Street Fighter Anniversary Collection PS2 Review

Nothing beats a company celebrating the games that made them famous. How they celebrate makes all the difference. In this case, Capcom should really know better. Die-hard fans really get shut out here, though the more mainstream crowd should be happy.

"Street Fighter Anniversary Collection" features two games, "Hyper Street Fighter II" and "Street Fighter III: Third Strike." The true fans already know that "Hyper" is very close to a bonus feature on "Street Fighter Collection Volume 2" for the PS One. Everyone should know "SFIII" is one of the deepest fighting games of all time.

Taking the characters from every version of the classic "SFII" series, "Hyper" players can select not only a character, but also a specific version of the character. With each successive upgrade in the arcades, the trademarked fighters were tweaked, changed, and made weaker or stronger. Here, players can take Ken from the first iteration of the game against a Ken from the final rendition. General players will hardly notice a difference, but having Ken perform a Dragon Punch in the original is nothing like using it in "Super SFII Turbo."

The idea, though not original, is a good one. All the various character portraits, music, and voices are present to coincide with each character. This is great for multi-player, but the computer AI is just awful. Actually, it's good, just not for any normal human player. Here, they whip out fireballs, grab from halfway across the screen, and have a reaction time no person could ever hope to counter even on the easiest setting. It also seems like the only variation they pick is the "SSFII Turbo" variety. You'll very rarely see them take a character from a different game.

Also missing are the different stages. All of these are taken from the final version. The pre-fight screens and life bars are also the same. Why Capcom failed to just include all of the games in one package is baffling. It's highly doubtful that space was at a premium. The second edition of the "Collection" series only went up to "SFII Turbo," so two extra sets of characters have been included here.

"Street Fighter III" is included here for the second time on a home console. The first was on the Dreamcast and the game has since become an overly expensive collector's item. This is the game you will generally see in tournaments and internet videos. The possibilities are endless with this fighting system, the animation flawless (ousting even the best in 3-D), and the parry system is the best in the business. This is hardly a game for newcomers. Both games feature flawless control (as expected), though an arcade stick is the only way to go with this set.

Special features are not quite spectacular for an anniversary celebration, but anything is a bonus. The original "Street Fighter Animated Movie" is included here in its censored form, though the quality is rather poor (compression is obvious). Multiple soundtracks for both games have been included as have all the various arcade game intros. There is nothing to unlock. Everything is available from the menu from the moment the game begins. Online play is not included for PS2 owners, but those on XBox Live will get a version a little later this year.

This is a major disappointment. Sure, the games are great (still some of the best available), but there is so much lost potential. If you already own the Dreamcast version of "SFIII" and "Volume 2," there is almost no reason to buy this. You pretty much own it already. If you don't, this isn't a bad choice.

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