Street Fighter (universe)
The Street Fighter universe (ストリートファイター, Street Fighter) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters and properties that hail from the famous fighting game franchise created by Capcom. Originating on the arcade in 1987, the series became world-renowned as one of Capcom's most lucrative franchises, alongside Mega Man. Street Fighter has three confirmed series sharing its universe, Final Fight, Rival School and Slam Masters, while Captain Commando and Strider are in question, due to their possible connection within this shared universe. It stars a multitude of characters whose sights are set on their life goals and to be crowned the greatest warrior on Earth - as is the case with its main stars Ryu and Ken Masters.
In 1987, Capcom developed and released its first competitive fighting game, Street Fighter, for arcade machines, and subsequently ported it to the TurboGrafx-CD console under the title "Fighting Street" in 1988. Though the one-on-one fighting game genre had already been first popularized years earlier by Karate Champ in 1984, Street Fighter is credited with introducing hidden, command-based special techniques to the budding genre's formula. The game itself is a primarily single-player affair in which the only character that can be played as is the martial artist Ryu, who must defeat a linear series of computer-controlled opponents at martial arts venues across the world. In the game's limited 2-player mode, the second player takes control of Ken Masters, Ryu's friendly rival who is otherwise a functionally identical clone of Ryu in-game, and whichever player wins a multiplayer match between the two will proceed with the rest of the single-player game as that character. The game received fair critical reception for relevantly innovating on its genre, but failed to garner lasting popularity, and would primarily derive its public appeal from being a historical curiosity in the wake of far more successful endeavors by the series.
Capcom had intended to lift Street Fighter's concept and improve on it with a sequel, but repurposed their follow-up project as a side-scrolling beat-em-up titled Final Fight in response to the popularity of Technōs Japan's Double Dragon. Despite this change in direction, Capcom decided to make fighting games a priority after Final Fight was commercially successful in the United States, and went ahead with Street Fighter II, which saw release in 1991. It was met with meteoric commercial and critical success, and is credited with both setting off a renaissance for the arcade game industry in the early 1990s and giving rise to an influx of fighting game franchises by other developers, popularizing the genre. The Super NES port of Street Fighter II - the first 16-Megabit cartridge for the console - became Capcom's best-selling single-consumer game software until 2013, when it was surpassed by Resident Evil 5.
Street Fighter II added the concept of a roster of selectable playable characters, each with their own distinct fighting style and special moves, to the formula of the first game, as well competitive multiplayer combat between two players and a combo system - the first fighting game ever to use one, despite coming about as a bug initially. Many of the innovations brought about by Street Fighter II were incorporated into later fighting games - including the Super Smash Bros. series itself, to an extent. Following this, Capcom enacted a long series of updated re-releases of the game over the course of several years, adding various improvements and new features in response to a wave of bootleg ROM chip upgrades that emerged for its arcade cabinets. Street Fighter II: Champion Edition made four previously boss-exclusive characters playable and added "mirror matches" (the capacity for two players to fight as the same character with differing color palettes); Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting featured faster playing speeds; Super Street Fighter II reverted the speed change, added more characters, and featured a new scoring system which kept track of combos, as well as an eight-player single-elimination tournament mode; and Super Street Fighter II Turbo allowed the gameplay speed to be adjusted, featured combos that could be performed in the air, and introduced more powerful "Super Combos" that could only be performed under certain conditions.
Street Fighter had become Capcom's second best-selling franchise behind Mega Man, with Street Fighter II being among the most successful and highest-grossing video games of all time when considering both its arcade and home versions. Capcom proceeded to release appropriately-iterative sequels in the decades to follow, each of which made more significant changes and expansions to the prototypical formula and each of which spawned their own subseries. In addition to a variety of game spinoffs and television and film adaptations, the Street Fighter IP has also been involved in a fairly regular stream of crossover productions, such as Street Fighter X Tekken, which pits Street Fighter's iconic cast against that of Namco's Tekken series (one of the more prolific fighting game series that Street Fighter has been credited with spawning in the wake of its own success). Street Fighter characters have also been regulars in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, where a large roster of the most popular characters from Capcom's overall stable of franchises fight alongside an equally large selection of Marvel Comics superheroes and supervillains. In a nonetheless unexpected turn, Ryu was included as a post-launch downloadable content character in Nintendo and Namco's Super Smash Bros. 4, the second Capcom-originating character to be included in the game's roster. He has since become a mainstay of the series ever since.
The Street Fighter series prioritizes gameplay over plotting throughout its chronology, with a vague scenario serving as a backdrop for otherwise context-free competition between members of the series' long-established recurrent cast. Ryu and Ken are two among many recurring combatants that have since become some of the video game industry's most iconic character designs, each with an international backstory and a set of relationships with any number of the other fighters. Among the more significant series mainstays are Chun-Li, widely regarded as a trailblazer for heroines in gaming media; Blanka, a mutated former human with green skin and a bestial combat style; and Guile, an affectionate All-American stereotype. Earlier games set their proceedings within "World Warrior Tournaments", in which aspiring martial artists from all corners of the globe compete for glory and personal advancement, but later games take place at tournaments organized for reasons more closely tied into ongoing storylines, such as a tournament hosted by the criminal organization of Shadaloo, led by M. Bison - another icon of video game character personification, embodying an over-the-top stereotype of a would-be world dictator. A synopsis of the numbered installments and some prolific spin-off titles are given below.
Street Fighter: The first game of the series released in 1987. While it did not achieve the same popularity as its sequels when it was first released, the original Street Fighter introduced some of the conventions made standard in later games, such as attack buttons and special command-based techniques. In this game, the plot focuses on Ryu who competes in an international martial arts tournament to prove his strength.
Street Fighter II series: Released in 1991-1994. Street Fighter II's worldwide success propelled the fighting game genre into great popularity by introducing a number of tropes and mechanics which would become commonplace within it, such as the combo system and a diverse cast of characters. Successive updates would further polish the game, with 1993's Super Street Fighter II expanding the original cast of 12 fighters to 16. The latest iteration, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, was released in 2017 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. This game concerns a worldwide tournament organized by the mysterious syndicate, Shadaloo.
Street Fighter Alpha series: Released in 1995-1998. This series introduces several new features, expanding on the Super Combo system previously featured in Super Street Fighter II Turbo and added new features such as selectable fighting styles called "isms", with graphics drawn in a similar cartoonish style to the one Capcom employed in Darkstalkers and X-Men: Children of the Atom. The plot of Street Fighter Alpha is set after the original Street Fighter but before Street Fighter II and thus the game features younger versions of established characters, as well as characters from the original Street Fighter and Final Fight, and a few who are new to the series.
Street Fighter EX series: Released in 1996-2001. Developed by Arika (which also developed the recent Dr. Mario games and Tetris 99), the series was Street Fighter's first foray into 3D-based gaming, although gameplay remained largely constrained to 2D. Treated as a side story, the games' cast consists of famed Street Fighter characters and original characters designed by Arika, which would also appear in other fighting games developed by them, such as 2018's Fighting EX Layer.
Street Fighter III series: Released in 1997-1999. The first proper sequel to Street Fighter II after six years, Street Fighter III made use of Capcom's new arcade board CPS-3, which boasted fluid and detailed sprite-based animations, among other innovations. The game popularized techniques such as Super Arts (selectable super moves similar to the Super Combos introduced in Super Street Fighter II Turbo) and parrying, a defensive technique similar to perfect shielding in which the user not only blocks incoming attacks, but also deflects them for a quick opening. Story-wise, Street Fighter III is currently the final chapter in the series, introducing a slew of new characters save for Ryu and Ken (as well as Akuma and Chun-Li) competing in a new World Warrior tournament.
Street Fighter IV series: Released in 2008-2014. After a period in which the fighting genre lay mostly dormant, with the Street Fighter series itself surviving through successive re-releases, Capcom revived the series with a new entry which blended 3D visuals with the series' classic 2D-based gameplay. The Focus Attack was one of the innovations of the game, along with the Revenge Meter (a secondary gauge which fills as the player takes damage) and Ultra Combos (more spectacular versions of the Super Combos, tied directly to the Revenge Meter to allow for comebacks). The story takes place a short time after Street Fighter II, but before Street Fighter III, where an offshoot of Shadaloo known as S.I.N. organizes a new tournament with the intent of drawing the strongest fighters to have their data collected.
Street Fighter V: Released in 2016. The latest chapter of the series, exclusive to the PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam, has a different update model from previous versions: rather than standalone releases, the game was treated as a live-service title, with a steady stream of updates added to the game via patches containing new content such as characters, stages, and game modes. The most recent update, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, released in January 2020, only adds all content released thus far to the base game. The biggest innovation is the V-System, with which each character has special skills that can grant them temporary advantages in battle. The plot of Street Fighter V, which takes place between IV and III, details Shadaloo's master plan and ultimate downfall, parallel with Ryu's quest to purge himself from the evil power known as Satsui no Hado. This is the first game where a character from the Rival Schools series is playable since Sakura’s playable appearance in Rival Schools: United by Fate.
Marvel vs. Capcom series: A series of crossovers where, as the name indicates, pits superheroes and villains from Marvel Comics against characters from Capcom's sizable library of games. Its roots can be traced back to the 1994 title X-Men: Children of the Atom, a Capcom-developed fighting game which also featured Akuma as a secret guest character, and its successor Marvel Super Heroes the following year, which reused some assets from the X-Men game. The first proper crossover was 1996's X-Men vs. Street Fighter, followed by Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter the following year, then in 1998 followed by Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. These crossover games revolve around tag battles, where each player chooses two characters to fight in tandem, the winner being the first to defeat both of the opponent's characters. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, in 2000, expanded the concept to teams of three characters, which was followed in 2011's Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, but scaled back to tag teams for 2017's Marvel vs. Capcom Infinte.
Other Versus games and crossovers: As one of Capcom's flagship franchises, the Street Fighter series has taken part in other crossovers, either by itself or as part of a whole shared universe with other Capcom franchises. These include the Capcom vs. SNK series, which has a variety of selectable playing systems as a nod to both publishers' history of fighting games; Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, similar to Marvel vs. Capcom but with characters from the Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko Production such as Casshern and Hurricane Polymar; Namco x Capcom, which would later originate the Project X Zone series, which also involves Sega and Nintendo characters; and Street Fighter x Tekken, a tag team fighting game.
Shared Universe games: TBA
The Street Fighter universe makes its Smash Bros. debut in downloadable content for this game, with a playable character, one stage in both versions, and a handful of trophies. All of the content from this version was released in the version 1.0.6 update.
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (Street Fighter series)
The Street Fighter series has seen a sizable boost in representation compared to the other third-party franchises, now being incorporated into the base game after being DLC in the previous installment. All of the content from the previous game was preserved in the transition and greatly expanded upon, including dozens of additional music tracks both sourced and rearranged, many more character references via Spirits, a new Assist Trophy, and even a new Echo Fighter.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Street Fighter series)
Arrangements and remixes unique to Ultimate.
Arrangements and remixes returning from Smash 4.
Tracks sourced directly from Street Fighter series games with no alterations. Most songs heard from this series are ripped out from Street Fighter II and its updated counterpart, Super Street Fighter II.
Main article: List of spirits (Street Fighter series)
The kanji aruji "主" denotes a Master Spirit.
Games with elements from or in the Super Smash Bros. series
Ryu and Ken made their debut in the original Street Fighter game. Many of Ryu's moves, including the Hadoken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, also first appeared here, as did his iconic "raised fist" victory pose. Ryu's mechanic of holding the A button down to produce stronger attacks is also a direct callback to the pressure-sensitive buttons of the original Street Fighter arcade machine, which had the same functionality. His on-screen appearance is also similar to his intro in Street Fighter, where he simply walks onto the stage. Ken can only be played solely after defeating Ryu, the first default player character. Sagat, who appears as a spirit in Ultimate, also made his debut as the game's final boss.
A side-scrolling beat 'em up spin-off that was originally developed as a sequel to Street Fighter. Cody Travers, one of the main protagonists, appears as a Spirit, albeit using his design from his playable appearance in Street Fighter Alpha 3.
Street Fighter II
The Suzaku Castle stage and all of its music tracks debuted here. Ryu and Ken’s modern-day designs were solidified in this game. Ryu's character poster on the Super Smash Bros. 4 website is a direct homage to this game's original arcade flyer, and is even drawn by the same artist, Akira "Akiman" Yasuda. Ryu and Ken's victory theme is a remix of the jingle that plays when a fight is over. Guile made his debut in this title, with his Assist Trophy drawing from the two special moves he can use. Many of the various recurring characters that also debuted in this game appear as Spirits in Ultimate. Additionally, Ryu's recordings of his special moves share a similar level of tone and fierceness compared to the original clips in Street Fighter II, which is especially prominent in the Japanese version of the game when performing the true inputs.
Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
This update to Street Fighter II, released in 1993, was the first game to use Capcom's CPS2 hardware, which allowed superior audio quality over the previous CPS1 system. As such, the music of Street Fighter II was completely rearranged in order to show off the system's capabilities. Super Street Fighter II's versions of Ryu and Ken's themes appear in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as "Ryu Stage: Type B" and "Ken Stage: Type B". Additionally, Ryu gained his Shakunetsu Hadoken ability in this game, as well as the majority of his alternate palette swaps that appear in Super Smash Bros. 4. This was also where Ken's Shoryuken was given additional flame effects for its Heavy Punch version. Also, in Ultimate, the stage theme songs of all 16 characters and the player selection theme from this game are present.
Super Street Fighter II Turbo
The final update to the original Super Street Fighter II, released in 1994, prior to the true final release of Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, introduced the Super Combo mechanic. Ryu's Super Combo was the Shinku Hadoken, which first appear in Super Smash Bros. 4 as one of his Final Smashes. This is also where Ken began to receive changes to help declone him from Ryu.
Street Fighter Alpha
The first Street Fighter game to implement a taunt mechanic. Ryu's up taunt of tightening his headband, and the portion of his idle pose where he adjusts his gloves, appeared both as taunts and in his "fight start" animation in the Alpha series. The Alpha series was the first time that characters were able to use multiple different Super Combos in battle. With Ken’s Shinryuken added in original Alpha, then Shin Shoryuken and Shinpu Jinrai Kyaku being added to Ryu and Ken’s movesets respectively in Alpha 3, they were able to use both of their Super Combo moves within the same battle, similar to how their Final Smash works in SSB4 and Ultimate. As the 2D-era Marvel vs. Capcom uses Alpha sprites, Ken’s Shinryuken is based on this.
Street Fighter III
The Joudan Sokutogeri (appearing as his side Smash attack in SSB4) was added to Ryu and Ken's repertoire in this game, as was their second respective Final Smash, the Shin Shoryuken and Shinpu Jinrai Kyaku Super Arts. Ryu and Ken's perfect shield sound effect and animation are a direct reference to the parry mechanic in this game, which would nullify all damage if the player moved towards an incoming attack with perfect timing. Ryu and Ken's back roll and initial dash animation are taken from his back and front dashes, respectively, from this game. The duffel bag that appears in one of Ryu's victory poses, as well as his down taunt, are both from this game. In addition, Yuji Kishi voiced Ken in this game’s Japanese voice set, as well as in every game following.
Street Fighter IV
Ryu and Ken's down-B moves in SSB4 and Ultimate are taken exactly from Street Fighter IV's Focus Attack mechanic, with an identical function and animation. In addition, Ryu's up and side taunts are also taken from this game along with the KO background after using a Super/Ultra Combo to deliver the final hit of the match when using the Shin Shoryuken (Ryu) or Shippu Jinraikyaku (Ken). One of Ryu's victory poses, involving a punch toward the camera, is also a reference to his victory animation in this game, and Ken's trophy is a rip of his SFIV model. In addition, Kyle Hebert (English) and Hiroki Takahashi (Japanese) voiced Ryu, Reuben Langdon voiced Ken in the English version, while Hiroki Yasumoto (Japanese) and Travis Willingham (English) voiced Guile in this game. This is where Guile’s Somersault Kick was locally renamed as “Flash Kick” in all Western versions, and where Ken’s Shiryuken gained invulnerable startup at close range against non-juggled opponents.
Super Street Fighter IV
Juri, who debuted in this expansion, appears as a spirit in Ultimate.
Street Fighter V
Ryu’s design in Ultimate has been modified to resemble his appearance in Street Fighter V more closely. One of Ken's victory quotes is originally from this game. Ryu's purple palette swap in Ultimate is based off of his tenth color from this game.