The Street Fighter franchise just kept on growing and growing through the 90s. From the early original game with its 2 character beginnings, Street Fighter II which added more characters and the Alpha/Zero series where the character count was in the dozens. So many versions, updates and now even separate series running within the main franchise.
What was next for the franchise, will we get the next official game in the franchise with Street Fighter III? No, but how about a pseudo 3D Street Fighter instead…
Street Fighter EX: Originally released into arcades in 1996. This is yet another new series that ran within the Street Fighter franchise that included Street Fighter EX Plus with a PlayStation port called Street Fighter EX Plus α in 1997.
The first Street Fighter game to feature 3D polygon styled graphics, though you still fought on a 2D plane. The basic gameplay still maintained that familiar Street Fighter style, so if you had played any of the previous games, you were well at home with this one. It just looked vastly different due to the inclusion of the updated 3D characters.
Back are Street Fighter II favourites; Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile and Zangief. But the game added several all new characters too including; Hokuto, Doctrine Dark, Pullum Purna, Cracker Jack, Skullomani as well as hidden characters; Allen Snider, Blair Dame, Kairi, Darun Mister. Then if that was not enough, the Street Fighter EX Plus update added; Evil Ryu, Bloody Hokuto, Cycloid-β, Cycloid-γ. But it still does not end there as the Playstation port; Street Fighter EX Plus α brought with it Street Fighter II classic; Dhalsim and a new character called; Sakura. With all versions of the game coming complete with boss characters; Akuma, Garuda and M. Bison.
This all added up to the largest count of original characters in a Street Fighter game to date.
The new styled 3D graphics for the characters made the game look a little ‘clunky’, especially if you were used to the hand drawn art style of the previous games. Yet this is where fighting games were heading around this time with other fighters like SEGA’s Virtua Fighter and Namco’s Tekken series all offering competition for Street Fighter in the 90s. Yet even with the all new graphical aesthetic, the game still fundamentally felt very much like classic Street Fighter.
When released, the game received very positive reviews all round and sold so well in fact that more games were eventually made in the series; Street Fighter EX2 (1998) and an update; Street Fighter EX2 Plus (1999) were both released into arcades while Street Fighter EX3 was released exclusively for the PlayStation 2 (2000). These sequels all added some old favourite characters as well as a few all new ones too.
But we still had no Street Fighter III yet and we were not going to get it next either. Capcom decided to create yet another new series and put their Street Fighter characters up against a few other well knowns in this crossover series.
Now there are a lot of these crossover games, so I’m going to handle these a little differently otherwise I’d be here for hours going through each one. So I’m just going to highlight some of the more notable crossovers in this series.
X-Men vs. Street Fighter: Released in 1996 for the arcade with Sega Saturn and PlayStation ports coming soon afterwards. This was the first in a long line of crossovers where Capcom and Marvel teamed up. Playing similar in style to classic Street Fighter and back to that hand drawn art we were used to instead of 3D polygons.
Pitting favourite Street Fighter characters against the X-Men, this game went on to open the doors to more and more crossovers.
Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter: This one was released in 1997 for arcades and Sega Saturn and PlayStation ports in 1998 and 1999 respectively.
Considered a sequel to X-Men vs. Street Fighter, this game upped the character count for both camps and included even more classic Street Fighter members as well as opening up to more then just the X-Men by adding Marvel favourites like Spider-Man, Captain America and The Hulk.
Even more games were added to the series, but the Street Fighter name was dropped as Capcom started to add more characters from some of their other IPs outside of Street Fighter as the games became known as Marvel vs Capcom.
We had; Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (1998), Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011) and finally; Marvel vs. Capcom Origins (2012).
This long running series kept adding more and more characters from both camps.
Capcom had characters like; Ryu, Ken Chun-Li, Guile, Captain Commando, Mike Haggar and Strider Hiryu. In total, across the entire Vs series, Capcom featured 46 characters over several of their known franchises like; Street Fighter, Ghosts N’ Goblins, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Dead Rising as well as others.
Marvel brought; Deadpool, Iron Man, Sabretooth, Thanos, Wolverine, Doctor Strange and Cable. With a total of 45 characters using established series like; Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Avengers, Daredevil and various others too.
The Vs series of fighting games are huge fan favourites and great fun to play. Plenty of characters and gameplay additions/refinements to keep the series fresh and interesting.
Well there you have it. Another series running within the Street Fighter franchise. I can’t think of any other game franchise that has so many spin offs and other series within the same franchise as Street Fighter has.
Yet we are finally at the next “proper” sequel to Street Fighter II.
Street Fighter III: New Generation: Well it has been a long journey, but we now have Street Fighter III. Released to arcades in 1997 and then ported to the Dreamcast in 1999. There were updates made for this game (of course there were) with; Street Fighter III 2nd Impact (1997) and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike (1999).
Set after the events of Street Fighter II, this game is a direct sequel. A few new game mechanics were added like; dash/retreat, leap attacks, a quick standing option after being knocked down as well as an all new parry to defect an attack. Also included was a Super Arts gauge similar to super combos from Alpha/Zero series.
Previous Street Fighter stalwarts; Ryu and Ken are back. However, they take a back seat to the main star of the game; Alex who is the front man of Street Fighter III. A disappointing aspect from a lot of fans was that Ryu and Ken were the only Street Fighter II characters to return. A whole new character selection was added; Dudley, Elena, Ibuki, Necro, Sommers, Oro, Sean, Yun & Yang and Gill.
Street Fighter III met with good reviews at the time, though many noted the lack of familiar characters, some of the latter updates added Chun-Li and Akuma. Not as well received as the classic Street Fighter II but it was still a worthy entry to the franchise.
Well that is all for part III. In part IV I take a look at the latest entries into the franchise as well as take a quick look at a few Street Fighter based/inspired games that I’ve not covered yet.