Growing up there was nothing quite like booting up a console with friends, popping on a fighting game and proceeding to virtually beat the crap out of each other. I can’t begin to imagine the number of hours I spent in front of TVs through the SNES and PS1 eras with Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat and a group of friends. In a bid to relive my childhood I went hands-on with Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and found a bunch of games that feel exactly like I remember, which is both great and disappointing at the same time.
At first glance, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a simple collection of retro games, which is hardly a rarity today, but in reality, its filled with some of the best emulation I have ever seen in a retro collection. From Street Fighter to Street Fighter Fighter III: Third Strike, every game that controlled and responded exactly as I remembered from my childhood. Chun Li, Ryu, Zangief and more filled my vision like ghosts of my past and brought about the same joy and frustration as they once did, all those years ago. Developers Digital Eclipse called their emulation of the 12 games contained within Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection arcade-perfect and they aren’t wrong.
That arcade-perfect emulation spans across the 12 games contained within Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, leaving you with a whole lot of content to experience. With a few clicks you can quickly jump into the arcade or versus modes of any of the games, ready to smack down. It’s quick and responsive, but the fact that the game makes you select a mode prior to selecting which game to play means that swapping between modes in-game is impossible. Instead, you have to bounce back to the main menu, before swapping modes and jumping back in. It’s a slightly frustrating design choice, which sadly describes a few of the decisions seemingly made in the creation of this collection.
One of the big additions contained in Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is the introduction of online multiplayer and training modes. Without context these sound like fantastic additions, allowing you to utilise some of the modern evolutions to the fighter genre. However, in practice, these are constrained modes that don’t match up against the competition. Both of these additions have only been made to four games in the collection, which makes sense for online as managing twelve separate queues and lobbies would be quite the challenge. Unfortunately, even with this restriction there are still issues with playing online. Matches are quick to find, as long as you don’t want to play Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, but once in a match they’re often plagued with lag and connection issues that destroy the experience.
The training mode is similarly frustrating, specifically due to its lack of features. Unlike many modern fighters, which can trigger a simulation of a move, run through tutorials or even simply put the required buttons for moves on-screen, this training mode is barren and lifeless. All you are given is a character select screen and a stationary opponent that does nothing but stand, crouch, jump or guard, but not all at the same time. This is still a step up from the non-existent training modes of the originals, but they feel like they’re a decade behind the competition.
The best part of Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection comes in the form of the trappings around the games themselves – specifically The Museum. There’s the Music Player, which contains every track from all twelve games, waiting for you to play them. There’s the character profiles, detailing every single character contained in the games and a collection of sprites that you can freely switch between. Then there’s the pièce de résistance, original pitch documents for four of the games and an interactive franchise timeline that is a blast to read through. This is the type of additional content that all retro collections should include going forward.
Overall, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is like going back in time to my childhood. The nostalgia is great, but decades of improvements to the fighter formula and genre mean that nostalgia isn’t enough to carry me through. Online issues and a training mode barren of modern trappings drag down the experience created by the perfect emulation and fantastic museum. Unless you’re a long running fan of the franchise or specifically want to check out the history of Street Fighter, there are many better options out there in the genre.
- Arcade-perfect emulation - Museum content is fantastic
- Training mode is bare bones - Online matches are lag ridden