Well time to talk about another game that honestly, I don’t need to review, since it’s a game that is one of the single most important in gaming history thanks to popularizing and cementing the very concept of player vs Player beat em ups.
While there is an original Street Fighter… it’s honestly not worth talking about as this game is basically the true start of the franchise. All beat em up games have this game to thank for their existence. Colourful roster of characters? Fighting against other players? Yes, this is where those concepts are drawn from today. Can I say that it invented them? erm.. no, I would have to do A LOT of research and hunt through lots of old games, but it’s from this game’s success those elements are used.
The story is honestly very basic which each character getting a small amount of plot when they clear the final boss. Later adaptions from outside media would expand on the story vastly but it’s not really necessary back then. The leader of the Organization Shadaloo has set up an international fighting tournament with plans to take over the world… SOMEHOW. (Later works explain it better, usually relating to luring in Ryu) kind of basic… in fact most characters have nothing to do with stopping Bison and are just kind of there for the tournament. These characters, the original 8 are Ryu,Ken, Chun li, Guile, E Honda, Dalsim Zangief and Blanka. In arcade mode after beating them are the 4 bosses, Balrog, Vega, Sagat and M’bison himself. Yes, the bosses’ names got changed internationally no need to point that out.
The initial version of the game only had the 8 playable characters with the bosses being unplayable, and no unlockables either, it was a time before that. Also, you couldn’t play doubles so the closest you could get was Ryu vs Ken. While nowadays you would get an upgrade dlc back then you had to buy a whole new version of the game, and so you got new and improved versions like Championship version which made the bosses playable, Turbo which increased playing speed and gave new moves, Super which introduced 4 additional characters, Dee Jay, T Hawk, Fei Long and the only one that actually mattered long term, Cammy. Finally, a final version (or was the final version back then, I’ll get to that later) called Super Turbo was introduced, giving us new super moves and the secret uber boss Akuma who you could play as with a weird cheat code but was vastly stronger than all the other characters (and had a kick ass theme tune).
What really helps these characters stand out is, as well as different designs, and being from all over the world, mechanically they play differently (except for Ryu Ken and Akuma who play as different versions of their own move pull). The very names used for different kinds of fighting characters come from this game, not all of the names as some concepts were invented later. This would mean that each character was a learning experience to use as the best of their abilities… and you couldn’t just look online back then to find which character was the most OP and how to use them. But with each character having their own stage (except Akuma), and own iconic theme music, they would all enter people’s memories and the original 8 + Cammy are now essentially must haves for every Street Fighter game.
Each version of the game was balanced differently which can be seen clearly in the various collections of the game that contains its multiple versions. People far more skilled than I will often sieve through each character to identify at what version was a character at its peak.
The game is insanely easy to locate a copy of as its often released digitally on every console to the point that they made new versions after Super Turbo going all the way up to Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Giving Evil Ryu and Violent Ken (admittedly just pallet swaps with new moves but still).
There have been plenty of media adaptions of the game and franchise, Most aren’t great but often have memorable moments that live in meme culture. There have been comic adaptions like the ones from UDON that elaborated on the nature of the tournament, though I did notice they like all things skip all but the final of the first game.
So why not with the new SF6 out have a shot at the game that got the ball rolling ? It’s probably even hidden in that game somewhere. Give it a shot, then try one of the many prequels and sequels to this.. but maybe look up which ones are worth playing, I hear the original version of SF3 isn’t that good.