Street Fighter II Turbo: A Beat-Em-Up Worth Beating Up

Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES
You win!

Released in February of 1991, this is one of the most legendary fighting games of all time. It hit the arcades as Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting in 1992. Capcom then made a port for Nintendo’s SNES in 1993 and, for many kids, this remains the beat-em-up of their youth. Hadouken!

Street Fighter II Turbo

Right, so this was the third game in the series, but Capcom’s inexplicable and bizarre naming decisions for the franchise mean the whole thing is a mess. Look at this crap:

  • Street Fighter II – Special Champion Edition
  • Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
  • Street Fighter II Plus
  • Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
  • Fighting Street (that’s the name it got on the failed Turbo CD console)
  • Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams
  • Street Fighter Zero (the Game Boy Color version of Alpha)
  • Street Fighter Alpha 2
  • Street Fighter Zero 2
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3
  • Street Fighter Zero 3 – Saikyou-ryuu Dojo (Dreamcast edition)
  • Street Fighter Zero 2 Arrange
  • Hyper Street Fighter Alpha
  • Hyper Street Fighter Zero
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max
  • Street Fighter Zero 3 Double Upper
  • Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike – Fight for the Future
  • Super Street Fighter 64: Revenge of the Killer Pyjamas (that’s the one we made up)

Despite it all getting stupid, Street Fighter II Turbo was early on and really has a place as one of the greatest games on the SNES. Now, we really can’t stand beat-em-ups as a genre. There’s something about them we find utterly insipid – the repetitive nature, perhaps, or the juvenile violence.

But genre behemoths like Tekken, Soul Calibur, Smash Bros, and Capcom’s effort have a legion of fans. And for what it’s worth, our nostalgia glands have a lot of time for Turbo. The SNES the Wapojif seniors bought us in the early 1990s came bundled with it. So, we didn’t get a choice – first world problems forced us to play it!

Capcom essentially took Street Fighter II and overhauled it, offering higher speeds, slightly better graphics, and a better soundtrack. But it’s made researching the game a bit difficult, because of all the minor bloody differences between II and Turbo (and how most clips on YouTube cover the former rather than the latter).

But the idea for this title is to demand better skills from players. And you do need it – this thing is damn tough. But it’s also iconic. Some of the sound effects and music are legendary, with the former featuring Ryu doing some fancy noises.

And with a roster of characters including Ken, Chun Li, Guile, Blanka, and that obese sumo guy, you have everything adding up to create something of a weirdly engaging beat-em-up masterpiece.

There’s just something about it that’s so compelling. The graphics are fantastic, atmosphere engrossing, and it’s so challenging – skilled players really do make a difference. And with each stage packed with character, it stands as a beat-em-up that even non-beat-em-up fans can adore. And, as Ryu would say, that’s tatsumaki senpuu kyaku!

Ryu’s Ranting

A quick aside here on Ryu’s iconic catchphrases. Just what is the black belt dude on about? There are three lines he uses whenever he performs a certain special move. These are, along with their respective meanings:

  • Hadouken: In his native language that’s 波動拳. It means “wave motion fist”, which is pretty… stupid.
  • Tatsumaki senpuu kyaku: The rather catchy 竜巻旋風脚. It basically means “tornado whirlwind leg”. Apt!
  • Shoryuken: That’s 昇龍拳. It’s “rising dragon fist”, although there are no dragons in the game. So Capcom lied to us… damn them.

Ultra-Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

To honour the Turbo game, Capcom went ahead and did this thing in 2017. It’s a graphical overhaul of Turbo and it looks pretty fancy, eh? It’s only available on the Nintendo Switch at the moment and had decent reviews – it’s a nostalgia trip, for anyone interested.

Addendum: The Terrible Film

Finally, the series was so successful it triggered off a shambolic, so-bad-it’s-fantastic film adaptation in 1994.

Yes, this thing truly is a masterpiece of awful. Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue, and respected British actor Simon Callow. The American-Japanese production went some way to suggesting video game to movie adaptations should just bloody stop.

Still, despite the overwhelmingly negative reviews it now has a cult classic status. Mainly as it’s so ridiculously camp, self-aware, and bloody terrible.

8 comments

  1. I didn’t play that many fighting games growing up, but Street Fighter II was a rare exception. I really think it’s deserving of its status, and it really is an addictive game – particularly in multiplayer. I’m still waiting for the fifty-year anniversary when we’ll likely see Capcom drop Transcendental Street Fighter II.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really can’t stand beat-em-ups, but Street Fighter II has a certain something about it. I played it loads as a kid, then at uni with my friends until 4 am in the morning. Them were the days.

      Haha yeah, 50 years in and it’s… well, the series will still be going, you can tell. I guess it’ll be VR headsets by then.

      Liked by 1 person

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