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Unlicensed Street Fighter II Famicom Hacks
A comparison guide for the various flavors of SF2 pirate carts, for people with way too much invested in SF2

    For gamers today that were either too young or for whatever reason did not experience the mania that SF2 brought whenever it was released, it's probably hard to imagine what an astounding impact it had on arcades, home consoles, and the video game industry as a whole. It's not an understatement to say that without SF2 the gaming landscape today would be a much different place. But, rather than spend an hour jerking off on gaming nostalgia, I'll try to condense a little intro to this piece.

    When Street Fighter II hit, it was a very unique thing. One aspect that probably made more difference than everything else was that there were no other comparable gaming experiences like SF2 available in any format at the time. The closest I can think of would be Fatal Fury, which was an arcade and AES release that was pretty much just as much of a pipe dream as owning a SF2 cab. Really the only alternative of pre-SF2 fighters was garbage like Slaughter Sport (Gen), Fighting Street (Duo), or Karate Champ (tube radio), When SF2 was announced to be exclusive to the SNES, it took a very long time before anything even remotely close was released to satiate gamers' thirst for one-on-one fighting.

    One day EGM had a small byline and one screenshot of a SF2 pirate for Famicom. Up until that point I had no idea that original shit like that even existed in foreign markets, being that any type of pirate carts for consoles in America at the time had little or no penetration on the market. It became my life's goal to own and play that game, regardless of how shitty it may be. Yes, I like to keep my goals lofty like that.

    Through both emulation and a global market I've been able to purchase and play a lot of these titles. I noticed there wasn't a whole lot of information available about them, especially since there were a fucking million different variations of each basic game.

Street Fighter II aka Master Fighter II
The Original Turd

This was the version featured in the infamous EGM screenshot. As you can see, there are two variants on the name. I have no idea which game first, nor any as to why they would change it anyway. Apparently it was programmed by Yoko Soft in 1992. Both feature the flashing "Push Start Button" graphic but the picture on the left didn't catch it onscreen.

One pretty cool thing was that the "Press Start Button" message fades in from both directions and centers just like the legit home versions


Strangely enough this crappy knockoff features the intro that the SNES version didn't, and is even uncensored unlike the US Genesis one. It is not animated and just scrolls up to the top of the skyscraper. Prepare to feel racial tension so powerful that Capcom decided US owners couldn't handle it without going out and starting something akin to the Tulsa OK race riots of 1921.

Right is the character select screen. Guile is not actually from the former USSR, but is traveling there in his little sprite plane to fight Zangief. There are a total whopping four characters available: Guile, Ryu, Chun Li, & Zangief. Bison (Dictator) exists as a final boss albeit misspelled "Viga"

I have read that versions exist with Viga playable directly from the start or with a code actually printed on the game label to play as him. While I don't doubt this given my experience with shitty HK originals, I have not came across a version of this myself. And yes, the plane has a flying animation to go from country to country.

You can see from these screenshots the VS screen is pretty cool, complete with bloodsplash not found in the original home versions. The character portraits don't look too shabby either. Too bad the game itself is complete unplayable dogshit that even the most masochistic SF fan will run from.

Don't get any good ideas from these screenshots. The backgrounds are static and unanimated. As you can see from Gief's stage, the people look like something I might draw in Paint.

This game plays like a complete train wreck. You can block, but since the hit detection is so fucked up a lot of times something will hit even if blocked. Throws seem to be thrown in at random (note my stunning wit). Special moves are impossible to perform with such horrible controls yet the AI constantly throws them at you without remorse. In order to win you have to find simple AI exploit, like a repeated jump kick or foot sweep.

The lack of animation is not nearly as crippling as the fact that the sprites themselves move around very herky-jerky. It's jerky enough to fuck the AI routines up, triggering throw animations while you're walking around and causing multiple hit registers

As you can see from the pictures this version tries very hard to be a faithful reproduction of the arcade version. I was really surprised that it tried to mimic the arcade version rather than the SNES one. Release dates on stuff like this are virtually impossible to locate, so I'm really not sure if this predates the 16 bit release or not. If it did then that's a pretty damn good job by unknown coders with no idea what they're doing.

One thing this version does is capture the small details lost on others. The post fight dialogue, the bruised continue screen, even an attempt at a high score table are present. Most other pirates don't even try to touch the smaller stuff like that. If Zangief didn't look like ManBearPig and the game didn't play like shit, I could see myself enjoying it. Especially if I had only a Famicom. A code exists to go straight to the final fight with Viga, along with another code to view Zangief's ending. Those two codes are the only readily available ones on the net, and I'm too lazy to find patch codes in order to defeat the horrible AI and view the rest of the characters' endings.
I thought it was pretty cool that they tried to include the original arcade endings. As you'll see in comparison with the other shit Famicom SF2's, this first original version is the one that tries its best to capture the true arcade feel.

I've seen this cartridge with several box art variants. I've even seen a few blurry photos of actual boxes that some of the carts came in, which to me is kinda cool since you don't come across that very often.

As a stunning piece worthy of framing, I felt it was only just that I share with all of you the pictorial glory that is my personal copy of "Master Fighter II". And no, my camera did not distort the label, it really is stretched out of proportion like that.