Five Ways Street Fighter Accidentally Invented Something New

When I was a teenager, I set my eyes upon something that changed my life. After school, I would go to the newly opened mall and just hang out and go to the arcade. One time, I saw a crowd gathering around a new game. That game was Street Fighter II and I’ve never played anything like it before. It’s hard to really put my finger on what drew me to it but, when I did play it, I know it was groundbreaking. Capcom’s flagship fighting game has since become an icon and a lot of its history is well-known.

But looking back at how the game was developed and touched upon throughout the years, I noticed that a lot of Street Fighter’s growth is pure happenstance. There have been gaffe made along it’s creation and development but, instead of detracting from the experience, these accidents only helped made Street Fighter II greater than the sum of its parts. Here are five of these accidents which helped Street Fighter become a long-lived franchise while revolutionizing the gaming world.

#1 Combos and cancelling special moves

Let’s get this one out of the way early as this is the most obvious one.

Anyone who’s played a fighting game knows what a combo generally is. If you don’t, simply put, it’s a string of attacks that, if executed with good timing, will not allow the opponent to block in the middle. Every fighting game since Street Fighter II has implemented some kind of combo system here and there. However, the entire combo was essentially a programming glitch because of how hard it was to execute special moves in the first Street Fighter.

Capcom intentionally made special moves much easier to perform my making the input timing more lenient for Street Fighter II. This had the adverse effect of allowing the animations of some normal attacks to cancel out in the middle so that the special move could start its animation. It’s not really known as to why this only affected some normals and not others. Nevertheless, because of the glitch of cancelling attacks into special moves, this led to the discovery of the combo, which is now a staple of practically every fighting game out there.

Speaking of every fighting game out there…

#2 The modern fighting game genre

How many games do you know revived an entire industry while creating a ton of imposters?

Remember at the start of this post I talked about going to the arcade? Well, at the time, I didn’t really understand the industry was dying. There have been so many games that sprung to life at the arcades but it was allegedly on its last legs then. But then, Street Fighter II came out and, all of a sudden, the arcades was streaming with people trying to play Capcom’s latest game!

This success did not go unnoticed by other companies. While there have been fighting games before, none of them captured the imagination of the general public like Street Fighter II did. Soon, the arcades were flooded with dozens upon dozens of fighting games. Midway came out with Mortal Kombat. Data East released Fighter’s History. SEGA put out Virtual Fighter. Namco had Tekken. SNK put out a ton of fighters, like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and World Heroes. Even Capcom themselves jumped on the very bandwagon they created as the put out other fighting games like Darkstalkers, X-Men: Children of the Atom and Rival Schools! All of these games have Street Fighter II to thank for their creation as all of them followed the same general template Capcom established.

Speaking of other Capcom games…

#3 Final Fight

This entry is a little hazy but the link between both of Capcom’s fighting games do deserve some mention…

The first Street Fighter was a modest success. In fact, it was initially a failure as the original arcade cabinets for the game had players punching a couple of pads in order to determine the strength of the attack. The harder you hit it, the more powerful the attack. This was just a little too much for most gamers so Capcom switched the pads out for the more recognizable six-button layout we know today.

Anyway, after the first Street Fighter’s moderate success, the game’s producer, Yoshiki Okamoto, was working on a sidescrolling beat-em-up fighter akin to Double Dragon. The higher ups at Capcom wanted to label this new game as the successor to Street Fighter. Because of this, the game, which was named Street Fighter ’89, when it was shown in conventions. It was confusing, however, as Street Fighter was a one-on-one versus affair and this new game was not. Thus, the game was given a totally new name, Final Fight.

Now, I can’t help but think that, if it wasn’t for this Capcom executive’s need to make a new Street Fighter game, Final Fight would not have gotten the budget it needed to get completed in the first place. Final Fight became one of Capcom’s biggest games at the time and became a successful series on its own. This link between the two explains why characters from Final Fight will appear in future Street Fighter games.

#4 Faster gameplay in fighters

Okay, technically, Capcom didn’t recreate fighting games to become faster. But it did get inspiration from someone bootlegging Street Fighter II. So, it counts, right?

During the fighting game boom, companies copied Street Fighter II’s template a little too well. As Capcom’s successful fighting game was, well, kind of slow and plodding, all other subsequent fighting games made by other video game developers were also slow and plodding. No, really. Take a look at fighting games of the past and you’ll realize how glacial paced everything moves. That all changed when Capcom got wind of Street Fighter II: Rainbow Edition, which is basically someone ripping off Street Fighter II and modifying it with a slew of changes.

These changes were really insane as it was truly busted. Ryu and Ken could toss out tracking fireballs and launch a million projectiles with their Dragon Punch. Blanka’s rolling attack would make him shoot out at his opponent at supersonic speed. There were many more crazy modifications and some that Capcom would actually adopt in later editions of Street Fighter II, such as Ryu and Ken being able to perform the Hurricane Kick in the air.

But there was one thing that Capcom did take into consideration was Rainbow Edition’s ramped up speed felt more kinetic and enjoyable. It was controversial, even within Capcom, to speed up Street Fighter II’s gameplay but they did it anyway with the release of Street Fighter II Turbo, partially as a response to Rainbow Edition. This sped up gameplay clicked with so many fighting game fans. So much so that, when Capcom lowered the speed again with the release of Super Street Fighter II, fans hated how slow the game felt.

So, in an odd way, Street Fighter II inspired Rainbow Edition, which led to Capcom speeding up the gameplay in Street Fighter II Turbo. This, in turn, led to other fighting games becoming just a little faster and incorporating things like backdashes and runs.

#5 Balance updates

Okay, this is more like Capcom getting greedy… but it’s still something they accidentally invented.

While other fighters like Mortal Kombat, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and many more were generating sequel after sequel, Capcom was content with simply updating Street Fighter II for the next couple of years. After the original Street Fighter II: The World Warriors, there was Street Fighter II: Champion Edition. After that, there was Street Fighter II Turbo. Still after that, there was Super Street Fighter II and then after that, there was Super Street Fighter II Turbo. That’s a total of five revisions to the same game!

But that’s the thing, each time Capcom came out with a new version of Street Fighter II, they added new things to it. Some moves were added, such as Chun-Li getting a fireball in Street Fighter II Turbo, E. Honda adding a new command throw to his arsenal and even the newcomers from Super Street Fighter II such as Cammy getting new special attacks by the time Super Street Fighter II Turbo rolled around. Heck, Ryu and Ken used to be practically the same character in Street Fighter II but, by the time Super Street Fighter II Turbo rolled around, they played significantly different!

A lot of these changes were made through some general feedback and to make each character come off as stronger. So, by implementing these incremental changes to all of the character’s movelists, Capcom accidentally created the balance patch. While they ultimately weren’t successful (Vega/Claw is a monster by Super Street Fighter II Turbo), the idea of fine tuning the gameplay to make things a little more fair for everyone probably started thanks to Capcom refusing to make a sequel.

What other revolutionary changes came about from Street Fighter? Let me know in the comments section below!

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