For as huge, impactful, and influential Capcom’s Street Fighter II is, the game’s original outing was far less memorable. Looking at them side-by-side, Street Fighter and Street Fighter II are completely different games. But let’s take a quick look at the game that eventually lead to the game that would save arcades in the 90s, define the fighting game genre, and go down as one of gaming’s best franchises ever.
Street Fighter released in 1987, a full 4 years prior to Street Fighter II. In the original game, you could only play as a red-haired Ryu as he took out opponent after opponent. The game was still a 1-on-1 fighter and still featured series trademarks like Hadouken’s and Hurricane Kicks, but it was devoid of the fast paced action the series came to be known.
The cabinet I played has the familiar six button layout you’re familiar with: three varieties of punches, and three of kicks. The game also came with two large buttons: one for kicks and one for punches. Depending on how hard you pressed the button you would actually input different degrees of attack. The six button layout mentioned previously would be the superior way to play, but I still really want to find one of those two-button cabinets just to give it a go. I imagine they (quite literally) took quite a beating over the years though.
I’ve seen some YouTubers complain about how difficult this original game is, but this particular cabinet wasn’t all that crazy to play. I think the inputs for pulling off special moves definitely took some getting used too: It was almost as if the game was on a slight delay at all times. The input lag in this original Street Fighter game would absolutely cripple the game’s success going forward, so props to the development team for identifying that gameplay issue and rectifying it going forward.
For any series as old as this, I think it’s kind of fun to look at the artwork associated with it, and compare to the modern representations. Ryu and Ken are the only playable characters, but other familiar faces make their first appearances here, including Gen, Birdie, and Eagle, who would all return in the Street Fighter Alpha series and again in the mainline series. Here in this original game they look kind of like they do now, but the larger ideas carrying forward, like Gen’s purple outfit, or Birdie’s large size. Still though, the series has evolved so much it’s really hard to compare (but really fun to see where it started!).
While you’ll find some version of Street Fighter at any given arcade, you can almost guarantee it will not be this original game. Can you imagine how disappointed someone would be expecting a game like Street Fighter II when they put their quarters in to the first Street Fighter? Yeah, I’d be pretty upset too!
*Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfiled, IL 2019