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1. Strange Way to Play
While Street Fighter II put the franchise on the map, it all started with the first Street Fighter game. And that game offers gamers a crazy way to play.
Some versions of this arcade title had the familiar six buttons to handle your different punches and kicks. But others only had two buttons!
These buttons were pressure-sensitive rubber pads. The harder you pressed, the harder your attack. It’s a neat idea, but most players just ended up slamming the buttons all the way down in the middle of an intense fight.
2. Jean-Claude Van Damme: Party Animal
Street Fighter: The Movie is rightfully regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. But there is one person that had an amazing time with this film: Guile star Jean-Claude Van Damme!
Movie director Steven de Souza alleged that Van Damme had a 10 gram a day cocaine habit. And that this caused the famous actor to miss scenes and eventually be assigned a handler so they could finish the movie.
On top of this, Van Damme later admitted that he had an affair with Cammy actor Kylie Minogue. We can only assume that doing $10,000 a week in coke and sexing up one of the most famous women in the world made filming this movie an unforgettable experience.
3. The Final Fight Connection
Street Fighter II is, of course, the proper sequel to the original Street Fighter game. Before that, though, Capcom released a pseudo-sequel: the famous sidescrolling beat’em up Final Fight.
Honestly, there isn’t much connection beyond Mayor Mike Haggar being listed as a “former street fighter.” But in Japan, Final Fight was initially marketed under different names such as Street Fighter ‘89 and Street Fighter: The Final Fight.
Things would eventually come full circle as Final Fight protagonists and antagonists alike begin appearing in later Street Fighter games and spin-offs.
4. Street Fighter II Broke the Mold
We often discuss how “historic” Street Fighter II is for a variety of reasons. However, players don’t always realize that Street Fighter II literally changed how fighting games were designed.
Before that title, fighting games simply pitted two characters with the same abilities against each other. In the multiplayer for the first Street Fighter, for example, Ryu and Ken play exactly the same.
Street Fighter II was the first fighting game to introduce different characters with different moves. And the fighting game landscape would never be the same.
5. Unexpected Manga Origin
If you like the basic story of Street Fighter, you have a specific manga to thank. Much of the original game seems like it was based on a manga called Karate Master.
Manga protagonist Yoshiji Soeno is clearly an inspiration for the design of Ryu. And his enemy, the eyepatch-wearing Muay Thai fighter Reiba, is clearly the inspiration for Sagat.
6. Getting Savage With Dan
Later Street Fighter games introduced a character named Dan Hibiki. He wears pink, has crappy attacks, and generally left players asking “why is this guy here?”
As it turns out, Dan is literally a joke character. Capcom felt like SNK ripped off Ryu when they created Ryo Sakazaki for Art of Fighting. So they made Dan, a character whose attacks looked like Ryo’s but were pretty much useless.
7. Rock Out to the Rock Opera
To say Street Fighter II has been influential is really underselling it. But one of the strangest things this franchise ever inspired was a rock opera.
The band Man Factory produced a rock opera based on the game. And the opera is simply titled “street fight! round one.”
The album came out in 2007 and is surprisingly good. You can check it out on Bandcamp and decide for yourself.
8. Chun-Li: Party Girl
Chun-Li made history as the first playable female character in a fighting game. And because of that, she became an early feminist icon for strong, independent women.
There’s just one problem with this: in her original ending to Street Fighter II, she tells her dead father that his death has been avenged. She immediately takes off her fighting outfit to don short shorts and a midriff-exposing top.
She also proudly declares that she “can go back to being a young single girl.” Unlike wandering fighter Ryu, Chun-Li is happy to just go live a normal life (and presumably find a dude that likes really big thighs).
9. The Mike Tyson Connection
In Street Fighter II, M. Bison quickly establishes himself as an intimidating boss. But in Japan, he had a different name: Vega.
Why the change? Well, in America, Balrog is the name of the black boxer character. But in Japan, that character was hilariously named “M. Bison” as a play on famous boxer “Mike Tyson.”
Capcom, later fearing a lawsuit from Tyson, switched the boss names around. The big boss became “M. Bison,” the original Bison became Balrog, and the handsome Spanish fighter became Vega. The remaining boss, Sagat, simply kept his name from the original Street Fighter.
10. Barack Obama: Street Fighter?!?
Across the various prequels, sequels, and spin-offs, there have been plenty of strange characters. But the most bizarre choice is probably former US President Barack Obama.
This was courtesy of a 2008 PC game called Street Fighter Online: Mouse Generation. The gimmick was that you played the game entirely with a mouse. As you’d expect, gameplay was horrible.
The fighter roster was also strange, with only a handful of characters from Street Fighter. But a later DLC added Barack Obama to the game. As it turns out, you must defeat Obamacare to stand a chance!
11. Blanka’s Idiotic Origin
In Street Fighter II, Blanka was arguably the weirdest character. While other fighters were humans with special abilities, Blanka looked (and acted) like an animalistic mutant.
Beat the game as Blanka and you’ll find out he is a human named Jimmy who survived a plane crash. But why is he green and electric? According to Capcom, exposure to electric eels did all that.
In a game filled with stupid character origins, this may well be the dumbest.
12. From Mods to Sequels
Talking with others about Street Fighter II can make you feel like you’re crazy. That’s because hackers took to altering the original game as well as Street Fighter II: Champion Edition to create different versions.
These versions often had faster gameplay, different moves, and weird names like “Rainbow Edition.” So you and your friends might have grown up playing very different versions of Street Fighter II.
Ironically, Capcom ended up taking the hint about what players wanted after seeing these hacks. That’s how we got Street Fighter II Turbo - Hyper Fighting, a faster game that shamelessly incorporated many of the hacked features players loved.
13. Combos Came By Accident
Aside from the colorful characters, the most famous thing about the Street Fighter games are the combos. But did you know that combos were created by accident?
Infamously, the first Street Fighter game required clockwork-precise timing for the OP special moves. So in Street Fighter II, Capcom made these moves easier to pull off by allowing players more frames between button inputs.
It worked, which is why even button mashers can easily pull off certain special moves. But this also created the famous combo mechanic that put the franchise on the map. Just like that, an accident in development became the game’s most famous feature.
14. Sheng Long: Non-Existent Character
It’s an open secret that the translation for Street Fighter II is notoriously bad. In fact, it’s so bad that the translation accidentally created a new character!
After defeating opponents, Ryu famously declares that “You Must Defeat Sheng Long to Stand a Chance.” Many fans assumed that this character must be the mentor to both Ryu and Ken.
However, this was a mistranslation: Ryu was meant to say “you must defeat my Shoryuken.” But Capcom loved the fan theories and eventually gave us a Sheng Long-like figure Gouken, the older brother to Akuma.
15. Ken’s Dark Cyborg Future
Street Fighter has seemingly countless sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. And in one of those, we see that our beloved Ken has a really dumb future ahead of him.
Before Street Fighter II came out, we got a bland sidescrolling action game on the NES called Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight. In Japan, the protagonist is simply named “Kevin.” But in America, it is meant to be street fighter, Ken Masters!
Even weirder, Ken becomes both a scientist and a cyborg after he retires from street fighting. So not only is this a terrible game but it does Ken (one of the franchise’s cooler characters) very, very dirty.