Super Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers was released on the US Wii Shop Channel today for $8. I picked it up and gave it a whirl. Keep in mind a few things. First, this is the original SSF2 that was quickly discarded in favor of ST. Second, this is the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) version so there are a lot of technical sacrifices in exchange for a few more modes. The default speed is horrible (and one of the main reasons why the arcade version didn’t enjoy much support) but you can set it to much faster than even ST if you want (reason enough for some to consider the SG and SNES versions better than the arcade version).
I started the game expecting a solid emulation of the original Genesis version, perhaps even smoother since I had my trusty HRAP2 stick connected via the Cube JoyBox converter. Everything started off fine until I had to configure my controls. Apparently, the Cube JoyBox (and other PlayStation 2->GameCube converters) maps the PS2 L1 and R1 buttons to the GCN Z button. And it just so happens that the Z button brings up a special menu in Virtual Console games. Unfortunately, there are no official or unofficial ways to remap controls on the Wii so L1 and R1 are completely unusable. That makes using the HRAP a very awkward experience with one attack off. An official Wii stick should work without a hitch but then you’re stuck with either mushy parts or an annoying mod.
I recognize that Nintendo doesn’t cater to unofficial products so I accepted my setup’s deficiencies and went on to try SSF2’s offline mode. It felt as I remembered it: not remotely arcade perfect in visuals and sound but a decent approximation of SSF2. Of course, I didn’t buy the game for offline. I already have SSF2 for SG and certainly wouldn’t pay $8 for a digital emulation. The unique aspect of this Virtual Console title that’s been touted since the game was first announced last year is that it’s the first US release to include online play (and second VC game with online internationally). No previous US VC game, including SSF2 for the Super NES, offered online play. So I started the WFC Battle online mode anticipating good things…
I was immediately reminded how Nintendo’s online system focuses on privacy to the detriment of meeting new people. You can battle an anonymous stranger or a friend, and that’s it. There were no other options available: not a ping filter, not a leaderboard, and not an estimated skill level. My first match took over 5 minutes to link up. The connection is set up like zbattle where you can play as long as you like against the other player. When I started my first match, I realized once again why online HDR is still regarded so highly among console fighter netcodes. It turns out Wii SSF2 has horrific input delay, to the point where it’s difficult to time jumping attacks (at all, much less meaty or early). On defense, if you’re holding down with Guile and the opponent jumps forward, then once he reaches the apex of his jump, it’s already too late for you to do anything about it.
I tried with a few more players and had some different experiences. At best, the netcode is comparable to a decent connection on Kaillera but at worst, inputs come out literally 1 full second after you press them. There are no GGPO-style rollbacks here; it’s all plain lag that gets frustrating as you see jumps coming and can’t do anything about them. Everyone connecting through Wi-Fi (or a variant thereof) doesn’t help the situation either.
Overall, I’m disappointed with the game. It’s great that SSF2 got a special online release for the Wii since it’s the closest game to ST on that system, but the online addition is unplayable for anyone who wants to take the game seriously. I thought (and still feel) Street Fighter IV had bad netcode and Street Fighter X Tekken had slightly worse netcode but compared to Wii SSF2, they’re GGPO and Supercade. Anybody who wants to have fun with console SF2 would be much better served with HDR (preferably on Xbox 360). Anybody with a PC would do even better with ST on the aforementioned GGPO and Supercade. For any Wii-only folks, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. On the bright side, if you can react on the Wii version, you’ll have amazing reactions in offline ST.