A Tribute to Street Fighter
A Tribute to Street Fighter: 25 years of Hadoukens, Sonic Booms, and Spinning Bird Kicks.
As an avid gamer of the early 90′s, Street Fighter had an impact on me the moment I played Street Fighter II. Here was this game unlike anything I ever played before. It’s just me and my opponent head-to-head to decide who would fall while the other stands triumphantly. It defined the way fighting games should be made even to this day. This is my personal look back on the now 25 year old Street Fighter†phenomenon.
One of my earliest memories is seeing a booth with an SNES copy of Street Fighter II set up in my local Sears department store. There was a crowd of kids gathered around it either waiting for their turn or just wanting a peek at the action. This was my first time playing a fighting game, period. That Christmas, I got my own copy and have been hooked on the series since.
Ken was always my go-to character early in my Street Fighter days. I learned how to play others like Vega, Guile, and M. Bison. At first, this was a way for me to learn how to beat different styles until they eventually became my main characters. The countless iterations of Street Fighter games allowed me to branch out to an even wider range of play styles such as the hit-and-run style of Rolento in the Alpha series or a pressure grappling game with Alex in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
I still remember, to this day, the countless times my friend (who was an avid Ryu player) and I would hang out and relive the endless Ryu/Ken rivalry in his basement. In a way, I see Street Fighter II as the first popular multiplayer game for gamers in my generation. Before the rise of first-person shooters, fighting games made for the ultimate stage of competition and bragging rights.
The Street Fighter gravy train was riding high with no end in sight. Even Hollywood was on board with plans to create a movie based on the popular franchise in 1994. As a kid, I remember being pretty excited just because it was Street Fighter. What can I say? I was the target audience for this. My father took me to go see it in theaters. I remember my 10 year old self being pretty upset with inconsistencies especially Blanka and Guile’s partner Charlie being the same character. Despite these crimes against the source material, I did have fun seeing Raul Julia play as the villainous dictator M. Bison (“For me, it was Tuesday”). It’s just sad knowing this ended up being the talented actor’s final role before his untimely death.
The Street Fighter cast fought against more than each other. There were a number of crossover titles that pitted the likes of Ryu and Chun-Li against long-time arcade rivals Tekken and King of Fighters. Even the best that Marvel Comics had to offer crossed paths with Capcom‘s finest!
My vacation in Japan had me play a lot of a favorite fighting game of mine that happened to be one of these crossovers, Capcom vs SNK 2. I was a fan of the first game but CvS2, as it’s affectionately called, really blew the roof open with a healthy cast of characters and 6 different “grooves” to choose from. Each “groove” represented a system like custom combos in the Street Fighter Alpha series or Samurai Shodown’s “just defend” mechanic. The console release included an awesome color edit mode for every character which really got my creative juices flowing. Iori Yagami as The Joker? King as Michael Jackson? Oh yeah, those existed.
(clockwise starting from top left) Geese as Homer Simpson, Iori as The Joker, Eagle as Luigi, Vega as Spider-Man, Chang as Santa Claus, King as Michael Jackson
One cannot speak seriously about Street Fighter without mentioning the competitive side of the franchise. There are a number of talented “professional” players namely Daigo Umehara, nicknamed “The Beast”, who was responsible for arguably the single greatest comeback ever. The fighting game scene always remained strong in Japan but found a huge resurgence all over the world upon the release of Street Fighter IV in 2008. There are now a number of live streams from events like EVO to showcase the greatest fighting game players competing against one another. This has become like a job for a number of these people thanks to the prize money that can be won as well as earning company sponsorships.
I have to admit my love for the music throughout the franchise as well. There will always be room for the classics like the themes of Guile (before it went with everything) and Ken. I was personally a huge fan of the Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike soundtrack though. The theme music for Dudley and Elena, for example, have such a catchy and rhythmic beat that can’t help but get you pumped up. Hugo and Remy have excellent themes as well with a badass hard techno flavor. The song made for Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, “Knock You Out”, brings a fresh hip-hop flair to the table also.
What’s in store for the future of Street Fighter? There’s the huge 25th Anniversary Collector’s Set that’s being released on September 18th. It was also announced at this year’s San Diego Comic Con that a new TV series called Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist is coming some time next year. This will be made by the same folks who created the impressive Street Fighter: Legacy fan film.
Asides from those couple bits of news, it seems like the Street Fighter IV series has run its course. Namco is working on their own crossover game called Tekken vs Street Fighter. I believe after this title is released, the franchise might take a short break to avoid over-saturating the market unless Capcom hasn’t learned their lesson in the past.
Fighting games have been loved in one form or another. The genre has gone through quite an evolution introducing new mechanics, playing styles, and ideas. It’s fun to look back at what made us fall in love with fighting games to begin with. Here’s hoping for another 25 years of Street Fighter!