If you was a teenage gamer around 1991, then you’d most definitely would have been a fan of Street Fighter II. A game released by Capcom that changed the tournament fighter sub-genre of gaming for years and is still relevant even today with the latest in the series (Street Fighter V) released just a few weeks ago.
Street Fighter II became a worldwide phenomenon with spin offs, sequels, movies, animations, crossovers, comics, board games and many other forms of media. So much so even a simple image can spark off countless memories of growing up in the 90s…
But before all of that came about, it all started with a lesser known and not as well remembered game. Here, I’d like to take a look at the Street Fighter legacy and cover most of the main games in the series (but not every slight alteration/re release of some of the titles) and even look at some of the more interesting spin-offs, unofficial sequels and maybe even reveal a few lesser known titbits about this much loved franchise.
But first, we need to go back almost 30 years ago to 1987…
Street Fighter: The first game in this long running series was released in the arcade by Capcom in 1987 and designed by Takashi Nishiyama.
With you playing as martial artist Ryu (or Ken depending on which control stick you use) you have to do battle over 5 countries and fight against 10 different opponents. The basic gameplay mechanic of the best of three rounds wins the match, each round lasting a set time (usually 30 seconds). Win the match and move onto the next opponent until you make your way through all 10. The game featured various punch and kick attacks as well as introducing special moves like the Hadouken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. These special moves could be trigged via some simple joystick movement and button presses.
Earlier game cabinets featured only two pads to pull off the variety of moves, one pad for punch and the other for kick. However, a unique system was used as the pads were pressure sensitive so if you wanted to do a light attack you would lightly tap the button, a medium attack hit the button slightly harder and for the strong attacks you would have to smash the buttons. This two pad system was designed and created by Atari.
This two pad system proved to be problematic after a while as people would hit the pads too hard and end up damaging the pads. There were even reports of players damaging themselves with bruised fingers over hitting the pads too hard. The two pads were eventually dropped due to the damage and increasing costs in constant repairs, they were replaced with the more common and now instantly recognisable six button configuration with a separate button for each light, medium and heavy attacks for both punches and kicks.
Street Fighter was a commercial success in arcades. Eventual home ports arrived in 1988 with Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, DOS, Amiga and Atari ST all getting a version of the game. These home ports were developed by English company Tiertex. Then there was the PC Engine CD ROM/TurboGrafx-CD version where the title was slightly altered to; Fighting Street.
Next up is the first “sequel” to Street Fighter…but its not Street Fighter II.
Human Killing Machine: More commonly known as HKM was an unofficial sequel developed by Tiertex (who did the home computer ports of the original game). The story goes that Tiertex just couldn’t be bothered to wait for Capcom to release their proper sequel so decided to make their own. They were not allowed to use the Street Fighter name or any of the characters, so this became an unofficial sequel. Released for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga and Atari ST in 1989.
With you now playing as Korean martial artist, Kwon. Using the same basic system implemented with the original game of having to defeat various opponents from around the world…only not as good.
Human Killing Machine received average to poor reviews at best a the time depending on which version was being reviewed. The Amiga and Atari ST versions were known for their numerous bugs and poor development with plenty of graphical glitches and other problems. The game is also noted for playing up to stereotypes with some of the opponents including terrorists from Beirut and a German guy called Hans all decked out in lederhosen. Oh, and you could beat up prostitutes in the red light district of Amsterdam…classy.
Capcom get back in the ring with their first attempt at an official sequel to Street Fighter…but its still not Street Fighter II, in fact its a completely different franchise all together.
Street Fighter 89: Okay so I’m kind of cheating with this one, but its an interesting entry that while it did start out as the proper sequel to Street Fighter it became something else entirely. You would probably be more familiar with this game under its “real” name of; Final Fight. Developed and published by Capcom, released in the arcades in 1989.
After early play tests of Street Fighter 89, it was noted that is was too different from the original game to really be considered a true sequel to Street Fighter. Instead of the classic one on one tournament fighter, best of three rounds beat em’ up Street Fighter was known for, Street Fighter 89 went for a scrolling beat em’ up style instead more like Double Dragon with multiple enemies on screen at once and scrolling levels. Beat the crap out of a group of enemies and move onto the next group, rinse and repeat until you get to the end of level boss and then beat the crap out of them to move onto the next level.
As the game was so radically different, Capcom decided to rename the game to Final Fight and launch it as its own IP.
Final Fight did become its own franchise, and successfully so too with its own two main sequels and even a fun parody called; Mighty Final Fight. It also had its own spin offs with; Final Fight Revenge and Final Fight: Streetwise.
Street Fighter and Final Fight even co-exist in the same universe with characters from both franchises appearing in each other’s games along with other fun references to find too that carry on today.
Street Fighter 89/Final Fight was very well received at the time is is still often cited as one of the best games in the genre. It also had various home ports made to pretty much every popular home computer/console at the time.
That’s enough for part I, coming up in part II we will get to the big one; Street Fighter II…eventually.