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Twenty Years of Street Fighter II

Evolution of a Classic

by Andrew Brown and Pedro Hernandez - March 25, 2011, 12:56 pm PDT

How many versions of Street Fighter have you played?

From its humble beginnings in the arcades of '87, Street Fighter was heavily influenced by 1974 karate film Clash! Killer Fist!, and even named after the American title of that same movie. Players were given one character to control, Ryu, though a second character could jump in and challenge Ryu to a duel as Ken. If they won, they would continue the game in Ryu's stead.

Street Fighter was the first game to provide an option of who to fight first, rather than just beating up a preset wave of challenger opponents until the end boss. The game was known for its secret moves, and no self-respecting gamer could honestly say they'd never heard of the famous Hadouken, translated roughly as "Wave Motion Fist" or "Surge Fist", which has been copied, parodied and portrayed in limitless games and TV shows.

After a mildly-successful spinoff in 1989 named Final Fight (and a few ridiculous bombs of SF sequels that are better left unmentioned), Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was born in March of 1991.

In came a flood of characters to choose from with vastly unique fighting styles, each with over thirty moves to memorize. Incoming attacks could be blocked to greatly reduce their damage, and opponents could be grabbed and thrown, two features that have become staples of fighting games since.

Such broad range had never been seen before. Every character was given a back-story, their own personal fighting arena positioned somewhere around the world, complete with background animations and stuff to smash.

Street Fighter II had no less than FIVE updated versions, which added additional characters, playable boss characters, alternate character sprite coloring (allowing players to fight against their own chosen character for the first time), upgraded artwork and animation and many other features. The game was ported to several home consoles, most notably the SNES along with the joystick pad known as the Capcom Power Stick Fighter.

After the Street Fighter II refinements came a three-game series known as Street Fighter Alpha, forming as a sort of prequel bridge from the events of the original game to Street Fighter II. The series featured younger versions of the main cast, some hidden characters, updated art and a revamped attack combo system. Out of the three Alpha games that were released, only one made it onto a Nintendo console: Street Fighter Alpha 2 for the Super NES.

This was followed in 1996 by the series' first 3D model iteration, Street Fighter EX. Despite the new dimension, EX played a lot like previous titles in the franchise. Even though the game suffered mixed reviews from critics, Capcom released two more EX sequels.

After years refinements and spinoffs of Street Fighter II, Capcom finally decided to release the third game in the series, Street Fighter III: New Generation, in 1997. Much as the title stated, this new Street Fighter game presented us with a brand new cast of characters, a deeper fighter engine focused on parrying, and stunning 2D graphics powered by the CP System III. In proud Capcom tradition, Street Fighter III received two more updates: Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Each new version of the game added new characters and refined the fighting engine even further.

With the gaming industry beginning a trend of breathing life into their classic game franchises, gamers began to wonder if a brand new Street Fighter game would be released. In 2008, their dreams became a reality as Capcom finally unveiled the first trailer to Street Fighter IV. The teaser trailer showed a dynamic battle between Ryu and Ken in a manner that resembled a painting in 3D detail.

Street Fighter IV was released in 2009, and was a celebration of all things Street Fighter. The gameplay was classic 2D fighting, as it was with Street Fighter II, but it was updated with modern sensibilities. Many classic characters would return, and were joined by new ones as well.

Soon enough, an updated version, Super Street Fighter IV, was announced and released in 2010. This new version of Street Fighter IV included even more characters to choose from, expanded online play features and even featured the return of the classic car and barrel bonus stages from the original Street Fighter II.

Super Street Fighter IV will be re-released once again in 2011, this time in the form of a 3DS launch title. Even though it is a handheld port, the 3D edition promises to have all of its features intact as well as including new ones, like a 3D mode which takes advantages of the system’s 3D capabilities as well as a StreetPass mode where you can battle it out with other players by just passing them on the sidewalk.

From its humble arcade beginnings with Street Fighter to the release of its fourth iteration on the 3DS, the Street Fighter franchises has seen many changes and refinements to the formula, but players could always expect a highly polished fighting engine that was very deep but still very fun and engaging to play.



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:

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:

Here is Andy's page on the various versions of the SF II game:

leroypantweatherMarch 26, 2011

Just wanted to say great feature to all involved.

Spak-SpangMarch 26, 2011


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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