If you clicked on this article, chances are, you are either a Street Fighter fan or at least a fighting game fan. Most likely, you know Street Fighter. That way, I assumed I no longer needed to give an explanation of what Street Fighter was. I’ll give you one suggestion instead. This article is a bit long, so please find a good position first. You can also prepare a snack or drink if you wish.
If so, please read …
The Beginning of Street Fighter: From Boredom
Neccessity is the mother of invention. In the case of Street Fighter, it is not “need” that is the reason behind this game being created. The beginning of the Street Fighter game was boredom. It is Takashi Nishiyama, who has served as Street Fighter Director at Capcom Japan.
At one point in time, he felt the meeting between the development team and the sales team was going too long, making him bored. In order to overcome his boredom, he had daydreams. I am sure that you have experienced something similar. Maybe when you were in school or university. Likewise, something similar happened while you were already working. As a game developer, Nishiyama’s fantasies are of course still about games.
“I remember not paying too much attention to the ongoing meeting and scribbling ideas on paper,” said Nishiyama. “When the Street Fighter idea popped into my head, I put it down on paper during the meeting.” Incidentally, he sat next to Yoshiki Okamoto, who is a Producer at Capcom. He then showed Okamoto his scribbles, asking for his opinion. Okamoto replied that Nishiyama’s idea was interesting.
Nishiyama revealed that he got the inspiration for Street Fighter from the game Spartan X aka Kung-Fu Master, which he was working on at that time. “I was thinking about a boss fight in the Spartan X game and I thought it would be interesting to make a game about the boss fight,” he said. “In a way, Spartan X is the basis of the Street Fighter concept.”
Nishiyama admitted that the scribbles he made during the meeting were not neatly arranged. However, he then gathered all of his notes and made them a coherent document. He then used the document to convince the Capcom bosses that they wanted to make a Street Fighter game.
“I then showed the document to Matsumoto. He was the one who smoothed out my ideas after that, ”said Nishiyama. Matsumoto that he means is Hiroshi Matsumoto, Street Fighter Planner, Capcom Japan. “After that, he is in charge of everything. I did supervise the game development process, however, Street Fighter is a Matsumoto game. ”
Matsumoto said, after Nishiyama showed his idea of Street Fighter, he began to imagine the characters that could be included in the game. “I thought about the characters we had to create, their fighting style and movements,” he said. “At that time, I was very interested in martial arts, even if it was just a hobby. I read a lot about it. So, I’m really excited. ”
According to Nishiyama, one of the things that makes Street Fighter unique when compared to other games of its era is the diversity of characters. In addition, the characters in Street Fighter also have different fighting styles. “We have boxing, kickboxing, bojutsu, shorinji kempo, and so on,” he said.
“If you make a fighting game and you only play two boxers, it will be very simple, but also boring. On the other hand, if you play a boxer against a kickboxer, for example, or someone who is learning shoroinji kempo, you will see a variety of unique combinations, “said Nishiyama. After that, he teamed up with Mtasumoto to create a more complex story for the characters.
Challenges in the Development Phase
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition has 28 characters that you can play. Each character has a special skill that you can use. The first Street Fighter games weren’t that great. Apart from the graphics point of view, the characters you can play in the game are also much less. In fact, in the first Street Fighter, you could only play two characters: Ryu and Ken. Meanwhile, the other characters only appear as enemies. Indeed, at that time, Ryu and Ken already had special moves. It’s just that, the movements of the characters are still very stiff.
“In my opinion, one of the biggest problems in making Street Fighter games is that the main programmer is not a gameprogrammer,” said Matsumoto. He said the main programmer of Street Fighter was a systems technician and not a gameprogrammer. Because of that, he didn’t really know how to make a game, not even the basics.
Matsumoto said this made it difficult for him to convey the ideas he had. Communication was so difficult that in the end, he decided to write some of the code for the Street Fighter game himself. “Instead of me trying to teach him how to write the code I wanted, it would be faster if I coded it myself,” he admits.
“Now, we can use various tools to create animation. However, at that time, we had to use tables to see each frame of the animation for each character, ”said Matsumoto. “Creating animation is a tedious job because you have to adjust each frame manually. If you want to create an animation that moves from one point to another, you’ll need to enter all the data manually. And if there is a revision, it means you have to redo your work. All of that is not my job. But, I have no other choice. It’s much faster if I do everything myself. ”
Despite the success of making Street Fighter games, Nishiyama still has one regret. He was disappointed that his and Matsumoto’s idea of making many playable characters couldn’t be realized. Due to limited funds and time, Street Fighter only has two playable characters, namely Ryu and Ken. “I wanted to show more playable characters,” said Nishiyama. “Unfortunately, we can only make two.”
Matsumoto has the same story. There are many characters that he would like to include in Street Fighter. Unfortunately, Okamoto then decided not to include some of Matsumoto’s ideas due to time constraints. “Okamoto was interested in the development of Street Fighter, although he was not directly involved,” said Matsumoto. “He was so interested in the project that he stepped in on the discussion about the pressure sensors we wanted to use in arcade machines for Street Fighter.”
Special Arcade Machine for Street Fighter
Nishiyama said, in the 1980s, Sega and Namco made a big profit from the arcade machine business. When Capcom found out about this, they too wanted to try their hand at getting into the business. Indeed, at that time, Capcom was already making games and selling them to arcade operators who wanted to replace the games on their arcade machines. It’s just that, Capcom also became interested in selling arcade machines along with their games. Street Fighter was created with the aim of showing arcade operators that Capcom can create unique arcade and game machines.
The problem is, Capcom doesn’t know Sega and Namco’s secret in making large arcade machines, which are the specialty products of the two companies. As a result, Capcom decided to build a simpler arcade machine with a unique feature: pressure-sensitive buttons. Unfortunately, creating a pressure sensor isn’t easy. So, Capcom then asked Atari for help.
In May 1987, Capcom gathered an arcade distributor in a gym in Philadelphia, United States. In front of these distributors, Capcom showed off Street Fighter along with an arcade machine with a different design from most arcade machines. They succeeded in getting arcade distributors interested in Street Fighter and its arcade machines.
When Street Fighter hit the arcades, it came with a special engine. The arcade machine for Street Fighter is equipped with a joystick and two wide, pressure sensitive buttons. You can press both buttons to perform a kick or punch.
“Ideally, the sensor on the button will be able to detect how hard the player is pressing the button,” Nishiyama said. “And the players will be able to issue different moves depending on how hard they press the button.”
Street Fighter Arcade Machine Problems
Capcom succeeded in making Street Fighter and the game’s special arcade machine. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that Capcom doesn’t run into new problems. This time, Capcom’s problem was playing Street Fighter on an arcade machine with pressure-sensitive buttons consuming a lot of power.
“Capcom’s aim to get into the arcade business is to attract lots of consumers, who are willing to spend money playing our games so we can make a profit,” said Nishiyama. “And we won’t be able to achieve that goal if playing the games we make makes gamers tired.”
In the end, Capcom decided to change the design of the arcade machine for Street Fighter. They replaced the two pressure sensitive buttons with six buttons. That way, to perform different moves, you can simply press a completely different key combination, without having to consider how hard you press the button. Capcom’s decision to change the design of their arcade machine also ran into problems, particularly in relation to the placement of buttons. The reason is, when Street Figter was first released, most games only needed a joystick and two buttons.
“We wanted to make an arcade machine with six buttons. “We got a lot of protests from the sales team because they were worried that people would not know how to play the game with six buttons,” Nishiyama said. “Even so, we ended up launching the six-button arcade machine anyway. And we actually get a lot of positive comments from consumers. ”
SNK “Hijacked” Capcom Developers
The first Street Fighter was indeed the beginning of the fighting game franchise. However, Street Fighter’s esports ecosystem only emerged when Street Fighter 2 was launched in 1991. It’s just that, again, Capcom’s road is not smooth sailing. Shortly after Street Fighter was released, a headhunter managed to convince Nishiyama to leave Capcom and join SNK. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Nishiyama also took Matsumoto and most of his team to SNK. This made the relationship between the two companies deteriorated.
In the next few years, the competition between Capcom and SNK heats up. The two companies not only developed similar games, they also slipped in their game play. Interestingly, the relationship between Capcom and SNK employees did not experience any problems. There are many developers from both companies who come from the same school or play in the same arcade. Not only that, some of them also often hang out after work. There is even an SNK developer who is married to someone who works at Capcom.
“I think there was competition between SNK and Capcom in the 1980s,” said Nishiyama. “Tsujimoto from Capcom and Kawasaki from SNK were originally friends. However, their relationship got worse because something happened. ” The two people Nishiyama spoke of were Kenzo Tsujimoto, CEO of Capcom and Eikichi Kawasaki, founder of SNK.
After Nishiyama worked at SNK, he created a new fighting game, Fatal Fury. He said if he stayed at Capcom, chances are, the sequel to Street Fighter would be similar to Fatal Fury. The team also continues to try to explore the stories of each character in the game. He also introduced new concepts in fighting games, for example, the ability to jump from the background to the foreground or vice versa.
Meanwhile, Capcom is making a sequel to Street Fighter. The development team for Street Fighter 2 was led by Yoshiki Okamoto. In the Street Fighter sequel, he managed to improve almost every aspect of the first game, from the appearance of the game, to the gameplay, to the number of characters that can be played.
How Did Street Fighter Become an Esports Game?
The Street Fighter esports community started to emerge after Capcom released Street Fighter 2. The game was launched for the arcade in 1991. One year later, the game could be played on consoles. Grassroots tournaments are starting to appear in local arcades, particularly in Japan and the West and East coasts of the United States.
In 2004, two star players appeared in the Street Fighter esports scene, namely Justin “Marvelous” Wong and Daigo “The Beast” Umehara. The battle between the two went viral, making the Street Fighter tournament even more popular. At that time, Daigo used Ken while Justin played Chun-Li. Justin manages to squeeze Daigo, whose health bar is already very thin. However, Daigo managed to turn things around. Not only did he fend off Justin’s attacks, he was able to knock out his opponents as well.
Many people believe that the fight between Daigo and Justin made many people interested in not only the Street Fighter tournament, but also the esports scene from the fighting game.
In 2008, Capcom released Street Fighter 4 for arcades in Japan. At that time, many Street Fighter fans thought that Capcom was no longer interested in the franchise. No wonder, considering that the last time Capcom released a Street Fighter game was in 1999, namely Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. However, Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono managed to convince the company to revive the Street Fighter franchsie. In 2009, Capcom released Street Fighter 4 for consoles. Capcom’s decision succeeded in reviving the esports scene from the game.
“The main reason why we launched Street Fighter 4 is because a lot of media are discussing the game and the endless interest of fans in the Street Fighter game,” said Ono. “At that time, I just wanted to make a game that my family could watch while I was playing it. The current Street Fighter esports scene may have emerged from this concept. However, back then, I didn’t have plans that far. ”
Meanwhile, Matt Dahlgren, Product Manager, Capcom said, through Street Fighter 4, Capcom tried to restore the features in Street Fighter 2 that made the game very liked by many people, such as the Focus Attack system.
Since the launch of Street Fighter 4, the fighting game community has continued to grow. Evolution Championship Series aka Evo is now one of the biggest fighting game tournaments. The number of Evo viewers, whether watching live or online, continues to rise. As Evo became increasingly popular, more and more companies were interested in becoming sponsors of the tournament.
The growing popularity of fighting game tournaments has attracted the attention of a number of game publishers. Some of them decided to enter their game in competitions like Evo. And when Capcom announced that they would launch the successor of Street Fighter 4, professional players and tournament organizers were busy developing the esports scene of the fighting game to become even more professional.
In 2013, Capcom revealed that they would launch their own premiere professional league, the Capcom Pro Tour. The competition will involve a number of international tournaments sponsored by Capcom. When Capcom released Street Fighter 5 in 2016, Capcom took advantage of the momentum to develop the Street Fighter community.
Street Fighter has become one of the most successful game franchises. Now, the esports community of this game is also growing. Street Fighter tournaments exist on a global scale, attracting large numbers of sponsors. This will allow the Street Fighter esports ecosystem to survive. And esports can be a good marketing tool for a game to attract new gamers.