Evo 2017 Player’s Choice: Super Street Fighter II Turbo — Why the Classic Must Return

By on February 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm
super turbo evo 2017 players choice

When I saw that Evo 2017 would be hosting a Player’s Choice vote for the 9th and final game for the event, I instinctively knew what game would be on the list. And sure enough, that “old man’s game” Super Street Fighter II Turbo had made the list, just in time for quite possibly its last ride prior to the release of Ultra Street Fighter II, which could–in theory–supplant the older title in the public’s eye.

While it hasn’t gotten the immediate success of the newer titles in the vote, there exist so many arguments for this game to be at Evo this year. And maybe by the end of this, you too will know why this game has all the makings of a tournament deserving of a $10,000 prize pool.

This Game Is Why Evo Is Here

Did you guys look in awe at the massive numbers that Evo has garnered in the last couple of years? Great, aren’t they? While you can definitely attribute the numbers to the popularity of games such as Super Smash Bros. Melee and Street Fighter V–as well as the former titan Ultra Street Fighter IV–what if Evo hadn’t been there to accommodate those games?

ssf2tLet’s just say, that without the “old man games,” Evo wouldn’t have existed at all. Prior to 2008, you were hard pressed to find new fighting  games coming out in the mainstream. The most recent titles at Evolution 2008 were Super Smash Bros. Brawl–released that year–and Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection–released the year prior. Other than that, the tournament series saw rehashes of various events, with the mainstays always being games like Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Capcom vs. SNK 2, and of course, Super Street Fighter II Turbo.

While the former games always remained popular, the latter was always one of the ultimate litmus tests as to how the western competition fared against Asia. And every year saw improvements, with the likes of John Choi taking the title in 2008.

But more importantly than that, this game helped keep Evo alive. Nowadays, it’s easier to keep Evo fresh by allowing new titles to enter on a yearly basis. It’s easy to do because there is at least one new title releasing each year. It wasn’t so easy back then. Yet people kept coming back to play these old games.

For every thing that this game has done for Evo, keeping the series alive in the dark ages of fighting games, it deserves to be a headline event at Evo every year alone. And to the naysayers that think not, claiming the game is dead, I beg to differ.

claw zangief super turbo

The Game Is Very Much Alive

While it’s been hidden in the corners of the BYOC area at Evo for years, Super Turbo is very much alive at various events. With sites like ST Revival and groups of diehards like the No Honor Crew still going strong with running, campaigning for, and attending every event that will host Super Turbo, the game is in no danger of dying.

The life of a game can only be judged based on growth, however–so, does Super Turbo have growth?

Absolutely. Canada Cup 2016 featured 73 players, a sharp increase from the year prior. This year featured several young players, many of whom weren’t even born when the game was released. These names included some of Toronto’s top players, such as KS Tali, Triforce Legend, and SJ–the latter of which is becoming a well-known name in North America for his Street Fighter V and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 abilities. Even beyond the numbers of the event, the game saw an exciting top 8, which featured some amazing action unfolding to continue to keep the game fresh far beyond its years.

And it’s not just the Great White North that is experiencing revival in the game. Watch SoCal’s Wednesday Night Fights’ Super Turbo stream, and you will see a massive amount of newer names picking up the title. And Evolution’s side tournaments are no exception. With all the hustle of Tania “Killer” Miller and the rest of the NHC in tow, Evo 2016 saw a 64-player bracket cap on Friday so quickly that they had to run a second tournament on Saturday to handle the overflow. And not all of these players were the same old people that first saw the game in the back of 7-Elevens and mini-golf courses in the ’90s. And believe me, these players are chomping at the bit to show off what they have learned about the title. But not only that…

If You Build It, They Will Come

Did you catch Evolution 2012? One of the most talked about Top 8s of the event didn’t happen on Sunday that year. And that was the year where every official game still had top 8s on Sunday.

Rather, Saturday saw Super Street Fighter II Turbo steal the entire show. Bob “kuroppi” Painter had a vision to bring every legend possible for the game come to Evo for a tournament. He did so by sending out invites and running qualifiers at every major possible.

The tournament saw players from USA, Canada, France, Japan, and Korea show up for one of the most incredible 32-player events ever. And the crowd for the event was as massive as Super Street Fighter IV saw a day later.

Now, if you mention a name such as Mao or Kusumondo, people within the FGC know the names. Two years after saw the second Tournament of Legends, that kept the same names in the spotlight–with Mattsun now shining as brightly as those two.

And those guys are still there. Even better, the majority of the US players that grew up with the game are still there, and still practicing. The ones that may be rusty are seeing the event’s chance at Evo as a reason to come out of retirement. And for a chance at the lions share of a $10,000 pot bonus? Those aren’t empty promises. Every player who has had a round of the game will be there and ready to tick throw their way to the championship.

“But Missing Person,” you say to yourself, “I’ve never touched this game. Why should it matter to me?” Actually, it should matter to you because you should be playing this game. And here’s why:

You’re Gonna Learn Today, Son

Super Street Fighter II Turbo has always had a massive following due to its simplistic depth. It has been capable of outshining even more modern titles in sign-ups—the last tournament at Canada Cup surpassed Killer Instinct, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, The King of Fighters XIV, BlazBlue: Central Fiction, and Pokkén Tournament–two of these games being tournament games at Evo 2017, and the rest being in the Player’s Choice options. One of the reasons being that it has very simple mechanics. It has a super meter, but lacks dashes and minimal option selects. It lacks vortexes. It has one-button throws and throw techs. But it has a level of depth that rivals every other fighter on the planet.

Because of its simplistic design, it is easy for someone to just pick up and learn. If you have already learned how to play any modern fighter, picking up Super Turbo will be a cakewalk to learn and understand the mechanics.

But then you go deeper, and see how amazingly complex the game is. The game makes you think about various things that make learning how to perfect your skills in other games all the more easier. One of the biggest lessons you learn in this game is neutral game. In most matchups in Super Turbo, the neutral game is so important that to fail in that game can mean you have already lost the match. There is nothing more enthralling than watching two high level players engage in a footsies match in Super Turbo. It is a literal staring match, to see who blinks first. Blinking first becomes a brutal lesson in mind games that can only be taught through this game .

But not only that, it teaches decision-making in spades. Most people get frustrated when characters like R. Mika or Laura can lock you down, making you feel like every decision you make is a losing one. But most people would learn better how to approach those matches by actually sitting down for a while with Super Turbo. When those players end up against a Super T. Hawk, or even Boxer/Balrog or Dhalsim, and get locked down in tick throw loops, of course the frustration will set in. But you start to learn that the problem isn’t the lockdown situation they’re in, but what they did to get put into the lockdown situation. That’s when adaptation happens, and suddenly those same matches become easier.

It’s the reason why younger players enter the game and stay there. They could start because it looks fun, but they usually end up getting brutalized by players more seasoned than them. Yet the majority of them stick around. After a while, they get to the point where the same seasoned veterans are having to be concerned about them, because they are becoming equally strong.

Despite the brutality of the damage and throw systems, the game has a low entry level, and a shallow learning curve up to the higher echelons of play. Naturally, to be the very best, there is a steep curve. But when you play in any tournament, you not only get a deep grasp of where you are in your development, but you will learn something every time you sit down with the title. That in itself is as big a reward as tournament wins itself.

Welcome to the world of one-frame reversals.

Final Thoughts

So without a doubt, there are going to be some valid cases for various games. But do I think that Super Turbo is most deserving of your money? Absolutely. It’s not only worth your money, but worth your time picking up the title if you haven’t already. It’s so easy to do even without access to the CPS2 board, simply by jumping on FightCade and practicing with other players who are learning or are already skilled with the game.

So not only will you see the top rising stars along with the greatest players to ever grace fighting games entering a sanctioned Super Street Fighter II Turbo event at Evo, you too could be joining to have a stab at the top tiers of fighters. Even if you don’t make that far, I can guarantee that it will expedite your education into playing within this genre like no other title can.

Vote for Super Street Fighter II Turbo on generosity.com here. Voting closes at 12:00 PM PST on February 8, 2017.

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Corey "Missing Person" Lanier is a full-time writer, and one half of the "So Smart" team that did commentary for Street Fighter V Crash. A former English teacher, he has spent 5 years living between China and South Korea before moving to Canada. When he's not busy writing, he enjoys streaming, playing mafia and elevating his Super Turbo game. He also believes Sailor Moon S is the best fighting game on the planet, and if you don't believe him, see him in Sailor Moon!