Reading books is generally not my thing. I like to read magazines and websites, but novels and other content in book format are generally a turn-off for me. I get very intimidated at the commitment required to read through hundreds of pages of text. When it comes to reading, I prefer my content in smaller chunks that I can plow through in short order and be done with it.
With that said, I avidly read through Street Fighter: The Complete History, which I received as a Christmas gift from my girlfriend. I’m by no means a book reviewer, nor am I going to turn this into Oprah’s Book Club, but I thought I’d share my thoughts about it now that I’ve read through this 160+ page chronicle of my favourite video game franchise.
Street Fighter: The Complete History was written by Chris Carle, who is currently an Editor at IGN. In a way, the book sort of reads like a really long IGN piece, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For me, as someone who likes IGN and more website-style content, it made the book easier for me to read through.
The book is broken out into three main sections: Genesis, Evolution and Impact. Genesis covers Street Fighter I up until the end of the Street Fighter II ‘golden era’. Evolution covers everything after that. Finally, Impact covers the the effect that Street Fighter has had on the genre, the medium and in popular culture. There are also a few mini features in the book as well, including a section on Chun-Li cosplay, a section about the EVO Championship Series and a funny feature that shows you how to style your hair just like Guile.
Most of the focus of this book is on Street Fighter I and II, which are the clear-cut favourites. The stories behind the creation and cultural impact of the two games (particularly II) are thoroughly covered. Even as a die-hard fan, there were a few things in there I didn’t know. For instance, I knew that the original Street Fighter I cabinets were built with giant buttons that you basically punched, but I had no idea that they worked basically like balloons.
Where it kind of slips is that it glosses over the later parts of the Street Fighter series. In particular, there’s little mention of Street Fighter IV, which had been out for over a year by the time the book was published. Considering the massive impact that Street Fighter IV has had on video games, it would have been nice to have seen the new stories behind that series fleshed out more in this book.
The other portion of the book worth mentioning is the art. There’s a ton of great art from a number of different artists. There are some really iconic pieces in there that you’ll recognize from posters and magazines from back in the day and a lot of cool stuff I’ve never seen before. It’s really cool to see all of the different art styles together and see different people’s takes on the same iconic characters.
I really enjoyed reading Street Fighter: The Complete History. If you’re looking for a true complete history with character profiles and move-sets for Skullomania, then you may be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for three long articles that cover everything about Street Fighter on a high level, then this is a great read. If you’re any sort of Street Fighter fan, I don’t think you can go wrong with this one.