STREET FIGHTER ONE: UPPER / Capcommunications / PC

Street Fighter has become one of the most popular and beloved franchises in gaming, but this was not due to the first game in the series. Released in the arcades in 1987, it featured two giant pads that one had to pound on with varying levels of strength in order to execute different punches and kicks. Naturally, this soon led to children clambering on the cabinet like monkeys in order to step on the pads with their feet, so they were replaced with the more standard six-button layout that we've come to expect. Even after the switch, the game never really burned up the charts - it had moderate presence in arcades worldwide, but didn't provoke anything more than a lukewarm response, and certainly never gathered a following over time.

That was mostly attributable to stiff, clunky gameplay that made the game very difficult and tedious to play. Also, unlike the later games in the series, one could only play as Ryu or Ken. Street Fighter 2 would fix this with smooth gameplay, solid hit detection and an emphasis on two-player action with a wider range of playable characters, but the first game was pretty much consigned to the dustbin of gaming history.

An amateur game design team from Mexico called Capcommunications has determined to pull the game out of that dustbin, however, and using the popular freeware fighting engine MUGEN, has created a standalone remake that they call Street Fighter One : Upper.

The remake uses mostly the same art, levels, and characters from the original game, but all characters are now playable, and a "hidden" character (though not very well hidden) from another Capcom beat-em-up has been added to the roster. The gameplay has recieved a significant tune-up; it retains most of the same moves and movements of the original game, but the feel of it is much closer to that of the Street Fighter Alpha series, and the "Super Combos" introduced in those games have been added here. The designers have also used the sound and music from the Turbografx CD release "Fighting Street", which features remixed tracks from the original arcade game.

The game is not without flaws - the digitized speech and post-match taunting from the arcade game do not make a reappearance here, replaced instead by some generic mangled GIF of your characters face. The art also has a bit of an amateurish look sometimes as compared to the original, in the interstitial areas like the animations on the title screen, and beyond the revamped fighting engine and new sound there really aren't any bells and whistles in the form of story, cutscenes or endings. The super combos are also a bit uninspiring, and aren't quite as tuned to the fighting engine as they could be. Also, the difficulty setting in the options menu seems to not work, as even on the "Easy" settings the computer is still a nightmare tornado of pain.

However, for a freeware fighting game, it is definitely in the top tier, with smooth fighting action, good animation and very solid hit detection. Fighting game fans should definitely give this one a download and check it out.

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