Connect with us

Games

‘Street Fighter II’ – Hanging at Arcades, Causing Trouble and Kicking Ass

Games that Changed Our Lives

Advertisement

Published

on

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was first released to arcades on February 6th, 1991, setting off a renaissance in the business. Japanese fighting games had been around for a while, but the one-two punch of now iconic characters, hand-to-hand combat, and the range of moves, techniques, and combos at the player’s disposal formed the foundation of fighting games as we know them. Though people will often cite other games as kicking off the popularity of the fighting game genre, the impact of Street Fighter II cannot be overlooked. Sure there were other fighting games that came first, but Street Fighter II was the first game that executed it well. Capcom’s groundbreaking game became a cultural phenomenon and single-handedly sparked a resurgence in the arcade in the early ’90s.  Street Fighter II set up the blueprint of the modern fighting games and opened the doors for a spate of games such as Mortal Kombat and Tekken following in its wake. It was a massive success for Capcom, selling more than 60,000 cabinets worldwide, a record for the time, and it completely changed the video game industry and how I spent my free time as a kid.

There were quite a few arcades situated in the area where I grew up and in fact, the most popular of the bunch was just two blocks away from my school. It was the go-to hangout for every kid in my neighborhood, and most of my lunch breaks and most of my lunch money was spent at that arcade. At the time, racing games and shooters were the most popular games kids would play. I was never good at racing games and I never quite liked first person shooters so whatever time I spent at the arcade I spent playing classics like Ms. Pac-Man and Space Invaders. But most of my friends weren’t interested in any of these games and so going to the arcade meant spending a lot of time by myself pumping in coin after coin while trying to beat the high score in many of those Namco arcade classics. That all changed when Street Fighter II was released.

Arcades

Up until Street Fighter II, none of the popular games I could play at an arcade featured competitive multiplayer action. I could either play by myself or in co-op mode, and the only real competition between friends was gunning for the highest score. Street Fighter II allowed for true competition amongst my peers, and back in the day, becoming the best player in the game increased my popularity at school. I went from being the average kid to the popular kid overnight, all because nobody in my suburb could beat me at Street Fighter II. And the more they tried, the longer I kept playing without needing to drop in another coin and wasting the hard-earned cash my father gave me for my lunch meals. Not that I ever ate lunch, the second the school bell rang, I was off to the arcade hoping to be the first kid in line to play. Day after day, Street Fighter II became more than a pass time – it became an obsession. I went from playing the game during my lunch breaks to after school – and on weekends, and at times even skipping class to practice my skills.

Street Fighter II’s masterstroke was its controls and the variety of moves and distinctive fighting style between each character. With eight characters to choose from, 7 with entirely different move sets and 4 boss battles, Street Fighter II required a lot of your quarters and time in order to master the game. Choosing a character that suits your personality was half the fun, and I remember the other kids taking the joy out of poking fun at my love for Guile. He was for whatever reason, the least popular character amongst my peers, and that’s why I loved playing with him so much. They all hated losing to Guile, and the more I won, the more frustrated they would get.

Street Fighter II is responsible for making the Fighting genre a huge success and I would argue that the arcade version is a precursor to Esports. I remember kids at my school placing bets on watching two players battle and there were even a few guys who organized monthly tournaments. There was this one time in which after losing in a tournament, a competitor decided he would get revenge by dropping a dozen Stink Bombs into the arcade forcing the owner to shut the place down for an entire day. The arcade played a huge part in my youth and Street Fighter II was the game that brought me there each and every week for an entire year. I made a lot of friends at the arcade and I made a lot of enemies too, including this one guy who cornered me just outside the arcade and put an ax to my neck, threatening to kill me if I ever came back. But I did.

I remember placing my token on the dashboard to call next in line to play, and as I stood there waiting for my turn, I had the chance to meet so many people from all walks of life. Hanging out at the arcade meant meeting new friends, and bonding with people I would never normally bond with, even if they weren’t always positive role-models. Drugs were beings sold out back, kids smoked up in the parking lot and underground Hip Hop would blast at high volume inside. I wasn’t a troublemaker but I also wasn’t afraid of being surrounded by dysfunctional youths and Street Fighter II allowed me to take out my aggression on school bullies and other ruffians from around my hood. And it was all worth the trouble because the game was just so damn good!

Street Fighter II

Street Fighter II brought unprecedented depth and complexity to arcades back in 1991 with its combo system, which according to Noritaka Funamizu, came about by accident. Imagine that, what the creators initially called a “bug” ended up being the secret ingredient that made the game so unique. Street Fighter II’s designers didn’t quite mean for it to happen, but eventually, players around the world discovered that certain moves naturally flowed into other attacks. It was the first fighting game that I ever played in where strategic attacks were required in order to win. This wasn’t your typical button-smashing beat-em-up; instead, Street Fighter II requires players to understand their opponents, remember their patterns and build strategies around their challengers, and ever since, every fighting game as followed suit.

Put aside the actual gameplay, the look and sound were the game’s defining feature. Even before I popped in my first quarter, I was sold by the huge sprites, the backdrops, the visual themes, the sound effects (overseen by Yoshihiro Sakaguchi) and the music composed by Yoko Shimomura (who would later go on to work on Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts). Capcom clearly invested a lot of money in the visuals and every penny was well spent. That Halloween, kids started wearing Street Fighter costumes and I even remember a group of kids making their own Street Fighter fan film. It was the hottest thing for the boys in my neighborhood in 1991 and it remained popular up until Midway released the highly controversial Mortal Kombat a year later.

StreetFigherII

Like most popular arcade games of the time, Street Fighter 2 inevitably made its way to home consoles. Given Capcom’s publishing history and relationships with Nintendo, it was first ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The SNES adaptation is probably one of the best arcade-to-console ports in history and despite some minor changes to the graphics and audio (in order to fit into the cartridge), the port is extremely faithful to the original. It became one of the console’s best sellers and was so successful that Capcom just kept releasing more versions of it. From 1991 to 1994, there were 5 adaptations of Street Fighter II and by 1995, the game had been played by at least 25 million Americans in homes and arcades, while the gross revenues of the console and arcade versions had exceeded $2.312 billion, making it Capcom’s best-selling single consumer game software at the time.

I headed back to my old stomping ground late last year with my nephew and his friend who had never been to an arcade, and to my surprise, the arcade still has a Street Fighter II cabinet. I popped in two tokens, chose my fighter and began to play the game like it was 1991 all over again. Two hours later, and only two tokens spent, I went undefeated. Standing there remembering those childhood memories brought a smile to my face, and made me realize that kids these days just don’t know what they missed. Early video games were a shared experience, either in the living room, on the playground or in an arcade. Nowadays too many games lack that social bonding, requiring only a home computer, a Steam account, and an internet connection. It’s no wonder my nephew and his friend were so impressed with a simple trip to the arcade, calling it the coolest afternoon they spent that summer.

Street Fighter II set a standard, popularized the genre, and set off a renaissance for the arcade game industry in the early 1990s. At the time it was groundbreaking and 25 years later it stands the test of time, that any gamer, no matter what their age, can enjoy. I only wish arcades here in North America could be as popular as they once were.

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and the NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as the Sound On Sight and Sordid Cinema shows. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

Games

‘Tecmo Bowl, the Godfather of NFL Games

Published

on

Tecmo Bowl Retrospective

Tecmo Bowl was a big deal back in 1989!

With Madden growing more popular and even more complex every year, we sometimes forget about the game that started it all.

I cannot stress the importance of Tecmo Bowl twenty-nine years after its release. Originally an arcade game, Tecmo Bowl was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System by the makers of such classics as Ninja Gaiden, Mighty Bomb Jack, and Solomon’s Key, and it took everyone by surprise by just how good it was. Nobody expected the Japanese developers of puzzle games and 2D platformers to succeed in creating a sports game, much less an American sports game, but they did. Named NES Sports Game of the Year, Tecmo Bowl provided players with the best football experience found on the NES console back in 1989 and it paved the way for what became the biggest trend in sports games to this day.

Although Tecmo didn’t have the official NFL license to use the actual team names and logos (the teams in the game are identified by their home city or state), the game features players from 12 NFL franchises due to being licensed by the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association). Nowadays this doesn’t seem like a big deal but back in 1989 it was huge! Tecmo Bowl features some of football’s greatest players including John Elway, Bo Jackson, Marcus Allen, Mike Singletary, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Walter Payton, and Dan Marino, and when it shipped 29 years ago, it changed everything for sports video games.

Long before football video games became just as complex as real-life football, Tecmo Bowl laid the groundwork for what would be the standard moving forward. There aren’t many plays to choose from but you’re given the choice of 4 plays while on offense and another 4 while on defense. In addition, the game features three different modes: Single Player, Two Player, and Coaching mode which allows you to call plays while letting the CPU control the players on the field. The simple and responsive controls work perfectly within the framework of the game, and it is this simplicity that makes the game fun to play to this day. And regardless if you know don’t know much about the sport, anyone can easily follow along thanks to the broadcast camera view and two-button controls.

Tecmo_Celebration_1280w

Tecmo Bowl is a seemingly effortless game in which everything falls neatly into place. It stripped football down to its basic elements and created a fun arcade experience anyone can enjoy. Tecmo Bowl was Madden before Madden was a household name. It’s the game that started the football franchise craze in video games and laid the groundwork for the even better, Tecmo Super Bowl. American football games have come a long way over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the sheer enjoyment any football fan can have when playing Tecmo Bowl.

Tecmo Bowl is without a doubt the granddaddy of football games, and there’s something to be said for the back-to-basics formula that Tecmo Bowl employed. With technological enhancements in gameplay, graphics, power, and speed, the original Tecmo Bowl seems incredibly dated in 2016, but surprisingly the game holds up nearly three decades later.

Side Note: There were two NES versions of the game released in the U.S. The first release is easily identified by its black and gold seal of quality and the second version by its white and gold seal. It should also be noted that the names of players were removed on the virtual console release.

Tecmo Bowl
Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Published

on

It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

Continue Reading

Games

The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

Published

on

Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

Continue Reading

Popular