posted by June 25 at 13:48 PMon
Last week, the folks at Capcom sent along a downloadable copy of Commando 3, the never-awaited sequel to their ’80s top-down arcade shooter (think Ikari Warriors or Smash TV). For $10, you get roughly an hour and a half of mindless dudes to shoot guns at. The demo got me excited, but the full game loses steam really quickly.
So why mention it? The game also includes a preview bonus for the online Street Fighter II remake coming later this year. That bonus was unlocked this morning, and since I’m a goddamned Street Fighter freak, I’ve since wasted a sunny Seattle morning getting beaten down by fireball-throwing 12-year-olds.
Previews for this game have emphasized the HD part of the game’s stupidly long title (“Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix,” choke). The whole game’s been redrawn to fill every overpriced dot on a 1080p display, and apparently, those new pixels are dedicated to man-muscle:
Giambi Fighter? Grody. But the exaggerated style works in motion, and SSF2THDR (sheez) winds up looking and playing fluidly, especially compared to preview versions that looked herky-jerky. An even bigger deal is that this is the smoothest online fighting game I’ve ever played. Weird that it’s taken ‘til 2008 to get this right, but fighting games can’t get away with the online tricks that World of Warcraft or even online shooters can. Nuts and bolts: Most other games guess what you’re doing between the milliseconds that go by with natural Internet latency. Fighting games are too twitchy for that, which means they often freeze to allow catch-up. Not here. I had nobody to blame but myself when I got my ass handed to me five times in a row this morning. For a “beta” test version of the game, this already runs quite well.
Also cool is the game’s online matchmaking. You typically land in a mini-lobby where two people are already playing, and a few contenders line up behind them. Everyone can hear each other’s microphone chatter. The winner of a given match then sticks around to take on the folks in line. It’s this sensation that got me antsy to write about the game. Just add the heavy aroma of greasy pizza, and you’ve got the corner-shop arcade experience that made Street Fighter II such a social gaming phenomenon in the ’90s—stacking quarters on the cabinet to wait your turn, cheering on the kid who was the corner shop’s champ, rooting for the eventual underdog victory. Arcades are a dying breed, so even though the base game is ancient, the authenticity makes this a worthy retread.
The full version doesn’t have a set release date; “before 2009” is the current claim. There’s also a 3D Street Fighter IV in the works, which is supposed to be a simple, “back to the roots” game with its own multiplayer modes, so I’m not sure why this one’s coming out, too. (Perhaps they felt like Street Fighter fans didn’t have enough options?) Still, for what this beta test gets right, I say bring on the ethnic stereotype fighting bonanza.