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Street Fighter is one of the biggest fighting game franchises in history. The Japanese title was released in the arcades on August 12, 1987, establishing the foundations of the one-on-one combat genre and creating one of the most enduring sagas. Today, on its 35th anniversary, we recap the history of Street Fighter, the home to famous people like Ryu, Chun Li and Zangief.

Few franchises can say that they have been active in the video game industry for more than a decade. Only iconic titles like Street Fighter are crowned as the longest-running sagas that continue to gather thousands of followers despite the passing of the years. Street Fighter, created by renowned Capcomcelebrates 35 years since its launch in the arcades on August 12, 1987. Since then, the essence of the saga is the same: two fightersof different nationality, skills and motivation, face each other to determine who is the strongest.

Street Fighter paved the way for the fighting genre so that other important sagas like Mortal Kombat and Tekken. Initially you could only control two characters, but later more fighters were increased until creating a large catalog with the best-known characters in video games. This is the story of Street Fighter.

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Round 1: Fight!

Konami, a company that had been active for 13 years, hired high school senior Yoshiki Oshamoto as a graphic artist in 1982. Oshamoto didn’t like video games; however, he did create the successful shooting games Time Pilot and Gyruss. Oshamoto asked for a raise but was fired the next day.

Ryu, the first protagonist of Street Fighter.  (Photo: Diffusion)
Ryu, the first protagonist of Street Fighter. (Photo: Diffusion)

It was then that a young company called Capcom, at just five years old, decided to hire him in the midst of their plans to transition from a gaming machine brand to a video game developer. Konami had launched Yie Ar Kung-Fu, a fighting game, while the American Data East did the same with Karate Champ. Capcom decides respond with a game that rescues the best of both titles and ends up surpassing them.

Okamoto assembled a team: “Piston” director Takashi Nishiyama, “Finish” project planner Hiroshi Matsumoto, and newly hired 22-year-old graphic designer Keiji Inafune. Y Street Fighter was born in the arcades of 1987.

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Street Fighter I introduced iconic moves like the Hadouken and two legendary characters: Japanese Ryu and his American friend and rival Ken Masters. The protagonist had to travel through five countries proving that he is the strongest. Although the Street Fighter machines had serious performance issues and were constantly shutting down, the game became relatively successful in Japan, enough for a sequel to be created.

Street Fighter II

Nishiyama and Matsumoto left Capcom, but Okamoto still needed to come out with a sequel, so he worked with Noritaka Funamizu, Akiria “Akiman” Nishitani, and Akira Yasuda to launch Street Fighter II. The game had a total of eight playable characters with seven different fighting styles, in addition to more than 30 movements each. The fighters came from different nations and were: Ryu, Ken Masters, Chun Li, Guile, Zangief, Dhalsim, Edmond Honda, and Blanka. They all had their own story and past as well.

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior became a phenomenon in 1991. Each character received an ending to his story with a post-boss scene, something never seen before in arcade fights. In addition, the game revolutionized the game tactics of users, who created their own strategies and took advantage of arcade bugs, cementing the video game genre.

Street Fighter II.  (Photo: Diffusion)
Street Fighter II. (Photo: Diffusion)

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Street Fighter II continued to have sequels, though not as Street Fighter III, but as Street Fighter II’ – Champion Edition (1992), Street Fighter II’ Turbo: Hyper Fighting (1992), Super Street Fighter II – The New Challengers (1993), Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994). Users got used to new characters and to overcome the already known ones. In addition, it was introduced secret character akumawhich you could only get with a special combination (Super Street Fighter II Turbo), the most powerful of all.

This last title was the great favorite to the point that American live-action film released Street Fighter: The Last Battle, with Jean Claude Van Damme like the protagonist Guile, as well as animated films and comics.

Street Fighter III

The fact that the sequels to Street Fighter II are not called any Street Fighter III became a recurring joke among the players, but also a subject that filled them with anxiety to know when the “third” installment of the saga would really come out. Although the Street Fighter Alpha saga (without Oshamoto), also known as Street Fighter Zero, which was a sequel to Street Fighter I and a prequel to Street Fighter II, had already come out, fans already wanted an issue III. Also, they lagged behind Mortal Kombat and Tekken.

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It was in 1997, that Street Fighter III: New Generation came out, the first in a series of three Street Fighter III games. The other two that followed were 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike. The consequences they were not having the same success as before, even with its jump to 3D animation and even more characters. It wasn’t until Alpha 3 brought together everything fans loved that the franchise was able to soar. However, after making some crossover installments with Marvel and SNK, the Street Fighter saga remained silent and almost disappeared.

Street Fighter IV and V

No one was left of the original Street Fighter team anymore, but Yoshinori Ono took it upon himself, with great enthusiasm, to revive the franchise with Street Fighter IV. The title came out 2008, with many of the most beloved characters in the saga and another new one. In addition to being in arcades, IV was available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

This saga also included its own sequels: Super Street Fighter IV (2010), with 10 new characters, and Ultra Street Fighter IV (2014).

Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is the latest version of Street Fighter V. (Broadcast)
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is the latest version of Street Fighter V. (Broadcast)

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The franchise was able to be reborn and, much to the delight of new fans, it came out Street Fighter V (2016) with subsequent new editions such as Arcade Edition (2018) and Champion Edition (2019). The latter includes over 40 champions to choose from. Street Fighter VI comes out next year, an installment that will surely not be the last of this 35-year-old franchise.


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