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When Street Fighter II Met EGM
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 02, 2004   |   Episode 40 (Show Archive)  

These days internet forums are filled with video game fanboys yelling and screaming that games are too hyped these days. They whine that Halo and Grand Theft Auto monopolize magazine pages and leave little room for anything else. While they may have a point, hype today is nothing like it was a dozen years ago.

Take Street Fighter II, for example. In the early 1990s Street Fighter II was the king of the arcade, an unstoppable force. But even before it hit the home systems Electronic Gaming Monthly started in on the months of round-the-clock coverage. Between February 1992 and November 1993 EGM featured Street Fighter II on the cover 17 times. That's 17 times in 23 months!! Without a doubt, this media overkill is the closest example I have to too much hype. I welcome you to take a stroll down memory lane as we show you each of the magazines and just how silly it all became.

Issue 31 (February 1992) wasn't the first time Street Fighter II was shown in EGM, but it was the debut of the full-page cover. Although this would be far from the last cover to feature Ryu or Ken, it is the only cover to use a screenshot instead of drawn picture. Issue 32 (March 1992) isn't a full page picture, but might as well be. There Ryu stands over Sonic and even Raphael of the Ninja Turtles. The Ryu of 1992 is a much darker, meaner Ryu, certainly not the fun-loving guy you see in modern Street Fighter incarnations. Issue 33 (April 1992) brought the introduction the dismal Capcom art. As a lot of you know, this was the pathetic art found on the original Super NES Street Fighter II title, but was found first on this EGM cover.

After three months in a row of full-page Street Fighter II covers, EGM wisely decided to give the game a much-needed break. Still, they wanted to grab people's attention, so EGM decided to mention the game on the cover, but not show pictures or artwork. This trend started with issue 35 (June 1992), which mentioned the upcoming Champion Edition and what characters the staff liked (they seemed to like Ken the most). By issue 36 (July 1992) EGM axed the information, and decided to just include the name on the cover. Issue 37 (August 1992) was the first use of Street Fighter II on the top banner, but it certainly wouldn't be the last.

By the end of 1992 EGM was trying to strike a balance between too much Street Fighter II coverage and too little. People seemed to like the monthly Street Fighter II information, but not the full page covers promoting it. They were ready to see other games on the cover, which meant EGM had to do something drastic ... shrink the Street Fighter II pictures to a fraction of the page!

Issue 38 (September 1992) shrinks the image of Ken into only 20% of the page, a trick that would be repeated on the cover of issue 40 (December 1992). It's worth noting that Issue 39 (November 1992) only featured Street Fighter II on the top in a far less prominent role. It advertised that the issue had new, exclusive news about Street Fighter character appearing in a brand new game . too bad it was only Chun Li's brief appearance in Capcom World 2, a Japanese quiz game that never made its way to the U.S. or Europe.

You've previewed the game, you've reviewed the game, you've editorialized about which characters are the best, and you've explained every special move known to man, what else is there to do?? Simple, start advertising the illegitimate codes! On the cover of issue 43 (February 1993), EGM seems to imply that you will be able to play as the bosses in the Super NES version of Street Fighter II. What the cover doesn't tell you is that you will need a Game Genie, and even then, it's nothing more than a graphic glitch that doesn't allow you to play more than a few rounds as a boss.

Issue 46 (May 1993) brought back the full-page Street Fighter II cover, the first in over a year. It trumpeted the arrival of the first Genesis port, dubbed the Special Champion Edition. This excitement would be muted one month later in issue 47 (June 1993) when Capcom revealed a bigger, better Super NES game called Turbo Street Fighter II Champion Edition.

Fearing too much coverage, EGM relegated Street Fighter II to nothing more than title shots on the cover. Issue 48 (July 1993) featured the abbreviation "Turbo SF 2 CE" in between popular licensed titles like Chester Cheetah and Dune. If you're wondering why the cover looks funky, it's supposed to fold out and make a large Jungle Strike poster, it does, and it looks horrible. Issue 49 (August 1993) brought back the quarter page Street Fighter II shot, and a nice one at that. But it was issue 50 (September 1993) that really brought Street Fighter II back in a big way. Using the same picture they featured on the issue 49 cover, EGM managed to get those Mortal Kombat kooks together with the Street Fighter II characters.

By late 1993 EGM had started winding down their coverage of Street Fighter II, but not before they had a chance to feature one last full-page cover. Issue 51 (October 1993) would find all of the major Street Fighter II characters huddled together for one final photo shoot. It introduced the world to Super Street Fighter II, a game that added new characters and better graphics. Issue 52 (November 1993) would include a strategy guide to that game. It would be the final time EGM had Street Fighter II on the cover until years later.

There's no denying that Electronic Gaming Monthly liked their fighting games, but not all equally. Sure Mortal Kombat had a few covers, but where were the SNK games? They only made three dozen in the two years EGM put Street Fighter II on the cover 17 times. Maybe that's a question that will never be answered, and I should simply be happy exposing the out and out bias EGM has for Capcom's Street Fighter II.


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