Street Fighter II’: Hyper Fighting — Grounded™ Honest™ Footsies™

As a spectator, I love Super Street Fighter II Turbo. But Fighting Games can get dumber.

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As a spectator, I love Super Turbo. It’s just a real treat to watch a top player get gutted by Claw or murdered by Boxer. Damage is obscenely high, matches can end with a single dizzy, and man- I don’t think any Street Fighter game will ever be this meta again. ST has seen so much competitive play that it’s likely the most documented fighting game of all time. Still, the surface game is so simple that you could learn the whole roster in an evening. For 2D fighting game players, Super Street Fighter II Turbo is a language everyone can speak.

But we can get simpler! Remove meter, axe those New Challengers, buff the Shotos to absurdity- And you’ve created “America’s Favorite Street Fighter game!” It’s easy to forget thirty years on how late Super Turbo arrived in arcades. Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting both released close enough to capitalize on Street Fighter II Fever, and were on cheaper hardware. Hyper Fighting itself was available both as a dedicated board or an upgrade kit, making it more enticing to Western Arcades than a state-of-the-art CPS2.

The seeds of competitive Street Fighter are here, in Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting, but the clear favorite among Americans is the speedier upgrade. That’s quite fitting, seeing as most of the early updates to SF2 were helmed by Capcom USA.

Versus play was huge from World Warrior onward in North America, but Japanese players were slower on the uptake. By the time Hyper Fighting went to location test in Japan, reception was so positive that Capcom couldn’t ignore their Western Division any longer… They had a whopper of a hit.

In 2021, Hyper Fighting is a deep cut for 2D Fighters, and about as brutal as they come. The cast is divided into mortals, who lack a fireball- And deities, who fill the screen with projectiles that are always plus on block. Reversals are one frame, throws cannot be teched or even softened, and stun is entirely random. In short, this game is hard. The lack of meter and lethal zoning make mounting a comeback a slow, painful process. Hyper Fighting Grandmasters, however, can often take rounds in a single swift interaction… One Ken Crossup, and it’s over.

Every fighting game player has a perfect game in their head. One of the loudest voices in this discourse calls for easier combos, simpler games, and a return to good, honest, footsies. Street Fighter II is not that- And it’s not even close. To the Fruity Cocktail of a modern 2D Fighter, Hyper Fighting sizes up as Everclear. Personally, I think that’s great. Hyper Fighting is a game of extremes, and in my opinion feels more cohesive and balanced than New Challengers or Super Turbo. SF2 at large is a unique experiment in mind games. The lack of options per character and a rock simple system create a playground for competitors with a strong sense of empathy: One good read can win you an entire set.

You wont find a more distilled game of spacing and conditioning, with a small scoop of jank to keep everyone either giggling or groaning. So go ahead, boot up SF2HF, and throw someone’s meaty for 20% of their life bar. It’s a riot.