How one experiment spawned a whole new genre of video games

The world of video games changed in 1987 when Japanese game developer Capcom released “Street Fighter”, a video game that would come to be known as the pioneer of fighting games.

It’s hard for Gen Z to imagine a time when video games were a battle solely between player and CPU. We’re talking about the late 1970s and early 1980s, when companies like Nintendo, Sega, and Atari, all of which were still in the 8-bit gaming space, were selling home game consoles by the dozen. The arcades – sporting dim neon lighting and large, flashy machines offering a range of games – with a lingering smell of stale cigarette smoke, became the place to hang out if you were one of the cool kids.

The multiplayer concept had yet to kick off, specifically a “versus” mode in which two players could compete against each other. But that all changed in 1987 when Japanese game developer Capcom released “Street Fighter,” a video game that would go on to be known as the pioneer of fighting games and set the blueprint for thousands of similar games that would follow.

There have been numerous crossovers and spinoffs of the game since, as well as animated films, toys, collective action figures, manuals, and even magazines that have dedicated themselves to the art and gameplay of Street Fighter. Hollywood actor Jean-Claude Van Damme starred in the now cult classic street fighter movie in 1994.

It’s safe to say that when the game debuted in arcades in 1987, it was touted as “state of the art”. The game itself was quite simple. In a nutshell, Street Fighter is a competitive fighting game designed by Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto. A player controls a Japanese martial artist called Ryu, who competes in a global martial arts tournament spanning multiple countries, with the goal of being the best martial artist in the world. A second player can control Ryu’s American friend and rival, the jovial, blond Ken Masters. Each player can perform three kicks, three punches, and three special attacks that can be activated by special joystick and button combinations. Each fight consists of the best of three rounds, with each round lasting a maximum of 30 seconds.

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