96: Street Fighting USA

"More than many other arcade games, Street Fighter inspired a culture, a code. Among friends, you might taunt and talk trash as you played. Against a stranger, etiquette dictated an attitude of couth - a regal aloofness. To silently duck or overleap your opponent's attacks, to pull back and then, with a light touch on the joystick and decisive stabs at the six buttons, to land three or four telling jabs and kicks - all with a cool, fated composure - that was the tao of Street Fighter. And then, having initiated with musical precision your final, killing combo, to turn from the console, silently, dismissively, feigning to chat idly with a friend while the hapless loser viewed his fighter's humiliation ... Boooo-yah!"

Allen Varney examines Street Fighter's devastating attack on the fighting genre.

Street Fighting USA

Allen Varney:
Could a small developer create a 2-D fighter with low-end graphics but extremely deep gameplay, release it as shareware, then stage tournaments and charge admission to passionate grognards?

I very much doubt it.

It's actually a very cool idea which appeals to me quite a bit, but the trouble is that as a fairly dedicated player of fighting games myself it's not what I'd hope to see. The reason why is simple: no good opponents.

When Namco released Soul Calibur II there was no question that I wanted a copy. With the game appearing as a high profile title across all three major consoles anyone who cared about fighting games was clearly going to play it.

But wouldn't everyone play something that was free? No, for two reasons:

1) To play a game well requires an investment of hundreds of hours. For most players that's going to eclipse the cost in dollars anyway.

2) Shareware releases only really work on the PC, a platform which is not at all well suited to fighting games. My consoles live in front of my TV whereas my PC is set up to have a single person using it at a time. Also, fighting games require high-performance arcade style joysticks which most players are unlikely to own for their PC.

No offense to Mr. Varney and his great contributions to gaming, but this article is way too loose with facts.

Allen Varney:
In the late 1980s, in testosterone-charged coin-op arcades loud with explosions, when manly self-esteem compelled you to face your rivals like a rutting stag, you played Street Fighter II. No game compared; it was exhilarating, gladiatorial.

Although this sentence makes me chuckle for various reasons, I wanted to point out that Street Fighter II was not widely available in the USA until '92 shortly after its release in Japan. A little later:

Allen Varney:
An instant hit at its 1987 debut, Street Fighter II...

:( The original Street Fighter came out in '87 although it was not extremely popular or succesful. I'm not nitpicking, 5 years is a long time especially during the time when arcade systems were still so popular. Street Fighter II in '87 would really have turned the industry on its head.

In fact, outside the SF series, not many fighting games, and certainly few recent releases, are popular at Evo - or anywhere else. Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Soul Caliber, Super Smash Bros., Capcom vs. SNK - hello, what decade is this?

Why wasn't Mortal Kombat mentioned in this entire article? For me, MK has always been the game that defined the fighter genre. Maybe it was just due to the controversy that it spawned, but I always thought that MK was a much more popular series. Then again, I lived in a small town without an arcade, and only got my information through word-of-mouth.

Even still, any article the claims to give the history of fighting games, but leaves out Mortal Kombat, seems suspect.

theJudeAbides:

Why wasn't Mortal Kombat mentioned in this entire article? For me, MK has always been the game that defined the fighter genre. Maybe it was just due to the controversy that it spawned, but I always thought that MK was a much more popular series. Then again, I lived in a small town without an arcade, and only got my information through word-of-mouth.

Even still, any article the claims to give the history of fighting games, but leaves out Mortal Kombat, seems suspect.

Mortal Kombat didn't really add anything to the fighting game genre other than wanton violence. The series hasn't aged well either.

I wrote that "Street Fighting USA" article. I wasn't trying to outline the history of the entire field of fighting games, only the Street Fighter franchise and the modern tournament scene. Mortal Kombat holds no important place in the tournament scene, and fans of the field seem to hold it in low regard.

Allen Varney:
I wrote that "Street Fighting USA" article. I wasn't trying to outline the history of the entire field of fighting games, only the Street Fighter franchise and the modern tournament scene. Mortal Kombat holds no important place in the tournament scene, and fans of the field seem to hold it in low regard.

Pretty much, yeah. Most tournament fans don't consider it a very good fighter, though that's not an argument for this topic.

 

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