Street Fighter II. You know all about it. I know all about it. Or, rather, I thought I did, before a little YouTube browsing on the SEGADriven channel proved me wrong, pumping a new-to-me interpretation of Capcom's one-on-one fighter directly into my eyeballs, and reconfiguring my personal history of the eternal arcade classic.
Street Fighter II debuted in arcades in February 1991. Its playable roster of eight distinct characters and four 'bosses', from several parts of the world, gave it a substantial edge over its 1987 predecessor, where players could only take control of series poster-boys Ryu or Ken. No character played quite the same as the next, so while those who learned the nuances of Guile could take on all rivals as the US Air Force major, challenging them to play as Chinese Interpol officer Chun-Li could easily see a cocky competitor knocked from their throne.
Its stages were bright and vibrant, and playing the game in leisure centre reception areas, Laser Quest foyers or cinema lobbies (or, maybe, even in actual arcades) was like taking a trip to somewhere fascinatingly exotic. From Brazil to Las Vegas via the USSR, all the way to the final showdown against M Bison in Thailand, Street Fighter II was an intoxicating blend of cutting-edge visuals, compelling gameplay (can you pull off all the special moves?), and coin-munching just-one-more-try appeal. Your dad wants you in the car, right now? Too bad you've just slotted in another 20 pence.
That's the Street Fighter II you know - the one that turned arcade supremacy into Super Nintendo success in the summer of 1992, and ultimately became the blueprint for not only its ever-expanding series but also the fighting game genre as a whole. You may also know that the success of Street Fighter II saw a live-action movie based on its story and characters - starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile, Kylie Minogue as Cammy, Raul Julia as M Bison and Wes Studi as Sagat - come out in 1994. Two games based on that film, both with Mortal Kombat-like digitised visuals, hit arcades and home consoles respectively in 1995.
You may also know that an animated movie version of Street Fighter II came out the same year as the terrible JCVD vehicle, distributed on home video in the UK by Manga Entertainment. It was fairly well received critically, and if you fancy checking it out the whole thing is on YouTube (in English, handily). But what you may not realise - I certainly didn't, until my YouTube discovery - is that Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie also received a video game tie-in. Yep, that's a movie based on a video game receiving a new video game based on the movie interpretation of the video game that it's now a kind of... spin-off to, I guess. Keeping up?
And said game, titled Street Fighter: MOVIE, exclusively released in Japan for the Sony PlayStation in 1995 and the SEGA Saturn in 1996, is quite unlike anything else in Capcom's series. It does feature some one-on-one fighting, starring Ryu as a final boss and casting the player as an exclusive character, Cyborg. This element of the game plays the same way as 1994's Super Street Fighter II Turbo - but it's the climax to a game that is more about studying the art of fighting than practicing it.
MOVIE follows the plot of The Animated Movie - right down to using the same footage from the Group TAC-produced motion picture, alongside some new, exclusive clips made by the same studio specially for the game. It plays like many full-motion video titles of the early 1990s (see also: Night Trap, Ground Zero: Texas), with very limited interaction set atop video clips. The goal is to research fighters' moves, using Cyborg's in-built abilities to focus on kicks, punches and more - getting a read-out of each fighter's stats - to ultimately grow the character into being ready to face off against Ryu, who can also be sparred with in a practise mode.
I write Cyborg with a capital-C, but the same variety of humanoid robots are commonplace in The Animated Movie, dispatched by Bison's (or Vega's) Shadaloo organisation to spy on the world's greatest fighters. Nevertheless, MOVIE is the one and only game where Cyborg appears in a usable capacity, making this quite the novelty both in terms of how the game plays and who it lets you play as. There's also a Shadaloo stage exclusive to this game, too.
A very bizarre curio, then, in a franchise that's world renowned - and a game that I didn't even know existed until very recently. Check out the same SEGADriven video I watched below, to learn more about Street Fighter: MOVIE, as its series celebrates a fabulous 30th anniversary.
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