By Adam M. Cook
Game: Street Fighter II
Release Date: Feb. 6, 1991
Platform(s): Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
“ROUND ONE! FIGHT!”
These words were music to my ears. I could not be a martial arts master at the age of five (weird, right?), so I figured that playing the one-to-two player arcade-style fighting game “Street Fighter II” was as close as I could get. I remember getting SO pumped up when I heard the opening theme that plays as the main title screen appears. This is the sequel to “Street Fighter I,” but was the first of the series available on the Super Nintendo.
Martial arts and science fiction join forces in this game where martial artists from all across the globe compete against other battling brawlers using mind-blowing fighting techniques. Fighters must defeat every other fighter on the map in order to reach the boss, Gen. M. Bison, who is hellbent on taking control of the world’s governments through his crime syndicate, Shadaloo.
Why did I choose Street Fighter II?
Well, aside from it being a part of my childhood, it was a groundbreaking game. The Street Fighter series is famous for many things, but one of it’s most iconic achievements is being the series that launched the wave of fighting games in the 1990’s. Yes, even before “Mortal Kombat.” It can be easy to get mixed up in the different types of “Street Fighter” games because there were so many versions of the second one alone! Versions of this game are: “The Championship Edition,” “Super Street Fighter II,” “Super Street Fighter II Turbo” and “Hyper Fighting Street Fighter II.” I preferred the first “Street Fighter II” because it was more authentic and because it was the one we already owned.
One of my favorite things about this game was that no character was the same as another (except for Ryu and Ken). Each character has his/her own ways of attacking and blocking. Characters in this game are differentiated by their fighting styles and specialty moves. The fighters have their advantages and disadvantages. Select characters were also loosely based on real people, but names and appearances were altered to avoid any possible lawsuits.
Blanka, the friendly-looking green chap on the front cover, was very young when his plane crashed near the Amazon jungle. His color comes from his heavy consumption of Chlorophyll to adapt to the jungle environment. He can conduct an electric current and shock whoever comes into contact with him, so if you fight Blanka, it would be wise to stick and move. Don’t stay close to him. Apparently he was exposed to electric eels following the plane crash, which explains his shocking attributes.
Although Chun-Li is the only woman in this version, she is one of the best fighters in the game, in my opinion. Chun-Li is a Japanese martial artist who works with the International World Police Organization (INTERPOL). She seeks revenge for the death of her father. Her kicks are quick, which makes it easier to strike and move. One of her specialty moves consists of jumping up, flipping upside down, doing the splits and spinning like a helicopter from one side of the screen to the other, repeatedly kicking anyone in her path.
Ryu is a Japanese martial artist who hopes to sharpen his skills and perfect his form. Ken is an American fighter who used to train Ryu, but now they are rivals. Not only do Ryu and Ken have identical punches and kicks, they also have the same specialty move known as “HADOUKEN!” (Yes, all caps are appropriate because it’s that cool.) For those of you not familiar with this epic move, Hadouken (波動拳) is a punch with an extremely concentrated amount of power. The first two symbols, 波動, mean ‘hadou,’ which translates to ‘surge.’ The third symbol, 拳, means ‘ken,’ which translates to ‘fist.’ Put them together and get ‘surging fist.’ (No, I don’t know Japanese. I looked it up because I figured I might as well know what I was playfully shouting so many times as a kid.)
Guile is a former soldier of the United States Air Force. One of his moves is the “Fly Kick,” which is where he will jump high in the air and kick as he generates enough momentum to do a backflip. E. Honda is a sumo wrestler from Japan. He does not have much of a reach, but watch out for his signature move where he lets loose a number of punches in a spraying manner. Dhalsim is a yoga master from India who blows bursts of flame at his opponents. He can also stretch his limbs across the screen. Zangief is a muscle-bound Russian Soviet soldier. As you can imagine, he is not the fastest character, but his power is extraordinary. For his specialty move, he will turn his opponent upside-down, bear hug him/her, jump into the air and spins as he slams his opponents face down into the ground.
Once you have beaten the other seven characters, the four boss opponents will be available to fight: Barlog, Vega and Sagat. Barlog is an American boxer whose venue is in Las Vegas. He may not kick, but he has quick footwork. Vega is a former bullfighter from Barcelona and has three long claw-like blades protruding from each of his gloves. If he starts climbing the fence in the background WATCH OUT because he is about to jump up into the air and bash you from above. Vega is one of, if not, the fastest character in the game, so don’t underestimate his speed. Sagat is tall and uses his superior reach to his advantage. He can jump decently high and has exceptional defense. Be mindful of his “Tiger Uppercut.”
If you have made it this far, you will face Gen. M. Bison in the streets of Bankok. This dude isn’t the final fighter of the game for nothing. Like a shark, Bison seems to never stop moving. If you want to defeat him, you had better be on your toes and moving constantly. His specialty move is his “psycho dive.” This is where he will fly straight towards his opponents, holding out his fists and emitting a kind of blue-colored lightning forcefield from his body causing anyone in his path to be electrocuted.
Why I love it:
It motivated me to be more active as a kid. I remember jumping on the trampoline in the backyard with my brother, Chuck, where we would pretend fight, acting as if we were characters from the game. This goofy horseplay eventually ignited my interest to learn more about martial arts. This was also the first game I’ve played with human characters and their colorful, imagination-fueled designs.