At 6th February of 1991, Capcom releases "Street Fighter II: The World Warrior" for arcades. The success of "Street Fighter II" is credited for starting the fighting game boom during the 1990s which inspired other game developers to produce their own fighting game franchises, popularizing the genre, and setting off a renaissance for the arcade game industry in the early 1990s. It was then ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System home console, for which it became a long-lasting system-seller. Its success led to a sub-series of updated versions (see below), each offering additional features and characters over previous versions, as well as several home versions.
The age of arcades came anew in the '90s, resurging on the strength of a fighter. Capcom's Street Fighter II wasn't the first game in its genre, but its gameplay refined and defined what one-on-one character combat was all about; unforgettable foes, uncounterable combos and unbelievable special moves. It was 1991, and the arcade scene had long been dormant. American gamers' love affair with coin-op cabinets had faded years earlier, most players having happily adopted a console or computer to continue their habit at home.
Those games that were still arriving in quarter slot form were evolving, building up the brawler as the new most popular arcade genre. Capcom was a major player in fueling that evolution, slowly rousing the sleeping scene with titles like Final Fight and the first Street Fighter in the late '80s; but it wasn't until the release of the sequel, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, that the arcade craze was truly reawakened.
Street Fighter II was made for competition. A one-on-one fighting game, it encouraged two players to throw down against one another, challenging each other for pride, bragging rights and control of the machine. Few games hold more satisfaction for the winner than Street Fighter II. It's incredibly gratifying to be playing the game, have some random fool walk up and drop a quarter in to challenge you, and then absolutely destroy him with your superior level of skill. Maybe you give him just a slight grin as he retreats from the controls, defeated, his tail between his legs. Maybe you act like you never saw him at all.
Such is the appeal of the Fight, and it's player vs. player interactions like that that led SFII to become one of the most popular fighters of all time. The game presents an array of selectable characters with a variety of looks and abilities, from traditional martial artists Ryu and Ken to the sumo wrestler E. Honda. There's Guile, an American Army man. There's Zangief, the Russian, pile-driving powerhouse. There's high-flying Chun Li and arm-stretching Dhalsim, and Blanka, the electric Oompa-Loompa. Every Street Fighter player finds a favorite, and seeks to master their signature moves.
Button combinations call upon these secret techniques, more powerful and more flashy than the game's otherwise basic punches and kicks. Guile can throw a spinning crescent of energy called the Sonic Boom, activated by holding back on the joystick for two seconds and then hitting forward and punch simultaneously.
E. Honda can strike his enemies with a 100-Hand Slap, triggered by repeated mashing of any punch button. Dhalsim can breathe balls of fire, and so on and so forth. It took both conversation with other players and dedicated practice to learn about each characters' maneuvers, and thousands of gamers emptied millions of rolls of quarters trying to master Ryu's quarter-rolls.
When it became obvious that they had a hit on their hands, Capcom capitalized in two ways; the first was to port their product to a home machine, the Super NES, and the second was to release a vast array of upgraded Street Fighter II versions into the arcades. The later editions of the game made playable more characters, added new moves, and enhanced the balance between the different fighters. It was a huge boost to the SNES game library to receive this first home conversion of Street Fighter II then, 24 years ago, and gamers of the day flocked to its faithful re-creation of the arcade experience.
By 1994, the game had been played by at least 25 million Americans in homes and arcades. By 1995, gross revenues of Street Fighter II and Street Fighter II: Champion Edition arcade machines had exceeded $2.312 billion (equivalent to over $4.02 billion in 2016). The video game console ports sold more than 14 million copies; the Super NES port of the original game sold 6.3 million units, making it Capcom's best-selling single consumer game software of all time until 2013 (when it was surpassed by Resident Evil 5) and remaining their best-selling game software on a single platform through to the present day.
The fact that there were many "enhancements" to SF2 kept the game fresh and kept players coming back to the arcades for more, anxious to spend their hard-earned dollars... Capcom knew what they were doing. Every few years, there seemed to be another version of SF2 popping up in arcades... Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition was the first update to see the light, then Street Fighter 2: Turbo, Super Street Fighter 2, and finally Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. Fans loved each and every one of these installments and little did they know back then, the lifespan of Street Fighter was far from over.
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