Fanart Friday returns, respecting the old ways and leaving a quarter on an arcade machine. Last week, we wrapped up our month of elements with METAL, but this week--celebrating the launch of Ultra Street Fighter IV--we're fighting through my favorite video game franchise of all time, STREET FIGHTER! Far from the first one-on-one fighting game, Street Fighter first appeared in 1987, with Ryu and Ken taking on all comers in a tournament hosted by the mighty Sagat. But it was in 1992 when Street Fighter II hit arcades that the fighting game as we know it was born.
There are lots of reasons people keep coming back to Street Fighter--its colorful, memorable cast of characters, the culture of the arcade that now exists on a global scale, or just the feeling of sitting down with friends and trying to figure out who's the baddest in the house. I have plenty of great memories tied to this series and the friends I've played with over the years--now, let's get started!
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So let's start with where it began, with--WHOA THERE, guys! Ryu (an orphan raised by the martial artist Gouken) and Ken Masters (a rich kid from the US) train together in an esoteric fighting style known as Ansatsuken, the "Assassin's Fist." Just to explain the whole "Shoto"/Shotokan thing, Capcom USA originally stated that the pair studied Shotokan karate, a real (and awesome) style that is nothing like what Ryu and Ken use.
The original Street Fighter only let you play as Ryu (or Ken, if you were the second player), but Street Fighter II put six other fighters with them, as well as four bosses! Alongside Ryu and Ken, the eight World Warriors (fan-favorites all) are Guile, Chun-li, Zangief, E. Honda, Blanka, and Dhalsim, with the four boss characters being (not in this order) Sagat, Balrog, Vega, and M. Bison--we'll get into boss-naming weirdness later.
by Vortall READER SUBMISSION!
There's something I haven't seen in a while--Gaia avatars! I think one of the best things about Street Fighter's character design--even seen in new characters--is that it's very simple and iconic. Ryu is red and white, Blanka is orange and green, Chun-li is blue and yellow, and they aren't overly detailed or distracting.
After Street Fighter II, things got kinda weird. There were multiple versions of SFII--Champion Edition, Turbo, Super, and Super Turbo--which introduced the terrifying uber-boss Akuma! Then came the Alpha series, which started a long-running joke that Capcom couldn't count to three and built upon Ryu's rivalry (?) with Akuma, and staving off the awakening of his dark side.
The Alpha series brought back plenty of fan-favorite characters, added some faces from Final Fight, and introduced a lot of brand-new fighters like R. Mika here! Looks like Chun-li's got the right expression: "OH SHIIIIIIII-"
Awe-inspiring as Akuma is, the main villain of the II and Alpha series was this dirtbag--M. Bison, overlord of the Shadaloo crime syndicate. For those of you who don't know the story, this guy's called Vega in Japan. Who we know as Vega is Balrog (y'know, like a demon) and Balrog is M. Bison (y'know, like M. Tyson), but fearing the headbutting, ear-biting, possible lawsuit-filing wrath of Iron Mike, Capcom USA switched the names around.
by ultmte READER SUBMISSION!
As for Viega Vega, I think the name fits! He's a constant threat in the Street Fighter universe, and (in terms of story) whoever's facing him never looks forward to taking this freak on.
by OroNoDa READER SUBMISSION!
Wait, another Vega? How is this guy so popular among the readers--he's nuts! Anyways, back on the naming thing, fighting game fans have taken to calling the three villains "Boxer," "Claw," and "Dictator." It saves everyone a lot of confusion.
Balrog vs. Dudley is a fight I always wanted to play out after the dapper gentleman boxer debuted in Street Fighter III: A New Generation. Personally, I think Balrog wins in a straight fight... because he'll never let it stay a straight fight. Dudley's too awesome to fight dirty.
Street Fighter III wasn't very popular on release--the only returning characters were Ryu and Ken, and we got a completely new cast of fresh faces and unique fighting styles, with kinda-sorta new main characters in Alex, Sean, and Ibuki replacing Ryu, Ken, and Chun-li. It also really tightened up the gameplay from the II and Alpha series, making for a much more hardcore-focused experience.
Elena was one of the stranger additions to the III series--the direct opposite of boxers like Balrog and Dudley, all of Elena's attacks were kicks! Kinda funny to see an actual African capoeirista, though...
There have been ninja in Street Fighter before (Geki and Guy immediately come to mind), but Ibuki goes the whole nine yards, slinging kunai and using substitution techniques! Her target combos are incredibly fun to pull off, and Yoroi-Doshi is one of my favorite techniques in the entire franchise.
Introduced in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, Makoto quickly became one of my favorite characters with her hilariously brutal (and practical!) traditional karate, which is way closer to real Shotokan karate than anything any Shoto-clone does.
Although to me, the real highlight of 3rd Strike was the return of Chun-li, arguably the First Lady of Fighting Games, not to mention a game that saw her at her most ridiculously powerful in a gameplay sense.
Street Fighter III's boss was confused gangsta "supreme being" Gill, with his brother Urien showing up in the later two installments of the III series. Street Fighter's always been pretty shameless about "borrowing" from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, so it only felt right.
Almost a decade after the last installment in the III series, Street Fighter IV showed up in arcades in Japan, then on PS3 and 360 worldwide and created a massive surge in interest for fighting games. Chronologically taking place between II and III, the IV series also wasn't quite as scary-hardcore as III, letting more people get in on the fun.
The biggest change that IV brought about for me was my main--ever since SFII, I've been a pretty die-hard Ryu player, with Zangief as backup. The sheer ridiculous number of Ryus online led me to switch to Cammy--I've been a Killer Bee fanboy ever since.
The IV series also introduced new villains in the form of S.I.N., and Juri here. Usually, taekwondo practitioners in games are pure and heroic, but Juri's so psychotic that she'd probably give Vega a run for his money.
Really, all the bosses of the Street Fighter franchise are a pain in the ass in one way or another, but they never get to SNK levels of frustrating ridiculousness. Seth came pretty close at first, until I learned his patterns and he became much more manageable.
Final Fight baddies Hugo and Poison have always been a part of the Street Fighter universe--they both showed up in Guy's Alpha 2 background, Hugo was finally playable in Street Fighter III: Second Impact, and Poison has officially joined the roster in Ultra Street Fighter IV!
So who's your favorite bromance or rivalry? Is it the O.G., Ryu and Ken?
Or maybe the tragic almost-brotherhood of Charlie (otherwise known as Nash) and Guile?
Or is it the full-on frenemy rivalry of Sakura and Karin?
Personally, I'll always have a special place in my heart for the unlikely trio of Dan, Blanka, and Sakura--the Saikyo-ryu Dojo may not be home to the most effective fighting style, but these three make for a pretty cool team.
As we wrap up for the week, did you know that Asura's Wrath takes place in the Street Fighter universe? Kinda explains why martial arts tournaments involve gods-among-men alongside men and women who just train really really hard.
Really, it boils down to this--no matter how many characters there are in Street Fighter, the real star is you, the player. You're the one stepping up to the stick (or controller), and you're the one taking your opponent on. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no tricks, no bullshit... just the fight. By the way, back on-topic--this piece is celebrating pro player Daigo Umehara, most famous for the absolutely insane Evo Moment #37.
This one pic sums up my feelings about Street Fighter as a whole. Once the match starts, it's time to throw down--we're gonna give our all and try our best to win. But before and after that? We're friends, this is a game, we both love this series. Let's have fun.
TIME OVER! That's everything for this week! There's no way I could have included every Street Fighter character--who's your favorite? Sound off in the comments and let us know (or enter the giveaway at the Crunchyroll Gaming Community to win a digital upgrade code for Ultra Street Fighter IV by doing the same)!
I'm seeing more and more of you guys' work showing up here on Fanart Friday, and that's great! Remember, your work is always welcome here on Fanart Friday, regardless of your skill level and experience--it's your enthusiasm and the bravery to put your work on display that matters more! Want to have your work shown off here? Just PM me a link to your work, and I'll be sure to include it in a future installment! Here are the next three themes for Fanart Friday:
-Next week, on JUNE 13th, it's time to study a studio again with KYOTO ANIMATION, otherwise known as KYOANI! From Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu! to Beyond the Boundary, what are your favorite KyoAni titles? THIS IS THE ONLY THEME I'M TAKING REQUESTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on JUNE 20th, we're taking a break from the heat with some fun in the sun--the SUMMER installment returns!
-On JUNE 27th, we cover one of my favorite voice actors, who's also a massive freakin' weirdo: TOMOKAZU SEKI!
Thanks again for coming by to check out Fanart Friday! Have a great weekend, all of you out at A-Kon be sure to visit our booth and attend our panel, and I hope you all drop by next week!