If I was honest, aside from the Super Smash Bros. series, I’ve never found myself naturally gravitate toward the fighting genre. Although, that isn’t to say I haven’t had my fair share of experiences with it or have any less admiration for the intricacies of its design.
I’d largely admit that it isn’t an area in which my gaming skills evidently came to light growing up. More akin to tackling haunted mansions, thwarting Ganondorf’s plans and returning Pikmin to safety, successfully landing uppercuts and energised hadoken on advancing opponents was always a struggle.
Finding ourselves treated with a triad of Street Fighter SNES classics slamming their way to the Wii U’s Virtual Console service, I took the opportunity to see whether I could fare any better. The answer sadly being a resounding no.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed the toils of attempting to get to grips with Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, but it served as a reminder as to how inaccessible the genre used to be. Easily the cream of the crop out of the three Nintendo eShop additions, The New Challengers was born at a time where there was still plenty of scope to revolutionise the genre, introducing a combo system that delivered a knockout punch to competitors and has rippled its way through the series to date.
That said, in recent years we’ve become accustomed to practice modes to ease in newcomers, and there isn’t any of that to be found here – players instead having to resort to the Virtual Console release’s accompanying digital manual to swot up on character move sets. If you’re playing for the first time, prepare for what can easily become a fairly punishing experience.
Yet for veterans that have more familiarity with the series, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied and differentiate your experience. Multiple game modes see you fighting your way through the competition in Super Battle, taking on a friend in Versus Battle, or fending off foes in the eight-player elimination Tournament Battle – not to mention Group Battle or Time Challenge. The New Challengers was also the first to enlist T. Hawk, Dee Jay, Fei Long and Cammy to the character roster, granting a comparison to how they have changed throughout the years.
It remains to stand as the genre-defining moment of the SNES era, and that in itself presents the most opportune reason to revisit the game’s pixelated glory through the Virtual Console.