Also on: Ooh, lots of places. Even the Spectrum. Don’t play that one.
Ah, Street Fighter 2. There’s little left to be said about this genre-defining game, though I haven’t seen much written about its bonus stages, so this seems like an ideal time. Three different stages feature, all extensions of the main gameplay of bashing the crap out of whatever stands before you. This time, it’s inanimate objects, because what says you’re the strongest woman in the world more than punching a car repeatedly, infiltrating an industrial facility to smash tumbling barrels or risking your clothing and body hair to destroy some flaming oil drums?
Car Crusher – Capcom’s legendary scrolling brawler Final Fight began its life as a direct sequel to Street Fighter, later having its name changed to reflect the move away from a one-on-one format. It’s appropriate, then, that the most memorable bonus stage of those in Street Fighter 2 is a direct homage to one introduced in Final Fight. Turning up after defeating your third opponent, Car Crusher has become something of a vague running theme through the Street Fighter series. While Final Fight’s original can sometimes be a little fiddly to land a hit in the correct place, Street Fighter 2’s switch to a purely 2D engine means that there’s little chance of missing. However, as in Final Fight, we’re subjected to the comedic situation of a car that can block your hits. Here, with a somewhat deserted version of Ken’s pier stage as a backdrop (presumably due to the technical limit on sprite and background layers available to the CPS2 arcade hardware), there are only two areas to break compared to Final Fight’s three, but you still have to cross over to the other side of the car once one half’s been destroyed to finish it off. It’s possible for a challenger to join in during the bonus round to smash up the car together or annoy the other player by stopping them doing it. The player with the most points at the end will get the perfect bonus if the car is destroyed, with both receiving points for remaining time and contributed car crushing. When Street Fighter 2 machines were everywhere and hanging around in the chip shop after school to play was a daily occurrence, we would often wait until after someone had defeated three opponents to challenge them on this bonus stage as it was an extra bit of fun for your 20p. It should be noted that the difficulty of this bonus stage varies depending on your chosen fighter. Multiple hit combos do a more effective job and the slow-heavy characters can struggle to scrape through in the allotted time. Successfully completing this bonus stage will net you around 24-25,000 points for destroying the car, 1,000 for each second remaining on the clock, and an additional perfect bonus of 30,000.
Ryu’s pedicurist is standing by.
In Street Fighter 3, the requirement to swap sides to finish the job was removed, which detracted slightly from the challenge, and the saloon car was updated to a cartoonish SUV, reflecting contemporary tastes. Imagine punching one of today’s SUVs with all of those extra safety features and regulations. Blimey! This version allows a much longer time limit and is more generous with awarded points. In a knowing nod to its origin, Street Fighter 4 took us back to the garage forecourt of Final Fight, gloriously rendered with the new graphics engine. It seems to take a lot longer to fully destroy the car in this version. As an added extra to Super Street Fighter 4, complete the task with Guy or Cody and the original upset Mad Gear gang member, Bred, will shuffle onto the screen and start crying over what you’ve done to his prized automobile. In addition to numerous Street Fighter series character and cabinet cameos, this bonus stage made a further appearance in the credits of the Wreck-It Ralph film. Capcom also placed a slightly oblique reference to car crusher in the 1994 brawler Alien vs Predator with players needing to destroy the control mechanism of an elevator within 20 seconds in order to progress. If you know of any other appearances of this bonus stage, and there are probably many, let me know in the comments.
Barrel Buster – Next up, after defeating your sixth opponent, is the falling wooden barrels on conveyor belts bonus round. While there’s every possibility of finding a parked car at a petrol station or pier, this particular set-up seems more than a little contrived. I’ve never encountered this setting in real life, anyway. Is there a legitimate engineering back story to barrels cascading onto a trampoline suspended ten feet above the ground? It’s the sort of situation you’d be likely to see in a Game & Watch, with Mario scuttling about trying to save any barrels from hitting the ground. Needless to say, the theme of hitting things in a manly (or in Chun Li’s case still fairly sodding manly) fashion continues as each barrel demands to be shattered into splinters with your strongest roundhouse kick. Or not. Twenty barrels demand your close attention and they don’t always break with one decent hit, making for the odd moment of panic as one bounces merrily off of an uppercut, leaving you to suddenly deal with two or three barrels at once. This does have the benefit of making Barrel Buster the most involving and chaotic bonus stage of the three. Attempting this one with two players more often than not descends into chaos, swearing at each other and a couple of buff people falling over repeatedly, which brings its own brief slice of hilarity. This stage is also notable for being the only one of the three that takes place in its own specially designed area instead of repurposing a fighter’s background. You’ll be given 1,000 points per barrel destroyed (with a paltry extra 100 for each time a barrel infuriatingly resists the effects of your best uppercut) and there’s no time bonus here as the 20-second timer decrements every time a barrel’s released. A perfect bonus of 30,000 points is yours if you manage to break all 20 barrels.
Watch out for th… ah, never mind.
An extended and really rather boring version of this bonus stage is also available in Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha and Street Fighter EX 2 Plus for PlayStation. These angular editions both awarded an obscene number of points for detroying long chains of barrels and have nowhere near the entertainment factor of the original version. Super Street Fighter 4 also resurrected this bonus stage and returned to the traditional layout but with a much slower speed and barrels drop at a tighter angle, making everything easier to handle.
Oil Drums – The third and final bonus stage takes place after your ninth opponent, on an outside version of Zangief’s stage (for the same technical reason as Car Crusher) and pits you against a pyramid of six flaming oil drums. While this stage is far less challenging and hazardous than the falling barrels, lack of due care can see your chosen world warrior torched and set upon his or her backside, wasting valuable seconds. Perhaps controversially, this bonus stage appeals to my competitive nature and is my favourite of the three, as the configuration of the drums allows you to practice your quick combo making and go for a really fast time. There’s not much to break here, so you only get around 18,000 for the oil drums, but doing it quickly is essential to make the most of the 1,000 points per second time bonus. It’s very easy to get the 30,000 on top for clearing the screen.
To the beat of the drum, KLANG!
The SNES and Mega Drive versions did away with the oil drums, again presumably because of technical limitations, and replaced them with an incredibly uninspiring pile of bricks that had four sections to destroy with your best roundhouse, in a similar way to the car stage. I don’t like to talk about this too much, because it’s absolute crap.
I think a single player score of a million points is a valid target to being good at the two versions of Street Fighter 2 with an extra battle (Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting) so a high quality performance to bag around 185,000 from the bonus stages is a must for the competitive score attacker. For the human beings out there, perfecting these doesn’t matter too much as they are a huge load of fun whatever your skill level, especially with a challenger getting in your way.
ＳＰＥＣＩＡＬ ＴＨＡＮＫＳ to Nin, Akiman, S.Y, Sho, Pigmon, Ikusan.Z, Erichan, Katuragi, Mak!!, Ballboy, Q Kyoku, Tanuki, S’Taing?, Manbou, Kurisan, Mikiman, Yamachan, Nissui, Buppo, Zummy, Ziggy, Y.Nakamura, M.Okazaki, Shin., Marina, Macchan, E Oyaji!, Hirakin!, Shimo-P., Oyaji Oyaji., CBX, Poo, Kanekon, Shono, Nac Kai, Erlingr Ogachy and Djames for bringing us the greatest arcade game ever made.