Fighting games: a video game genre that's puts players in the shoes of a variety of fighters. Men, women, cyborgs, supernatural beings, and aliens with different styles of martial arts, different weapons, different abilities, and various levels of skill from all over the world, or different realms and planets, gather compete in tournaments in order to achieve fame, fortune, glory, revenge, redemption, power, and enlightenment, as well as other reasons. The names of the games are many: Tekken, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters, Soul Caliber, Samurai Shodown, Guilty Gear, Virtua Fighter, Darkstalkers, Dead or Alive, Killer Instinct, Super Smash Bros., the list goes on. Each one of these has its own flavor and play style yet they all have one rule: only one will make it on top. To most of the casual gaming crowd, fighting games are just like any other game they play on arcade cabinets and on consoles in their living rooms. To a majority of hardcore gamers, the fighting genre is a sport as evident in yearly EVO Championship events. Fueled by tsunamis of quarters and trash talk, the fighting game genre as a whole owes it all to one fighting franchise that made all this possible and it is anyone's guess as to how it would turn out if it never made its appearance in arcades: Street Fighter.
Round 1: Starting Out in the Streets
|Clockwise from the top left: Konami's Yie-Ar Kung Fu (1985), Beam Software's Way of the Exploding Fist (1985), Irem's Kung Fu Master (1984). and Data East's Karate Champ (1984)|
|Screenshots for the original Street Fighter arcade game.|
|Clockwise from the top left: Ports of Street Fighter for the Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Turbo Graphix CD (retitled as Fighting Street), and ZX Spectrum. The reason for the title change in the Turbo Graphix CD port remains unknown.|
Round 2: The Approaching Dawn of the World Warriors Age
For some fighting game fans, it is difficult to imagine how Street Fighter II would have turned out had the people who made the first Street Fighter stayed with Capcom. Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto got headhunted by rival company SNK and left Capcom to work for them, developing games like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and The King of Fighters in the near future. With the original Street Fighter team gone, Capcom was left in the dark on who would make the sequel. They turned to a game developed by designer Noritaka Funamizu and character designer Akira Yasuda and had it titled Street Fighter '89. That move was not the best one since the game itself was actually a side-scrolling beat-'em-up and not a fighting game, as a lot of gamers were quick to notice. After much criticism, Street Fighter '89 was retitled Final Fight and became a success in its own right. Yet Capcom was not ready to give up on making a sequel. Producer Yoshiki Okamoto placed Funamizu, Yasuda, and planner Akira "Akiman" Nishitani on the team to make Street Fighter II. The goal: to improve on the innovations of the original Street Fighter and surpass it by any means necessary.
Using advanced hardware for the technical aspects, the controls were improved to be more responsive than the original Street Fighter, making special moves easier to pull off as well as making blocking and throwing available, and Capcom's CPS arcade chip, which powered the characters and backgrounds in Final Fight, was incorporated into the Street Fighter II program to power its characters and backgrounds. It was also given a fairly standard plot: the Street Fighter tournament is run by a powerful criminal organization called Shadoloo (aka Shadowlaw, Shadaloo, and Shadowloo), which invites strong and skilled fighters from all over the world to compete in order to be deemed the best fighter in the world. In setting the cast for the game and the aforementioned plot, Ryu and Ken, the two main characters of Street Fighter, were brought in, along with six newcomers, each with their own fighting style and ability: the American commando Guile, the beautiful Chinese police detective Chun Li, the Indian Yoga master Dhalsim, the Russian wrestler Zangief, Japanese sumo wrestler Edmond Honda (aka E. Honda as he is more commonly known), and the green electrifying beast man Blanka. Rather than have players just play either Ryu or Ken, the team decided to make a move that would prove revolutionary not only to the game itself but also to the entire fighting genre: all of the characters would be playable, allowing players to select any character to play as. In regards to the plot, the characters were also each given their own backstory highlighting their reasons for participating in the tournament. Guile, for example, fights to avenge his best friend who was killed by Shadoloo. As another example, Zangief competes to showcase the might of the Soviet Union. After beating the seven other fighters with one of the player's choosing (as well as playing bonus stages along the way that involves smashing cars, falling barrels, and flaming barrels), the player would be faced with four nonplayable bosses, all high ranking members of Shadoloo. Sagat, the final boss of Street Fighter 1, returns as one of them, seeking revenge against Ryu who defeated him in the first tournament, leaving him scarred for life. The three other bosses are M. Bison, a brutal American heavy weight boxer, Balrog, a high-flying masked Spanish assassin with a ninja claw, and Vega, the super powerful leader of Shadoloo and the mastermind pulling the strings of the Street Fighter tournament. Though the names of the three Shadoloo bosses were okay in Japan, there was legal concern with M. Bison, who bore an uncanny resemblance to real-life American heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. In order to avoid a potential lawsuit in the US, the names of the three bosses were simply rotated for the international release of Street Fighter 2, which would remain to this day; M. Bison became Balrog, Balrog became Vega, and Vega became M. Bison. With the control programming finished, the graphics polished, and the cast set, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was finally made its release in 1991 and took the gaming world by storm and the fighting game genre to a whole new level that few ever imagined it would ever achieve.Almost overnight, every player had a favorite character, proving that making all of the characters selectable from the start rather than having one hero go it alone made all the difference in the world. Players were drawn to the revolutionary fighting game for the feature that was rare in other fighters: selecting any of the eight characters they wanted and go head-to-head against each other, taking advantage of each character's individual strengths and weaknesses. That alone led players to abandon the other fighters from the 80's era and engage themselves in pro-and-con debates on who is the better character, mastering one character and learning the next, and head-to-head combat via two-player (aka versus) mode, which demonstrated the power of multiplayer, all while filling the arcade cabinets with an ocean of quarters. The rapid popularity of Street Fighter II and the amount of money coming in had surprised even Capcom executives. That, combined with the arrival of competitors who followed the guidelines set up by Street Fighter II while adding their own innovations, including Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, King of Fighters, and Samurai Shodown, had marked the end of the lone fighting hero and the beginning of the age of world warriors; the fighting genre, which started out as a niche, had become mainstream in video games. While the competition from other companies is rising, Capcom sought to cash in on Street Fighter II's popularity by releasing updated versions of the game, perhaps more than any other game before or since. Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, released in April 1992, made the four bosses playable characters, allowed players to use the same character for the first time, and added color palette swaps to set two identical characters apart. In December 1992, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting made special moves counterable. In October 1993, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers added four new fighters: the massive Native American warrior Thunder Hawk (aka T. Hawk), the British special forces operative Cammy, the Hong Kong movie star and Bruce Lee homage Fei Long, and the Jamacain dancing fighter Dee Jay. In 1994, another refinement was released: Super Street Fighter II Turbo. This edition rebalanced the characters, added hyper and "super" modes to speed up the gameplay, made air combos possible, and introduced super combos, single strings of special moves pulled off by a single command once a meter is filled up. It also introduced a hidden character who became the new endboss in place of M. Bison if players accumulated enough perfect wins without losing a single round: a dark Shotokan martial arts master known in Japan as Gouki and throughout the rest of the world as Akuma. The story of this character's creation is a curious one. It began with an April Fool's joke made by the gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly in its April 1992 issue which told readers about a hidden character in Street Fighter II: World Warrior named Sheng Long, the supposed teacher to Ryu and Ken (which was inspired by Ryu's win quote "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance!"), who can only be faced in place of M. Bison as the new endboss if players use Ryu throughout the game and win 10 rounds against M. Bison without hitting each other. Although there never was an actual character named Sheng Long, the conditions for unlocking him were ridiculously impossible, and the role of Ryu and Ken's master would be filled by Akuma's brother Gouken in the future, the joke had nevertheless inspired Funamizu to design Akuma for SSFII Turbo, officially making him the game's new endboss (assuming players win perfect rounds on a single quarter), the series' first unlockable character, and Ryu's archnemesis.
|The original cast of Street Fighter II in order from top left to bottom right: Ryu, E. Honda, Blanka, Guile, Ken, Chun Li, Zangief, and Dhalsim. Fighting game enthusiasts might refer to them as the Original Eight.|
|Screenshots of the many editions for Street Fighter II on various consoles.|
Round 3: Stepping Up Beyond the Arcade Arena
|Character portrait of the Street Fighter II cast drawn by Udon Comics. By the time Super Street Fighter II Turbo was released, these fighters had become household names.|
|The theatrical poster for the critically panned 1994 movie Street Fighter, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Col. William Guile and Raul Julia as General M. Bison.|
|Japanese promotional flyer for Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, released in Japanese theaters by Capcom in 1994.|
Round 4: Saturating the Market with an "Alphabet Soup" of Sequels and Crossovers
By the time the Street Fighter movies started playing in American and Japanese theaters, Capcom's grip on the gaming market had started to waver. Part of the problem was that Capcom kept re-releasing Street Fighter II, meaning that people were essentially buying the same game over and over again. The rapidly increasing numbers of competitors, some of which had become franchises in their own right (Mortal Kombat and King of Fighters, for example), drew more customers away from the Street Fighter II arcade cabinets, further lossening Capcom's hold on its audience. In order to stay on top of the market, Capcom wanted more Street Fighter games. But another problem had affected even that. Because the pressure to make more games was increasingly intense, almost half of the Street Fighter II team had quit Capcom and defected to their biggest rival, SNK. Yoshiki Okamoto, the head of the Street Fighter development team since the original game, left the project in order to work on the Mega Man series. Noritaka Funamizu, the designer, ended up taking over the team to make new Street Fighter games. Although there wouldn't be a direct sequel to Street Fighter II for the next couple of years, the team under Funamizu's leadership made Street Fighter games that would earn a place in the hearts of hardcore fans, which were collectively known as Street Fighter Alpha (aka Street Fighter Zero in Japan).
|Screenshots of Street Fighter Alpha.|
In 1995, Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior's Dreams was released in the arcades. Storywise, the game takes place between the events of Street Fighter I and Street Fighter II, making it a sort of 'interquel'. The art style of the graphics and character design was heavily inspired by Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. Storywise, it added plot points that explain how rivalries between certain characters had originated such as Guile's revenge against M. Bison who killed his best friend, Charlie, a new character in the game, effectively fleshing them out a little bit. Besides adding plot points, new Super Combos, and characters, including a few new ones and a few from the first Street Fighter and Final Fight, Street Fighter Alpha also introduced new gameplay mechanics, which are Alpha Counters (which use one bar of the Super Combo Level Gauge when a command is executed while blocking an attack) and multi-level Super Combos (the power of the Super Combo executed depending on how full the Gauge is and the number of buttons pressed simultaneously that correspond with it), while keeping the core gameplay largely intact. The game also introduced a new mode called Dramatic Battle that allowed players to select two characters, one controlled by the player and the other by an AI, to fight an opponent in two-on-one matches. This mode was inspired by the final battle in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie in which Ryu and Ken make a final stand against M. Bison. The problems with Street Fighter Alpha were that there weren't many characters to select, there were too few environments to fight in, and a music was generally considered sub-par. It turned out the game had been rushed and in order to address the problems that resulted from it, Capcom released Street Fighter Alpha 2 in 1996. While it was built as a sequel and the storyline was rewritten, the developers considered it the true Street Fighter Alpha, allowing them to put in gameplay refinements and additional characters, including another gameplay mechanic called Custom Combos. The sequel was followed by an updated version titled Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold (known as Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha), which changed the button mechanics of the Custom Combo, added EX versions of a few characters, Survival mode that had players face an endless stream of AI opponents with a specific amount of health, and Akuma mode that allowed players to play against Shin Akuma, a more powerful version of Akuma. In 1998, Capcom released Street Fighter Alpha 3, which is something of a "best-of" version. Aside from adding the remaining cast from Super Street Fighter II Turbo as well as a few new ones to the roster from Street Fighter Alpha 2, bringing the total number of playable characters to 35, the third Alpha added a Guard Power Gauge as well as having players chose one out of three fighing styles called ISMs; X-ISM uses one powerful Super Combo, A-ISM uses multiple Super Combos, and V-ISM allows the player to use a Custom Combo. While the Alpha series was being released and gaining approval by fans, Capcom released another line of Street Fighter arcade games that used a rather different technology than what has been generally used in most Street Fighter games and was gaining popularity thanks to Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and Dead or Alive.
|Street Fighter EX 1 (Left) and Street Fighter EX 3 (Right)|
In 1996, Capcom released a spin-off series in arcades called Street Fighter EX (the EX in the title stands for exquisite), the first Street Fighter game to use 3D graphics and fully polyganal characters. It was developed by Arika, a development company founded a year earlier by former Capcom employees under the leadership of Akira Nishitani, one of the minds behind Street Fighter II. While it is technically a 3D game, Street Fighter EX played like a 2D fighting game, which is what the Street Fighter series has always been known for. It also had its own combat features, which are the Guard Break (a move that breaks an opponent's block), Cancelling (when a special move is done after performing a regular move or another special move), Super Cancelling (a process of performing a super combo immediately after another super combo), and Momentary Combos (when a super combo is activated in the middle of another super combo with a simple press of a punch or kick button). The story in this game is largely absent due to Nishitani's focus on straight gameplay by pulling the maximum performance out of the old Street Fighter engine. (I) Although the game performed well technically, it did not sell as well as Capcom might have hoped. It's likely that the 3D design was just too different than what Street Fighter fans were used to. Maybe players were turned off by EX's combat features. Maybe the new characters were never exciting or the controls were not as tight as Street Fighter II was. Or perhaps the polyganized versions of Street Fighter's most popular characters, and the very concept of Street Fighter as a 3D fighting game, were just in bad taste.
Whatever the case, Street Fighter EX was an arcade market bomb. But that did not stop Capcom and Arika from releasing an updated version titled Street Fighter EX Plus in March 1997 and a Playstation port of that called Street Fighter EX Plus a four months later. The former basically made hidden and boss characters available by default while adding a few more hidden characters. The latter added two more characters and CG animated endings for all of the characters. In 1998, Street Fighter EX 2 was released with a new gameplay feature called Excel Combos (the word "excel" is abbreviated for "extra cancel") which allow players to connect a series of basic and special moves for a limited time, much like the Custom Combos in the Street Fighter Alpha series. A year after that, an enhancement of that game, Street Fighter EX 2 Plus, was released, with the only notable difference being another new combat mechanic called Meteor Combos, more powerful Super Combos that could only be performed when all three bars in the Super Combo gauge were full. The EX series reached its conclusion with Street Fighter EX 3, which was released in 2000 as a launch title for the Playstation 2 and the first Street Fighter game for that system. It was a major visual improvement over the previous EX games, mainly the sharper 3D avatars. Other than that, the replacement of the Guard Break system with the Surprise Blow system (which is an overhead attack that only works when standing) and tag battles as a basic game mode made EX 3 stand out from its predecessors. Though it gained a fan base, the Street Fighter EX series disappeared into obscurity within the majority of fan dome; most fans preferred everything in Street Fighter, including the sprites, to be 2D which the series has been best known for.
|Street Fighter III: New Generation (Left), 2nd Impact: Giant Attack (Center), and Third Strike (Right)|
Still, Street Fighter III could not gain the amount of popularity Street Fighter II did when it first arrived in arcades, even though the former did fine in that area. And yet, like every other Street Fighter game before it, Street Fighter III received its share of updated versions, which were two in this case. Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact - Giant Attack arrived in October of 1997 with the addition of a few new characters, the return of Akuma, the ability to escape throws, and slightly more powerful versions of special moves called EX Specials. The second and final update arrived two years later in the form of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, which brought in five more characters, including series regular Chun-Li, and a few more new little mechanics, including having players choose one of two opponents to fight against as they progress through the arcade mode. Even after the arrival of the first true sequel to Street Fighter II accompanied by a couple of updates, Capcom did not think there was enough Street Fighter.
Round 5: Crossing Over with Superheroes and Arch Rivals
|Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (Left) and Marvel vs Capcom 2 (Right)|
One reason why that the Alpha series, the EX series, and III series of Street Fighter games were not selling as well as Street Fighter II did was that players wanted new games that keep their favorite characters in the roster while also having new ones to try out and master. With that in mind, Capcom decided to release new fighting games which, while similar to Street Fighter, added something new to the fighting game market. These include Darkstalkers, Rival Schools, and X-Men: Children of the Atom. It was with X-Men, Marvel's mutant superhero team (along with their supervillian counterparts) and Capcom's new fighters, that Capcom decided to pit the former against their popular Street Fighter crew. In 1996, Capcom released X-Men vs. Street Fighter around the same time Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Street Fighter EX were released. This game basically pitted Marvel Comics' mutant superheroes and villains against Capcom's World Warriors in two-on-two tag team battles. In order to give X-Men vs. Street Fighter a larger-than-life atmosphere like the Marvel Universe, all of the characters were given an ability to leap high in wide arenas and the Street Fighter characters had all of their moves and super combos upgraded to over-the-top proportions. In 1997, X-Men vs. Street Fighter was followed by Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter. As the title suggested, almost all of the X-Men characters have been replaced by other Marvel characters. The gameplay remained pretty much the same, although players could now summon a partner to do a special move without changing the character they were playing as. A year after that game was released, Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes arrived in the arcades, which ended up becoming a series in its own right. Not only did this game replace a majority of Street Fighter characters with other Capcom characters, but also added two critical new unique features. The first was an ability to summon assist characters, which could perform assist attacks and were randomly selected before a match began. The second new feature was the Duo Team Attack, allowing the player to control both characters on the team simultaneously while having unlimited use of special moves for a brief period of time. In 2000, the Marvel vs. Capcom series reached even greater heights when Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes released. For starters, a lot more characters from both Marvel and Capcom were added, totaling the roster up to 58 characters, the highest number of any fighting game around that point. Unlike its predecessors with its two-player tag teams, players could select any three players they wanted on their team, giving them two assist characters instead of one. This, given the large selection of Marvel and Capcom characters, allowed players to create any team they wanted, making for insane combination attacks based on their super meter level. Not only that, players could also use one super meter level to force an opponents character into the fight, which is commonly referred to as "snapping back," adding another layer of strategy.
|Capcom vs SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 (Left) and Capcom vs SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium (Right)|
Around the same time that Capcom was doing over-the-top clashes with costumed heroes and villains, they also went head to head with their archrivals at SNK while sticking to their roots. It started with a cover story by the Japanese magazine Arcadia that compared Street Fighter Alpha 3 with King of Fighters '98, both of which were released around the same year. However, the cover was misinterpreted as a single game that allowed players to pit Capcom's Street Fighter against SNK's King of Fighters. The massive fan reaction prompted the long time rivals to sign a deal to make crossover fighting games that would be independently developed and produced by both companies. SNK got started on their end with SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, which was developed in 1999 for the handheld Neo-Geo Pocket by Dimps, a company founded by Street Fighter's original creators, Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto. While that game, along with card titles of the SNK vs Capcom series, did not sell well (which led SNK to file for bankruptcy a few years later), Capcom made their crossover title for the arcades and home consoles with far better results. Titled Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 and released in the year 2000, Capcom's fighters, mostly from Street Fighter, were pitted against SNK's own cast from King of Fighters in traditional one-on-one matches, two-on-two battles, and the three-on-three elimination matches that King of Fighters has been known for. For each of the characters and teams selected, players can also choose one out of two attack meters, known as 'grooves,' one being based off of Capcom's Street Fighter Alpha series and the other being the rage meter of SNK's first King of Fighters games. The game also utilizes a "ratio" system that organizes characters according to their overall strength in a 1-4 ratio. The combined ratios of the teams (up to four characters) assembled had to equal and could go no higher than 4. While the game did get an overall solid reception and ports for the Sega Dreamcast and the Sony Playstation with a few tweaks, it was criticized for the ratio system, combined with the fact that the game only featured, with very few exceptions, characters from Street Fighter and King of Fighters when their respective companies had other fighter series under their belt. These two flaws have limited possible team formations, as well as missed an opportunity for more variety in characters and gameplay, which were resolved when Capcom released Capcom vs SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001 in 2001. Besides removing the ratio system, more characters from Street Fighter, King of Fighters, and other fighting games from Capcom and SNK have been added along with new 'grooves,' each with its own set of abilities. But the positive reviews for Capcom vs SNK 2 could not save it from the real problem that plagued Capcom since Street Fighter II. It wasn't really because that players just wanted new fighting games; Capcom was releasing far too many Street Fighter games, making it difficult for casual gamers to tell one Street Fighter series apart from another, regardless of features unique to that series. This had caused the fighting game market, which Capcom had created in the first place, to be highly saturated.
Round 6: Having Room to Breathe After So Many Fights
By the time Capcom vs SNK 2 and Marvel vs Capcom 2 released in the early 2000s, fighting games were no longer as popular as they once were. Arcade cabinets had vanished in favor of home consoles like the Playstation 2, Microsoft's Xbox, and Nintendo's Gamecube. With the entire team which created Street Fighter II gone and after 17 years, Noritaka Funamizu and Yoshiki Okamoto decided that it was time to move on and resigned from Capcom in 2003. Funamizu went on to found his own company, Craft and Meister (which would produce numerous Dragonball Z titles), while Okamoto did the same with Game Republic (producer of games like Folklore and Genji: Days of the Blade). Most of the Street Fighter spin-offs made in the 1990s faded into obscurity, survived by the Street Fighter Alpha series in the Anthology Collection for the new generation of consoles, as well as Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Marvel vs Capcom 2 since the unique character selection and gameplay mechanics of both fighters have found an appreciative audience and appearances in tournament competitions, like EVO, for years to come. The then-shrinking fighting marketplace and the then-young new generation of home consoles was occupied by Tekken, Virtua Fighter, and Mortal Kombat with mostly critical and commercial success. Meanwhile, Capcom released one more fighting game, Capcom Fighting Evolution, in 2004. But it went largely unnoticed and was panned anyway for its poor roster, cheap animations, and dull gameplay. Overall, Street Fighter was finally left alone after having so many games released under its name. It would be a while before Street Fighter would be making a comeback by returning to its roots.
Round 7: Making a Comeback and Returning to Glory
|Screenshot of the teaser trailer for Street Fighter IV, released in October 2007.|
Yoshinori Ono was involved with music and sound design for Capcom's games, including Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Devil May Cry, before becoming a producer for Capcom Fighting Evolution and Shadow of Rome. After Shadow of Rome, Ono was assigned to produce Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, the fourth installment of Keiji Inafune's Onimusha samurai fantasy series. Having been a fan of Street Fighter, Ono decided to add hidden unlockable costumes that dresses the Dawn of Dreams cast as Street Fighter characters (which happened to be Ryu, Ken, Guile, Chun Li, and Cammy). When the feedback on this came out highly positive, Ono reported to his boss, Inafune, that fans wanted a new Street Fighter game. Should that be the case, he said, he wanted to be in charge of overseeing its creation. Inafune agreed and gave the go ahead for Street Fighter IV. After some market research and debate, it was decided that the new game would have a brand new art style; the roster to feature all the fighters from up to Super Street Fighter II: Turbo while keeping the number of new fighters to a minimal. The overall game would be 2.5D; the characters and stages would be in full 3D while keeping the combat on a 2D plane, which was Street Fighter was most famous for in the first place. They also decided to bring Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto's company, Dimps, to co-produce it since they technically started the Street Fighter franchise. It was agreed that Ono's team would do the character choices, art design, and gameplay mechanics while Dimps would program and balance the game. After Street Fighter IV was publicly announced in October 2007 with a teaser trailer presented featuring Ryu and Ken engaging in a seemingly 3D battle in a stylized ink-brush paint art style, the audience was initially skeptical. Driven by ambition to bring back a classic and under growing pressure from the media, Ono, his team, and Street Fighter's original creators at Dimps worked to perfect the game that would bring life back to the genre Street Fighter had revolutionized. The finished product first arrived at Japanese arcades in July 2008, then into Western arcades a few months later, and was finally ported to the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3, and the PC in February 2009.
|Ryu prepares to unleash his latest move, the Metsu Hadoken, in this early screenshot of Street Fighter IV.|
After a long absence from the gaming world, Street Fighter IV, the first true Street Fighter sequel in years, initially received praise for its return to form and revitalizing the glory days of the initial 2D fighting era, making Ono's prediction of the fans' desire to play a new Street Fighter to be, quite literally, right on the money. Putting the bitter memories of the 'saturation period' behind them, fans enjoyed the return of all of their favorite fighters from Super Street Fighter II Turbo, along with a few new characters as well as a handful of select characters from the Street Fighter Alpha series. While the emphasis was placed mainly on the use of special moves and strategy based on character strengths and weaknesses, the gameplay also incorporated mechanics that have grown popular with other Street Fighter games (Super Combos first invented by Super Street Fighter II and EX moves from Street Fighter III) as well as included a few new features that added to the combat. The first new fighting mechanic introduced in Street Fighter IV was the Focus Attack, in which the two medium attack buttons are hold together and the player attacks while also absorbing damage from the opponent's attacks. If the Focus Attack lands a successful hit, the opponent is crumpled, leaving him/herself open to the player's attack. Another feature new to the Street Fighter series is a more powerful, and cinematic, version of the Super Combo: the Ultra Combo. The Ultra Combo is executable when the Revenge Gauge is half full as the opponent deals damage to the player but is more powerful when the Gauge is completely full. The 2.5D combat, character balance, and brand new combat mechanics all contributed to positive reviews as well as making arcade competition vibrant again. With 2.5 million copies sold by April 2009, Capcom decided to have Ono and his team make Street Fighter IV even better...by releasing updated editions (though not as aggressively as Street Fighter II and the other games) as new copies and downloadable content (DLC).
|Screenshots of Super Street Fighter IV (Left) and Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (Right)|
Super Street Fighter IV was released on April 2010, with ten more characters (two from Super Street Fighter II, three from the Street Fighter Alpha series, three from Street Fighter III, and two newcomers), mini games that were popular in Street Fighter II, and one additional Revenge Combo for each character (which can be selected from the character selection screen before a match, similar in nature with the Super Arts in Street Fighter III) added. SSFIV Arcade Edition, which is geared specifically for the hardcore tournament audience, came along a year later with balancing tweaks and four more additional characters. Street Fighter IV made healthy sales since its initial release regardless of the version. By 2012, the console version of the main game sold 3.1 million units, SSFIV sold 1.8 million units, and a port for the Nintendo 3DS (released on March 27, 2011) sold 1.1 million units. But that has not stopped Capcom from releasing new updates to the game. On April 18, 2014, Ultra Street Fighter IV was released in Japanese arcades, made available on the PSN and Xbox Live in June as add-ons for those who already have copies of the previous additions, and as whole physical retail for the consoles and PC a month after that. It added five additional characters, new stages, character tweaks, and new mechanics; the new characters brought the total of the entire roster to 44, making it the largest in the history of the series. Four of those characters and the stages were actually imported from Street Fighter X Tekken and given gameplay adjustments to fit Street Fighter IV's game design. The most recent add-on for the game arrived in winter 2014 in the form a free update called Omega Mode. That mode was designed to make the characters feel new and fun rather than balanced by tournament standards; it was done by giving those characters new moves in addition to the return of fan-favorite moves from the previous games.
|Screenshot of Ultra Street Fighter 4.|
Round 8: Meeting Some New Challengers...and New Challenges
Not long after Capcom released Street Fighter IV in April 2009 for the world-wide console market, Namco Bandai's Tekken 6, the then-latest entry in their popular 3D fighting franchise, also saw their own international release for home consoles in October of that year after remaining in Japanese arcades since 2008 with overall positive critical and financial results. Now what could be done to keep the revitalized fighting game boom going strong? An answer that question was found in a meeting between Yoshinori Oda and Katsuhiro Harada, the long time team leader of the Tekken team, that proposed a friendly competition between the two company's top fighting franchise similar to the one between Capcom and SNK at the start of the decade. Capcom and Namco liked the idea and signed a deal in which, beginning in around August, both companies would produce and develop their own version of crossover pitting the World Warriors against the Kings of the Iron Fist for the first time ever. As part of the deal, Capcom's version, which is called Street Fighter X Tekken, would play like a Street Fighter game while Namco's version, titled Tekken X Street Fighter, would play like a Tekken game. [Note: the X in both titles is pronounced "cross."]
1) Launchers, combined offensive/defensive attack that renders the player immune to low attacks and launches the opponent into the air before performing a character change.
2) Super Charges, which are select special moves that can be charged up to three levels while holding the button. The second level performs an EX Move and the third level performs the Super Art, all without consuming the Cross Gauge.
3) Cross Arts, the most powerful combination attacks that two partners can perform together (the team member who started it can remove recoverable damage while the partner finishes up with the Super Art) at the cost of all three levels of the Cross Gauge.
4) Cross Assaults, special techniques in which a player uses the entire Cross Gauge to call in a partner to fight along side for a brief period of time.
5) Pandora, a last-ditch-effort maneuver that when, once the life gauge gets to 25% or less, a team member is sacrifice for a huge boost in power to the other member, increasing attack strength, having the Cross Gauge kept at maximum (which allows for an infinite number of EX Moves and Super Arts), and receiving twice the amount of whatever was left of the partner's life bar. Since it would last for a short period of time, the player has only one chance to defeat the opponent while in Pandora mode. Otherwise, the player losses via a Time Over.
|Screenshots of Street Fighter X Tekken.|
On March 6, 2012, Street Fighter X Tekken was released worldwide for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Windows PC. The largely anticipated fighter was met with positive reviews largely for its colorful story of its official tag teams in the arcade mode and its fluid 2D gameplay mixing different aspects of Street Fighter and Tekken. The only initial drawbacks were online connectivity issues, which were since then resolved, and having to buy additional Gems online. The latter is just an inconvenience, though it should be noted that it was initially feared that the use of Gems would cause balance issues, such as an inexperienced player gaining the upper hand when fighting a more experienced player. However, the Gems did not have much of an impact on the overall experience when the game came out, although they were banned outright in some tournaments. A real controversy started just two days after the game released when hackers exploiting a glitch uncovered 12 hidden characters that were encoded as DLC that could only be unlocked via Xbox Live and the Playstation Network (PSN). It was revealed that these "hidden" characters were going to debut on the Playstation VITA version in the fall and then release as DLC for the consoles later. Yet, outraged fans demanded to know why they would have to buy characters that were locked onto the very disk they bought in the first place. Capcom representatives explained the move as a matter of file compatibility and storage space:
"By including these 12 characters on the disc, the idea was to ensure easy compatibility [sic] between players who do and do not choose to download the characters when they arrive as DLC. For example, not buying costumes in the Street Fighter IV series means you will not see the costumes when playing another person who did buy them; on-disc characters avoid this issue and allow everyone to participate in the update without additional patches or hiccups. The update also saves on file size - instead of a massive download, there will be a much smaller unlock that brings the new content to the surface."But that argument did not stop fan complaints about having DLC packed on a disk and being forced to buy them. Even Tomoaki Ayano, the producer of the Playstation VITA version who took charge of the development team after Yoshioni Ono stepped down following an illness, expressed his surprise at how the hackers easily unlocked the characters and his dismay that the incident had "created [an] environment where a bunch of players were playing the characters but a bunch [more] were unable to play with them." The controversy died down within the next few months following the official announcement of the 12-character DLC pack for the console versions with a $20 price tag at EVO 2012 and the official release on July 31, three months ahead of the Playstation VITA release. While Street Fighter x Tekken managed to get decent critic review scores, sales were less than impressive, with a total of 1.4 million copies worldwide. These low sales were partially blamed on numerous other fighting games being released since 2011, including Mortal Kombat, Soul Caliber V, King of Fighters XIII, and Capcom's own Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Street Fighter IV series games, which the company referred to as 'cannibalism.' Perhaps the sales were also affected by the DLC scandal and the game's use of power boosting Gems (some available in-game, others offered on sale as DLC), as reflected in the unfavorable user review scores on Metacritic. But such hurdles have not stopped the Street Fighter x Tekken development team from making patches to fix the game. Among these patches was one that addressed the number of frames in normal throws, the visibility and speed of the recovery bars, and character-specific balancing tweaks. Known as version 2013, it was announced in November 2012 and was released on January 31, 2013. It remains to be seen how long the game will hold up or when Namco would deliver on Tekken X Street Fighter.
|This teaser image is about as close to Namco's Tekken X Street Fighter as the public can get (at least for the time being).|
|Screenshots of the upcoming Street Fighter V.|
Street Fighter and the other fighting games that came after it redefined the word 'competition' in the world of video games. Had the teams behind the series' creation not come up with the ideas of special moves, unique characters, and the freedom to select any one of those characters to fight as, there would not have even been a real fighting genre in video games. Players would not be playing Street Fighter X Tekken, the Mortal Kombat reboot, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, or even Injustice: Gods Among Us; they would have been stuck playing a lone hero beating down an endless stream of soulless adversaries to this day. As long as it does not get saturated all over again by expanded editions and sequels that don't stand out much, the fighting game genre will continue to be a strong video game market for years to come, with Street Fighter being the progenitor of it all.
- IGN Presents the History of Street Fighter Written and Posted 2/16/09 by
Rus McLaughlin http://retro.ign.com/articles/954/954426p1.html.
Rus McLaughlin http://retro.ign.com/articles/954/954426p1.html.
- Gamespot – Video Game History Month: Street Fighter Posted 5/6/10 http://www.gamespot.com/hyper-street-fighter-ii-the-anniversary-edition/videos/video-game-history-month-street-fighter-6261554/
- All Your History - Street Fighter Part 2: Greatest of All Time (Season 4, Episode 5) Uploaded on 1/30/12 by machinima http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O563KiltsI&feature=BFa&list=SL&lf=list_related
- All Your History - Street Fighter Part 3: Super Turbo Alpha Gold Championship Plus Extra Hyper Special Limited Collector’s Third Strike (Season 4, Episode 6) Uploaded on 2/6/12 by machinima http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6mL2dQwv9I&feature=autoplay&list=SL&lf=list_related&playnext=1
- All Your History - Street Fighter Part 4: Return of the Champs (Season 4, Episode 7) Uploaded on 2/13/12 by machinima http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjNy7XnznZA&feature=BFa&list=SL&lf=list_related
- Street Fighter Miscellany http://www.streetfightermiscellany.com/index.html
- Video Game Vault: Street Fighter The Movie: The Game Uploaded on 4/19/07 by ScrewAttack on Gametrailers http://www.gametrailers.com/video/video-game-screwattack/18741
- Gamespot – Street Fighter: The Movie -Blow-by-Blows Posted 2/21/12 http://www.gamespot.com/street-fighter-x-tekken/videos/street-fighter-the-movie-blow-by-blows-6350795/
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