Street Fighter is one of the most iconic franchises in the gaming industry. Street Fighter, unlike many other fighting games out there, is represented by warriors around the world. Street Fighter began as an arcade game in 1987. The first Street Fighter was not like what we see today. Instead of several characters, only Ryu and Ken (as a second player, if the player decided to challenge Ryu) are controllable throughout the game. The game is simple as Ryu has to travel to different countries and defeat the warriors in his quest of becoming a master in martial arts. Its appearance in the arcades was followed by releases to the major gaming consoles of the time, including the PC. A couple of years later, Capcom released what was supposed to be a sequel to Street Fighter, Final Fight. Instead of a traditional fighting game, Final Fight switched to a Beat’em up style. Eventually Street Fighter II, titled as The World Warrior, was released in 1991 as a true sequel to the original Street Fighter.
Street Fighter II received a lot of positive reception around the world, and it led many developers to try to follow in its footsteps by making their own fighting games to rival SF. The popularity of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior also warranted updated versions of the game, starting with the Champion Edition. The Champion Edition offered the bosses of the original SFII to be playable and two players were allowed to choose the same character by changing the color scheme for each of the characters. The next updated version, titled as Hyper Fighting, was released in response to the many bootleg versions of SFII that found their way into the market. They offered a faster gameplay than its predecessor as well as new color schemes and new techniques. That was followed by two more updated versions, called Super Street Fighter II: A New Challenger and Super Street Fighter II Turbo respectively, which offered a major revamp to the game itself and five new characters. Street Fighter II was released on SNES, GameBoy, ATARI and other major consoles of that time. Combo mechanisms, which are essential to fighting games today, were found accidentally during the testing sessions of the Bonus Stages that were offered in SFII, and the developers decided to leave them in as a hidden feature in the game. Another highlight in the game was that the creation of first female in the fighting genre, Chun-Li. Chun-Li is recognized by fans as “first lady of fighting games” for her appearance in SFII. Her role in SFII portrayed her as an agent of Interpol who seeks revenge for her father’s death at the hands of M.Bison, the leader of an organization called Shadaloo. She later returned in the third updated version of Street Fighter III with a new look.
The critical success led Capcom developed several non-canon series to SF, among them Alpha, EX and Versus. A good example is that Capcom helped Marvel to build their own fighting game consisting of a roster composed of X-Men in the game X-Men: Children of the Atom. In turn, Marvel agreed to its characters being used in X-Men vs Street Fighter, which eventually led to the creation of the Marvel vs Capcom crossover. The latest crossover to hit consoles is Street Fighter X Tekken, which has become widely popular among genre enthusiasts. Like any other popular franchise, SF has spawned comics and movies, though sadly, both movie adaptations were not that good. The first inspired by the game, Street Fighter, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Colonel William F. Guile and Raul Julia as the villain General M. Bison, hit movie screens in 1994. Speaking of movies, the animated movie was released around 1994 (in Japan, but in 1996 as an English dubbed version) based on the SFII universe. The story revolves around M. Bison trying to recruit Ryu into his organization. Along the way, the story features the Shadaloo conflicts with both Interpol and the U.S military. After failing to recruit Ryu, M. Bison’s next target is Ken, who is said can rival Ryu in fighting prowess. This was followed up by Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation. While it is not a terrible OVA, it isn’t very good, either. In 2009, an animated movie called Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind was bundled with the Collector’s Edition of Street Fighter IV. 2009 also saw the release of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Long time fans of SF again weren’t thrilled by this adaptation of the franchise to the silver screen. Not only did it lack the main character of Ryu, the story was poorly done, with weakly executed fight sequences.
The original idea was that the next SF would be called Street Fighter IV Flashback. It was to feature 2.5D gameplay that would focus more on Ryu’s backstory, but it was cancelled instead. After an 8 year hiatus, the last game being Street Fighter EX3, Capcom launched a new SF, simply titled Street Fighter IV. Street Fighter IV offered smoother and faster gameplay. The graphics were done in a similar style to Japanese painting on canvass, giving the backgrounds some depth to them. A new system known as the Focus Attack was introduced. The Focus Attack is a system where players could absorb an attack and then launch his/her counterattack. There is also the Ultra Combo, which combined a series of punches and kicks. Like its predecessors, SFIV was also followed by updated versions such as Super Street IV, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition and the latest version soon to be launched, Ultra Street Fighter IV. The Arcade versions will launch in 2014 and the console versions will be both offered as DLC to existing SSFIV copies and a stand alone game that includes previous DLC content. Ultra Street Fighter IV, along with its previous incarnations, will feature an additional 19 characters from the original SFIV roster.
Like any franchise, Street Fighter has consistently been proving that it deserves to be counted among the powerhouses in the gaming industry. Other fighters may challenge its position at the top, but it will always be the series that people remember as one of the main catalysts that launched the fighting genre, and it maintains a strong influence to this day. Hints at Street Fighter V have surfaced, much to the fans delight, ensuring that this franchise will continue into the future.
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