June 13, 2015

STREET FIGHTER



STREET FIGHTER
(USA Network, October 21, 1995-May 14, 1997)

InVision Entertainment, Madhouse, Sunrise, Graz Entertainment, USA Studios



MAIN CAST:
Scott McNeilKen Masters, Blanka, Rolento, The Great Oni, Rory, Wo Fat, Lord Zing, various
Tong LungRyu Hoshi, various
Lisa Ann BeleyCammy White, Diane, Terri
Gary Chalk - Dhalsim, Burke, Lo Fat, various          
Robert O. SmithViktor Sagat, Sodom, Bleger, Gouken, various
John Payne – Escher, various



            Street Fighter was released by Capcom in August of 1987. It was produced and directed by Takashi Nishiyama (credited as “Piston Takashi”) and planned by Hiroshi Matsumoto (as “Finish Hiroshi”), with character artwork by Keiji Inafune. The game featured Japanese martial artist Ryu as he competed in an international tournament to prove his strength. He would travel to five countries (Japan, United States, China and England) to face eight opponents before traveling to Thailand to face off against Adon, a deadly Muay Thai master, and his mentor Sagat. A second player could join in the game as Ryu’s training partner and rival Ken, who appeared different but featured all the same moves as Ryu (which would remain constant for the two characters throughout the franchise).



            The game’s unique feature was the use of pneumatic buttons, which took the amount of power used to press them and turned it into power behind the attacks in the game. The game was praised for that innovation, the moves, and the character designs, although it was said to have very little replay value. The game wasn’t a breakout hit at its inception, though it did prove popular enough with fans to warrant its being ported to home consoles as Fighting Street.


Original promo for Final Fight as Street Fighter '89.

            In 1989, Capcom released Final Fight; a side-scrolling beat ‘em up that followed Mike Haggar, a former wrestler turned Mayor of Metro City, as he took on the Mad Gear Gang (taking their name from another Capcom game known as Led Storm outside of Japan) who had kidnapped his daughter Jessica. Joining him was his daughter’s boyfriend Cody, a street brawler, and Cody’s best friend Guy, a martial artist. The game was largely inspired by the film Streets of Fire, whose hero Cody was based on. Initially, Final Fight was going to be a sequel to Street Fighter called Street Fighter ‘89, but the success of Double Dragon prompted Capcom to change genres and reaction from operators about its lack of similarities to Street Fighter resulted in the name being changed. The game was produced by Yoshiki Okamoto and designed by Akira Nishitani and Akira Yasuda, and proved very successful for Capcom.


Ad for Street Fighter II.

            With a new focus on fighting games, Capcom set out to revive the Street Fighter brand, feeling the concept was good but the playability could be better. The Final Fight team was put on it, and in February of 1991 Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was released. While maintaining the gameplay of the original, the game offered a selection of playable characters with unique fighting styles and special movements. Introduced were E. Honda, a sumo wrestler; Blanka, a green-skinned bestial man from Brazil with electric abilities; Guile, a USAF Special Forces operative out for revenge for his fallen friend; Chun-Li, a Chinese Interpol officer and martial artist; Zangief, a Soviet pro wrestler; and Dhalsim, a yoga master from India. Returning from the first game were Ryu and Ken. After defeating the other playable characters, the player would continue on to face four CPU-controlled “Grand Masters.” Sagat was included from the previous game and was joined by Blarog, an African-American boxer; Vega, a pretty-boy Spanish cage fighter who wears a mask and uses a claw weapon; and M. Bison, leader of the criminal organization Shadaloo who wields a power known as “Psycho Power.” Originally, Balrog and Bison had each other’s names as Balrog was modeled after Mike Tyson, but fearing a likeness infringement lawsuit Capcom made the change when the game was released in America and in future installments.



            The game became a hit, and was regarded as redefining the fighting genre due to its accurate controls and highly detailed graphics, as well as being the first to offer a selection of characters. It also introduced a combo mechanic where a series of moves could be strung together, initially a programming glitch in the game that was purposely implemented in later versions. Street Fighter II is often credited with revitalizing a struggling arcade industry, exhibiting a level of popularity unseen since Pac-Man. It also propelled the fighting game genre, leading to the creation of other popular franchises like Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Virtua Fighter. Capcom also introduced the concept of revisions, the precursor to today’s downloadable patches. Rather than releasing direct sequels of the game, they kept expanding and improving the game leading to five different releases.



            At the height of Street Fighter’s popularity, Capcom produced and co-financed a film based on the franchise, taking particular cues from the sequel. Written and directed by Seven E. de Souza, the movie centered around several different groups of heroes uniting to take down General M. Bison (Raul Julia) and his plan to extort billions of dollars from the world by taking Allied Nations (the United Nations denied use of their name) relief workers hostage. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Capcom’s first and only choice, was cast as Col. William Guile, the head of the A.N. military response to Bison who sought his own revenge against him for the death of his friend Charlie. Charlie, in fact, was captured by Bison and experimented on to become an inhuman fighting machine (blending the character with that of Blanka, played by Robert Mammone). The movie was released on December 23rd, 1994 to overwhelmingly negative reviews but still managed to gross almost $100 million worldwide.


Guile with Chun-Li, Ken, Blanka, Ryu and Cammy.

            Following the movie was an animated series called simply Street Fighter, which was produced in America by InVision Entertainment and Japan by Madhouse and Sunrise. The actors used were primarily Canadian. Although the characters resembled their video game counterparts, the show was heavily inspired and infused elements of the film’s story. Col. William Guile (Michael Donovan) was branded as a criminal in order to provide him the cover necessary to run the covert Street Fighters team. Unlike the film, the characters were able to tap into their special projectile abilities, notably Guile’s “sonic boom” attack. Each episode typically featured Guile receiving a mission and setting out to recruit necessary members from his team that he’d need to complete it.  Primary members carried over from the film included Blanka (Scott McNeil), Guile’s friend still mutated by Bison; con artists Ryu Hoshi (Tong Lung) and Ken Masters (McNeil); reporter Chun-Li Xiang (Donna Yamamoto) who wanted revenge against Bison (Richard Newman) for the death of her father; E. Honda (Paul Dobson), who was the team’s computer whiz rather than Chun-Li’s producer; Cammy White (Lisa Ann Beley), a member of the British SIS Special Operations unit Delta Red who had a flirtatious relationship with Guile; Dhalsim (Gary Chalk), one of the scientists responsible for Blanka’s creation; Dee Jay (Dobson), a Jamaican kickboxer originally an opportunistic Bison lackey in the film, was portrayed as the team’s helicopter pilot; and T. Hawk (Dobson), who was portrayed as serving deep cover spying on the cyborg criminal known as The Satin Hammer (Lynda Boyd). Balrog (Dobson), who served as Chun-Li’s cameraman in the film was made into a computer programmer for Bison in an episode of the series, trading places with Dee Jay from the film canon.  

 
M. Bison.

            The primary antagonist in the series was Bison and his legions of Shadaloo, with Sagat (Robert O. Smith) serving as his second in command. Zangief (Donovan) once again served as Bison’s lackey and muscle, despite his moment of redemption at the end of the film. Vega (Dobson) was portrayed as a former Bison henchman who was searching for eternal youth, in keeping with the character’s vain personality from the games. New to the series was the dark martial artist Akuma (Dale Wilson), who wanted the Chi possessed by certain characters for himself. 


Bison takes control of Cammy.

            The series debuted on October 21st, 1995 as part of the USA Network’s Cartoon Express before moving to the Action Extreme Team alongside episodes of Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm. The opening theme was an arrangement of the title theme of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, with the series’ music composed by Andrew Dimitroff. The series ran for two seasons, incorporating all the characters from Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, as well as from the Street Fighter Alpha series and other Capcom games like Saturday Night Slam Masters, Magic Sword and Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness. In the episode “Final Fight,” the characters from the game of the same name guest-starred in a story that essentially followed the plot of said game (Final Fight characters were also introduced into the Street Fighter game series). Season 2 saw Guile’s role reduced somewhat as a couple of episodes focused on the other Fighters. Cammy also became part of a season-long subplot where she was brainwashed into serving Bison (as she had in the games). 


Sonic BOOM!

            Despite lasting two seasons, the series was largely negatively received by fans due to poor dialogue and overall writing. ADV Films released the entire series on two sets called Code of Honor and Soul Powers in 2003; both are currently out of print, although Discotek Media had announced plans to re-release the series in 2015. The series was also released as part of the 25th Anniversary Collector’s Set on Blu-Ray in 2012.



            While the American versions of Street Fighter haven’t done well, Japanese interpretations have been more favorable with several anime movies and series under their belt. Street Fighter has also been consistently published in comics since the 90s, both in American versions and in manga form. Along with action figures and music albums, Street Fighter continues to be a merchandising juggernaut for Capcom and one of their most well-known gaming franchises.



EPISODE GUIDE:

Season 1:
“The Adventure Begins” (10/21/95) – Guile assembles Chun-Li, Ryu, Ken and Blanka to retrieve a biological virus from Bison.

“The Strongest Woman in the World” (10/28/95) – When Bison captures the nuclear facility near Chun-Li’s former village, she must choose between revenge and saving innocents.

“Getting to Guile” (11/4/95) – Chun-Li assembles Ryu, Blanka, Ken and Dee Jay to rescue Guile from Bison before Bison figures out how to brainwash him.

“No Way Out” (11/11/95) – Guile gets trapped in the Shadaloo American embassy trying to rescue a boy inside while Sagat’s army attacks.

“Demon Island” (11/18/95) – Guile, Dee Jay, Cammy and Blanka set out to retrieve the invisible jet Bison stole, and Dee Jay gets a chance to settle a score with Zangief.

“Desert Thunder” (12/2/95) – Guile and Blanka have to retrieve a laser from the Satin Hammer, but it becomes a question if their inside man T. Hawk is still on their side.

“Dark Heart” (12/9/95) – Bison plans to use a comet to extort money from America.

“The Medium is the Message” (12/16/95) – The Street Fighters are sent to compete in a tournament where Bison hopes to either destroy or discredit them.

“Eye of the Beholder” (12/30/95) – A scientist in Hawaii creates a serum that Blanka wants to become human and Vega wants to stay eternally young.

“The Hand That Feeds You” (1/6/96) – While Fei Long has Guile teach him to use Chi energy, Ryu searches for his missing cousin Sachi in Hong Kong.

“Keeping the Peace” (1/20/96) – Warlords target a Shadaloo city that has been discovered to have rare diamonds, and Guile is sent to investigate.

“Chunnel Vision” (1/27/96) – When Delta Red captures Bison, Bison’s supporters begin bombing locations around London and target the Chunnel.

“Strange Bedfellows” (2/3/96) – Bison and Guile are set up against each other by Akuma who wants their Chi energy.

Season 2:
“The Hammer Strikes” (9/21/96) – Using Blanka, Dhalsim summons the Street Fighters to his mountain to help stop the Satin Hammer from stealing a nuclear device from him.

“Cammy and the Bachelor” (9/28/96) – Guile, Cammy and Honda join Delta Red in stopping Bison’s London crime wave, but Bison takes over Cammy’s mind and brings her to his side.

“New Kind of Evil” (10/5/96) – Guile and Blanka help Chun-Li track down her kidnapped camera crew, leading to Blanka becoming even further mutated.

“The World’s Greatest Warrior” (10/12/96) – Akuma challenges Ryu and Ken for the Chi of their master Gouken.

“So, You Want to be in Pictures” (11/5/96) – Ken has his father invest in Fei Long’s latest film, but Ken’s taking over the leading role puts him at odds with Fei Long.

“Face of Fury” (11/15/96) – Vega escapes prison and seeks revenge against Blanka, using Mei Lei as a hostage against him.

“Cammy Must Die!” (11/23/96) – The Street Figthers and Delta Red seem to free Cammy from Bison’s control, but she betrays them all and helps Bison escape.

“The Flame and the Rose” (12/9/96) – Psychic Rose believes Ken and Blanka are the source of the evil energy that threatens the world, but soon discovers it’s actually Bison.

“The Warrior King” (1/4/97) – The Warrior King joins forces with Chun-Li to retrieve his Orb of Power from Bison.

“The Beast Within” (2/18/97) – Blanka’s search for a mysterious healing plant instead leads him to help an alien boy get revenge on evil natives for killing his family.

“Second to None” (4/11/97) – Ryu’s biggest fan Sakura tracks him down and enlists his help in stopping Sagat’s reign of terror in Shadaloo.

“Final Fight” (4/27/97) – Guile, Ken and Ryu help Metro City Mayor Mike Haggar retrieve his daughter Jessica from the clutches of the Mad Gear Gang.

“Cammy Tell Me True” (5/14/97) – Bison captures Delta Red and plans to take over the world by holding it hostage with its own nuclear weapons.

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