Street Fighter 25th Anniversary
Everyone in the world has came in to contact with this game series at some point, either through pop culture or through the video games. Street Fighter was the genre defining game from Capcom and this year on August 30th the seminal fighting game turns 25.
Throughout the years the series has experienced many changes and seen its fair share of turbulent times. Overall the franchise has been widely successful and you would be hard pressed to find a gamer who doesn’t know how to throw a Hadouken. With games, movies, cartoons and even bobble heads available, everyone knows a little, if not a lot about the world warriors.
The series started with a muted response but introduced the poster boy for every game that followed, Ryu. Competing with games like IK+, Way of the FIst and other 1 vs 1 beat em ups of the day, there was little to mark Street Fighter out as special. Strange novelty features like pressure sensitive buttons proved too difficult for arcade operators to maintain and as a result the customary six button set-up was put in place, and would remain for the games that followed.
It wasn’t until 4 years later that arguably the most important title in fighting game history would see the light of day. In Street Fighter 2 you can find the fundamentals of every fighting game that followed.
Instead of the original 2 characters the game started with 8 unique playable characters (or arguably 7 as Ryu and Ken were simple palette swaps), including an older and more refined Ryu. From here Street Fighter 2 would see a total of 5 new iterations including a HD remix on next generation consoles. These semi-sequels saw the inclusion of many new and interesting characters that could be seen in many of the Street Fighter games to follow.
After the initial boom of fighting games in the early 90’s Capcom sought to capitalise on the buzz generated by branching out with crossovers (Xmen vs Street Fighter) and 3D games(Street Fighter EX) as well as a whole series of prequel “Alpha” games. Eventually the market was awash with so many Street Fighter games that most gamers lost interest except for the hardcore fighting fans.
This over-saturation would reach its climax in the early days of the 3rd game in the Street Fighter franchise. Even though many would argue that Third Strike is the definitive fighting game, it struggled in sales in comparison to the others in the series and didn’t quite receive the praise it deserved. A 2D game released whehn 3D polygons were king, it languished in the arcades and in its largely overlooked Dreamcast port. It wasn’t until this much referenced video surfaced that people really began to take notice:
With a plethora of titles lying under-appreciated in its back catalogue Capcom had stepped away from the Street Fighter series until 2008 and the release of SF4 which was so successful that it is already in its third iteration. Street Fighter 4 brought about a huge resurgence in the fighting game scene and its as strong today as it has ever been with millions viewing tournaments online and the names of the most famous players becoming widely known throughout the industry.
With such a powerful dynasty to uphold it seems appropriate to celebrate such a special year with the many tournaments Capcom have organised and the 25th anniversary box set.
If you are an avid fan of the series or just a observant spectator this should be a year to remember.