When I think “video game arcade,” I think of decal-covered wooden cabinets with greasy joysticks. I think of a reflective screen, tracing a lonely ship inside a black void. I think of the blinking words INSERT COIN, and Pac-Man’s grating, ear-splitting beeps. I think of nerds.
I remember when I was a shy, soft-spoken 8 year-old, the first time I entered a video arcade. I felt my stomach tense at the noise, my eyes wander from light to blinding light. I almost tripped in the dark. I remember the anticipation of entering a land where my hobby was a culture, not a shame. And I remember of a crowd of kids surrounding one arcade cabinet in particular. And some of those kids were my classroom bullies.
Yes, there were many iterations of Street Fighter 2. Yes, their titles started to become ridiculous. Yes, there have been a million jokes about them. But 1994’s Super Turbo is the greatest version of the series. This here is the epitome of 90s arcade culture. It’s the fastest, toughest, most intense fighting game ever made. And it became obsolete only a few months after it was released.
The creation of Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior is a story of idealism. It reads like the creation story of Star Wars: a congregation of young creators that dreamt so big it seemed impossible they would succeed. But they did. The only thing that was found lacking in the finished product was that soon after release, players wanted more.
Street Fighter I arguably set the formula that led to Street Fighter II‘s success: players fight characters around the world 3 rounds at a time, using a joystick and buttons to execute a variety of moves. The graphics looked believable, each character was distinct, there was an attempt made at adding human-sounding voices, and there were bonus stages to break up the repetition of the fights. At a glance, the two games don’t appear too dissimilar. Yet Street Fighter 1 was almost a disaster.