25 Years Ago: Street Fighter II Started A Revolution

Feb 5, 16  | posted by Phoenix Vanguard (1031)

On February 6th 1991, Street Fighter II was released in arcades, and although it wasn’t the first of its kind (with the original Street Fighter being released in 1987 and Karate Champ in 1984), its success had a profound effect on the market. One-on-one fighting games became one of the most popular genres during the early 1990’s, with games such as Mortal Kombat and Tekken riding the wave that Street Fighter II created. Street Fighter II became widely imitated in its gameplay mechanics and controls, and even moves such as the fireball and its associated “quarter circle down forward + punch” movement became common place.

Street Fighter II was so successful that Capcom just kept releasing more of it. From 1991 to 1994, there were 5 versions of Street Fighter II released: Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, which included eight playable characters. Street Fighter II’: Championship Edition, which made the previously unplayable four boss characters playable, and also refined the balance of the characters. Street Fighter II’ Turbo: Hyper Fighting, which increased the speed of the game, added a few new moves, and made further refinements to the character balance. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, which introduced four new playable characters, raising the total to sixteen, continued to refine the character balance, and updated the graphics and audio. Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which added super combos, air combos, and a choice of speed settings.

Many estimates of the arcade income are in the billions of dollars. The original SNES version of Street Fighter II sold 6.3 million copies, making it Capcom’s biggest selling game until Resident Evil 5 in 2009 sold 7 million. Taking into account the 4.1 million for Street Fighter II Turbo, and the 2 million for Super Street Fighter II, the three SNES versions of Street Fighter II sold 12.4 million copies. With another 1.65 million for the Megadrive version of Street Fighter II’ Plus, we have over 14 million copies sold.

The next five years saw Capcom flog the Street Fighter franchise like a horse. 1995 saw the release of Street Fighter Zero (a prequel to the original), and Street Fighter: The Movie (the game based on the movie based on the game). In 1996, Capcom increased the confusion with Street Fighter Zero 2 (the sequel to the prequel), Street Fighter vs X-Men (the first cross-over in the series), and Street Fighter EX (the first 3D iteration of the series). 1997 gave us Street Fighter III and its upgrade Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, along with Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter, and an upgraded Street Fighter EX Plus in the arcades (later released as Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha on PS1).

In 1998, things started to slow down with only one release, Street Fighter Zero 3. In 1999, Street Fighter EX2 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (the third game of the third game). By the time Street Fighter EX3 rolled around in 2000 on PS2, the genre had died off in popularity, and Capcom focused their efforts on Resident Evil which had grown to be its biggest asset.

Capcom waited until 2008 to release Street Fighter IV, which triggered somewhat of a rejuvenation of the genre, and a few new versions as well. Rather than create DLC, Capcom released Super Street Fighter IV in 2010 as a standalone game, incompatible with the original. The next two versions, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition in 2011, and then Ultra Street Fighter IV in 2014, were available as standalone releases or DLC for Super. Street Fighter X Tekken was also released in 2012, with Capcom being criticized when it was discovered it was charging players to access characters as DLC when they were already contained on the disc.

Street Fighter V is due for release February 16 on PS4 and PC. Capcom has assured fans they will only need to buy the game once and can earn additional content in game without having to pay extra for it. But if you’re looking to kick it old school, you can pick up the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix digitally on PS3 and Xbox 360. It contains a classic mode where you can play with the original sprites.


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