When most people think of fighting games, the common image is of face-to-face competitions around an arcade cabinet or close to a television screen. “Ultra Street Fighter II,” for the Nintendo Switch, changes this by giving fighting game fans a console experience on the go. Looking over Street Fighter’s history on portable machines, only a handful has been great: SSF2 Turbo Revival on the GBA; SFA 3 on the PSP and SF4 on the 3DS. One feature that USF2 has over those titles is that it does not require additional equipment for multiple players.
USF2 looks as good as the HD Remix releases of SSF2 on the PS3 and 360. While the fighting game community will likely spend months comparing it to other versions, USF2 is still a Street Fighter title-an installment of one of the most venerable fighting game franchises. Even USF2’s presentation is customizable, allowing players to choose between HD or 16-bit graphics and between a remixed or chiptune soundtrack. While some may decry the HD artwork, those complaints mostly fall away when observed in person. USF2’s main benefit is its flexibility; you can enjoy old-school fighting on a monitor, complete with upscaled resolution, or you can take the game on the go. To play with a friend, just take the Joy-Cons off the tablet and hand one off.
As for playing with Joy-Cons, the experience is mixed. The analog stick makes some motions, even the rudimentary slide from “down” to “forward,” frustrating. While you can access “L” and “R,” the wrist strap slides make it much easier. The left Joy-Con’s face buttons are an excellent stand-in for a d-pad. The Joy-Con is also used for a special minigame that puts you into first-person perspective as you execute traditional special moves against waves of enemies; a feature good for some mindless bashing or keeping children active.
The biggest issue with USF2 may be the price tag; you’re effectively paying $40 for a 25-year-old game. While this is a comprehensive version of SF2 on a new console, some may wonder if it’s really worth the investment when the “Virtual Console” has SF2 for $10. Honestly, the $40 price tag is the only legitimate justification for why Switch owners might give USF2 a pass.