I’ll admit it. I got sucked into the debate. When EGM first revealed details of Street Fighter IV, the internet was up in arms. People ridiculed the graphics to an incredible and inexcusable extent (after all, the game isn’t nearly completed). They mocked the character design, and put down the art style.
Then came the rest of the characters, in the form of some sweet artistic renderings. After these pictures were revealed, I thought the internet was going to explode! Dhalsim is too thick! Chun-Li looks like a man! Ken’s feet are too big! E-Honda has a six-pack!
So yeah, I got sucked in. This article is my reaction to all the hatred and vitriol being spewed towards Capcom for taking Street Fighter IV’s art style to a new direction. I’ll post a disclaimer right now: This is the most absurd fanboyish diatribe I have ever written in the 9 years I’ve been working on this site for a living.
In the following pages, I am going to look back at the Street Fighter art over the past 16 years. I hope that it will finally convince some people that – guess what – the art style of Street Fighter has changed dramatically over the years! In some cases for the worse, in others for the better. One point I would like to make is that the popular notion of the ‘correct’ way the characters are supposed to look are wrong, based on comments I’ve seen on forums and blogs.
Note that I will only be commenting on character art, and not in-game art. This is because the in-game graphics in Street Fighter IV are not 100% complete, while the extra art is.
Also, I am only using official Capcom art, from various Street Fighter arcade games (and some official ports). For instance, it would be a terrible idea to use Hasbro’s interpretation of what Ken and Blanka are supposed to look like. In the Capcom vs SNK games, where there are 2 versions of each character (one in the cartoonish Capcom style, one in the more realistic SNK style) only the Capcom art was used.
Let’s start with the most controversial: Chun Li
First, here’s how she looks in Street Fighter IV:
As soon as new images of Chun Li showed up, thousands of possibly confused, possibly curious kids screamed all over message boards and blogs that Chun-Li’s thighs are too big. Her arms are too muscular. She looks like a man now!!! Really? Really?
So here we are, almost a dozen shots of Chun-Li over the past 16 years. Notice something about her design that has never changed? Her thighs maybe? And her arms are pretty muscular starting with the Alpha series. The most important, of course, is the original art from 1992′s Street Fighter II Champion Edition. In proportion, her thighs are just as big as they always were.
Apparently, people have been whining about Chun-Li’s thighs since Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. This is according to EGM’s huge Street Fighter IV article (yes, they took an entire half-page to talk about the size of Chun Li’s thighs). I was most into Street Fighter from 1992 through X-Men vs. Street Fighter in 1996, with Alpha 2 representing my peak interest in Street Fighter games. So I was pretty amazed to hear that there was so much controversy over this.
It’s not just Chun-Li either; similar complaints are also being heard regarding Lara Croft’s new look in the next Tomb Raider game. Apparently her new look is more ‘sleek’ and ‘sporty’. In the February issue of EGM, they literally said she “looks like a dude to us”. All I can say to that is Dubya Tee Eff man? I really hope game developers aren’t so discouraged by these type of juvenile complaints that they feel the need to continue making all their female characters look completely ridiculous. Fighting games are the worst offenders of this, so it is refreshing to see that Capcom has been leading the way over the past 16 years. From Chun-Li’s muscular build to the petite Cammy to the tomboyish Sakura – this is one fighting series that has an incredible variety in their character designs, and it’s sad to see people complaining about it all the time.
So I just realized I spent way too much time talking about Chun-Li and her thighs. Let’s move on…
Don’t worry, this article is more than just a rant! Keep reading :)
I think most will agree that Blanka actually looks pretty Fn cool. In fact, I haven’t heard too many complaints about him. Still, let’s see how he has… evolved… over the years:
I’m going in alphabetical order here, so it’s probably not too noticeable that Blanka is the most consistent character over the years. With the weird exception of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, you’d be hard-pressed to guess which game each picture is from.
One of the more whined-about characters is Dhalsim. People find him to be too muscular. After all, he’s that skinny yoga dude with rubber arms, right?
Dhalsim is actually one of the characters where the complainers have a point. Although he started out more muscular in the original game, Capcom quickly slimmed him down with Super Street Fighter 2 back in 1994. He remained that way all until the latest game, Street Fighter IV. In my opinion, he looks much cooler as the mysterious, shape-altering slim yoga guy. I should also mention at this point that I LOVE the art of Street Fighter EX 3. Too bad the game sucked so bad.
E. Honda is easily the least popular of the original 8 characters. In fact, he was rarely found in other games that starred most of the others. However, that didn’t stop people from bitching about his new look. The complaint here? Too muscular. Yes, some people think all sumo wrestlers are just fat. Wrong, wrong wrong.
As I mentioned, it’s not too easy to find E. Honda in a game between the original Street Fighter 2 and his reappearance in Capcom vs SNK. However as you can see, E. Honda is indeed muscular. Down right ripped actually, even in the original. In my opinion, he looks cooler than ever. I might even give him a try when the game finally comes out! I think it would be the first time in over a decade.
I don’t think I’ve seen too many complaints about Guile, as he has retained a pretty consistent look over the years.
Guile is definitely the most consistent character of the original 8. Even the whacky Capcom vs SNK 2 art got his look right. I don’t have much else to say about Guile, since, well, I never really used him. I always hated the “hold for 2 seconds” moves.
A lot of people have been whining about Ken, but I really can’t see why. Capcom has an obvious look for Ken, and this new art portrays it better than ever before.
As you can see, Ken’s look is of the brash, cocky young athlete. He always seems to have a taunting post, and what can only be described as a ‘shit-eating grin’. Like he knows he could beat your ass, so he can say whatever he wants. Street Fighter IV’s Ken is easily the best of the bunch, although again I have to admire Street Fighter EX 3′s art. Man that game sucked.
And yeah, Ken’s feet were always that big… That might explain the cocky smile ;)
Ah, the one that started it all. Is Ryu really sporting wood in this picture? I can’t see it, but judging from the comments you’d think that he just left his fly open after taking a Viagra.
Every time Capcom does a new Street Fighter, Ryu sets the tone for that game. Just by looking at him, you can tell how the rest of the game is going to look. From the testosterone-filled original SF2 games to the youthful anime-look of the Alpha series. From the ultra detailed, exaggerated Street Fighter 3 to the young, almost childish X-Men and Marvel games. There really is no ‘correct’ version of Ryu, although my interpretation would be a combination of Street Fighter 2′s Ryu, and Street Fighter EX 3. In any case, Ryu is badder than ever, but I wouldn’t say bigger than ever.
In my opinion, Zangief’s new look is the coolest of all the Street Fighter IV characters. Just look at him! He’s built like a HOUSE! His stance is wary and aggressive, like a grizzly bear. But is this how he is “supposed” to look?
Zangief absolutely looks as blocky and solid as he ever has, that is after his original 1992 look was changed. At frist, he was not much more than an exaggerated pro wrestler. But starting with Super Street Fighter 2, they made him thicker and more bear-like. And he has been that way ever since. I have to say though, the Capcom vs. SNK 1 art is a little inappropriate; borderline NSFW in fact.
So there you have it, the dumbest article I’ve ever written! Still, it’s been quite a while since I’ve written something for our Retro Gamer series of blog posts (and if you like reading about video games from the 80′s, 90′s and up, be sure to read our previous posts! Our most popular articles are the Bad Dudes vs DRAGONNINJA review, and our Dragon’s Lair Blu-Ray review). I thought it would be a good time to reminisce about Street Fighter, since the series is sure to have a huge year in 2008. We’ve been following the progress of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix (and it looks like it’s going to be best on PS3, since they seem to be running into issues with the size limitation of downloadable XBOX 360 games – we shall see though). and now Street Fighter IV.
As you can see, Capcom does fighting game characters better than anyone. They seem to have hit the perfect balance of cartoon style with realism throughout all their games in the last 16 years. Most of the characters have retained a pretty consistent look, and despite what some may be screaming about, that hasn’t really changed with SF IV (with the exception of Dhalsim).
All art was downloaded from the excellent folks at Street Fighter Galleries. Without their database, this article would have taken much longer to research!