladder. Here you can have up to 8 people play through a bracket to get to the top spot. Handy for the odd time you have a number of people over.

Overall, Clay Fighter TE holds up pretty well. It has a goofy charm to its silliness. The fighting system is pretty good, and it is still fun to play. It might not be able to captivate you very long in today’s crowded crop of excellent fighters. But it is a fun diversion. Plus its still miles ahead of the mediocre fighters we’ve seen over the last 20 years. If you find a copy in your area pick it up. If you have a Wii, the original is also on the Shop Channel.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

 

Ultra Street Fighter IV Review

(Edit: “Final” was changed to “Latest”. Why? Well as the Otaku Judge pointed out in the comments, it isn’t a guarantee that this is the last version of SFIV. It was an oversight on my part, and I’m sorry. So it’s been corrected.)

The latest revision to Capcom’s flagship fighter hit consoles earlier this year. It recently landed on Steam. So is Ultra Street Fighter IV a worthy upgrade? It depends.

PROS: Additions to the fighting system. More refinements.

CONS: Most of the new content is recycled from Street Fighter X Tekken.

DEVO: Apparently Hugo is a spudboy.

It’s hard to believe, but Street Fighter IV is already almost six years old. It came out back near the end of 2008 on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Windows. It was a smash hit receiving critical acclaim. Older fans loved it because it brought back the feel of Street Fighter II. Newer fans liked it for taking chances with newer characters with new play styles. It even officially brought in Gouken. Ryu, and Ken’s master. Before SFIV, he was little more than an April Fool’s joke by the editors of Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Street Fighter IV was then followed up with Super Street Fighter IV which added a lot of beloved characters from Street Fighter III, and Street Fighter Alpha. This updated version wasn’t released on Windows, but it did start the trend of expansion packs in Street Fighter. Previous buyers could buy the added content at a much lower price than repurchasing an entire game.

Super Street Fighter IV was followed up with Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. This release did come out on Windows in addition to the console versions. SSFIVAE once again took community feedback to heart. By rebalancing the characters’ attacks, defensive moves, and frame data. On top of that, it gave fans Evil Ryu, Oni, Yun, and Yang.

So now we come to Ultra Street Fighter IV. This is supposed to be the final version of the game. Street Fighter games have always seemed to follow this trend of updated versions. Most notably Street Fighter II, which is probably the most popular fighting game ever made. SFII gave us SFII Championship Edition (which made bosses playable), SFII Turbo (Gave us faster gameplay, refined characters with buffs, and nerfs), and Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (added Cammy, Dee Jay, Feilong, and T. Hawk). Then it all culminated with Super Street Fighter II Turbo. A game that did some more balancing, and added the desperation super combos we love to the series.

Ultra Street Fighter IV feels a lot like Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Not in the game play. This is still decidedly Street Fighter IV. But in terms of the new content it is pretty light. USFIV is not a bad game by any stretch. The refinements to the characters are definitely thought out well. If you’ve played all of the various versions of SFIV before hand you will notice some combos have different timings. Or changes to the amount of damage a lot of moves do. The really in-depth players who enter tournaments will definitely be happy with these changes, as most of them do make all of the characters a little bit more viable.

Lapsed players, or folks who only pop it in when their buddies come over may not notice the under the hood stuff. For them, the newer additions, and content are going to be more interesting. On the plus side, There has been a new type of Focus Attack added in, as well as a new Ultra Combo finisher option. The Focus Attack addition is actually quite nice. In order to use it you must have at least two of the combo meter segments full.  It allows you to absorb much more damage during an attack. It also fills the revenge meter for your Ultra Combos faster. It adds a little bit more strategy in doing so.

You’ll be debating whether you should hang on to your combo meter for an Ultra combo, or use some of it on an EX attack, or if you should use the enhanced Focus Attack. Players can also use the enhanced Focus Attack as a cancel. During an EX attack, players can use the enhanced Focus Attack to cancel the move. It can also be used to delay the wakeup time when getting up from being knocked down. The newest Ultra Combos (marked with a “W”) are an option that allow you to use either one of your standard Ultra Combos. This is handy in the sense that you may find your opponent can easily get around your favorite one. So you can surprise them by using the second one instead. Or vice versa. The drawback is that this option does less damage than sticking with one of the two Ultra Combos.

Other new features were added as well. One of them being an online training mode. This is actually a really cool feature, as you can have higher level players teach you things, rather than fighting an NPC aimlessly. Or having the game bark inputs at you, and then giving a pass or fail. In the past, if you wanted to learn online it meant rematch after rematch as there was either a time limit, or a life bar running out.

Online fighting retains everything from SSFIVAE. You can still save replays. In fact, you can now upload your matches to your YouTube account. You can still opt for a quick match, or a ranked match. Ranked matches again involve Battle Points. Depending on who you defeat or lose to, you will win or lose Battle Points. Wins will also go a long way to updating your report card. Going against other people online you will run into D’s C’s,B’s, and A’s. you can choose to fight people in your report card rank, or people with a higher rank. Beating someone with a higher rank will certainly help you more than beating someone with the same or lower rank.

Net code has been refined as well. Overall things seem smoother, and matches usually go swimmingly. Though on the PC version there are still the occasional lag filled matches. Even when the indicator reports a solid connection. This may be due to the recent change over from Microsoft’s Games For Windows client to Valve’s Steam Client.  It doesn’t happen enough to make the game unplayable, but it can be annoying when it gets in a funk. During these times, you may attempt to get into a match 3 or 4 times before it finally decides to let you connect.

One thing players of the Windows version will appreciate is that Capcom’s benchmarking utility is still included, along with many options. The PC settings allow for resolution changes, lighting effects, rendering effects, and added texture effects for the characters once again. The game also still supports keyboards, game pads, and arcade sticks. So there are options for everyone. For offline multiplayer, you can now choose versions of each character. So if you want to pit the super Sagat from the original SFIV against the current Ryu, you can. This feature has been used in previous Street Fighter Collections, and so now it shows its head here.

The rest of the content is pretty thin though. The new characters, and backgrounds have almost all been regurgitated from Street Fighter X Tekken. And while playing with some of these characters is welcome, none of them will feel new. Almost every die-hard Street Fighter fan has at least tried SFxT. They’ve seen the Jurassic Park knock off stage. They’ve seen the Cosmic Elevator. They’ve played as Elena, Hugo, Poison, and Rolento. All of the move sets from these characters are pretty much the same. But they have been readjusted for the different speed of SFIV. The only stand out character of the new additions is Decapre. Decapre is still a little bit disappointing though as she is a re-skinned model of Cammy. To be fair, none of her moves are shared with Cammy, and instead of quarter circle style special moves, she has charge attack style special moves.

In the end, buying this is going to come down to how deep into Street Fighter you are. Dyed in the wool fans who want to play with the latest balances, and who study frame data will want this. Average fans who want a complete roster might want to buy the upgrade if they happen to own Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. As a standalone game it isn’t going to be recommended unless you haven’t played a Street Fighter title in a very long time. If you have a previous Street Fighter IV title, and only play it a few times a year, you can skip this one. It isn’t going to make you a Street Fighter fiend.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Reposted Review: Bionic Commando

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(Originally posted on Retro Retreat before its hiatus.)

Binary Domain, American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns, Anarchy Reigns.

 If this generation has proved anything as we go into the next, critical reception on anything under the “Good, but not flawless” banner has been much louder than those who accept titles under that banner for what they are.

PROS: Nice Visuals. Swinging mechanics are fun.

CONS: Direction isn’t always clear. DOA Multiplayer.

SAY WHA?: The “Oh come on” surprise in the storyline.

Bionic Commando is one of the games this generation where this has never been truer. Developed by GRIN, (Who would cease to exist shortly after Bionic Commando’s release) Bionic Commando seems on it’s face to hit all of the bullet points third person action fans would come to expect. It has really nice visuals. It gets the swinging mechanic the series it continues is known for right.

It has some fun action, and mechanics. It has a stock action movie story done in the way one might expect. It has notable voice actors like Steven Blum attached to it. Like most action games, it even puts in a pretty fun multiplayer mode.

Giving players all of these things would lead one to believe nobody would take any serious issues with the game. So just why did this game get such a bad buzz three years ago?

Bionic Commando (For those who skipped it) is a third person action game that attempts to continue the mythos set up by the original arcade game, and it’s NES port.

In the original game players took control of Super Joe, and with his grappling hook snuck around vast levels as waves of enemies came from all sides. In this game, several years have passed, and a new Bionic Commando named Nathan Spencer is on death row. A mysterious attack that vaporizes Ascension City occurs however, and Super Joe is able to negotiate Nathan’s release by convincing the authorities he’s the only one who can figure out why the city was destroyed, and by whom.

As the story progresses the game essentially becomes a cut, and paste Government betrayal B Action movie plot, but it is done entertainingly, and Steven Blum is as fun as ever playing the role of Super Joe.

The gameplay is broken up between bits of platforming, stealth, and shootouts. All of which will require players to master the game’s swinging mechanics. The swinging mechanics are a lot of fun, and are easily the best part of playing Bionic Commando. Nathan can swing from point to point like Spider-Man. He can reel himself in, and as the game progresses perform signature attack moves. Swinging cars, or forklifts, or boulders into giant mechs, or groups of foot soldiers becomes an awesome experience.

Other times you will have to sneak up upon snipers through alternate routes through stages as going gung-ho will probably get you killed. Within each level are also certain collectibles you can seek out. Collecting them all will unlock concept art, special moves or other secrets.

The game has a radar system that points you where to go, but it isn’t always clear on how to get there. It’s here where one of the main criticisms those who didn’t like the game fairly bring up. Stages have borders on every axis. Going too far out the stage leads Nathan into radioactive clouds of doom, and a Game Over screen. On the positive side this does prevent players from trying to cheat their way around levels by going above or around everything. On the negative side

is the fact that the outskirts of the levels aren’t always apparent. So in some stages you may find yourself restarting several times as you try to figure out just where exactly doesn’t lead to a restart. All of that being said, it still isn’t anywhere near as bad as they would have you believe.

The campaign does line up into a structure (Including a few nice training missions to help you master the controls) Most stages involve getting to a few check points through the platforming sections, then doing some light combat in between. Checkpoints are veiled as radio beacons that have to be hacked in order to progress, and to give you background exposition you can read if you’ve become vested in the storyline. Certain points in the game will have you using specialized weapons from shotguns, to sniper rifles, to rocket launchers. Gunplay seems fine with not much to gripe about, although some players may wish they could attack with their bionic arm more than resorting to the weapons. Interestingly one classic game element Bionic Commando brings back to action fans are Gibbs. Ballistics, and explosives will sometimes dismember the enemy grunts bringing one back to the classic days of scoring headshots in Unreal Tournament.

It doesn’t add anything to the gameplay mind you, but with so few games doing it this generation, it is one of the small touches you will likely remember. Environments do change a bit here, and there throughout the campaign to keep you from getting bored hanging out in a destroyed metropolis too. Including underground caverns, and forests. Boss battles are actually a lot of fun, as they require the use of precision swinging as well as whatever weapons the game requires you to use to beat them. Again, some will decry the fact you can’t do it all with the grappling arm, but again it doesn’t make for a terrible game.

Multiplayer at this point is dead so going to attempt it is pointless. But upon release would have made for an honestly interesting variant on the typical Deathmatch modes. Maps again, like the single player bosses required good players to be able to balance shooting, with swinging, and stealth. One can only hope a future developer can make the idea work for Capcom as a Bionic Commando title or another developer as a competent multiplayer shooter.

Unfortunately with no multiplayer to give it longevity the entire game has to be judged by it’s single player campaign. Be that as it may, Bionic Commando isn’t a bad game by any means. It certainly isn’t flawless, and there are certain advantages or disadvantages between versions. On the Xbox 360 you have your usual achievement system, but there are some minor clipping bugs. On the Playstation 3 you get pretty much the exact same game as the Xbox 360. Buying the Windows version will net you much nicer textures, and a higher resolution. But there are no achievements, and using the mouse, and keyboard will still display the button layout for the Xbox 360 pad. So those picking it up on Steam will probably want to use the 360 pad despite the faster response times of mice.

Bionic Commando was one of those titles that was killed by an undeserved bad reputation. It’s a shame that GRIN’s follow up Terminator Salvation which really was a bad game, outsold it before the studio was forced to close. At $10 on Steam it’s worth seeing what you missed if you never gave it a shot upon release. For those on consoles it can also be found fairly inexpensively.

Final Score: 7 out of 10 (Pick it up. It’s a fun weekend in.)