The VC Advantage: Down, R, Up, L, Y, B

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JC Fletcher
January 17th, 2008
The VC Advantage: Down, R, Up, L, Y, B

The internet has made it easy to find cheats for games, but we miss the tips pages from game magazines, when the discovery of a new code could inspire you to go back to an old game. These codes aren't exactly new, but oldness is the essence of the Virtual Console! We're bringing back the classic codes every week on The VC Advantage.

Immediately following the release of Street Fighter II for the SNES, my dad was out delivering mail when he saw a blurb on some game magazine's cover about a secret SF2 code. He cracked open the magazine (which was either on a magazine stand in a store he delivered to, or was part of a delivery to a residence -- either way, he didn't buy it and it was slightly rogue of him) and transcribed the code. When he got back to the post office after his route, he called me (which happened quite rarely from work) to tell me of his discovery. Expecting to unlock some aspect of Champion Edition, I found that "DRULYB" unlocked the ability to play as the same character in two-player games. Surprisingly, I didn't mind not being able to play as M. Bison.

If you think it's weird that my dad made such a big effort to send me that code, you weren't part of the Street Fighter II fandom of the early '90s. From the moment the arcade machine came out until consoles started getting pelted with too many SF2 variations, Street Fighter II simply was the totality of gaming culture. It was both casual and hardcore, Wii Sports and Halo, foremost on gamers' minds. Magazines had consecutive SF2 covers. It was, unlike anything else, a touchstone among the gaming public. It was a common experience that we all shared. When we found out that it was coming home on the Super NES, we all collectively lost it. It didn't matter that it was going to be obsolete at launch, with Champion Edition out in the arcade. Hype for the BIGGEST GAME EVER SERIOUSLY carried beyond its audience, even. My dad, a lifelong console RPG player and not a fighting game person, was responding as much to a widespread feeling of excitement about all things SF2 as to my own obvious enthusiasm.

Only later did we realize that it all seemed to be a plan, Capcom's version of EA's annual sports releases. SF2 games with minor upgrades hit the arcades and then the consoles with frightening regularity; the more insane among us gratefully threw down another $80 for basically the same game with some new characters. I did. I couldn't bear to look at the pictures of a playable Vega, or the extraordinarily ridiculous Super Street Fighter II lineup, including a guy with the word "Maximum" written on his pants (it was going to be "Mantis," but the letters would be obviously reversed when he faced the left), and not have access to that new material. I was too far gone.

To me at age 11, the inclusion of the same-character code was an amazing bonus. Not only did it allow my friends and I more options for character choice -- something that was crucial to keeping the game fresh -- but, with the alternate character colors, it made the game look a little bit like Champion Edition. I could sort of pretend that I wasn't playing an antique version of Street Fighter II. Now, with the benefit of having been turned into a total cynic by both life experience and the corrosive influence of the Internet, I see that code as an affront.

It suggests to me that Capcom could have implemented more of the Champion Edition additions, but chose not to. Charitably, I could say that it was because there wasn't time to add new characters and backgrounds. But the cynical view is that Capcom chose to hold this other content back to make more money. Why include the code at all, then? It can't be that the same-character thing was considered so vital an improvement that it couldn't be left out, because then it wouldn't have been hidden behind a code. Maybe the end of SNES SF2 development dovetailed with the beginning of CE development, such that only the most minor new addition could be sneaked into the game on the way out the door. I suspect, however, that it was to provide a taste of future versions, just the slightest peek of what was coming up next.

So basically either Capcom was super-nice or total jerks. You could see it either way.
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