Street Fighter II Turns 20

The video game industry experienced a radical shift in March, 1991 when Capcom—best known at the time for Mega Man, Ghosts & Goblins, Final Fight, and Strider—unleashed what may be the most influential sequel in video game history: Street Fighter II: The World Warrior.
Certainly, one-on-one, round-based fighting games existed before Street Fighter II's arrival. Data East's Karate Champ and Konami's Yie Ar Kung-Fu let quarter combatants duke it out in pizza shops and smoke-filled arcades in the 1980s. Although those early versus fighting games laid the groundwork for the genre—Yie Ar Kung-Fu even had special moves!—it was Capcom's gem that solidified it and went on to become the category's face.
Street Fighter II differed from its predecessors by emphasizing two aspects: character design and varied combat. Street Fighter II's large sprites and multicultural cast of combatants, from karate experts to boxers to sumo wrestlers, appealed to arcade goers' competitive natures. Did you want to play as Guile, a military tough guy with a blonde flattop, American flag tattoo on his bicep, and an unorthodox fighting style? A large Russian wrestler covered in battle scars? Blanka, a mysterious man-beast from Brazil with a wild brawling technique? Chun-Li, the lone female fighter with kicks of death? Dhalsim, the Indian pacifist with stretchy limbs and fire-breath? There was a character for everyone.
But Street Fighter II's combo system was what truly separated it from the fighting game pack—even from its immediate predecessor, Street Fighter. Street Fighter II utilized a joystick and a six-button control scheme that delivered three punch and kick attacks of differing strengths and speeds. Combining those basic varied attacks with the game's special moves—executed by inputting sweeping circular motions, charge attacks, or rapidly jamming on a button—introduced the gaming world to combo attacks, which became a genre staple.
So, as Street Fighter II—a game that paved the way for Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter and other combat titles—celebrates its 20th anniversary let's take a look back at the greatest moments throughout Street Fighter history.


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