Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection (Switch) Review
I always felt like I missed out a bit when it came to Street Fighter. During my childhood, I only ever had Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo, and not the one with the cool boss characters I could play as. The boring one. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I dived head first into the franchise, absorbing everything that I could. Everyone’s story with Street Fighter is bound to be different, but there’s no denying the franchise’s importance in establishing the genre. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is essentially a celebration of that importance, bringing together a large part of the Street Fighter canon into an easily accessible package.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection could be considered an anthology of the game’s history before they made the jump to 3D. That’s basically the first four Street Fighter games and their numerous revisions. Of the twelve games included, you get every version of Street Fighter II released in arcades, as well as every available version of both Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter III. You’ll get the first game too, which is not so good, but I’ll briefly touch upon that later.
The nature of fighting games means that each revision is better than the game it builds upon (for the most part). While I find it a bit weird to include every revision for each game, it does make the package feel a bit more substantial than if it were just four games. You really get a feel for the refinements and changes that were made with each iteration. Alpha 3, for example, introduced controversial meter systems that have lead many to declare Alpha 2 to be more balanced. Alpha 3 has a much larger roster, however. So having both is a nice touch.
Still, I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed that the fantastic Street Fighter IV didn’t make an appearance here. Capcom has previously got the game running on the 3DS and mobile phones, so it’s inclusion here in some form would’ve dovetailed quite nicely with the rest of the collection. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but it seems more than doable from a technical perspective. Not including the now discontinued Ultra Street Fighter II (released last year for Switch) seems like a missed opportunity too.
Capcom has dabbled in releasing collections of their Street Fighter games in the past, but nothing has been treated with as much love and nostalgia as with this collection. Besides the games, the collection is jam-packed with artwork, character biographies, sprite galleries, pitch documents and an interactive timeline to explore the franchise history. There’s a heap of interesting stuff that most players will find some value in. As a follower of the Street Fighter canon myself, there was materials in this package I’d never seen before. It really does feel quite substantial, and less like a quick and dirty ROM dump.
The most important aspect of this package is the games, and for most of them, they deliver. These are arcade perfect ports, potentially the most competent Capcom has ever put out. Despite this, the first Street Fighter game is easily the most awkward and feels like it’s only here for nostalgic purposes. It’s quick, it’s rough and it only serves to contextualise how important and relevant Street Fighter II, Alpha and III are to the genre. Its inclusion is appreciated, but it’s the one game that you’ll barely touch in the collection.
A quick aside – when all these games were released on consoles, they had a wealth of new content added to them to further extend the experience. Anniversary Collection keeps it incredibly simple, offering a versus mode as well as a training mode for select games in the package. This means that the quirkier, extra modes and the like added to the home console versions are missing which is a bit disappointing. Once again, for the core fans of the franchise, this probably isn’t that big a deal, but it does mean technically we’re not getting the most complete versions of these games in the package.
The online modes are surprisingly robust too. Both ranked and casual modes are provided, but it’s the way the collection brings together these games that are special. At the beginning of each round, players can both select what game they’ll play before being taken straight to the character select screen. This process happens in a matter of seconds and it’s impressive that within minutes players can switch to a Street Fighter III match after completing a match of, say, Street Fighter Alpha. You can even play against the CPU while the game searches for you in the background, emulating that “classic” Arcade experience.
This comes with a minor caveat, however. The latest revisions of Street Fighter II, Alpha, and III are the only ones playable online. For some reason I’m not quite sure of, the second revision of Street Fighter II is also blessed with online functionality. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but Street Fighter purists will find some frustration in not being able to (as a specific example) play Alpha 2 online, which is the most balanced of the Alpha games. I acknowledge this is an issue that only the most hardcore of fans will have, but one that’s worth mentioning. On the flipside, all twelve games can be played with a friend locally which is great both at home and on-the-go in handheld mode.
In terms of the performance for online, it is a little bit spotty. When joining another Australian in a lobby, the matches were near flawless, with the occasional spike of lag but nothing truly unbearable. When playing the Arcade mode, where a random person could join me at any moment, the online was much less bearable. Visuals and audio stuttered to the point where the game would stop for two or so seconds every few seconds. I waited until after launch to see if this problem remedied itself, but it didn’t. If you’ve got mates to play with local to you, Anniversary Collection runs smoothly. Otherwise, it might be worth waiting for an update or a patch from Capcom.
Visually, the games look as good as sprite-based games can, but Street Fighter III is easily the standout here. The animation is phenomenal with some sprite and pixel art that many developers would struggle to match even today. Beyond that, these games look and play just like you remember them. There are some options to change the appearance of art on the border of the games, or to blow the image of the game itself up to the point where the border disappears, and the game fills the screen. There’s not a whole slew of visual customisations that retro collections of this ilk usually offer, but their omission means you’ll be getting the purest, most authentic classic Street Fighter experience there is.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is about as definitive as you can get when it comes to arcade perfect ports of Street Fighter II, Alpha and III. Die-hard fans of the series will appreciate the dedication to a perfect emulation of the arcade experience, but this is ironically the package’s biggest downfall. Some glaring omissions aside, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection represents the best way to play the majority of the classic Street Fighter canon competitively and that’s got to be worth something.
+ Perfect Arcade Ports
+ Quick and Speedy Online
+ Wealth of Archived Content
- Spotty Online Performance
- Console Extras Are Missing