Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy 25th Street Fighter!

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Street Fighter series.

It's crazy how many of my favorite video game series are getting up there in the years.  Serves to remind me how freakin old I am.

The first Street Fighter was released on this day in 1987.  I don't remember playing the original that extensively until many years later.  I think during my childhood I just wrote it off as another Yie Ar Kung Fu or what have you.  For myself, like many others, it wasn't until the release of Street Fighter II in 1991 that I got hooked.

If you're a younger gamer it might be hard to appreciate how significant Street Fighter II was at the time.  For it's time, it had massive on screen characters that were colorful and beautifully animated.  The sound effects were loud and in your face and the music had you humming and whistling Street Fighter tunes for days.  Usually all a kid had at home was an NES or Atari at the time (maybe an SNES or Genesis if you were lucky), there wasn't anything else on the market that came remotely close to new arcade games.  If you can imagine what that was like then you can appreciate how amazing Street Fighter II was to behold.

We kind of owe what we have in fighting games now to Street Fighter.  It's really difficult to say if another company would have figured out the proper fighting game formula if Street Fighter II was never released.  One thing's for sure though, it probably would have been a long time and I doubt arcades would have lasted as long as they did without the release of Street Fighter II to pump life back into them.

Over the years Street Fighter has become one of the world's most popular brand names, expanding out of video games and into movies, apparel, toys and other countless forms of merchandise.  The games, both modern and classic, still have a tremendous following today amongst casual fans and tournament goers.

The Street Fighter series are a damn fun bunch of games.  But I think my favorite thing about all of it is the social aspect of it.  I've met some awesome people and long time friends just from showing up somewhere to play Street Fighter.  Even if there are cultural or language barriers, if two people are there to play Street Fighter then they can communicate with each other just fine.  Playing the game is like speaking a whole other language.  Speaking with your fists as I'm sure Ryu would say.

I could talk on and on about Street Fighter as it's one of my all time favorite video game series, but instead I'd like to list some of my favorite moments from my past 20 some years with the game.

My top 10 Street Fighter memories:

10.  Seeing and playing Street Fighter II for the first time.  I lost my first match ever to a Blanka.  I remember being really angry about this.  How was it fair that he got to be a monster?

9.  Dhalsim is banned!  Haha, I remember in the days of SNES before any of us really understood blocking we had banned Dhalsim because of his stretchy limbs.  It really cracks me up to think about this to this day.

8.  The Street Fighter II Animated Movie.  It's not held up for me as well over the years but when I was a kid this was the best movie ever made.

7.  My first arcade stick.  It was for Sega Dreamcast, given to me for my birthday by Caiti when we were just dating.  We went out of town for dinner, so we were a good hour and a half away from home.  Such a long time before I could try out my shiney new arcade stick.  I think I played pretend Street Fighter in my head with the arcade stick the entire ride home.

6.  My first tournament win.  Happened at a church lock in of all places on SNES.  It was just for fun and there weren't any prizes but it still felt good to be champ.

5.  Udon's Street Fighter comics are released.  I had gotten out of comics for a loooong time before that.  The 90's marvel treatment kind of killed things for me.  But the dedication I could see in Udon's work got me excited about comics again.  These brand new Street Fighter adventures were definitely a gateway back into comic collecting for me.

4.  Final Round XII.  My first major tournament.  I had an AWESOME time traveling to Atlanta with my friends and playing fighting games non stop for a weekend.  I think I placed like 95th or something out of nearly 400 participants so I was pretty happy with that.

3.  Fusion Tournament series.  The Fusion series was an annual tournament held in Roanoke VA.  They were a blast to attend each year, but my favorite year was when I met my friend Donnie McCoy.  I had been top dog in pretty much any gathering I'd attended up to that point but Donnie put things back in perspective for me and put me back on the right path for refining my game.  If you've seen the Street Fighter II V anime series, think of this like the moment when Ryu meets Guile for the first time and how it helps Ryu in the long term.

2.  Finally getting it.  I'm talking about that moment when your brain finally understands how the special moves are supposed to work.  When the light bulb suddenly goes off and you can Hadouken flawlessly as if you never needed to learn the movement.  For me this was on SNES at my neighbors house and it was a beautiful day outside, but when I felt that click Street Fighter had me stuck inside for the rest of the day.

1.  My son's first Shoryuken.  I was playing a match online in Super Street Fighter II HD Remix which had gone into the final round with both players completely out of health.  Connor was sitting on my lap watching me play during this fight.  Eventually I got swept into a corner by Guile and he was already ducking to throw the Sonic Boom that would chip me out of the match.  I had let go of the stick at that point and was letting Connor play with the buttons.  As soon as the Sonic Boom flew he totally ate wakeup Shoryuken!!  Connor had saved the match.

I hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane.  Here's to the next 25 years of Street Fighter!

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