Street Fighter – A Brief History

With the eponymous hero of 2D fighting games, Street Fighter, preparing to be reborn in its newest guise, Street Fighter IV, it may be a good idea to take a retrospective, nostalgic glance over its rise to deity-status with gamers and developers alike. We’ll see the glorious emergence of the original 1987 classic and the series’ evolution into what has become the most famous fighting game the world over.

Over two decades ago, the youth of 1987 were dragon punched into submission and willingly threw all their pocket money at the new king of the arcade – Street Fighter. Its 30-second bouts had the arcade-inhabiting players that worshipped it playing and playing. The carpal tunnel syndrome-inducing control system established itself as the standard for creators of other beat ’em ups to use as an example, it was arcade nirvana. The arcade version became so successful that it was later ported to many consoles including the legendary Commodore 64 and iconic ZX Spectrum.

Four years later, after a failed attempt to brand side scroller Final Fight and the money still rolling in from the first game, Capcom slammed home for the second time with a sequel, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. This iteration of the series introduced a variety of player characters to choose from which gave the game further depth and replay value through tactics. Each fighter had around 30 moves each and two or three special moves. The variation in available attacks meant that certain characters were better against others, setting firmly in stone the relevance of the character choice.

Street Fighter II came kicking and screaming into the arcade and was a knockout success.

Through a range of minor additions made in mini-sequels, the graphics evolved and the roster of characters and moves developed, but it wasn’t until 1997 that the official third member of the series was released. Street Fighter III gave a total makeover to the character roster, introducing an almost completely new line up of fighters. Another major addition to the complexity of the game, and indeed the genre, was the inclusion of a parry function, allowing the player to prevent themselves from sustaining damage by pre-empting incoming attacks and blocking them. This would become an important tactical change that transformed the gameplay and pace of the battles.

After alterations, modifications and basic changes made to the roster, attack lists and graphical representation of the game through new editions of Street Fighter III, gamers have had to wait a long time for the true fourth game in the series to appear. Available to play in arcades since last summer, the latest incarnation of Street Fighter has surpassed all others, both in complexity and in graphical quality. Set to make its appearance on consoles in Europe on the 20th February, the new game promises to include characters not seen in the arcade version, including ones from past episodes in the series such as Cammy and Fei-Long from Super Street Fighter II.

The impressive roster looks set to provide gamers with years of replayability, but we all know that the fan favourites will be the classics.

All that’s certain is that when Street Fighter IV crashes onto home consoles, it will make a major splash in the fighting game pond. Other than DOA4, released in 2005, there are very few dedicated fighting games (excluding the WWE franchises and other wrestling games) and SFIV promises to plug this gap and prove a knockout hit with console gamers.

Sam Finch

Sam has been unable to peel his bloodshot eyes and RSI-ridden wrists from the world of gaming since he was first introduced to it, like all good junkies, by his Grandad. From those early days of MegaDrive sweetness, bashing through the throngs of enemies on Shining Force II, his love of all things games has extended upwards and outwards onto a variety of platforms. You can either believe that spiel, or get the real scoop and know that his spaceship actually crashed here some years ago and he is currently incognito as a games writer for Console Monster.

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