Transitions: The Launch Games/End Games Blog

Posted on Dec 24th 2010 at 09:39:50 PM by (dsheinem)
Posted under Launch Games, launch game, PCE, TurboGrafx 16, Street Fighter, CD, Classic Gaming

In 1988, NEC released the $400 PCE-CD (or TurboGrafx-CD, in North America) without any included titles.  Buyers needed to drop an additional hefty sum to actually play some games on the thing, and many probably opted for the premiere title in a series that would go on to be one of the most loved of all time.


If Fighting Street was any indication, CD-based systems and the Street Fighter series should have been dead in the water. 



Fighting Street is a particularly bad example of the one on one fighting genre prior to their golden age period in the arcades of the early 1990s.  Though the game included some of the same features that would go on to help define its sequels, the basic core components - gameplay, graphics, and sound - are all extremely rough compared to what would be accomplished just a few years later.   Even when considered in context, the game was a mess.

As a launch game for the first CD-based console, there are several things worth pointing out:

The game included "high quality" CD-audio.  One of the most marketable features of CDs was their ability to include higher quality music than would be possible with sound chips.  Superior audio fidelity was driving CD sales in the music industry, and held promise for the gaming industry as well.  Fighting Street does feature sound that is marginally better than most of the PCE's Hu-Card based games, but as it is emulating the soundtrack from an arcade machine, there is not the huge jump that some might expect.  Of course the CD format would also become known in gaming for introducing voice acting.  Voice acting is also included here, in a way.  There is one recorded voice.  Win or lose, a poorly recorded Japanese voice SLOWLY speaks the English words you see on the screen. Every time.  You will hear this voice about every two minutes, which means that after an hour you have listened to it 30 times.  Give a listen here around 2 minutes and again around 3:55. 


The game actually had bearable loading times.  One thing that plagued many later CD systems such as the Sega CD and 3DO were atrocious loading times.  Even the fighters on SNK's Neo Geo CD suffered from long loads.  Not so with Fighting Street.  While the game does have some loading (usually to cue up the spoken voice), there's no waiting for more than 5 seconds or so between screens.

The game should have been packaged with a six button controller.   The arcade version of the game used two buttons, and the intensity of a punch or kick was based on how long you held down the button.  That set up was translated to the PCE-CD, but it just doesn't work as well as a 6-button set up might.  In addition,  the standard d-pad is poorly suited to this kind of game.  I personally found myself fighting the controls more than my opponent, which is never something that bodes well for a game in this genre.


There was no ability to save.  Feature-wise, this was one of the biggest surprises of the game.  The PCE-CD had the ability to save game data on internal RAM, something that even later CD systems often neglected.  The ability to save progress, high scores, settings, or other features could have highlighted this strength of the system.  Opportunity lost.


The game was not good. I've made it a point to try and not do much in the way of reviews in this blog, instead focusing on specific novel features of the games I've addressed.  For this game though, I feel I can make an exception: avoid paying any money for this.  The bad controls and irritating sound are features that - while bad separately - really ruin the game when experienced together.  It is a small miracle that the PCE-CD went on to have some of the best games of the era, and that Street Fighter would go on to the success it found. There's little here to promote the CD medium over carts/cards, and even less to encourage people to play fighters on the PCE-CD.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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