Street Fighter: The Dawn of the World Warriors
Street fighter is one of my favourite franchises, it has had a huge influence in the fighting genre. It all began with Street Fighter’s debut in the arcades in 1987, you played as the main character/protagonist Ryu fighting around the world in a fighting tournament that takes place in 5 different locations with 10 different challengers to battle. The control scheme was fairly simple with 3 buttons for different kicks and punches and with these buttons you could also pull off special moves such as the trade mark moves “Hadouken”, “Shoryuken” and “Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku” these could be executed with a specific combination of commands for each move. Street Fighter also had the option for another player to enter the game as Ryu’s rival Ken Masters for 1 v 1 battles. Eventually Street Fighter made the transition to home consoles and PC in 1998, further down the line it was released in the Capcom classics collection released for the PS2 and Xbox. Although Street Fighter was the first of its kind, it was Street Fighter II: The World Warrior that came to be the most influential fighting game of all time, reinventing the genre.
A New Era is Upon Us!
4 years later in 1991, after a couple of failed attempts at a Street Fighter sequel came Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, the true sequel to Street Fighter and the most revolutionary and best-selling entry in the franchise. 2 years after its release, it made over $1.5 billion and had a huge impact in the games industry. Street Fighter II was the first of its kind to include a roster with a variety of unique characters each featuring their own fighting styles and a selection of different combos to pull off, each character also had approximately 3, unique, special moves adding a fantastic amount of depth to the gameplay for its time.
Street Fighter II was the first of its kind to offer a selection of characters in a 1 on 1 fighter and still had the option of having a player join in instantly for 1 v 1 competitive play, the arcade mode pitted you against seven CPU adversaries and four very challenging boss battles, one in particular that made my blood boil but kept me coming back for more. With a selection of different combos and a grapple/throwing mechanic the gameplay always managed to stay fresh, frantic and most of all fun!
As time went on, the popularity of Street Fighter soared to new levels and eventually enabled the franchise to develop many different updates to the game such as Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers etc. These upgrades included the ability to play as the four boss characters, faster gameplay, new characters, the option to change the character’s colours and even new types of super combos. These simple characteristics are another example of the many aspects of Street Fighter II that have influenced fighting games from many different franchises such as King of Fighters and now, nearly all fighting games have these options, whether they are unlocked as you complete the story/arcade versions of the game, or if they are already in place from the beginning. Capcom continued to release newer installments of Street Fighter II up until 2008, when Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix came out for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.
Street Fighter II shook not only the fighting game industry, but the gaming world as a whole, and opened up many new, exciting windows for the future of fighting games, providing intuitive ideas and aspects that changed what it meant to be a fighting game. To this very day it remains Capcom’s best-selling game of all time, broadening the horizons for the franchise extensively. There was “Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie” and the live action adaptation of the film, “Street Fighter”, there were action figures, cartoons and a massive amount of merchandise. At one point, the game was being sold at seven times the original price due to low stock, the company simply couldn’t keep up with the vast amount of people who wanted to buy the game. Street Fighter II and its various installments won many awards such as Best Game of 1991 and 1992 in their Fifth and Sixth Annual Grand Prize, also coming first in the Best Action Game genre, and every single character was featured in the Best Characters category of 1991, also claiming first place for Best Album, Best VGM and Best Direction. Street Fighter II even won the Golden Joystick Award for Game of the Year in 1992.
I Dreamed A Dream
The legacy of Street Fighter II continued with the Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams, which was set between the first two Street Fighter games, allowing for plot holes left by the previous two games to be filled out and the backstories for each character went into more depth, significantly expanding on the Street Fighter story. This first installment introduced the idea of unlockable characters that could be later played to the franchise, starting with ten playable characters and including three mystery characters that the player could unlock as they completed the story. It also developed more in the area of Super Combos, increasing the combo bar into three levels, enabling super combos to be collected for an opportune moment in the match. Another new feature of Warriors’ Dreams was that of Alpha Counters, allowing for the player to block the opponent’s attack and in turn, deal their own counter attack. Chain Combos were also new, in which the player could use a combination of weak attacks such as weak kicks or jabs which resulted in a more powerful attack that dealt heavy damage to the opponent.
The second game of the Alpha series was Street Fighter Alpha 2, incorporating a Custom Combo system instead of the Chain Combos, requiring small amounts of the combo bar in order to execute Custom Combos. Alpha 2 kept all thirteen original characters from the franchise, also adding five new characters to the roster. There were also new individual endings for each character, new themes, music and new stages.
The final installment of the Alpha Series was Street Fighter Alpha 3, which also made a few changes to the original Street Fighter and Street Fighter II, such as expanding the roster of characters to 28. It was also released on a variety of different consoles such as PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Windows, Dreamcast, Super NES and Game Boy Color etc.
In 1996, the Street Fighter EX Series came into play, co-produced by Capcom with a company called Arika. This series was a 3D spinoff from the original Street Fighter series, combining the well-known Street Fighter cast with characters created and owned by Arika. The first game, titled Street Fighter EX, was developed for the PlayStation-based hardware ZN-1, which made good use of the new 3D graphics of the game. However, only a year later an upgraded version was released, Street Fighter EX Plus, which was only slightly different from the previous version as the only difference to the first was the fact that a few more characters were added to the roster and an edition for the PlayStation was released a few months later, called Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha. The PlayStation version included additional features and even more characters.
The sequel was released in 1998 and this time was developed for the ZN-2 hardware, named Street Fighter EX2. Again there weren’t many differences to the game other than yet more characters and the fact that Custom Combos were reinstated. This sequel also received an upgrade of little difference titled Street Fighter EX2 Plus, also released only a year later and had a PlayStation edition developed.
The third and final installment to the EX Series was Street Fighter EX3, which had many changes and improvements to the game such as a mode that allowed the player to fight against three opponents at once and a Character Edit mode that included the option of buying special moves and combos with experience points, and adding them onto a character named Ace, designed specifically for the mode. Unlike the other installments of the EX Series, which were all designed for ZN hardware, Street Fighter EX3 was released directly to the PlayStation 2 in the year 2000.
Three is the Magic Number
The next chapter of the Street Fighter series was Street Fighter III: New Generation, which started out as your average coin-slot arcade game in 1997. This game was the sequel to Street Fighter II, however all characters except Ryu and Ken were removed from the character roster and replaced by nine other characters. The main character for this game was called Alex, who’s main goal was to defeat the character Gill, the final boss for the game. The other new characters included Dudley, Elena, Sean, Necro, Oro, Yun and Yang (counted as one) and Ibuki, who was intended to replace Chun-Li as the main heroine, similarities between these two characters are fairly obvious, such as the famous thunder thighs.
The gameplay of Street Fighter III: New Generation was similar to the previous games in the sense that the player faced seven CPU opponents throughout the duration of the story, ending with Gill. There were a few new features added to the gameplay such as Super Arts, which was similar to a Super Combo, being a powerful special move, however the player would choose a Super Art for the character they were playing in the menu after selecting the character. Like the Super Combo, Super Arts had a bar that had to be completely filled in order to execute a Super Art, which was filled as you performed special and normal attacks on the enemy. The length of the Super Art bar also varied in size and length depending on which Super Art the player chose. The main new feature to the game was Parrying, which allowed the player to block the opponent’s attacks without receiving any damage, including special moves. Parrying could be used by pressing down or towards an oncoming attack, although in order for a parry to work, the player had to act very quickly, using a parry in the split second before the opponent’s attack connected with the player’s character.
A home version for the game was released in 1999 for the Sega Dreamcast, called Street Fighter III: Double Impact, which featured a Training, Option, Arcade and Versus Mode and the option to play as the final boss, Gill. This home version was a compilation of Street Fighter III: New Generation and the later upgrade Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, which made a few adjustments to the gameplay such as EX Specials, which were slightly more powerful add-ons to regular special moves, although they required two attack buttons to be pressed rather than one and also requiring a portion of the Special Arts bar in order to be used. Some of the original cast of the Street Fighter franchise returned with this upgrade, such as Akuma, along with two new characters, Hugo and Urien. Yun and Yang were also given separate moves and combos, rather than having an identical set.
Another change to the gameplay that was released with Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact was that the player fought against eight CPU characters instead of seven, the final boss being specific to each character. That final boss would also converse with the character before the match, establishing the story. A mini game was also added to the game, taking place after the third match, and consisted of the player having the opportunity to practice their parrying skills by having basketballs thrown towards their character by the character Sean. It was possible to unlock battling against Akuma as the final boss rather than the character-specific final boss, and depending on how well the player fought against Akuma, another battle would ensue between the player’s character and Shin Akuma, a more powerful version of Akuma.
The last installment of Street Fighter III was released in 1999, two years after the first two games and brought a fair amount of improvement to the series. Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight For The Future brought back the classic character Chun-Li, also adding another four characters, Makoto, Q, Remy and Twelve. These additions brought the character roster to 20 characters, quite extensive compared to the original 10. New themes, stages, voice actors and endings were developed for all the returning characters from the previous Street Fighter III games in order to extend the storyline that was left unfinished by the other two games.
The amount of opponents in single player mode was extended to ten characters, and another mini game was added, a remake of the Street Fighter II’s “Crush the Car”. Parries were re-named to Guard Parries, and the character turned red when executing the move, leading to its secondary name of Red Parry. The commands were changed for aerial parries, throws, holds and leap attacks and 3rd Strike also introduced a Judgement System that graded the player depending on their performance in battle such as defense and techniques.
A home version for the game was released in 2000, which contained all the modes of Double Impact such as Training and Versus Mode, as well as an additional mode called System Direction, which allowed the player to change certain settings of the game. For the final round of each match, a remix of each character’s theme was composed in order to create a more dramatic effect. A PlayStation 2 version was released in 2004 and an Xbox version was released in 2008, however the online capabilities for the Xbox version ceased functioning in 2010 due to the development of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, which was released to Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network in 2011.
At the start of this current console, generation fighting game releases were far and few between with a handful of mediocre releases that left a lot to be desired. But there was hope when Capcom announced Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and later in the year on the PC. Street Fighter IV boasted flashy 3D character models while still keeping the 2D gameplay that first made Street Fighter so popular, a drawn art style with particularly thick outlines and a great online mode that has since been improved on. The gameplay stayed true to Street Fighter II, not changing the formula too much and adding in some new features such as the Focus Attack, which was performed when holding down both medium attack buttons and when executing has an ink brush-like effect. The Focus Attack is simply put, a counter-attack mechanism that enabled you to turn an opponent’s attack upon themselves though if you took too much damage from the opponent while using the Focus Attack it would be cancelled out. Another new feature was the Ultra Combo which was essentially the opposite of super combos in the sense that, rather than attacking the opponent to charge up the bar, you had to take damage from the enemy instead. The Ultra Combo could be pulled off with a simple combination that would result in a cinematic and rather painful looking showcase of flashy moves.
In terms of the character roster they stuck with most of the cast of Street Fighter II offering 25 playable characters, 8 of which were unlockable and 2 (Gouken and Seth) were not playable in the arcade version. Capcom added five new characters to the game called Abel, El Fuerte, C. Viper, Rufus, Gouken and Seth.
It took a while for Street Fighter IV to make it past the proposal stage but eventually with the popularity of the release of Street Fighter Turbo on Xbox Live and sheer fan demand Street Fighter IV was finally in development, a sequel fans had waited 8 long years for. There was not a great deal in the way of a story mode in arcade each character has an anime opening and an anime ending that gave little detail to the story of each character, though there was a story of sorts it was nothing engrossing or substantial compared to games released later in this generation.
Street Fighter IV has a handful of different gameplay modes including, Challenge, Training, Arcade, Versus and Trials, there was also competitive online multiplayer which included a quick match-making system, ranked matches and a championship mode which arrived as a free update for the game which allowed tournament play and featured a replay system.
Two years after Street Fighter IV saw the release of the follow-up, Super Street Fighter IV, featuring a handful of new characters including Juri and 10 new online modes. The arcade edition of Super Street Fighter IV came out a few months later featuring 4 new characters and made the overly powered characters more balanced.
Street Fighter IV was a huge success and saw many different iterations released for different platforms including iOS and the Nintendo 3DS and still continues to do well with a very large fan base.
In A Nutshell
The Street Fighter franchise is one of the most widely known fighting game series in the industry, it has blossomed into a great franchise and has evolved with the times and has stuck with the classic formula, still managing to remain interesting, it is difficult to find a fan of fighting games who is unfamiliar with Street Fighter. Over the years it has had its good games and bad games but is still going strong and is loved by many.