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Twenty Years of Street Fighter II

A New Challenger Appears, Part 1

by Pedro Hernandez - March 23, 2011, 12:00 pm PDT

Many new challengers appear, as a matter of fact.

As people have come to expect, whenever an innovative creation makes its appearance in the consumer world, someone will take a look at it, be impressed with it, and then try and create his or her own version of it. Some consider it theft, while others see it as a way of preserving the legacy of the original product while improving on its foundation until it becomes a staple of everyday life.

When Street Fighter II blew up in the arcades in the early 1990s, nearly every game company sought to create their own version of it. Some got really close to replicating the classic Street Fighter experience, while others were way, way off. All of them tried to capitalize on the popularity of the game. In the end, several notable franchises were born out of its legacy.

Among the more popular Street Fighter "clones" were SNK's repertoire of 2D fighters. Unlike others who tried to recreate Street Fighter exactly, right down to the pixel, SNK tried to do things a little differently with each fighting game released. The Fatal Fury series was the one that followed the Street Fighter formula the closest, but even then it tried to bring its own innovations along the way. The most notable addition to the formula was a two-lane fighting mechanic. This meant that fighters could step back or further into the background, adding some strategy into the mix that hasn't been used since. The Super NES port of the game lacks said feature.

The next fighter that came out of Street Fighter's shadow was Art of Fighting, also by SNK. This series was very similar to Capcom's franchise, featuring a character that many saw as a Ryu clone (in order to add more fuel to the fire, the character's name was Ryo). Such was the infamy of this character that Capcom set out to parody him when creating the character of Dan in the Street Fighter Alpha series. Even his ending in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter mocks the ending to Art of Fighting.

The first notable thing about Art of Fighting was how huge the character sprites were. They were twice the size of a typical arcade fighter sprite. Add to this dynamic camera movements and Art of Fighting was a striking fighting game as far as visuals go. Gameplay was similar to both Street Fighter II and Fatal Fury, making it a fairly standard entry in the genre.

While technically not a Street Fighter clone, Samurai Shodown came around thanks to the popularity of the Capcom series and is one of SNK's most popular fighting franchises. Samurai Shodown was a unique game at the time of its release, being one of the first 2D fighters to feature weapon based combat, a feat that would be popularized in 3D in Namco's Soul Calibur series. It is beloved for its over-the-top presentation and tons of amusingly poor translation to endure.

Despite three popular 2D fighting franchises, SNK continued to contribute to the genre. Released in 1994, King of Fighters was a crossover fighting game featuring SNK's characters from other arcade licenses like Ikari Warriors and its fighting series. The most unique element to the game was that you could select up to three characters from a wide roster of playable fighters. The multiple character selection and huge roster made King of Fighters a popular game, but SNK wasn't done quite yet. From that point on, nearly every year saw a new game in the King of Fighters series featuring new characters and enhancements, each iteration featuring its own set of flaws and advantages. Such was the popularity of these games that fans quickly saw it as Street Fighter's true rival and opponent in the fighting game genre.

The rivalry, much to the delight of fans, lead to a series of crossover games, featuring the best characters from both companies and their own fighting styles. Capcom vs. SNK was released in 2000 for the arcades and the Dreamcast, with a follow up the next year that added even more characters and selectable fighting engines. The sequel managed to land on the GameCube a few years later in the form of Capcom vs. SNK EO. There were also fighting games made for the obscure handheld, the Neo Geo Pocket Color under the SNK vs. Capcom moniker, and an arcade game in the vein of the SNK fighters.

SNK's fighting franchises took Street Fighter's ideas to heart, and created their own takes on it. This earned them praise from fighting game enthusiasts who appreciated the fact that the series were inspired by Street Fighter's legacy, but didn't have to copy its ideas completely in order to have a fighting chance in the industry. 

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Talkback

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 23, 2011
Mop it upMarch 23, 2011

I've never played a Street Fighter game, but I do own Street Fighter II Turbo for the SNES, because, as I would come to discover, no one is allowed to own an SNES without having at least one version of Street Fighter II.

Oh ya. Capcom VS. SNK - I played the hell out of that. That was also the only time I was ever admired in an arcade: I had imported the Dreamcast version and played the hell out of it, to the point where I was getting to and beating Shin-Akuma every time I played through. I then went to an arcade near my college, saw that they had it and proceeded about my business.


I beat Shin-Akuma and by then there is actually a crowd around me- one of the guys actually says to me, "Wow dude, you're incredible."


Ever since then my life has been trying to recapture that same level of glory. ^_~

Ian SaneMarch 24, 2011

Street Fighter II came out around when I was in grade five.  This would have been the SNES version that caused a big stir at my school.  Before I ever played Zelda or Metroid, owned a videogame system or even had a computer good enough to play games, Street Fighter II was my favourite game.

It's funny because I really sucked at it.  I pretty much never beat the computer.  But a lot of the fun was playing with friends.  The fact that it was an arcade game really helped.  Every place that had arcade games at the time had SOME version of Street Fighter II.  So it didn't matter that I didn't have a SNES, I could just play at the nearby gas station.  And my friends and I would spend our summer trying to scrounge up quarters and then riding our bikes to the gas station.  In retrospect the amount of effort we put it to play a game for like five minutes was unreal.

It wasn't just Street Fighter II.  For a while fighting games were the biggest genre and I wanted to know all of them.  I remember the first time I encountered a Neo-Geo.  It had Fatal Fury in it and I was blown away to encounter another game like SFII.  Then I discovered the other SNK fighters like Art of Fighting and World Heroes.  In my fighter obsessed mind the Neo-Geo was the coolest system ever.  I wanted to try every fighting game.  I created some dream game in my mind where I combined the rosters of every major fighting game (except titles like Mortal Kombat or Virtua Fighter which didn't have a similar enough look).  Realistically Capcom vs. SNK was my dream game but it came out so many years later that it didn't have the same impact.  Around the playground kids talked about the elusive Street Fighter I.  Many claimed to have played it but they were all full of it.  In reality it's for the best the game remained a mystery because it sucks.

And of course we all talked about what Street Fighter III would be like.  The fever died down around the time Street Fighter Alpha came out.  It might be because I was now in high school.  It might be because the current arcade games were not being ported to the SNES.  It might be because arcade games started increasing in price.  But I think it might also be because SFA was not SFIII.  Capcom's constant tinkering of Street Fighter II was the butt of jokes and in a way the fact that they had clearly made a brand new Street Fighter but it still wasn't III was kind of annoying.  Street Fighter III is a good game but it needed to come out earlier to truly be a big deal.

The sad thing is I can't really go back to SFII and enjoy it anymore.  So much of it relied on us kids being dumb and having no real strategy other then attempting special moves.  That was how it worked - whoever pulled off the special moves won the match.  Later as adults my brothers and I were playing Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES.  My brother kicked all of our asses using Sagat with nothing but roundhouses.  He would alternate between jumping, standing and crouching roundhouses and just owned the rest of us.  Then he tried agains the computer and beat the game.  He broke it.  He revealed the flaws that as kids we couldn't notice.  So sadly it will never be the same as when Street Fighter II was my favourite game.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 24, 2011

Here is part 2 of my restrospective:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25814

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 25, 2011

Here are the next two parts of the feature. First if the Evolution of the Series with Andrew Brown and yours truly:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25849

Here is Andy's page on the various versions of the SF II game:
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/25855

leroypantweatherMarch 26, 2011

Just wanted to say great feature to all involved.

Spak-SpangMarch 26, 2011

Ian:


THank you!!!!


That post was more or less my life experience.  I remember my friends buying Street Fighter 2 for SNES, and I didn't buy it...I knew a better version would come out...and I was right.  I remember even waiting on that one, because I could just rent it at Blockbuster...when Blockbuster was cool because you could rent games.


But I did buy Super Street Fighter 2. 


I used to think I was pretty good at the game, but really I sucked...now I play it and I realize I am even worse than when I was a kid.

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