Street Fighter: Blow By Blow

Capcom’s prize fight­ers re­veal why this fighter is still at the top of its game af­ter more than three decades of hado­kens

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS - Words by Nick Thorpe

For over 30 years, Street Fighter has been at the pin­na­cle of the fight­ing game genre. Like a crafty vet­eran prize fighter, Capcom has man­aged to not only keep up with its com­pe­ti­tion, but out­fox it along the way. Ri­val­ries with the likes of Mor­tal Kom­bat and The King Of Fight­ers couldn’t halt the rise of Street Fighter, and nor could the rise of the three­d­i­men­sional fight­ing game. Even the chang­ing for­tunes of the fight­ing game genre as a whole haven’t been able to floor this se­ries.

The first game was a crit­i­cal suc­cess that did good busi­ness in the ar­cades, but it’s seen as lit­tle more than a his­tor­i­cal cu­rio to­day. That’s be­cause Street Fighter II re­de­fined the genre in 1991, set­ting the stan­dard for 2D fight­ing games for decades to come and kick­ing off a craze that re­vi­talised the ar­cade mar­ket. Via Street Fighter, Capcom stood atop the 2D fight­ing pile for the re­main­der of the Nineties with the pop­u­lar Street Fighter Al­pha se­ries and hard­core-friendly Street Fighter III se­ries. Then in 2008, Street Fighter IV re­vived the se­ries and ush­ered in a fight­ing game re­nais­sance, draw­ing main­stream at­ten­tion back to the genre. Street Fighter V at­tracted record­break­ing num­bers of com­peti­tors to the pres­ti­gious Evo­lu­tion Cham­pi­onship Se­ries fight­ing game tour­na­ment in 2016.

Over the years, Street Fighter has busted out of the ar­cades and into the mod­ern es­ports scene, and has tran­scended videogames to be­come a part of broader pop cul­ture. There aren’t many games that would be in­stantly recog­nis­able when ref­er­enced in a Jackie Chan film or an episode of Fam­ily Guy, but Street Fighter shout-outs made it into those and more be­sides. The se­ries has in­spired comics, an­i­mated movies, card games and even a ma­jor Hol­ly­wood film star­ring Jean Claude Van Damme, Ming-na Wen and Raul Ju­lia.

Of course, what goes into the cre­ation of a good Street Fighter game hasn’t changed much over the years. All of the games share a com­mon frame­work of im­por­tant as­pects, count­ing ev­ery­thing from the fight­ing it­self to flavour ad­di­tions such as stage de­sign and mu­sic, and the com­pet­i­tive scene which has a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with the games. We’ve spo­ken to Capcom’s de­vel­op­ers to break down ex­actly what makes a great Street Fighter game, and what goes into those dis­tinc­tive ar­eas to cre­ate a co­he­sive whole.

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