GamesTM do an enjoyable feature in the Retro section of their magazine where they focus on one particularly appalling conversion or port from back in the day. This sort of single or double page spread in a games magazine tends to be done in-house by staff writers – lucky sods – so my own opinions on some of the worst ports would go unheeded. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet I can post it here instead in my own version of GamesTM ‘Conversion Catastrophe’, wittily titled ‘Crap Conversions’. Enjoy!
STREET FIGHTER II
Format: C64, Year: 1992 Publisher: US Gold, Developer: Creative Materials
Original Release: Arcade CP System, Year: 1991, Publisher: Capcom, Developer: In-house
Given the phenomenal success of Street Fighter II: World Warrior it was inevitable a port would find itself winging it’s way to every available system at the time, even those platforms that were creaking with the ravages of old age like the Spectrum and the Commodore 64. All the 8-bit ports of Street Fight II are considered poor albeit valiant attempts at producing a playable game on a totally outdated system, but the Commodore 64 version edges them all for the most tragic home port.
All the 8-bit home ports were actually produced by the same developer, Creative Materials, and Street Fighter II represented US Gold’s last release for the C64 system. As with many ‘final releases’ from Frogger on the Sega Megadrive to Let It Be from The Beatles (that one isn’t a game in case you’re wondering) it’s a sad and tatty end for a legend of the era (though Let It Be still has some great songs).
In fairness to the developer, rather than try produce one 8-bit version of Street Fighter II and port it to every system regardless of how suited it was, they tried to develop each version to the specific specifications of the system. Therefore the Spectrum version has monochrome graphics, allowing a more crisp animation that enabled the player to properly execute the moves of every character. The C64 displays a more blocky, colourful approach, which yields a more striking first impression but sadly leaves a far more bitter taste in the mouth as the characters struggle to jump properly, let alone contort themselves in the variety of moves that are supposed to be available.
Add to this the jerkiness of the animation, which occasionally sees characters disappear and re-appear on the other side of the screen when you ‘jump’ and you see a system simply unable to cope with the demands of what was being produced at the time.
Given how obvious it must have been that the C64 was unable to provide the necessary power for a playable home port it’s sad that the only conclusion is that Street Fight II was released purely as a cash cow to pry pocket money from kids who couldn’t afford to upgrade to a Megadrive or a SNES and were desperate to keep up with the times. That alone condemns this release to the dustbin of history.
At first impression you may be impressed at how the C64 manages to render the ‘look’ of Street Fighter II, but simply placing the characters side by side shows how it was totally unable to cope. The figure on the right is indeed meant to be Zangief, for some reason in a brown colour scheme that blends into the background at every opportunity. Ugly.
HEAD TO HEAD
STREET FIGHT II IN PICTURES
1 – Full marks to US Gold for honesty in what may be a first in telling players that the game might not even be able to produce what it’s own manual says it can.
2 – All eight characters are playable, which is at least something. However, unlike the SNES version there is no secret code to make the boss characters – Balrog, M. Bison, Vega and Sagat – playable as well.
3 – As you’d expect on such a limited machine the animation cut-scenes and introductions are all gone, but sadly so too are the insults and boasts of the victorious fighter, which seems pointless given that it’s just text. Believe it or not the image below shows a beaten Ryu, I can’t tell if he’s grimacing or is trying to eat a giant puke-flavoured gobstopper. Mmm…gobstopper…
WHAT’S THE BEST CONVERSION?
Format: SNES, Year: 1992, Publisher: Capcom USA, Developer: In-house
Although I was a total Megadrive fanboy, the SNES version of Street Fighter 2 was the first 16-bit cartridge released on the system and is widely considered to be the best home port available. Compared to the C64 version it feels like an arcade-perfect port of the original but numerous minor changes were made to compensate for the smaller memory available on the SNES.
At least this version matches what it says in it’s own manual.