Obscure Port of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior – ZX Spectrum

During the early day of Street Fighter II, when only World Warrior was currently released. Capcom themselves ported the game to the Super NES with massive success. A well-known British video game publisher, U.S. Gold Limited, was awarded the right to port the game on various computers that were active at the time. The Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and MS-DOS all had a port. They were also an Amstrad CPC version in development, but was cancelled as the computer was not commercially viable by 1992.


                                    Cover art of ZX Spectrum version
Cover art of ZX Spectrum version

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior came out on the ZX Spectrum in 1992, the same year that it was officially discontinued (on 23 April 1992). It was one of the last commercial games made for the system and came on a Cassette Tape, which was standard at the time. As the computer was never sold in the North American market, it was only released in Europe and developed by Tiertex Design Studios, a small company that focused on porting games.

Like many late ZX Spectrum games, it uses the multiload technology. This technology allows much larger and complex games on the computer by flushing the RAM and loading from the cassette to add the new data when needed. The main problem, however, is the time it takes to load the data itself.


                                    Typical screen when the ZX Spectrum is currently loading the data requested
Typical screen when the ZX Spectrum is currently loading the data requested

Street Fighter II load once to bring the player to a screen that admit technicals constraints of the game and then on the title screen, which will take about 5 minutes.There options can be adjusted or the player can go to the character selection screen. When a character is chosen, the game then loads until the fight start.


                           Warning screen that appear before the title screen
Warning screen that appear before the title screen

                           Title screen
Title screen

Multiload

Since it is not possible to go to different blocks on a cassette (unlike a CD-ROM, where data that need to be loaded can be immediately found), the ZX Spectrum has to go from block to block until it finds the data it needs. It first needs to load Player 1’s data, Player 2’s data and the level background. This process is extremely long and can take over 30 minutes in between match, resulting in a play through that can go as high as 8 hours, with only 5% of the time spent in fights themselves.

Like any other ZX Spectrum games, an irritating sound play during the moment it finds the block and load them. Color also flashes between red and teal. When it flashes between line of blue and red, it searches for the next block. When it flashes between line of blue and yellow, it is actually loading data into that RAM that is necessary. Street Fighter II need to check the entire cassette three time for the first match (loading the background, player 1 and player 2) and two time for the following matches, since the player’s chosen character is already in the RAM.

Title screen and character selection

Street Fighter II for the ZX Spectrum is a severely watered-down version of the arcade original. Many sacrifices had to be made to make it possible on the computer. The first thing the player will notice is that the only music that is in the game is Balrog’s theme (Playing on the title screen only) and the Character Select theme). While a great rendition of the theme, the fight themselves are silent.

It is possible to reconfigure the control or use a joystick for the game. You can also turn off sound, music and background, reducing the loading time for each fight.


                                    Option menu
Option menu

All twelves’ fighters are present in this port, and like the original, the four bosses are computers only opponents. As soon as you choose your first fighter, you will see the plane head to Japan. The fighters are not randomized, and you will fight the same set of fighters with each character (except your own character) in that order.

Ryu, E. Honda, Blanka, Guile, Ken, Chun-Li, Zangief, Dhalsim, Balrog (Boxer), Vega (Claw), Sagat, M. Bison (Dictator).


                                    Character selection screen
Character selection screen

As mentioned earlier, the player will then wait for an extremely long loading time. It is quickly assumed that the player will probably be away from the computer while it plays irritating and screeching sound and look for its block. The main problem, however, is that as soon as the ZX Spectrum load what it needs, it immediately starts the match instead of pausing until the player is back the computer.

If the player happens to be at the computer when it’s loaded, he will finally be able to play the game.

Gameplay

While the graphics are very impressive for the ZX Spectrum, the gameplay itself has numerous problems. The main catalyst is the collision box, as all move would often pass right through the other player. Character might be stuck in the air or may go out of bound, reappearing suddenly in front of his opponent.


                           The infamous Zangief vs E. Honda match
The infamous Zangief vs E. Honda match

                           The same match in the Arcade original
The same match in the Arcade original

Here a summary of the main element missing in this port

  • Every music but the two previously mentioned and all the sounds from the arcade original.
  • No character intro or ending
  • No combo, cross up and dizziness
  • Versus and end of the match screen

Unlike the six-button setup of the arcade, you need to hold the button in order to perform a stronger kick or punch.

To punch, the player needs to press the fire button. The kick button requires you to press the fire button and backward at the same time. It is also possible to throw your opponent, but it seems to be a complete matter of random. Once it happens, you are simply pushed away, taking damage in the process since there is no animation for these moves.

Each stage is present in the game and is graphically well done. Unique to this port, there is breakable boxes and poles in every background, instead of specific items in some of the background of the original stage (Ryu, Guile, Ken and M. Bison were the only stage featuring breakable elements).


                           Chun-Li won a round against Ryu
Chun-Li won a round against Ryu

                           Ryu vs. Balrog
Ryu vs. Balrog

As you fight your opponent, you will also notice how many things are different or glitched.

  • Every character has the same walking speed
  • Ryu is identical to Ken except he has black hair. The two share the same winning pose as well
  • Ryu’s Hadouken will never come out, but he will do the motion as if he is about to shoot one.
  • Ken’s Hurricane Kick is actually his animation of his Rolling throw
  • Zangief’s Screw Piledriver is simply himself jumping with the character until it knocks him down
  • Vega has two claws instead of one, for unknown reason and can’t lose them.
  • Sagat’s Tiger Uppercut
  • M. Bison Scissors Kick and his Head Stomp move

Some special and unique move are missing

  • Ken and Ryu’s Shoryuken
  • Guiles two air throws
  • Chun-Li’s unique knockdown kick and stomp, as well as her air throw
  • Dhalsim Flame’s, Yoga Spear and Yoga Mummy
  • Balrog Turn Punch and Upper Dash punch
  • Vega rolling attack and his air throw,

Unfortunately, the ZX Spectrum port of the game is all about mashing button and hoping to hit your opponent. Once he is defeated twice, you can go to the next fight.

However, the player will have to wait another 20 minutes before it can happen. If you happen to lose and don’t continue, except around 10 minutes of waiting so the game can bring you to the title screen. Thankfully, if you decide to continue after losing a match, it will restart immediately (as everything is in the RAM). The downside is that you can’t change character and you will be with the same one until you start a new game.


                                    Continue screen
Continue screen

When finishing the game with one of the characters, you will see him or her with his win quote written at the left. Then, you will return to the title screen as the score is not keeps after finishign the game. Expect another 10 minutes of loading before going back.

Versus mode

Street Fighter II also include a Versus Mode (Player vs Player). Each player can select its character (but it is not possible to take the same character, as in the arcade version). You can choose any of the twelve stage of the game, represented by their respective flag. After selecting it, you will have to wait for at least 30 minutes as the ZX Spectrum will load the necessary background and characters in the cassette.


                                    Versus mode's main screen
Versus mode's main screen

In summary

The ZX Spectrum of Street Fighter II, a European exclusive game, is a simple game to play. However, it really favours button mashing over timing and skills. It plays totally different from the arcade original but really pushes the ZX Spectrum’s graphical capabilities. Although not a bad game in itself, it is plagued by the multiload functionality, making very unlikely that a player would try to beat the whole game outside of emulation (as save states and emulation speed decrease loading).

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