Street Fighter 2 Review – Still a Masterpiece Over 3 Decades Later

Street Fighter 2 Review – Still a Masterpiece Over 3 Decades Later

Last Updated on June 25, 2023

I recently reviewed the original Street Fighter, and let’s just say the series had a shaky start. Street Fighter 2 is where the games found their footing and created a strong foundation that’s still used today. There are countless versions of Street Fighter 2. I’m playing ‘World Warrior’ on the 30th Anniversary Collection for this review.

The Anniversary Collection has no menu, so I’m whisked straight to the character select screen. There are only 8 fighters, but each feels completely different besides Ryu and Ken. I’m unoriginal, so I pick Ryu for my first go.

As soon as my first fight starts, I immediately notice how responsive everything feels. I can perform special moves effortlessly, and the light, medium, and heavy punches and kicks all have their uses. Another thing that’s quickly apparent is how good the game looks. The fighters are beautifully detailed, and the backgrounds of each locale are busy and full of life. I’ve played a lot of Street Fighter over the years, and although the combat is simpler than later entries, everything I expect from a great Tournament Fighter is here.

Even though my opponents knock me out of the air like a seasoned pro every time, I keep coming back for more because combat still feels fair… mostly.

Each fighter has a distinct playstyle, and although I’ve never got on with the ‘charge’ inputs of characters like Blanka, they work remarkably well. Thanks to the strong roster, Street Fighter 2 is incredibly replayable if you can stomach the difficulty. The CPU is absolutely brutal, even on easy settings. Fights occasionally border frustrating, but it’s bearable as the controls don’t feel like they are working against you.

I did notice slowdowns when I landed special moves. I’m unsure if this is a hardware issue, but it rarely affected the outcome of my battles.

For a fantasy fighting game, Street Fighter 2 feels ‘grounded.’ I love the pace of battles and have just enough time to react to my opponent rather than mashing. Even though my opponents knock me out of the air like a seasoned pro every time, I keep coming back for more because combat still feels fair… mostly.

Image by GamingRetro

Just because boundaries are set for me, I realize they are more like guidelines for my CPU opponent. Characters like Guile use ‘charge’ inputs. This means the fighter needs to retreat or crouch to do special moves. In SF2, CPU Guile has no problem letting off Sonic Booms while standing still, which should be impossible.

This would be an issue in the Arcade, where Guile could literally steal your lunch money, but at home, with infinite retries, it’s okay. I can usually find holes to pick in older games, but aside from cheesy AI and the odd slowdown, it’s incredible how playable this classic is.

The verdict on Street Fighter 2

Street Fighter 2 has aged like a fine wine and is just as fun and replayable as in 1991. Fighting feels smooth and responsive, and the title is on a whole other level than its predecessor. Many hold SF2 in high regard, and it’s not hard to see why.

Weekly newsletterGet the latest retro gaming news in your inbox