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The Year Street Fighter Wasn't Released
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 18, 2009   |   Episode 159 (Show Archive)  


Just get a room already!
As a life-long fan of the Street Fighter series, I couldn't be more excited about this week's release of the much anticipated Street Fighter IV. Not only is this the first numbered Street Fighter sequel in a dozen years, but it comes at a time when Ryu, Ken, Chun Li and the rest of the world warriors are primed for a comeback. Next week Chun Li gets her own feature film, and gamers around the world are still buying the incredible Xbox Live Arcade/PlayStation Network release of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. And best of all, all of this is happening on Street Fighter's 20th anniversary, which certainly suggests that it's kismet. There's just one big problem, it's not actually Street Fighter's 20th anniversary.

Longtime readers of Defunct Games will no doubt remember me blasting Capcom the last time they attempted celebrate an anniversary on a non-anniversary year. In an

"Don't believe his lies."
article titled The Anniversary That Wasn't I complained that Capcom was trying to use a fake anniversary to sell a few extra units of their Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. I concluded that even if 2004 was the 15th anniversary (which it wasn't), it seems wrong to release a second version of the game on the Xbox a year later and still call it an anniversary collection.

I thought that I had seen the last of this anniversary nonsense five years ago, but apparently all I had to do was wait until 2009 to see it resurrected once again. This time around Capcom claims that it's the 20th anniversary, and therefore they have justification to release a new Street Fighter game and movie. Of course, fans already know that Capcom doesn't need an excuse to release

It doesn't look like much but the original ... oh, I can't do it, the original Street Fighter is a terrible game!
a new Street Fighter game; we would be just as happy about getting this game if it was released on the 19th or 21st anniversary. After all, most gamers won't even care that Street Fighter has been around that long, since next to nobody actually remembers the first game.

I suppose that's how Capcom gets away with calling it the 20th anniversary, nobody remembers the original game (and they're too lazy to look it up). You see, the original Street Fighter wasn't released in 1989 ... in fact; NO Street Fighter games were released in 1989. Instead the first Street Fighter was released into the wild on August 30th, 1987, which would have made 2007 the proper anniversary.

Maybe if the game was more fun it would have helped NEC sell TurboGrafx-CD units!
And what about Street Fighter II you ask? I mean maybe they are actually talking about the anniversary of the game everybody knows and loves. Sadly that's not the case either. Street Fighter II was first released in March of 1991, with subsequent "updates" hitting every year between 1992 and 1995.

About the closest you get to the anniversary is NEC's Street Fighter port for the TurboGrafx-CD console. Known as Fighting Street, this near-perfect

Not even this confused Capcom employee knew when Street Fighter came out (or spoke English)!
port was first released in Japan in 1988, while the American version didn't show up until a year later. So could it be that the anniversary Capcom is celebrating is none other than that of Fighting Street? If that was the case wouldn't they call it the Fighting Street 20th Anniversary? No, I refuse to believe that Capcom's numbering system started with a port of a two year old arcade game. There's no way that Capcom would celebrate the anniversary of a TurboGrafx-CD game, just like there's no way that next year we'll see the 20th anniversary of Street Fighter 2010 (though, with a name like that they really should release an update next year).

So what the heck is going on at Capcom? Soon after my first article I tried my hardest to get some sort of official statement from the company, but they seemed as bewildered as I was. None of the Capcom representatives

I think it's safe to say that no matter how bad the movie is, it won't be worse than this tragically awful movie poster!
at any of the last four E3s were able to point me in the right direction, and more times than not I found that these Capcom employees didn't actually know the history of one of their biggest games. Everywhere I looked ended in a dead end. I ultimately just gave up my search for answers, but this recent turn of events has reinvigorated my need to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Unfortunately there's another wrinkle in this drama, one that makes this whole anniversary thing even more confusing. You see, in 2006 when the upcoming Street Fighter movie was first announced, Variety reported it this way: "Hyde Park and Capcom's film is targeted to bow in 2008, the 20th anniversary of the game franchise."

2008? I thought that 2009 was the 20th anniversary of Street Fighter, not 2008. I mean, Capcom just had a big

Oh sure, you have time to take pictures of this event, but you can't flag somebody down and get to the bottom of this 20th anniversary madness?
birthday party for the game, yet three years ago the company (along with Hyde Park) were telling reporters that they wanted to hit the game's 20th anniversary ... in 2008? Give me a break. There's no reason that these companies can't get their dates straight. Looking up Street Fighter's original release isn't hard, all you need to do is surf on over to GameFAQs or Wikipedia. And you don't even need to trust those sites, you can look back at old issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly to discover that Street Fighter was released in 1987, not 1989.

Yet nobody else seems to notice. This weekend Capcom invited gamers and journalists alike to their Street Fighter 20th Anniversary birthday party, yet not one single gaming website mentioned that this isn't actually anniversary. All it takes is a little research, but apparently that's too

Regardless of this whole controversy, the fact still remains that you should go out and buy Street Fighter IV!
much to ask from Kotaku or Joystiq. I don't care how much fun the party is, somebody should have pointed out that Capcom is using new math in order to convince people that this is the 20th anniversary.

But what bugs me about this is the fact that Capcom feels they need to change the date in order to make their games relevant. Do they honestly believe that Street Fighter IV won't sell if they don't add that fake anniversary sticker to the box? Surely they have more confident in the series than that. We're talking about one of the biggest games of the 1990s, the fighting franchise that singlehandedly created the one-on-one fighting game genre. If Street Fighter IV isn't going to sell based on its name alone, then no amount of fake anniversary stickers are going to help. Let's face it, Street Fighter III was released on the franchise's tenth anniversary, yet I guarantee that the average fighting game fan can't even name ten of "The New Generation" challengers. It didn't work then, why would it work now?

I have a hunch that this is not going to be the last time I have to report on this fake anniversary issue. Hopefully this time around I'll be able to get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all. Lord only knows how much I would like to resolve this problem and report on the real story. Sadly I have a hunch that I'm going to run into a lot of other clueless Capcom employees that truly think that Street Fighter came out in 1989. But you and I know better, and for now that's going to have to be our consolation prize.


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