Street Fighter II: The World Warrior - Who's Your Champion?
Whether you used to dump your weekly paycheck into the arcade machine one quarter at a time or you discovered Street Fighter II at home on console, you probably had a go-to character (maybe two?). You were probably drawn to this warrior by their fighting style, special moves and attitude. History seems to have favored Ryu and Guile as many player's favorite fighters, probably due to their exciting special moves and, of course, Guile's beautiful hair! Whatever the appeal was, Street Fighter II became a household name for many gamers by the mid 1990's.
The premise of the game was to navigate your way through a fighting tournament, round by round, defeating each opponent in head-to-head combat until you reached the generals: Balrog, Vega, and Sagat. Once defeated, you faced the tournament's final boss, and all-around sinister despot, Bison. Each warrior had their own style and moves, which forced gamers to memorize and perfect with perfect timing, if they wanted to stand a chance in combat. If you were like me, you used an imaginary Hadouken or Sonic Boom on the playground with your friends. However many time I attempted, the Flashkick never quite worked the way I hoped...
Every warrior entered the tournament for their own personal reasons, which played into a unique narrative which unfolded as you advanced through the game. If you were able to defeat Bison, a different epilogue was shown catered to your fighter before the final credits. Throughout the tournament, you traveled across the globe to challenge each opponent in their own stage, adding a robust background art collage to the game.
In addition to its success in the arcades and on consoles, eventually a live-action movie was developed in 1994, with a leading role held by Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile and Raul Julia as arch-villain Bison. For you nostalgia buffs, you can track down a cheap copy on eBay, especially if you still own a VHS player.
However, in this gamer's opinion, what truly made Street Fighter stand out was the fusion of eye-catching graphics, smooth but quick gameplay style and a robust arsenal of characters. This created a perfect platform for gamers to compete against one another like never before, full of fun and variety. With at least 30 different moves possible for each character, the combinations became something of a badge of honor as you perfect the killer combo of choice, rendering your opponent unconscious.
Amongst my friends, the heated debates about which champion was truly the most powerful often arose. This fighter was cheap because one of their moves was nearly impossible (or so we thought), this fighter was too difficult to use, or this fighter didn't do enough damage, so on and so forth. To this day, we reminisce about this golden age of fighting games for home console and when the arguments start to flare up again, we still settle them the old fashioned way; plugging in the game and winner takes the glory.