There’s a Street Fighter in All of Us: A Glorious Look at What Makes the World’s Greatest Fighting Game Series Similar to the World’s Greatest Superhero
There’s so much that’s already been said about the Street Fighter franchise that I can’t even write “there’s so much that’s already been said about the Street Fighter franchise that I can’t write ‘there’s so much that’s already been said about the Street Fighterfranchise’ without plagiarizing someone” without plagiarizing someone. Wait, what??? Anyway, I could recount all my fond memories of playing the games, like seeing the ubiquitous Street Fighter II at the gas station and wishing my parents would let me go to a real arcade to fulfill my destiny of becoming a videogame savant like that kid in The Wizard. Or, I could write about the stalwart nature of the series and how, through impeccable physics and savvy tweaks to the system, the core gameplay has survived in the second dimension despite an industry-wide push toward gaming the in third dimension (I know SFIV has 3d character modeling. Thx.). Or perhaps I could do something on how SF, and indeed the whole fighting game genre, stands for freedom of expression and the right for violent games to exist. But I’ll leave those stories to better men. Well, more interested men.
All I want is to make one observation/analogy, explore the studio-space of the idea, and hopefully not profligately steal from someone else’s work in the process. Without ado that is further: Street Fighter is to fighting games as Superman is to superheroes. One way this is true is that, just like Superman is the greatest superhero, of all fighting game, SF is the greatest. I know, I know, Superman isn’t the greatest, blah blah blah, Batman and Spiderman and Wolverine and Hancock and Darkwing Duck blah blah blah Wonder-woman blah blah blah. Just like how Superman is not the unanimous #1 superhero for every person, the SF series is not the #1 choice for every person. In the end, it will be remembered as the greatest by the greatest number of people, but should that mean anything? Well, if you favor pure democracy, yeah, it should mean something. If you favor a republic like we have here in the good ‘ole Ewe Ess of Eh?, it can still mean something since industry leaders consistently choose the Street Fighter games as some of the most highly rated and best fighting games available. But really, its not my intent to convince anyone reading this that SF and Superman are similar strictly b/c they are both the best in their respective fields. Actually, I’m more interested in throwing out similarities and looking at just how apt the comparison is. Here goes:
1. Like Superman, SF has a certain all-American flair. There’s something about the game that feels freaking patriotic like cotton candy, bubble gum, and excessive spending beyond one’s income! Unlike Superman, which was made in the USA, SF is a Japanese creation that we claimed for our own alongside youth soccer, Little League baseball, and pickup basketball. But that foreign origin also makes the game series analgous to the Man of Steel b/c wasn’t he an alien to Earth? Yes, yes he was.
2. The SF series seems to stand for purity in the fighting genre as does Superman in society. As Mortal Kombat came along with its gore, Tekken and Soul Calibur came along with technically brilliant 3d gameplay, and DoA introduced us to “larger-than-life” characters (*COUGH*), SF remained true to the basics that those others built upon, and there’s something comforting knowing I can pick up any SF game and be executing hadoukens with aplomb in minutes. In the same way, his purity is one of the key ingredients that makes Superman so appealing – sure he has tons of strength and is virtually impervious to everything, but would you make the same choices as he were you in the same situation? I think most of us wouldn’t, and its refreshing to read about someone, even a fantasy someone, who is willing to put it all on the line for the sake of us normal humans. BTW – here’s something amazing: the story of someone putting it all on the line for us normal humans actually happened right here on Earth a long time ago.
3. Just like the Superman movies fell off the tracks and lost popularity to other heroes (Batman, Spiderman, Ironman), the SF brand was lost in the shuffle in the switch to 3d to the point that Capcom teamed up with Arika to release the EX series that, while highly touted, never felt quite like real SF games. And like Superman is getting his groove back with Man of Steel due next year, SF has decidedly gotten its groove back. Actually, neither franchise ever really lost their way entirely (SFIII is considered the best of the series, and Smallville has carried a healthy viewership for 10 seasons now); they both just got overshadowed by newcomers, and in the end, they held their ground and maintain highly rabid fan bases despite new entrants to the field.
At the end of the day, the biggest similarity is this: (4) without Superman and SF, the comic industry and fighting genre wouldn’t be the same. They both introduced cool concepts and ideas, never got completely overshadowed by the competition, did it all with a thick vein of purity, and they both inhabit a darn tootin all-American feel. For the record, though I am personally very interested in Soul Calibur V and totally love all the Avengers movies we’ve had out lately, the Capcom fighting games are my favorites (not exclusively SF – I’m actually partial to the ultra-rad Tatsunoko vs Capcom; fav SF is prob SF Alpha 2), and my favorite superheroes are Batman and Superman in some order, followed closely by Spiderman. Wow its late. I have to get up for my 9-6 pretty soon. Can’t wait until Street Fighter x Tekken comes out so I can stay up late playing SF in addition to writing entirely-too-long blogs about it. Space, I’m out.
Grant Stevens doesn’t write for any publication or website (in fact I, errr….he works in the land of real estate and plays music on the side), and he hasn’t won any Pulitzers yet, although this article is certainly worthy of the honor. Surely you would agree.