Capcom’s Switch support hasn’t been stellar so far, with the somewhat divisive (but successful) Ultra Street Fighter II and the Resident Evil Revelations collection. Obviously, it was tentative support while Capcom, like many other third-party companies, waited to see how the system worked out. Now that it’s exploding, Capcom is supporting the Switch more by default, with ports of the Mega Man Legacy Collection and more coming up. One game in particular, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, is one of Capcom’s most important games yet. It’s multiplatform, but the Switch version is especially crucial. This game, like the Mega Man and Disney collections before them, are huge steps forward in recreating, preserving, video game history.
In the Nintendo Switch version of Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, a nigh-unknown way to play Street Fighter II has been reproduced for the first time since, well, arcades. The Switch version re-introduces Super Street Fighter II: The Tournament Battle, a special eight-player mode that has been largely lost to time. In the original configuration, Capcom sold a set of four arcade cabinets that were networked together. Players would set up an eight-person bracket, and then move back and forth between the cabinets based on the bracket. In the Switch version, players move back and forth between different Switch units.
Sure, it doesn’t sound easy to coordinate, or like a ton of fun to play when you could just pass the controllers back and forth like we all play fighting games at home now. But that’s not really important. What is important is the fact that the mode is in there at all, that something so practically pointless has had resources devoted to it, that Capcom approved that being added in the first place. It’s the kind of thing most people don’t even know about, yet it’s lovingly recreated like an obscure exhibit at a museum.
It’s important because without efforts like these, video game history is just going to erode until it only exists in wiki articles and grainy YouTube videos. Carts are going to rot, discs are going to crumble, and arcade cabinets are falling apart too. Meanwhile, many publishers do things like fight efforts to emulate games, run private servers, and generally get in the way of preservation efforts (sometimes for games that aren’t even in circulation anymore). Capcom giving the team at Digital Eclipse this much freedom to do crazy stuff like scan original art and packaging, and even recreate old modes of play nobody will use, is an important sign of progress in treating games like an actual art form.
It can’t be overstated how important keeping video game history alive is. It’s not making anybody tons of money, but if gamers and people in the games industry want games to be taken as seriously as other mediums, which are painstakingly archived in several forms and locations, gamers and industry folks need to take games seriously too. Supporting efforts like these is the best way to do that. Street Fighter fans, even if they already have several copies of Street Fighter II already, need to grab a copy. Hopefully if this and the other collections do well, more will come, and other publishers will join in too.