In 1991, Capcom first unleashed Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, and the Street Fighter series still rules the fighting game roost 24 years later. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but a big one is that Street Fighter II laid the strongest of possible foundations.
Street Fighter II was by no means a surefire prospect. It was created by a small team of, shall we say, unique individuals, and a lot of its innovations were essentially stumbled upon by luck. Street Fighter II could have gone wrong in so many ways, but Capcom somehow managed to produce one of the most solidly designed games in history. Here are a few things you might not know about the first fighting game that really mattered…
1) Final Fight was originally supposed to be Street Fighter II. Yes, nobody really remembers it, but there was a Street Fighter game before Street Fighter II. The original Street Fighter wasn’t a great success, selling under 3,000 arcade units worldwide, but Capcom brass nevertheless gave producer Yoshiki Okamoto the task of making a sequel. Okamoto wasn’t exactly thrilled about developing a sequel to a game not many people liked, so he made major changes, transforming Street Fighter into a side-scrolling brawler.
They also added one pretty epic mustache.
Until very near release, this game was going to be released as Street Fighter ’89, but Capcom decided at the last second that the game was too different from the original Street Fighter, so it was renamed Final Fight. If the game hadn’t been renamed, the Street Fighter series, and the entire fighting genre, might have gone in a very different direction.
2) Dhalsim originally had six arms, and Vega was a British knight. One of the things that set Street Fighter II apart was its incredibly varied roster, and that distinctly wacky lineup of fighters wasn’t born overnight. The original 12 Street Fighter II characters only emerged after a lot of trial and error and discarded bad ideas.
Capcom released Street Fighter II concept art in Japan, showing that the rubber-limbed Dhalsim once looked like the Indian God Ganesha, complete with six arms and an elephant head. Meanwhile, Vega originally came from England and sported a full suit of armor.
Six stretchy arms? Talk about OP.
Those are characters were eventually kept. Characters who were cut altogether included a baton-wielding cop, a mashup of the WWF’s Kamala and Jimmy Snuka, and a dude with a beard, spiked gauntlets, tight pants and Zubaz shirt. I’m not sure what they were going for with that last guy back in 1990, but Capcom could totally bring him back as a fightin’ hipster today.