Gaming History 101

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Street Fighter (Fighting Street) Review

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fighting_street_intro

One of the most common questions I have been asked in regards to fighting games is, “why is Street Fighter II a sequel?  Where is Street Fighter?”  An understandable question, especially when you consider that the original Street Fighter was released in arcades a whopping four years later, plays completely different from its sequel, and was called Fighting Street in its only US console release (on the Turbografx-CD no less).  If you’re a fan of Street Fighter II, the concept of getting to see where the series starts is tempting to say the least (and now completely possible without expensive hardware thanks to the virtual console and Capcom Collection), but you’ll soon find that Street Fighter is much more of a proof of concept rather than a fighting game that pre-dates the record setting sequel.

You play as Ryu, the famous character that is most often linked to the Street Fighter franchise, in a series of one-on-one fighting matches.  This is the part that will look and sound quite familiar, complete with picking the areas of the globe you want to fight in, taking on some fighters you may be familiar with (like Birdie or Sagat), and even having the ability to do all of Ryu’s signature moves (Dragon Punch, Hurricane Kick, and Fireball).  Heck, even looking at screen shots it appears to be an archaic (but appropriate for the late 1980s) version of the sequel that may have you dusting off your Wii to check it out as you gaze upon the very shots in this article.  This is why game reviews and playing games specifically is much more useful than screenshots, because while Street Fighter can look the look and talk the talk, it sure doesn’t walk the walk.

fighting_street_1Ryu is a clunky character to control, with input lag so severe you wonder if it’s the hardware causing the problem but given my initial play of all versions this is more likely that it’s just programmed that way.  In fact, from a gameplay perspective the title is more akin to Data East’s 1984 classic Karate Champ than Street Fighter II.  Life bars almost seem like a joke with Ryu’s moves taking off slivers of life compared to the heavy hits of most fighters, especially for the second (and final) fighter of each country.  In fact, if you do not know how to perform the super moves or use the game’s various cheats (found in our profile page), I don’t really see how you can complete the game.  Not only that, but aside from the updated arcade version that had the signature six buttons most Street Fighter II fans know of, you’re forced to do these moves with the lackluster control scheme of only two buttons that vary the attacks based on how long you hold them.  No, really, if you want to do a medium kick you hold the kick button for 1 second and release and if you want a fierce punch you hold for two seconds and release.  This makes Street Fighter more of a counting game than a fighting game, which wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the cumbersome input lag.  As it stands, without looking up data or having some knowledge of game’s finer points and cheats, Street Fighter is far from pick up and play.  This is most significant because I would argue the draw of its sequel was the fact that it can be as casual and hardcore as the player base wants it to be.

fighting_street_2That’s not to say you should avoid it completely especially if your interest is historical context or fascination with the foundation of the franchise because almost everything that makes up Street Fighter II is here.  Much of the music has similarities to the sequel, the versus screen is almost identical, there are animations of the plane flights between countries, and you even have mini games after completing certain fights.  It’s still eight fighters, only this time your final fights will only be two bosses instead of four, and even Ryu’s American clone Ken from the sequel is present as a second player if you want to fight one-on-one.  You can even then complete the game as Ken if you win with him.  Those that are larger fans of the franchise, especially the Street Fighter Alpha (Zero) franchise will see familiar faces like Birdie and all fans will recognize Sagat as the final boss, not to mention American boxer Mike looks an awful lot like Balrog (not a coincidence, Capcom always wanted Mike Tyson as the boxer character).  For Ryu, Ken, and Sagat all of the super moves are in place as is Mike’s moves similar to Balrog and ninja Geki shares some curious bladed hands with Vega.  It should also be noted that on the development side “Piston Takashi” Nishiyama was the Director and “Finish Hiroshi” Matsumoto was the designer after the pair worked together on the top-down beat-em-up Avengers and would shortly after this leave Capcom for SNK and create both the Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting franchises.  Keji Inafune (of Mega Man fame) would also start at Capcom with the character profiles as his first job before moving onto The Blue Bomber.

fighting_street_3At the time of its release Street Fighter was said to be a refreshing introduction to the concept of the fighting genre and it would indeed do just that.  In the short time between Street Fighter and Street Fighter II however, Capcom would make huge waves in both the speed of fighting games and the gorgeous sprites those engines could handle.  This is why, despite its love back in the arcade days, Street Fighter just doesn’t hold up.  Even back then the replay value was said to be small but today it’s mere context for the history of the fighting genre.  If you want to see the building blocks of quite possibly the most successful and best fighter franchise that has ever been created, it’s a small investment to drop less than $10 on a Wii Virtual Console copy.  On the other hand, this review and coverage on the upcoming first episode of ChronCD may be sufficient to scratch that “origins of Street Fighter” itch.

Final Score: 2 out of 5  (review policy)

This review is based almost solely on the Turbografx-CD/PC-Engine CD version of the game, however the arcade version was compared for this review and little differences seemed to exist aside from the later added control scheme.  The reviewed copy was the Turbografx-CD game played on actual hardware, although screenshots and game capture footage was from an emulated version and the Virtual Console version was compared for context.  It appears the Virtual Console version is nearly identical to the original console version in look and performance.

Want more information on release, box art, or cheat codes?  Check out our profile page.

Written by Fred Rojas

August 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. I’ve only just discovered this website and some of the best writing I’ve seen on retro games. Played final fight on double impact first time in 25 years which took me here. I vaguely remember playing Streetfighter and apart from the as you say clunky controls I can remember the street punk, ‘Birdie'(shame no UK character in sequeleeds but hey) and the taunt whenot you lost of ‘You got a lot to learn before you beat me, try again kiddo!’

    John

    May 31, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    • Glad you found us John and welcome aboard. We have tons of content for your browsing pleasure. Also be sure and check out our podcast (Gaming History 101 on your favorite podcast reader or our archive on this site) and the video content on YouTube (youtube.com/vgptgs or on our site here as well). In addition, feel free to send us an email at contact@gaminghistory101.com or gaminghistory101.com/contact, we gladly take feedback and requests to cover certain games/consoles/topics. Enjoy!

      Fred Rojas

      June 1, 2017 at 3:12 pm


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