Episode 482: The Confusing Chronology of Street Fighter (Part 1)


Can you believe Capcom’s popular fighting game series is almost 3 whole decades old now yet the latest upcoming entry is only going to be called Street Fighter 6? Tekken already released the 7th numbered entry a good number of years ago already yet we’re just on number 6 for Street Fighter? Well, that’s all because Capcom has been real stingy with their official numbered releases, content with simply releasing incremental versions of their games, which is why you have something like 17 iterations of Street Fighter IV.

In all seriousness, though, even though we’re just on #6, there have been 19 Street Fighter official entries, which includes all of the upgrades to the first Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha/Zero, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V. I’m excluding all of the other side entries like the crossover games with Marvel and SNK as well as EX series because I don’t think those are canon. Street Fighter 6 will actually be the 20th game in the series that follows the actual storyline timeline.

Speaking of Street Fighter’s timeline, it’s a shockingly complex and too convoluted for its own good. That’s because Capcom didn’t try to tell a continuous timeline wherein each game’s story would flow into one another. What they decided to do instead is tell the series’ story out of order, which can be confusing if you don’t know which one follow which. So, let me try to use my somewhat voluminous but still incomplete knowledge of Street Fighter’s official timeline and try to piece things together. I’m going to have to break this up into 2 parts, however, as there is a lot of stuff to go through.

The game starts out with the first game, Street Fighter 1. The game sees you playing as either Ryu or Ken and they each participate in a world martial arts tournament. Ryu makes it to the grand finals to take on the reigning champion, Sagat. The original story was pretty unspectacular, with Ryu winning the entire tournament fair and square. Capcom revised the official story later on, having it so Sagat pummeled Ryu during their match. Before the match was concluded, Sagat, amused with the young fighter trying to stand up against him, reaches his hand to help him up. Ryu, burning with the Satsui no Hado AKA the Killing Intent, sucker punches the Muay Thai champion with a devastating Dragon Punch, knocking out Sagat and leaving him with a massive scar on his chest. Sagat vows revenge on Ryu for this cheap shot and Ryu goes on a journey to investigate the Satsui no Hado within him.

This does not lead us to Street Fighter II but instead to Street Fighter Alpha/Zero. This is when things get a little crazy and difficult to follow as Capcom wove in several different plot threads into Street Fighter’s canon retroactively. Even if the Alpha/Zero story is the second batch of games to follow Street Fighter’s storyline chronologically, they were developed after Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III. Because of this, a lot of the plots dropped in here were updates or retcons to the current story. It still does follow Ryu and him trying to control the Killing Intent in him. However, it also follows other plot points, such as Rose and Chun-Li trying to take down M. Bison. The former because she’s essentially the “good” part of M. Bison’s soul and needs to destroy her “evil” half while the latter wants revenge for him killing her father. There’s also Dan’s quest for revenge against Sagat for killing his father and Sakura attempting to get Ryu to train her in martial arts.

There are generally several main story threads throughout the Alpha/Zero games. The first is about Sagat and his overall redemption. He faces off against Ryu in a grudge match and wins. He then realizes he beat Ryu a little too easy and figures out Ryu’s heart wasn’t in the match as he was too concerned about controlling the Satsui no Hado. He does reconcile with Ryu at this point. The second is Akuma learning about Ryu’s ability to channel the Satsui no Hado and he would like to see the young man tap into that power the same way he did so he can finally fight a worthy opponent. There’s also M. Bison’s growing interest in Ryu as he wants to capture him so he can become his next body in case he dies and to use the Satsui no Hado to enhance his Psycho Power.

The biggest storyline, in my opinion, is the death of Charlie Nash. Basically, Charlie goes off to try to stop Shadaloo and M. Bison. He does defeat M. Bison in a fight but is betrayed by someone in his own squad. He is shot several times and plummets to his supposed death. This becomes the catalyst to Guile, Charlie’s best friend, to hunt down M. Bison. Although he’s supposedly dead at the end of Street Fighter Alpha/Zero 2, he is eventually resurrected later on in Street Fighter V. That’s another story for another time, though.

This leads to the events of Street Fighter II. M. Bison holds the second World Warrior tournament, mostly to draw out Ryu and Akuma so he could capture them for their Satsui no Hado. Capcom has to release a canon winner for Street Fighter II because, from what I understand, no one actually won the tournament because of Akuma.

What essentially happens in Street Fighter II is one of the fighters makes it to the grand finals to take on M. Bison. Before the match can begin, Akuma warps in and hits M. Bison with the Raging Demon, instantly killing the leader of Shadaloo. Akuma then turns his attention to whoever makes it to the grand finals. Who this is and what is the outcome of this match is never revealed, though. It’s almost like Capcom wants people to create their own head canon for Street Fighter II. This does mean none of the endings from the game can be considered canon at the same time, unfortunately. The main thing is M. Bison is killed and Shadaloo is in a shambles as a result.

With Shadaloo out of the picture, a power vacuum opens up, leading to a new organization becoming the big bad for Street Fighter’s next installment, Street Fighter IV. Yep, we’re not going to Street Fighter III yet as Street Fighter IV is the next game chronologically. That, unfortunately, is another story for next week. I’ll be covering Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter V and then Street Fighter III next time. See you then!


What do you think of Street Fighter’s out-of-order chronology? Let me know in the comments section below!

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