Ryu (リュウ, Ryu) is the main character from the Street Fighter series of fighting games by Capcom, and one of that company's most famous mascots alongside Mega Man. He is a Japanese martial artist who continuously travels the world in search of opponents who can test his skills and better his own abilities. He was trained under the master Gouken in the Ansatsuken fighting style (albeit Gouken's nonlethal variant) alongside his best friend and rival Ken Masters.
Ryu is considered to be the "main character" of the Street Fighter series. Appearing in all Street Fighter games, Ryu's moveset is designed to be simple and beginner friendly, with a projectile and an anti-air move. Over the years, due to his simple play style, he has received many clones, including Ken and Akuma.
Orphaned at a young age, Ryu was raised and trained by master Gouken in the art of Ansatsuken, or Assassin's Fist. Gouken would later take on a second pupil, Ken Masters. Ryu and Ken became best friends and rivals as they trained together and eventually left Gouken's dojo. After leaving, Ryu entered the first World Warrior tournament, hosted by Sagat, the self-proclaimed King of Muay Thai. Ryu advanced through the tournament, and eventually came face to face with Sagat himself. The older Sagat nearly bested Ryu, but was defeated when Ryu was overcome with the desire to win, and thus opened himself to the Satsui no Hadou (the Surge of Murderous Intent), a force that grants its user great strength but slowly erases their humanity. This gave Ryu a second wind, and he took Sagat out with a powered up Shoryuken, which would leave a large scar across Sagat's chest.
Around this time, Gouken was murdered by his brother Akuma. Learning of the murder from Ken, Ryu traveled the world to search for Akuma. Upon confronting each other on a Japanese island, Akuma tried to persuade Ryu to give into the Satsui no Hadou as he had done. Ryu refused, and Akuma destroyed the island, leaving Ryu stranded. Ryu then sparred with Ken, who realized that his friend was not himself, and gave Ryu his red hairband as a reminder to stay focused. Ryu was also approached by a young fan of his named Sakura Kasugano, who asked him to take her on as a pupil. Ryu declined, believing he had much to learn himself. Ryu also had a rematch with Sagat, who longed for nothing more than revenge for the humiliation he was put through at the World Warrior tournament. Ryu quietly threw the fight, since Sagat had still not fully recovered from their last fight. When Sagat learned this, he vowed to fight Ryu again.
Two years later, Ryu was kidnapped by M. Bison of the Shadaloo syndicate. Bison wished to learn the secret of the Satsui no Hadou to further his own ambitions, and brainwashed Ryu. Ken, Sakura, and Sagat arrived to rescue Ryu, and Sagat fought him once again. Realizing the lengths he had gone to just to satisfy his revenge, Sagat, who was Bison's right-hand man at the time, managed to restore Ryu to his senses, and he defeated Bison.
Ryu entered the second World Warrior tournament, this time hosted by a revived M. Bison and his Shadaloo henchmen: disgraced American boxer Balrog, Spanish ninja assassin Vega, and Sagat. Ryu's motivation was solely to test his strength against a host of new challengers:
It is not known how far Ryu advanced in the tournament, but his ending shows him winning the tournament, and quietly leaving before the awards ceremony in order to get back to training. Later Street Fighter II editions also feature Ryu visiting Gouken's grave in his ending. Adaptations in other media depict Ryu advancing to the end of the tournament, but his fight with Bison is interrupted by the arrival of Akuma, who seemingly kills Bison and challenges Ryu to another duel.
A year or so after, Seth, the CEO of a mysterious weapons organization known as S.I.N (later revealed to be the weapons division of Shadaloo), theorizes that harnessing the energy of the Satsui no Hadou will allow Seth to complete the BLECE project, a bio-weapon being researched and built by S.I.N at the time. He makes multiple attempts to lure Ryu out, many involving his subordinate Crimson Viper (who is an actually an undercover CIA agent), but the power of the Hadou proves to be too strong for Seth and the machines, even as Ryu attempts to contain it. Seth then announces another fighting tournament in the hopes of bringing out the Satsui no Hadou by other means; however, this was revealed to be all part of a plan set out by Shadaloo and its leader, a revived M. Bison, and M. Bison proceeds to take out Seth and take over S.I.N once again; this allows Ryu and Sakura to help destroy what's left of the S.I.N laboratories. During the tournament, Ryu and Ken learn that Gouken survived his encounter with Akuma by emptying his soul with the Power of Nothingness (Mu).
About three years later, Ryu has resumed training with Gouken in order to achieve control over the Satsui no Hado, or at least keep it in check. He is encountered by a few new challengers, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Laura Matsuda and Middle Easterner adventurer Rashid. Notably, he narrowly wins his fight against Rashid due to unwillingly tapping into the Satsui no Hado; even though Rashid is grateful for the match and holds no grudge against him, Ryu takes this as a sign that he must keep training to control himself. In order to do so, he seeks out Dhalsim for answers, when he is attacked by Necalli, a mysterious warrior bent on devouring powerful souls, such as Ryu's own, infused with the Satsui no Hado. Ryu is only saved thanks to Dhalsim's timely intervention. At the same time, Shadaloo sets in motion Project C.H.A.I.N.S., a master plan designed to strenghten Bison's Psycho Power to unimaginable levels by filling the world with fear, despair and hatred - negative emotions on which Psycho Power feeds. While this is happening, Ryu undergoes an isolated training regimen and finally, during a rematch with Necalli, manages to purge the Satsui no Hado completely from his body and soul by finding his own Power of Nothingness. He then joins Ken, Chun-Li and other fighters under the leadership of young Japanese entrepreneur Karin Kanzuki for a final assault on Shadaloo, in order to stop Bison and Project C.H.A.I.N.S. By using the Power of Nothingness, Ryu is able to defeat Bison once and for all, as the dictator's body breaks apart, unable to contain the overwhelming clash of powers. However, the rejected influence of the Satsui no Hado manifests itself as a corrupted copy of Ryu. The copy, calling itself Kage, confronted Ryu in the hopes of taking over his body, but Ryu's Power of Nothingness was able to banish it.
After he, Chun-Li and Guile escape the crumbling Shadaloo base, Ryu goes back to his training, feeling his journey to self-discovery through martial arts is yet to continue. In this capacity, he goes on to meet a host of new fighters during his travels, such as the hermit and Senjutsu master Oro, who sees great potential in Ryu. Sometime afterwards, Ryu enters the third World Warrior tournament to further advance his fighting abilities. His most notable fight during the tournament is against Hugo, who is able to withstand his Shin Shoryuken and hold his own. He continues his travels afterward, meeting Oro along the way. Ryu ends up being defeated by Oro, who likens him to be his successor. He was later seen in Oro's ending, being trained by him, but Ryu is unaware of Oro's presence, as he only heard his voice.
Shortly after the tournament, Ryu meets up with Ken for a friendly match in the latter's storyline, from which he emerges the victor. Ryu later fights against Sean who has been asked by Ken to fight him. Ryu easily defeats him from time to time with just a single Hadoken as he noticed his actions. Ryu also serves as Hugo's pro-wrestling tag-team partner for a brief period of time before moving on, also shown in Hugo's storyline. At some point, he encounters Alex, an American wrestler whom he solidly defeats. Ryu encourages the young wrestler to continue honing his abilities against strong opponents. Fascinated by Ryu's skill and determined to become stronger, Alex soon sets out to find Ryu for a rematch. In his ending, Ryu is under a waterfall practicing his mind and body. He mumbles about the meaning of a true warrior, why he needs to be strong and reminisces his youthful days. A single leaf falls over him and he crushes the leaf with his left hand. Ryu believes that as long as his strong opponents and some fierce battles will excite him, he will possess the strength to move even one of his fingers and decides to keep on fighting.
As a playable character
Main article: Ryu (SSB4)
Ryu appears as downloadable content in Super Smash Bros. 4, being the first newcomer and third-party character with that distinction. He is also the second Capcom character to be introduced to Smash, the other being Mega Man. His design and aesthetics are largely based upon Street Fighter IV. Ryu possesses unique mechanics that emulate controls in his home series, such as tapping the attack button for weak attacks and holding it down for strong attacks, along with special directional inputs he can use to power up his signature special moves, Hadoken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and Shoryuken. Finally, his down special Focus Attack allows him to negate a single attack and retaliate with a crippling blow, leaving opponents open for counterattacks; he can also cancel the move into movement options.
Currently, Ryu is ranked 11th of 55 on the Smash 4 tier list (tying with Marth), placing him at the bottom of A tier. While he lacks in approach options and grab combos, his tier position is mostly due to the Street Fighter controls benefiting Ryu immensely when mastered, granting him true combos into his finishers that many other fighters lack, along with a resilient recovery using three of his four special moves.
As a playable character
Main article: Ryu (SSBU)
Ryu returns as a playable character for the second time in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, this time as an unlockable character. His design bears a closer resemblance to his appearance in Street Fighter V. He borrows even more mechanics from Street Fighter: Ryu always faces his opponent in 1v1 matches, and many of his normal attacks can be canceled into his special moves.
While Ryu was significantly nerfed in the initial transition from Smash 4 to Ultimate, he also received major buffs from game updates. Ryu's mobility is largely unchanged, making him slower relative to the cast, and Shoryuken is weaker and more difficult to combo into. However, Hadoken is stronger and much more controllable, and the aforementioned 1v1 facing and attack cancelling mechanics make it easier to combo, edgeguard and reliably execute special move inputs. While Ryu's representation and results were initially very poor, they have slowly increased after he was buffed in the 3.1.0 update, though they still remain mediocre, especially compared to his Echo Fighter, Ken.