Ken Masters (ケン・マスターズ, Ken Masters) is a major character from the Street Fighter series of fighting games by Capcom. As Ryu's best friend and longtime rival, Ken appears throughout the Street Fighter series and utilizes a similar fighting style, making him one of the most famous examples of a moveset clone in fighting games.
Ken Masters is one of the main characters of Street Fighter and is one of the only two characters (the other being Ryu) that have appeared in every single installment of the series. He is widely known by many as being Ryu's "clone, " using similar attacks such as the Hadoken, Shoryuken and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, but later games in the series have added subtle differences to their movesets such as Ken's use of fire and multi-hit capabilities.
Born to a wealthy family, Ken was sent to Japan to be taught discipline in order to avoid being spoiled by his family. He was trained by his master Gouken and constantly sparred with his future rival and best friend Ryu, being taught Ansatsuken, the Assassination's Fist. After leaving Gouken's dojo, Ken returns to America and enters many martial arts tournaments, eventually meeting a woman named Eliza who becomes his girlfriend. Returning to Japan to tell his master of the news of his victories in America, he witnesses the murder of Gouken by his brother Akuma, who easily defeats Ken after he tried to attack him in rage. After the attack, he then searches for Ryu to inform him of their master's death. Upon meeting up with him, the two have a sparring match in which Ken comes out victorious, though afterwards, he notes that Ryu wasn't himself. In response, Ken gives Ryu his red headband that he wears as his now signature red headband to cheer him up and tells Ryu to keep focused. Ken later teams up with Sakura Kasugano and Sagat to rescue Ryu from Shadaloo.
Ken then receives an invitation to the second Street Fighter tournament, but had been slacking in his training due to spending a lot of time with Eliza. Ryu, however, challenges and inspires Ken to continue training and enter the tournament. After the events of the tournament, Ken and Eliza would get married, eventually having a son named Mel.
During the events of Street Fighter III, Ken would later take up an apprentice himself in the form of Sean Matsuda of São Paulo, Brazil, after being pestered by the aspiring fighter. Ken later entered the Third World Warrior tournament, held by the Secret Society, but drops out after learning that Ryu had been defeated by the Brazilian hermit Oro. Along the way, Ken fights against Urien, the younger twin of the Society's leader Gill, and meets up with Ryu once again for their long-awaited rematch. Ken later enters his third straight US martial arts tournament, where he is named the winner, offering his trophy to Sean.
Ken appears as a downloadable content trophy in both versions of Super Smash Bros. 4 using his design from Street Fighter IV. His trophy is unlocked immediately upon downloading Ryu. In addition, Ken Stage, his theme from Street Fighter II, is available as a music track on Suzaku Castle in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U in its original version, its Super Street Fighter II version, and a new remix. In addition, Zero Suit Samus adopted his pose in Ryu's reveal poster for the same game.
As a playable character
Ken appears as an unlockable newcomer in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, serving as Ryu's Echo Fighter. His inclusion was leaked on September 21st, 2018 through a screenshot, before his official reveal on November 1st. Despite being classified as an Echo Fighter, Ken falls more in line with the definition of a semi-clone, having more unique moves and differences from his base fighter compared to any other Echo Fighter pairing.
Similar to their home series, Ken focuses more on extensive combos and damage racking compared to Ryu's emphasis on zoning and powerful single hits. Along with a faster running speed, many of Ken's standard and special attacks have different properties from Ryu's. Ken's Hadoken is weaker and less controllable than Ryu's, and he cannot perform the Shakunetsu Hadoken. However, he can instead perform roundhouse kicks with unique inputs; these can be special-cancelled into and can themselves cancel into Inazuma Kick for extra shield damage. Tatsumaki Senpukyaku hits multiple times, making it more effective as a combo starter, though it is much weaker and leaves Ken vulnerable even if it connects. Finally, Shoryuken also hits multiple times, dealing much more damage and launching more reliably with the late hits.
Due to his flashy, combo-oriented playstyle and in spite of his high learning curve, Ken has seen impressive representation and results in competitive play, especially in comparison to Ryu.