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'Street Fighter' At 30: The Video Game That Changed The Face Of Its Genre | Your Move


The first Street Fighter game, released in 1987 by Capcom, was mostly unremarkable. The first version of the arcade game only had two buttons per player - but they were huge, rubbery buttons, and the harder you hit them, the harder your character on-screen would punch or kick. These often broke and were expensive to replace, so many of those machines were eventually retrofit with traditional arcade buttons. Also, you had no choice of character, you had to play as the Japanese karate master Ryu.


Its 1991 sequel, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, was an absolute sensation. It was one of the first one-on-one arcade games to give players the choice of multiple characters, allowing for variety and personal style to be brought to each match. Each character was carefully balanced, and had a number of special moves that were completely different from the moves of the others. The theme of the game was a worldwide martial-arts tournament, and each character was themed after a different country, including the Japanese sumo wrestler E. Honda, the American Air Force officer Guile, and the Soviet wrestler Zangief. Each had their own arena in their home country, with their own musical theme written by Yoko Shimomura.


The game was a huge hit in arcades all around the world, as most two-player games before it were either cooperative, or not simultaneous. And you could keep playing as long as you won, resulting in lines to challenge the victor. 


Street Fighter II got a number of updates and sequels, including 2016’s Street Fighter V, which is actively played in fighting game tournaments today. It popularized the fighting game genre, and set so many conventions that are still part of it today.

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.