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Up from (Super) Obscurity

A few weeks ago I began an article by mentioning the odd SNES-porting-choices made by one KEMCO. But if you ask me, if you want bad Super Nintendo games that I find endearing in their crumminess, the conversation starts and ends with irem.
After all, they're the guy(s) who brought you GUNFORCE (or more formally, GUNFORCE: BATTLE FIRE ENGULFED TERROR ISLAND). And more importantly, they're the makers of my favorite SNES discovery, the game that not only started me collecting crappy fighting games, but began my fascination with so-bad-they're-good games which basically lead to this whole site.
So it's only fitting that in this, my final article before Christmas 2013, I give MYSELF a present and finally spend the majority of an article writing babbling about the one, the only...
Street Combat
If you want to know what this game was in Japan (and how it kind-of sort-of made sense, as an Anime-related fighting game), look elsewhere (like VGJunk's great article). Because here on GameWTFs, we're stuck playing North American Release SNES games only -- and that's the way we like it, dammit!
And in North America, Street Combat is a tale of two Stevens. Stevens I like to call:
...normal Street Clothes Steven,
and "Cosplay Robocop Battle Armor Steven!"
And how are these pair of Steves related, you might ask? Are they the same fellow, just dressed in different outfits? Or twin brothers (with the same name)? Or just a pair of loners, drawn together by their affinity for sunglasses, combating in streets, and giant blond mullets?
Unfortunately Street Combat provides no easy answers to the "Steven" conundrum. But one thing that we CAN say for sure is that the Steven(s) share the same mentor/trainer/bonus-stage-proprietor.
Yes, after their second and fourth battles, the Steven(s) clambor atop a moving semi tractor trailer, and in the words of the immortal Brady Bunch, attempt to...
Get Happy!
Yes Steven: your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to pummel this diminutive white-bearded fellow named "Happy" from one end of the semi to the other:
You would think that all this jumping and punching would be incredibly dangerous for the both of you. Or...well, I guess we've already seen Steven engaging in a knock-down, drag-out fist fight on top of a girder hundreds of feet in the air,
So maybe HE'S fine on the back of a moving truck.
But you'd think that the tiny old man might have come up with a better training strategy than rocketing down the highway and telling his student(s), "I want you to punch me as hard as you can."
And I guess Happy DOES learn, eventually --
Because after your close-fought battle with the (incredibly cheap) Helmut the Extending-Limb German Cyborg, Happy presents you(s) with his next training challenge:
Yeah, punching rocks out of the air; that's a much more sane/Mr. Miagi-like challenge. But no one is sure why he's STILL proctoring this training session on the back of a semi...or for that matter, why he feels compelled to bounce around on a lacrosse stick like it was a pogo stick.
So, in honor of Happy's dedication to Steven's training...
He's our third Kindly (Non-Wizard) White-Beard of the SNES, joining the august ranks of King Sleepy and Nameless Shaq-Fu Guru Man.
But wait, THERE'S MORE!
Like many lower-rung SNES fighting games, Street Combat only officially supports player-vs-computer action for a limited number of characters (in this case, the Steven(s)).
And like other bad fighting games, there's a two-player mode where you can pilot any of the game's odd, odd roster. However there's an easy cheat that lets you take on the computer using ANY character: by holding BOTH the "L" and "R" wing buttons during "Steven Select Mode" you can instead choose to face the computer as any normal fighter:
And what about HAPPY, I hear you ask?
Well, Happy isn't a "normal" fighter. But fear not! There's a super secret double-dog cheat mode, which is accessible if you move the cursor to the "2PLAYERS" option on the eye-bleedingly-bad menu page,
Then if you hold both "L" and "R" again and press start, it's off to the Cheat Menu with you.
And in amongst all the other options are two "HAPPY" character choices (though unlike the STEVEN and STEVEN names that you can choose, there's no color-coding to tell which is which)! Unfortunately they're seemingly only half-finished characters (even by this game's standards). Unlike the rest of the roster, if you pick one of the HAPPY-s he must be controlled by "HUMAN" rather than "COMPUTER".
BUT WHAT A BATTLE IT IS!
...full of devilish tricks,
horrifying faces, and, well...
...who the hell knows.
I ask you -- what response can any rational person Steven have to THAT?
— carlmarksguy, 2013-12-20
1
Oh, wow. I knew this game was based on a Ranma 1/2 fighting game, but I didn't realize any of its elements remained much at all - but Happy is clearly a mutation of Happosai. He even has that growth ability in the Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle, which managed to stay a Ranma 1/2 game in releases outside Japan.
2
Why would you want to hit Happy? D: He seems so cheerful and adorable! --Sneak
3
@FO: yeah, it's staggering to compare this game to the first Ranma game. I wish I had the job of taking something that makes sense and just replacing all the pictures with other pictures willy-nilly! @LB: Yeah, it's an odd bonus level :( One can only hope that it's how I described it (he WANTS you to try to tag him, for kung fu training purposes)
4
You'd think they'd come up with a better way to represent the male and female Ranma's than "guy in street clothes" and "same guy in Robocop costume". At least they could've made them two separate characters with similar abilities, a la, Ken and Ryu.
5
Well, they had to make one SLIGHTLY slower & stronger, and the other SLIGHTLY more agile. But if we start trying to deconstruct their decisions we might ask "why blond mullets, sunglasses, fingerless gloves, etc", & soon we're asking why ANY of the enemy character designs -- black guy with puffy red clown hair and genie pants? Crybaby soldier with a kendo stick? Hoverboard robot who throws lobster-esque bombs?! Clearly, that way madness lies!
6
Somehow Happy manages to be creepier than his Ranma counterpart despite not being the one who's obsessed with women's underwear.
7
There's an almost "uncanny valley" effect for Street Combat: despite the "normal redblooded U.S. fighting game" coat of paint they put over it, there's a lot of stuff they didn't bother to change much, and its creepier than just importing the Anime version...high on that list: Street Clothes Steven's "CONTINUE" screen, above.
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