Monday, 9 December 2013

Chapter IV: Street Fighter II – The World Warrior

In the early nineties, hearing about the Street Fighter II arcade game was akin to hearing about women breasts. Every kid heard about it, some of them actually saw them but none have played it. For one to enter an arcade saloon it had to be over 16 years of age, which was something me and my friends were far from. Still, one of my best friends, “Palm Tree Paul”, said he played the game on a hotel lobby while on holidays. It could be true, it could be not but it didn’t mattered. All the facts that he spew about the game were indeed facts, but he could have seen it on a magazine or heard from an older guy but nonetheless made the game even more desirable for us. Like hearing an older kid talking about breasts.

Some months passed, and rumours about home conversions of the game came to be. I never believed the game could be released on an Amiga, since it seemed it was on the same category as Mario and Sonic. Too famous and mainstream to be released on our too-underground machine. Eventually, I saw the preview on an issue of Amiga Power and I was ecstatic. It was indeed true, and I couldn’t wait.

I've written in previous posts how our game shops worked by selling pirated copies in the open. Still, in 92/93 started a crackdown started on these computer shops, and it was getting harder and harder to get hold of new games. The few shops that survived had a catalogue of pirated games under the desk and if you asked for it, you could choose a game and come the next day to pick it up after the owners made the copy at home. It felt illegal, because it was of course, but also very exciting. The shops that we used to go had either closed or were not dealing with pirated games anymore, so me and my cousin, Walter The Baptist, had to go to a nearby town to buy the game.

I still remember this shop vividly, even though I only went there once. It was right in front of the small shopping centre entrance lobby and it was very barebones. Just a desk and a guy sitting on the desk in the middle of the empty room with empty walls. Yes, there was no way this shop screamed SHADY!. I didn’t have to look at the catalogue, I knew what I wanted. My cousin Walter picked some strategy game, A-Train maybe. That night I could hardly sleep, it was like knowing the next day something very very exciting was about to happen, like finally touching a woman’s breasts.

When I got the green disks in my hand, which had the name of the game written in acetate pen with very small calligraphy I had to have a computer next to me as soon as possible. The irony of all this is that I never ever had played the game or even saw it, besides some screenshots on magazines. My hands trembled before I put the disk in the drive. The game took ages to load, and before I could even punch anything, it started asking for disk 2, or disk 3 or even disk 4. Oh, and Disk 2 again. After a while I could finally choose a fighter, and I went for Blanka, as it just looked the most badass of them all. After some more disk swapping and endless accessing, the game finally started.

It was glorious! It was just like I imagined it to be and for the next few months no other game existed. I eventually finished the game with every fighter except Ryu and Ken. This may seem strange for someone who only played other versions of the game but not the Amiga’s.

This was also the time were I got into 7th grade. New school and lots of new colleagues. One of the new colleagues, which we’ll call him Johnny Pipes, had the game on the Megadrive and was bragging about how good he was at the game. I told him I had finished with every fighter except those 2 and the looked at me very confused and said “How come? They are the best by far”. I said “No, the best is Dhalsim”, it’s almost like playing with a cheat code. After that Johnny was even more confused, but we just had to agree that we were probably different kind of players.

Eventually time passed, and Street Fighter II was forgotten by the time something newer and shinier arrived, but I never ever doubted that it was still a great game. I only played another version of the game much later, probably around 2002 or something, with MAME. People say the Amiga version is slow, ugly and overall pretty shit compared to the original and console versions, but to these very eyes it looked and played exactly the same.

Now, it’s going to be the first time I play the same since 1994. I’m not going for a fancy Whdload version either. I want to know if the disk access was as endless as I recall it. It’s probably even worse in this age of SSD’s and ADD’s. There’s only one way to find out….

If I had any previous doubt that starting this blog could mean that some of my fondest memories could be destroyed under a steamroller wrapped in lava and rusty nails, this game proves it. But it must be said that first impressions aren’t bad. The disk accessing isn’t as terrible as I remember it, since it only took about 2 minutes to get to the main menu, including going through the cracker scene screens. Also, loading before fights usually requires swapping one or two disks but on the whole it just takes some seconds.

It’s usually said that the most lasting memories we can have of people is of their voices. Knowing the durable aspects of sound in anyone’s memories, it’s kind of surprising that I didn’t remember anything about this game’s music. To be honest, I though it didn’t even had any kind of music so it was refreshing to hear such a catchy tune during the main title screen. I suppose that since this is one of the most celebrated japanese games of all time, there are people over the world dancing remixes of this particular tune while cosplaying as Chun-Li and Ryu. These people probably think I’m a philistine that shouldn’t be writing about games, which is fair enough. Besides this kick-ass tune, the music during fights is also very pleasant, having a sort of japanese jollyness to it that is quite rare on the Amiga. It kind of reminds me of some Castlevania’s soundtracks.

This can only end badly
After that it all goes downhill. Saying that the graphics are ugly is harsh, but the colour palette is botched. The game has that kind of colours that show the work of a bad conversion, a bit like what was usual on Sierra games downgraded from VGA, like King’s Quest V or Space Quest IV. That’s not the worst of it, plenty of fun games were made with sub-par graphics or wrong artistic design. The whole game just feels very choppy, with uneven scrolling and frame rate. But the worst culprit is how the controls were translated to the one button Amiga standard. Obviously even the best job of converting the controls wouldn’t be enough, but many other games, like Mortal Kombat, showed that it’s possible to do better. I’m sure that even a blind hamster rolling all over my keyboard had a better chance of pulling the special moves than me.

Every man's merits should be measured by a Dolph Lundgren-Resemblance RatingTM
I’m frankly very annoyed, I shouldn’t have played this game. Why did I tarnish the lovely memories of my early teens by doing this? Because of it I almost forgot that I started this post by comparing this game to women’s breasts. Ok, so it was the arcade, but even so it’s nonsense. If I ever have the urge to play Street Fighter II again I’ll fire up M.A.M.E and forget that this even exists.

This is wrong on so many levels


  1. Boas,

    Encontri o teu blog por acaso, li o que escreves-te e tenho memorias muito parecidas desses tempos, tempos que tenho uma saudade imensa.

    Ainda hoje instalei o workbench para jogar alguns titulos em whdload desse tempo.

    Abraço e continua com o blog.

    PS : Coloquei o post como anonimo porque dava mais jeito :) ,o meu nome é Paulo.

    1. Obrigado pelo comentário! Se quiseres jogar com as versões WHDload experimenta o emulador FS-UAE . É muito mais fácil que as outras opções.


    2. Boas,

      Eu conheço o FS-UAE, tinha instalado no macbook AIr, muito bom emu, neste momento tenho o WinUAE, mas já fiz o download do FS para PC para fazer setup disso :)


  2. I just played this through, and I can see why you was happy with it back in the day. It does play like Street Fighter 2 even if the colours are slightly out and it's a little jerky, My first experience of the game was on the Sega Mega Drive.

    For some weird reason I didn't get my donated Amiga 1200 until way after my Mega Drive, about 1995 I think, when the Amiga was all but dead, Needless to say I would have been happier with a Amiga in 1991 instead of a mega drive, but you know I wanted to have Sonic like the cool kids. The Amiga 1200 would have been a nicer upgrade from my C64 then the mega drive ever would have.

    Mind you today I was played SF2 on an Amiga 1200 with WHDLoad and a 2 button control pad which is probably a lot better than real disks and a 1 button joystick.. With the pad I quickly figured out how to do all the basic moves. Couldn't work out how to do any special moves at all, I did Ken's fireball once, but only by mistake and couldn't repeat it.

    Mortal Kombat is testament that the Amiga could have done this better, especially an AGA version on the Amiga 1200. All in all though not a bad conversion, just not as great as it could have been.