Has it really been 20 years? Apparently so. Street Fighter II is officially 20 years old this month, which is definitely something worth noting for gamers of all tastes and walks of life. Street Fighter II is one of those revolutionary games that changed the course of the entire medium. It birthed the fighting game genre as we still know it today. It’s control conventions and design choices originally set by Street Fighter are still used in fighting games and other genres. It revived the arcade scene. It defined a whole era of gaming. Most importantly, it’s legacy still carries on in the hearts of many a gamer that have thrown a hadoken in their lifetime.
Yours truly is one of those gamers that will forever have a soft spot for that game. Outside of owning three copies of this game (not including any updates like Champion Edition or Super), this game changed my life.
I’ll never forget the first time I ever played Street Fighter II. This was about 20 years ago, so I was maybe just old enough to be out of kindergarten. I picked Dhalsim, because I thought there was no way I could ever lose to anyone when my limbs could stretch the entire length of the screen. Man, was I ever wrong. The computer slaughtered me. While I thought it looked great, my young mind deemed the game way too difficult for me to play.
What made it difficult was a new layer of control complexity that was unlike anything before it. Sure, you could wildly hit any of the six attack buttons, but the key to success was your ability to input the commands that we’ll forever associate with fireballs, Sonic Booms and Hundred-Hand Slaps. The idea of coordinated joystick and button inputs in this fashion were a completely alien concept to everyone at the time, but boy did it add to the fun of the game. After a few solid months of practice on the Super Nintendo, I had all the special moves down pat and was ready to face the world.
Well, some of the world. I was too young to venture out to the arcade on my own, so the majority of my battling occurred within my circle of friends and family. The lack of competition didn’t matter, as my friends poured in a ton of hours facing off against each other. We weren’t very good in hindsight, but it never seemed to get old.
To this day, I think that game still holds up. Many years after the fact, I still play Street Fighter II on the SNES, Wii Virtual Console or on the iPhone every so often, and that game is still fun. My coworkers and I regularly play Super Street Fighter IV at lunch, but Street Fighter II was still well received the one time I brought it in. The iPhone game may have sketchy controls, but the core is still fun. As for my Super Nintendo copy, I actually left it at my girlfriend’s residence for roughly a year, so that I could play it during mornings when I would wake up before she did. Does this make me a terrible boyfriend? Maybe (blush).
In closing, happy birthday Street Fighter II. Thank you for making millions of stories like mine possible by being awesome.