Published on August 31st, 2017 | by thec0re30
Looking Back Over 30 Years Of Street Fighter!!
On August 29th, Street Fighter officially celebrated its 30th anniversary!! The series that birthed a genre has managed to endure through highs and lows similar to those who have been drawn to its mechanical mysticism. It would be remiss of us not to take a quick look back and recall the accomplishments that brought this series to the pantheon of video gaming greatness.
Released: August 30, 1987
This is where it all got started. The path of a character who would become an iconic video game figure would test his mettle against fighters like him “from all over the world”. The first title in the series laid most of the ground work for what would come next introducing us to motion based inputs, a very elaborate six button scheme, and a cast of characters varying in different strengths and abilities to fight against. Rivalries would begin to manifest both in game and real life as an available versus mode would intersect into a burgeoning arcade culture that now gave players a chance to hold on to their quarter by besting their opponent.
Street Fighter II
Released: February 6, 1991
Inducted into the video game hall of fame this year, Street Fighter II was able to surpass its predecessor in a way that no video game has managed to do before it. It was here that the fighting game genre truly began and after its release many developers followed the gold rush to compete with what many have stated to be the savior of a dying arcade scene. Unlike the last title, players would have the opportunity to choose from 8 different world warriors all having unique differences in their skill sets.
The gameplay for the second offering in the series was so refined that even mechanics that were ultimately deemed as “mistakes” and “impossible to master” created a rabbit hole effect that players would lose themselves in for years to come. The growing popularity of Street Fighter II spawned 4 different updates which ultimately helped to improve the games mechanics overall. By the end of Street Fighter II’s era, each characters special abilities had grown extensively making them more of a force to be reckoned with then the last.
Street Fighter Alpha
Released: June 5, 1995
By 1994, new technologies had emerged and Capcom was doing its best to stay ahead of the curve by improving on their overall design philosophies. After releasing what could have arguably been the peak of animated video game perfection with two new fighting game IP‘s in Darkstalkers and X-Men Children of the Atom, they would finally release their third successor in the franchise Street Fighter Alpha.
Choosing to go back in the timeline with events that took place between the first and second title, Street Fighter Alpha would be an exercise in perseverance as the games first title in the series did not go over so well with some of SF2’s adored fans. Borrowing from some of the newer IP’s mechanics,which included the chain style combo system, took away from what gave the series its identity.
This lead to developers making major changes for the second offering in the Alpha series that would stick more to the original SF2 combo system while offering a taste of what they introduced in the first title by adding the custom combos system. The final game in the Alpha series would ultimately be catalyst to the behemoth Capcom Vs Snk 2 crossover fighting game as it originated the ism system which would let players choose from 3 different gameplay mechanics.
X-men Vs Street Fighter
Released: September 1996
Unbeknownst to Street Fighter fans, the fighting games Capcom created using the popular comic book characters from Marvel’s expansive universe would bring about the unification of two giants manifesting forth into the start of something that would ultimately become the cataclysmic anomaly known affectionately as the vs. series. X-men Vs Street Fighter was the game that was not supposed to happen..but happen..because we just wanted it to.
The first franchise cross-over gave birth to the popular tag system, a mechanic that would let players call in and control a second character of their choice. As you might have already guessed, joy ensued. Ultimately, this would lead to a long line of versus titles which built on the original mechanics of XVSF making new ways of team game play that would have an effect on other fighting games of a similar nature moving forward.
Street Fighter EX
Released: December 1996
The advent of 3D design in video games ultimately created a shift that, for all intensive purposes, left the traditional use of 2D pixel art struggling to keep up in its wake. It was apparent that Capcom saw the writing on the wall and before it would deliver what could said to be its swan song of traditional 2D animation, they would bring their beloved fighting game into the world of polygonal head to head.
Street Fighter EX, which was their first fighting game title developed outside of Capcom, managed to keep much of what people enjoyed about the franchise intact but ultimately, the series mechanics, original characters, and story were, for the most part, forgotten never to be seen again until its original developers decided they were going to play a quite nerve racking April fools joke on fans who enjoyed what the creators brought to the franchise.
Street Fighter III
Released: February 1997
In what seemed to be a final hurrah for the franchise at the time, the third official offering in the series came with a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, we were experiencing the epitome of 2D pixel art animation on the other hand, the landscape of 3D game design drew strong inclinations toward the more realistic gameplay that many of the fighting games at the time started to offer.
Despite this reality, Street Fighter III continued to break ground on the genre by pushing the mechanics further to spring forth a deeper level of gameplay one that would require a more intimate level of guessing your opponents next move while being able to react with a new defense mechanic. Players would also gain access to a meter infused mechanic that would boost the power of their special moves giving way to a more damaging strike if the resources were available. This mechanic known as EX would ultimately find its way to other fighting game titles and become a staple in the franchise moving forward.
Like SF2, SF3 continued to refine its gameplay releasing two more versions with the final one being the most lauded offering of the series. By this time, it was clear that we were looking at the end of an era. Though Capcom would continue to bring out more fighting game titles shortly after, it was apparent that the Street Fighter series and the genre in general was being usurped by some new multiplayer contenders. It seemed like the life of Street Fighter was at its end when a glimmer of hope emerged sparked by a new generation of gaming and the evolving technology around it.
Street Fighter IV
Released: July 18,2008
The return of the beloved Street Fighter franchise would bring about a resurgence that no fan of the genre could have ever imagined. As with the Street Fighter EX series, Capcom would seek outside help from a very reliable developer whose owner just so happened to be the creator of the first Street Fighter game! It seemed like all the stars would align for the 5th offering in the series as it became a critical and commercial success.
SF4 deceptively managed to keep the foundation of what made the popular SF2 series such an amazing game while adding another element of gameplay that would help push the boundaries for those who were veterans of the series. SF4’s latest mechanic known as focus, would give players the ability to mount both offensive and defensive maneuvers creating deeper fighting game strategies, and combo creation.
It would seem that on the horizon of SF4 a hidden scene of dedicated players would start to bubble to the surface. With the advent of online gaming and the emerging technology of live video streaming, an influx of players would look to test their ability against other hungry competitors culminating in a massive cornucopia of what we now know today as the fighting game community…or the FGC for short.
Capcom would soon get enveloped in the excitement of this growing community and with the final versions of the series, it presented players with a huge opportunity to face other strong competitors like them from all over the world(sounds familiar right?) in what we now know today as the Capcom Pro Tour.
Street Fighter X Tekken
Released: March 6, 2012
Who knew that a brewing friendship between two big fighting game producers would bring us a mind blowing surprise during a Capcom panel at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2010! At long last we would have the opportunity to feast our eyes on another dream match as we would witness characters from the Tekken universe get a complete 2D style make over. With each new reveal, the excitement grew but the anticipation was beginning to get a bit muddied as we learned more about the incoming mechanics of the game.
What developers hoped would be another amazing title to add to the reinvigorated fighting game genre ended up falling short due to its over the top use of mechanics and its controversial DLC practices that brought one of the games main mechanics into question. Despite the efforts to make improvements on the overall game play, it ultimately fell short of critical acclaim and quickly went into obscurity.
Never the less, there was something there as the new gem system, which was truly outrageous, offered a new form of strategy and customization never experienced in a fighting game before. We believe SFXT fell victim to its over reliance on game play mechanics though some still feel that ultimately this is what made the game an amazing gem that should have been more appreciated…no pun intended. While we still await the coming of team Tekken’s take on the Street Fighter franchise, we still lament on this title hoping that maybe one day it will return.
Street Fighter V
Released: February 16th, 2016
It would come to pass that at the second annual Capcom Cup there would be a new game in the series. Rise up was the proclaimed anthem of the incoming offering and it would be a call to those who had inherited the fighting spirit that pushed them to compete, organize tournaments, and be a working part of the community at large.
Unfortunately, this call to arms was mired mainly due to the haste in which this title chose to release ultimately bringing about mixed feelings of its overall development. For the second time in the series, Capcom made major changes to the games overall combat system leaving some, especially those who were now competing heavily in the game, jilted about the inability to push those boundaries like they were once able to do.
Despite the somber reception, SFV still managed to introduce some interesting features in their new V mechanic that would give each character new abilities outside of their regular special moves. With the game only just being a year old, it certainly has a long way to go like the ones who came before it and we certainly hope to see the game blossom as it moves into its second year for the sake of all its long time fans.
This wraps up the 30 years of one amazing fighting game series. Its growing pains are apparent but the fan fare and commitment many have shown to obtain mastery in becoming the best in each title the series has to offer is very much alive and well. We do hope that the Street Fighter series never fades into the darkness again but we have it on good authority that their will always be a beacon left behind where some way and some how the franchise that defined a genre will find its way back for us to enjoy.