Street Fighter is perhaps the most successful fighting game franchise ever. Starting with 1991's Street Fighter 2, Capcom created several fantastic games featuring Ryu and company that includes X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, and their crowning achievement within the genre, Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Of course, not everything with the Street Fighter name on it is good. The Alpha series and Street Fighter III are popular in some circles, but the super moves of those games don't provide the same level of fun and excitement that the hyper combos of the Marvel vs. Capcom series do. Let me show you what I mean:
Above are screenshots from Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Marvel VS. Capcom, both released in 1998. In both of these pictures, Ryu is executing a move called Shinkuu Hadouken. In both games, the move is easy to execute and requires you to spend a power level. The MVC version is much cooler, plain and simple. Honestly, which move would you rather have: a wussy little fireball that hits five times or a fucking death ray? It's not a very hard choice, is it? Sadly, Capcom insists on using only the Alpha movesets these days. Its latest series, Capcom vs. A Bunch Of Guys I Don't Give A Shit About, is pretty much forced to use them because SNK's characters all suck. To make matters worse, it seems that there will never be a Marvel vs. Capcom 3 because the two companies parted ways for some unknown but undoubtedly stupid reason. My guess is that is that Marvel, who were on the brink of bankruptcy when they made their initial licensing deals with Capcom, wanted more money from the game developer after X-Men and Spider-Man made them millions. Fuck you, Marvel. It's not like The Hulk, Daredevil, or Elektra are exactly brilliant. Or watchable, for that matter. These days, the X-Men license has been used to make shitty games like X-Men: Next Dimension and X2: Wolverine's Revenge. Meanwhile, Capcom continues to make some great games. Unfortunately, none of them involve the Street Fighter license anymore.
Capcom has also made some incomprehensibly bad Street Fighter games over the years. There was Street Fighter: The Movie where Capcom used digitized actors. The result was a game that looked like Mortal Kombat but played like Street Fighter 2. It seemed like Capcom, who had been innovators in the fighting genre, had now become copycats. To make matters worse, the game was based on a box office bomb. I guess it wasn't all bad though; you could beat the shit out Jean-Claude Van Guile. There was also Street Fighter EX, Capcom's answer to Tekken 3. Unfortunately, the cartoony fun of Street Fighter doesn't translate well to 3D. Luckily for Capcom, these failures have been largely forgotten. When people think of the Street Fighter series, they remember Street Fighter 2, the Alpha series, or the Marvel collaborations. Those games took the world by storm. The original game, however, did not. Street Fighter is a boring, slow-paced fighting game that isn't even remotely fun. If fun and Street Fighter were both people, Street Fighter would chain fun to a radiator and rape the shit out of him.
One of the biggest problems with Street Fighter is that there is no character selection. You get to play as one exciting character: Ryu. Well, unless you're Player 2, then you're Ken. It doesn't much matter though, since at this point in the series both characters had the same damn moves. This game has no air blocks, super jumps, throws, combos, or any of the other nuances that made other fighting games fun. You get basic punches and kicks, as well as the three special moves that we've all come to know and love: the Hadouken, the Dragon Punch, and the Hurricane Kick. All three moves are grossly overpowered in this game, doing roughly 30% damage to your opponent depending on the circumstances. Good luck executing them, however, because the controls are very unresponsive. Meanwhile, your CPU-controlled opponents have absolutely no problem pulling off their bullshit supermoves. Get read to desperately flail your way through ten opponents in five different countries: Japan, The USA, China, England and Thailand.
Let's start in Japan, since it's where Ryu and Ken learned their now cliche fighting style. Retsu is your first opponent. As you can see, he is bald. But what Retsu lacks in hair, he makes up for with his hideously bushy eyebrows. Any time Peter Gallagher starts to feel down about his own eyebrows, he can gaze upon Blandy McMonk here and feel better. Retsu is perhaps the only character with a moveset worse than Ryu's. His basic fighting style is similar to Ryu, but he lacks any sort of special moves. You at least have a vague chance of successfully executing Hadouken; baldy doesn't even have that. Retsu's suckitude factor is so high that he never ever appeared in another game as a playable character*. Despite being bland as fuck, Retsu can still be a bitch to beat because the timer countdown from 100 only lasts about twenty seconds. Twenty fucking seconds. Way to go, Capcom.
Retsu may be one of the least menacing Street Fighters ever, but Geki is one of the most. First off, he's got a fucking claw, which automatically makes him badass. Secondly, he's got a pocket full of ninja stars which he is more than happy to throw at you any chance he gets. He can throw one or three stars at once from the ground or in the air, which is much cooler than anything your lame ass can do. If that wasn't bad enough, he can fucking teleport. What the fuck is that? Geki gets a ridiculous evasive tactic and I'm stuck with the dragon punch, a move that few opponents will fall for, especially since the controls are too goddam unforgiving to time it properly. Much like Retsu, Geki was never used again after this game. This sucks, because he would have been damn fun to play as. Unfortunately for him, Vega stole his claw gimmick. Geki's daughter, Ibuki, made her way into Street Fighter III. She was pretty cool, but sadly she didn't have the bullshit teleport move that made playing as Geki seem enticing. Oh well. Upon beating Geki, you're magically whisked away to America. Will America hold more interesting fighters? Probably not.
Between countries, you'll be treated to one of two minigames, breaking stone or breaking wood. Neither one is particularly fun. Smashing the Hyundai in Street Fighter 2 was kinda entertaining, but these are absolutely horrible. minigames have no place in fighting games, they're merely a distraction from the action. Midway was the worst with this. I sometimes wonder if the chopping minigame from Mortal Kombat was put in there specifically so that the buttons would wear out faster and have to be replaced. It was even worse on the home version. One of my friends went through about four fucking Sega controllers trying to break diamond.
Meet Joe. He's an American kickboxer and he sucks. Aside from a special spin kick, Joe is just as bland as Retsu. Unfortunately, Joe doesn't have any hilarious physical deformities like Retsu. I have no fucking clue why Capcom thought a kickboxer would make an interesting character. Fuck, Bloodsport and Kickboxer hadn't even been made yet. You fight Joe in a train yard, which is probably where he sleeps. Joe entered the Street Fighter tournament hoping to win enough money to buy a warm meal or two. After Ryu kicked his ass, the penniless kickboxer died from starvation. At least, that's my theory. Joe never appeared in another Street Fighter game and nobody really gave a shit. If I ever feel like playing as an American, Ken and Guile both work nicely. So far, we're 0 for 3 with regards to memorable characters with lasting appeal. I told you this game sucked.
Let's see, a black boxer in a Street Fighter game... Where the fuck have I seen this before? Oh right, Balrog from Street Fighter II. But wait, it gets better. Mike doesn't just look like the classic SF2 character, he fucking *is* Balrog. Here's some introductory level Street Fighter trivia for you: In the Japanese version of Street Fighter 2, the boxer character is named Mike Bison, as in M. Bison. The Japanese apparently didn't understand that parody is a protected form of speech in the United States, so they changed the character's name to Balrog in all other versions of the game to avoid any potential lawsuits from Mike Tyson. I suppose it was a smart move; Mike Tyson is borderline psychotic and he isn't exactly a legal expert. After all, Tyson once said the following:
Lennox Lewis, I'm coming for you, man. My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children. Praise be to Allah!
That is some fucked-up shit and I know I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of Tyson's wrath. Rather than simply change Mike's name, Capcom did some crazyass juxtapositions instead. Here is how the names were changed from Japanese versions:
Mike Bison Balrog
Lord Vega Major Bison
Even though it's pretty fucking obvious that Mike and Balrog are the same character, Capcom's American division officially denies it. I never found Balrog to be a very interesting character, largely due to his lack of cool moves as well as his general inability to kick; this earlier version is even worse. First of all, the pretentious bastard makes you fight him in front of Mount Rushmore. Secondly, Mike's moveset is incredibly dull; he has four punches and that's it. He is one fast motherfucker, however, and he can fuck you up pretty bad if you allow him to get too close or back you into a corner. So, uh, don't let that happen. I'm done with this guy. Next!
Welcome to China. If you thought you'd have to fight a Kung Fu master with a stereotypical Chinese outfit and moustache, you were right. Like most of the other characters in this game, Lee isn't very interesting. His basic moveset consists of two punches, four basic kicks and a leg sweep. His special move is a very unimpressive hopping punch, where he lunges across the screen and punches you. Like every other opponent in this game, Lee has even less moves than you. However, he does have a major advantage in that he is way too fucking fast. Lee probably could have been developed into an interesting character, but instead he was never seen again.
After you kick Lee's ass, you get to fight his geriatric father. I wish I were kidding, but I'm not. Don't let the Santa beard fool you, Gen is a limber old man will probably kick your ass with his obnoxious arsenal of jumping kicks. He also has a very powerful low kick where he holds himself up with one hand and delivers a powerful double-legged kick. Gen also has the distinction of actually escaping from the quagmire of suck that is the original Street Fighter. Gen made his way into the Street Fighter Alpha series in 1996, where he once again annoyed the fuck out of challengers with his devastating brand of martial arts. Gen is also pretty damn fast, but not quite as fast as Lee.
Birdie. What kind of a fucking name is Birdie? He's supposed to be a big tough British punk, but it's hard to take him seriously when he has such a retarded name. Plus, there's a discrepancy as to what color his hair actually is. It's red in the close-up, but during gameplay it's blond. To make things even more confusing, Birdie returned in the Alpha series as a black dude. I guess Capcom felt that England's black community was underrepresented in the video game world; it is certainly true. In this game, Birdie's moves of choice are a lunging headbutt and a double axe handle, both of which do sick damage and usually take priority over your moves. Also, he doesn't move regularly. Instead of walking forwards or backwards, Birdie lunges. He is not a fun character to fight. Fuck him. British punk has always sucked.
Perhaps the only character design for a British fighter that is more predictable than a punk is the proper, aristocratic gentleman. Meet Eagle, a fancy lad who vaguely resembles Cary Elwes, aside from that nasty scar. Eagle will never be anywhere as cool as Cary Elwes, however, due to his love of bow ties and tonfa sticks. The only way he could be more British is if Capcom had given him a Walther PPK instead of the tonfa and a fucking Sherlock Holmes hat. Why the hell would a Briton use tonfa, anyway? Just when it seemed like this jackass would never defile another video with his uninspiring presence, Capcom resurrected him for SNK vs. Capcom 2 as well as a 2002 GBA release of Street Fighter Alpha 3. In this game, Eagle's speed and special spinning stick attack make him a bitch to beat. But if you do, it's off to Thailand for the final two battles...
Oh look, they didn't even fucking spell Thailand right. Once again, let me remind you how fucking terrible this game is.
Adon is a rather boring fighter who uses a Muay Thai, a martial art style that is somewhat similar to kickboxing. While he is not as bland as Joe, Adon isn't particularly cool either. He does have the Jaguar Kick (shown above), a move that he retained when he returned in the Alpha series. He also looks like friggin' Woody Woodpecker. Like most of your later opponents, Adon is faster than you. If you care enough to beat Adon, then you're off to the final boss.
Behold Sagat. Sagat is the only other Street Fighter character besides Ken, Ryu, and Balrog to return in Street Fighter 2. Sagat was a powerful character in Street Fighter 2 and he is here as well. In this game, he has his high Tiger Shot but not his Tiger Uppercut, Tiger Knee, or low Tiger Shot. However, that one fucking move is enough to wreck you. It comes out very fast, much faster than your Hadouken, and it can do up to 60% damage. Even if you block, it will still do close to 30%. Sagat also has a lunging knee attack which, while not as brutal as his Tiger Knee, is very effective. Sagat can take you out within a couple seconds if you are not prepared for him. So play better. Or don't play at all, cuz it's not that fun.
This bland game has a bland ending. Surprise! One of the most disappointing things about this game is the lack of personality that the characters have. In Street Fighter 2, every character had their own well-designed level that gave hints as to his or her personality. You fought Balrog in Las Vegas, E. Honda in a Japanese bathhouse. In this game, the backgrounds are far too basic and banal to the point of being offensive. Fighting a Chinaman on top of the Great Wall of China is only one small step up from fighting him in front of a San Francisco dry cleaning store. In SF2, every character also had their own individual victory taunts and specialized endings that expanded their stories and made them more interesting. In this game, every opponent will say the same damn thing if you defeat him (except Sagat) or if he beats you:
These aren't very exciting quotes to begin with and they get old fast. The worst part is that you have to LISTEN to these words of wisdom even if you try not to read them. Street Fighter uses an excessive amount of digitized voices. In later games, characters would shout out the names of their special moves. In this game, every punch and kick is accompanied by a digitized grunt. Every round win is also accompanied by a taunt from the winner. Ryu, for example, yells "All right!". Meanwhile Retsu tells you to go to Heaven. All the voices are done in the same annoying Speak & Spell voice regardless of whether it's said by dirty American kickboxer Joe or the elderly Chinese assassin Gen. Here are some more voice clips:
"What strength! But don't forget there are many guys like you all over the world." - LISTEN!
"You've got a lot to learn before you beat me. Try again, kiddo!" - LISTEN!
"You've outlasted the best. You are now the strongest street fighter in the world!" - LISTEN!
That last clip doesn't sound anything like what it is supposed to... It actually sounds more like "You've outlast the best. You've now strength street fighter in the world." Not that it really matters. So there you have it, the steaming pile of shit that is known as Street Fighter. The only good thing that can be said about this game is that Capcom learned a lot from it. Street Fighter 2 gave us more character development, better game mechanics, individualized voice clips, and a better experience overall. Perhaps the biggest loser in this whole debacle is Sagat. As punishment for appearing the original Street Fighter, he was demoted from head boss to miniboss. Poor bastard.
Posted by: Syd Lexia
*Retsu and many other obscure Street Fighter characters appear in SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash, an obscure electronic card game released for the equally obscure Neo Geo Pocket Color. Finally, the stupidity of Yu-Gi-Oh and the dullness of Retsu are together in one craptastic package!