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Twenty Years of Street Fighter II

A New Challenger Appears, Part 2

by Pedro Hernandez - March 24, 2011, 6:00 am PDT

Worthy competitors begin to hit the fighting game scene, as Pedro continues his look at Street Fighter II-influenced games.

Perhaps the most infamous of the 2D fighters that emerged from Street Fighter’s popularity was Mortal Kombat, created by Ed Boon and John Tobias and released by Midway in 1992. Even though the character sprites were digitized actors, the fighting engine was relatively simple and easy enough for anyone to get into. There was one thing, however, that set Mortal Kombat apart from Street Fighter II: extreme violence. Not only did the fighters bleed whenever they were hit, after an opponent was defeated the words "FINISH HIM" flashed on the screen. By pressing a combination of buttons the fighter would perform a fatality, a finishing move that often would involve ripping the limbs off of the defeated opponent in the most gruesome manner possible.

The controversy caused was enough to turn the game into a very popular fighter that almost rivaled Street Fighter II in the arcades, creating its own set of imitators and knock-off titles. Through the years, Midway would release sequel after sequel, making the jump from 2D to 3D fighting on several occasions, and getting gorier and bloodier which each new installment.

Despite the ideals being completely different, there is no denying that had it not been for the popularity of Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat would not have surfaced. Such is the indirect connection between the two franchises that many fans have long wondered if a crossover game will ever come to be, even if the idea of Ryu ripping the limbs off of Liu Kang is too disturbing for it to happen.

In 1993, the face of fighting games was changed forever with the release of Sega’s Virtua Fighter. Players were no longer restricted to a flat plane as they could move around the arena, and the characters themselves gained a new dimension which made them captivating to witness. Moves felt more realistic, and it gave a lot of depth (no pun intended) to the fighting genre. Much like King of Fighters and Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter likely wouldn’t exist today had Street Fighter II not been released, making the fighter a popular video game genre. The popularity of Virtua Fighter lead to the creation of Namco’s Tekken series. The Tekken series is set to crossover with the Street Fighter series sometime next year, bringing it all back full circle.

Easily the game that many players found the most insulting was Data East’s Fighter’s History, another 2D fighting game. While SNK tried to create series with a unique hook to them, and Mortal Kombat was all about the shock factor, Fighter’s History was little more than a wannabe title, and it copied nearly every element of Street Fighter II. The similarities were so striking that Capcom filed a lawsuit against Data East in 1993, claiming that Fighter's History tried to replicate the look and feel of Street Fighter II, and they feared that it would confuse consumers in the process. Fighter’s History would quickly drown amongst the dozen other Street Fighter-inspired fighting games, and would be forgotten if it wasn’t for its nasty history with Capcom.

Such was the popularity of Street Fighter that several crossover titles were created throughout the 90s. Capcom gained the Marvel license in the mid 1990s, creating games such as X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes. The games were traditional 2D fighters but with a high emphasis on speed and larger-than-life combos. The Street Fighter world finally collided with the Marvel universe with X-Men VS. Street Fighter, taking the gameplay and graphics of the Street Fighter Alpha series, as well as previous Marvel fighters and creating a very fast paced new fighter. This was the first Versus game to feature a tag-team mode; players could choose two characters that could be switched at any time. Players could even unleash a powerful dual attack that combined the character's powers.

X-Men VS. Street Fighter was quickly followed up with Marvel Super Heroes VS. Street Fighter. The cast of characters was expanded once more, this time allowing characters from other Marvel series, such as Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. Soon after, Marvel VS. Capcom was released. Now nearly all of Capcom’s classic franchises were represented, so along with the likes of Street Fighter mainstays like Ryu and Chun-Li, new Capcom characters such as Mega Man, Captain Commando and Strider were also present. New Marvel fighters such as War Machine and Venom also joined the roster. Marvel VS. Capcom kept the tag-team fighting system first seen in X-Men VS. Street Fighter, but also added a new assist character that would be randomly selected before each match.

Marvel VS. Capcom was popular enough that it received a sequel: Marvel VS. Capcom 2. It is widely considered the most popular game in the series for many reasons. It features the largest roster of characters in any Capcom fighter game to date: 56 characters were featured in the game. The tag-team system was updated to include a third character, and the combos and the speed were larger than ever before. Marvel VS. Capcom 2 remained a popular game for nearly ten years, during which time fans were wondering if a third game would ever become a reality.

In 2009, the first teaser trailer for Marvel VS. Capcom 3 was released, finally making the dreams of many fans a reality. This new iteration features a high definition presentation, characters from old and new Marvel and Capcom franchises and online play.

Nintendo’s Wii system wasn’t left out of the VS. series madness. Capcom released Tatsunoko VS. Capcom exclusively on the Wii. The game was a 2D fighter that teamed up Capcom’s league of heroes with the classic anime heroes of Tatsunoko Productions, such as Gatchaman and Yatterman. The first version of the game was a Japan exclusive affair, but in 2010 an updated version saw release North America in the form of Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. This version added new characters from both sides as well as online play.

As was previously explained, Capcom and rival SNK made several crossover games, and later they will be crossing over with Namco’s Tekken series.

Street Fighter II’s impact was big.  So big, that out of it were born several franchises that would go on to become very popular on their own right. Sometimes all you need is the initiative to set the world on fire, and that is exactly what Street Fighter II did.

Images

Talkback

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 23, 2011
Mop it upMarch 23, 2011

I've never played a Street Fighter game, but I do own Street Fighter II Turbo for the SNES, because, as I would come to discover, no one is allowed to own an SNES without having at least one version of Street Fighter II.

Oh ya. Capcom VS. SNK - I played the hell out of that. That was also the only time I was ever admired in an arcade: I had imported the Dreamcast version and played the hell out of it, to the point where I was getting to and beating Shin-Akuma every time I played through. I then went to an arcade near my college, saw that they had it and proceeded about my business.


I beat Shin-Akuma and by then there is actually a crowd around me- one of the guys actually says to me, "Wow dude, you're incredible."


Ever since then my life has been trying to recapture that same level of glory. ^_~

Ian SaneMarch 24, 2011

Street Fighter II came out around when I was in grade five.  This would have been the SNES version that caused a big stir at my school.  Before I ever played Zelda or Metroid, owned a videogame system or even had a computer good enough to play games, Street Fighter II was my favourite game.

It's funny because I really sucked at it.  I pretty much never beat the computer.  But a lot of the fun was playing with friends.  The fact that it was an arcade game really helped.  Every place that had arcade games at the time had SOME version of Street Fighter II.  So it didn't matter that I didn't have a SNES, I could just play at the nearby gas station.  And my friends and I would spend our summer trying to scrounge up quarters and then riding our bikes to the gas station.  In retrospect the amount of effort we put it to play a game for like five minutes was unreal.

It wasn't just Street Fighter II.  For a while fighting games were the biggest genre and I wanted to know all of them.  I remember the first time I encountered a Neo-Geo.  It had Fatal Fury in it and I was blown away to encounter another game like SFII.  Then I discovered the other SNK fighters like Art of Fighting and World Heroes.  In my fighter obsessed mind the Neo-Geo was the coolest system ever.  I wanted to try every fighting game.  I created some dream game in my mind where I combined the rosters of every major fighting game (except titles like Mortal Kombat or Virtua Fighter which didn't have a similar enough look).  Realistically Capcom vs. SNK was my dream game but it came out so many years later that it didn't have the same impact.  Around the playground kids talked about the elusive Street Fighter I.  Many claimed to have played it but they were all full of it.  In reality it's for the best the game remained a mystery because it sucks.

And of course we all talked about what Street Fighter III would be like.  The fever died down around the time Street Fighter Alpha came out.  It might be because I was now in high school.  It might be because the current arcade games were not being ported to the SNES.  It might be because arcade games started increasing in price.  But I think it might also be because SFA was not SFIII.  Capcom's constant tinkering of Street Fighter II was the butt of jokes and in a way the fact that they had clearly made a brand new Street Fighter but it still wasn't III was kind of annoying.  Street Fighter III is a good game but it needed to come out earlier to truly be a big deal.

The sad thing is I can't really go back to SFII and enjoy it anymore.  So much of it relied on us kids being dumb and having no real strategy other then attempting special moves.  That was how it worked - whoever pulled off the special moves won the match.  Later as adults my brothers and I were playing Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES.  My brother kicked all of our asses using Sagat with nothing but roundhouses.  He would alternate between jumping, standing and crouching roundhouses and just owned the rest of us.  Then he tried agains the computer and beat the game.  He broke it.  He revealed the flaws that as kids we couldn't notice.  So sadly it will never be the same as when Street Fighter II was my favourite game.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 24, 2011

Here is part 2 of my restrospective:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25814

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 25, 2011

Here are the next two parts of the feature. First if the Evolution of the Series with Andrew Brown and yours truly:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25849

Here is Andy's page on the various versions of the SF II game:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25855

leroypantweatherMarch 26, 2011

Just wanted to say great feature to all involved.

Spak-SpangMarch 26, 2011

Ian:


THank you!!!!


That post was more or less my life experience.  I remember my friends buying Street Fighter 2 for SNES, and I didn't buy it...I knew a better version would come out...and I was right.  I remember even waiting on that one, because I could just rent it at Blockbuster...when Blockbuster was cool because you could rent games.


But I did buy Super Street Fighter 2. 


I used to think I was pretty good at the game, but really I sucked...now I play it and I realize I am even worse than when I was a kid.

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