From the moment my cousin set up his SNES and stuck the cartridge in the console, I was instantly entranced by the universe of ‘The World Warrior’ tournament.
For 30 years Street Fighter, a game where you travel the world to beat the brakes off your digital opponent, regardless of gender or species, has kept million’s of gamers such as myself enamoured.
Street Fighter’s beauty lies in its simplicity, there’s nothing convoluted about it’s approach to gameplay and its mechanics are responsible for several other classic fighting games which have come after it, remaining the standard, quintessential measuring stick if you will, for all other fighting games.
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As Capcom celebrates the 30th anniversary of their marquee series, it’s remarkable how a game with the most basic of mechanics has survived an ever-changing industry which contiues to be more complex and convoluted as time goes on.
What struck me about the Street Fighter series was how sociable it was when it first came out and still is to this day – for a game where you throw fireballs and attempt to piledriver the living daylights out of one another, it’s forged so many friendships and relationships.
From strengthening the scared bond between family and friends, to finding common ground with an ex-girlfriend I dated in my formative years, the connection has always been the Street Fighter series.
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In a climate where gaming has taken to the internet, it almost feels like a lonely hobby, tucked away in your tiny room as you play faceless avatars online – it can feel quite isolating despite the millions of online gamers.
So a game like Street Fighter is a pure test of one’s actual friendship, for all the bonds I’ve made through the beat ’em up game, a lot of it also got tested – being good at Street Fighter wasn’t just a something to boast about, it was a statement.
Therefore, when a peer challenges said statement it’s akin to a nature documentary where you see two rams butting heads to see which one will give in first – this is the game’s alpha mentality in a nutshell – and the amount of friendships I’ve seen pushed to limits because one person couldn’t take that ‘L’ is both absurd and yet oh so beautiful.
Let’s have a moment of silence for those fallen arcade machines, control pads thrown against the walls and mates who we refused to speak to for an hour – is it me or did Street Fighter give birth to ‘gamer rage’?
There’s a lot wrong with the game as well though; for its many positives, its portrayal of female characters is alarmingly problematic and for a game about fighting across the world, the Japanese developers seem to really portray a lot grossly inaccurate stereotypes (Chun-Li and Dahlism anyone?).
However, those issues haven’t stopped it being a force of nature in the gaming world, producing an everlasting impact extending into other avenues of pop culture.
From ‘Guile-themed music memes’ to the cult status enjoyed by their live-action films (in particular the JCVD-led movie), it’s produced golden memories.
While in music, you can’t separate the phrase ‘tiger uppercut’ and ‘perfect’ without thinking of the legendary Grime MC, D Double E [Newham stand up!].
Its cultural impact is also felt on eSports, before League Of Legends and Call Of Duty took them to the mainstream, Street Fighter was one of the few games setting up its foundation.
Just like hip-hop, I couldn’t imagine my life without Ryu, Ken, Blanka and the eclectic cast of fighters Capcom introduced to us.
For 30 year’s it’s been a benchmark in helping me keep in contact with friends and I’ll always be forever grateful – no matter how many times some cheap so-and-so picks Akuma and activates his ‘Demon Rage’ technique.
Those people are awful human beings who deserve a swift dragon puch to their control pad.