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1991: Street Fighter II Changes Everything
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 27, 2002   |   Episode 3 (Show Archive)  

The Scoop: If you were to ask somebody about fighting games in 1990, you might hear a riveting story about Final Fight or maybe somebody contrasting the finer moments in Bad Dudes with the tense moments throughout P.O.W. But you know, these days, if you ask somebody about fighting games they would come back with Tekken, or Virtua Fighter, or Marvel vs. Capcom, or even Mortal Kombat.

Street Fighter II changed the way we looked at fighting games. For the first time ever gamers were given a choice between multiple characters, all of which offered immense depth, and unique moves. The game play had been refined so that it was actually playable, even if the early version is a tad slow by today's standards. But most importantly, the game was actually fun. Be it you against the other World Warriors, or versus your friends, Street Fighter II recaptured the glory of the arcade for an entire generation.

The Other Side: It can be argued that for about four years video games were hijacked by companies churning out fighting games. Most of the fighters were poor, at best, and only a few becoming hugely successful. Worst yet, many of the successful games were big for the wrong reasons. Things haven't changed all that much, but I'd like to believe we are smarter now than we were oh so many years ago.

The Impact: Let's try to take these in order. Capcom probably didn't know what they were getting themselves in for. It would take far too much time to list even a short list of me-too titles that hitched a ride on the Street Fighter II wave. An entire genre of games was created, a genre that fueled massive console sales, an arcade boom unlike anything since Pac-Man, and a phenomenon an industry had not seen in many years.

Street Fighter II also indirectly led to a mandatory rating system. It can be argued that without the success of Street Fighter, games like Time Killers or, more importantly, Mortal Kombat, may have never been developed. The over whelming success of Mortal Kombat was one of the final nails in the coffin before the government stepped in to try to regulate our fair industry.

Street Fighter II also waged a non-violent war against controllers. Up until the early 1990's, controls were limited to just a couple of buttons. Most controls only offered two, sometimes three buttons to play with. But Street Fighter II had six buttons. The success of Street Fighter II proved that gamers were willing to accept games with multiple buttons, not just at home, but in the arcades. I can't think of a control since the Genesis control that has offered less than six workable buttons.

Where Are They Now?: Even though Capcom has been busy releasing Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK 2 on every console under the sun, they have yet to release a new 2D fighter. There is no fourth Street Fighter game. There is no third Mavel vs. Capcom. And don't get me started about Darkstalkers.

These days Capcom seems less interested in Street Fighter than Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and that dreadful Gun
Survivor series. After all, 2D fighters aren't paying the bills anymore, instead they are looked at as something of a novelty. It's almost nostalgia to most people. These days almost all 2D fighters sell poorly, especially when you consider the run away success of Virtua Fighter 4.

Though it hasn't been heard from in years, the Street Fighter series inspired an excess of merchandise unheard of in its day. Looking back, Street Fighter II is almost the first example of what gaming would be like ten years later. We may not enjoy 2D fighters as much these days, but the selling of games, the marketing them as more than just entertainment, the turning them into movies. This was all something Street Fighter did, and did first.


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