There’s a reason Street Fighter is considered the granddaddy of fighting games. Debuting in 1987, the franchise initially was a blip on the video game radar, garnering attention initially thanks to a unique control system that stood out. But with 1991’s Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, fighting games were changed irrevocably. Fighting games blew up, both in arcades and at home, and we’re still feeling the effects today. Fighting games have become serious business, of course, even reaching the point where “professional tournament fighting game player” is an actual job you can aspire to have!
Street Fighter is still a huge name in this industry despite how much it’s changed over the years, with Street Fighter V currently making waves with the announcement of new roster additions in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. To celebrate the new release, we’ve put together some of the best Street Fighter memes. Be it theme songs that apply to any situation or waiting for your best friend to figure out how to throw that Hadouken, these memes will bring you back to a time when the sprites were 2D and combos weren’t really a thing yet. Here are 15 Street Fighter memes that go with everything.
15. BONUS STAGES
Street Fighter quickly became known for its bombastic bonus stages almost as well as it was for its fighting. Though the fighting was still the core gameplay, the interlude was a nice way to break up the monotony of fighting the world’s greatest warriors by taking a quick break to kick a few barrels until they splintered into shards.
Most infamous of these stages: the car. The fighters are placed on opposite ends of a car with a time limit and told to destroy the car as quickly as possible. If you’ve played it, you remember the frenzy of trying to find the right spot to attack to trigger the car’s inevitable explosion. The stage is notable for being censored on the console ports, with the car’s owner, too late to stop the damage, proclaiming “Oh! My Car!” as opposed to the arcade port, where exclaimed “Oh My God!”
14. A BADGE OF HONOR
Feeling SNK’s Art of Fighting was ripping off Ryu with its own main character, Capcom fired back with Dan Hibiki. A parody amalgamation of Art of Fighting‘s main characters Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia, he was intended as little more than a joke character, a self-taught fighter hindered by his own personal shortcomings.
So what do Street Fighter fans do when you present them with a character that’s clearly a joke? They make a challenge of it, of course. Beating games with Dan is something of a badge of honor, as he’s portrayed as a clearly weaker fighter. Still, he’s balanced enough that a skilled player can make Dan into the most formidable fighter in the game, fulfilling the character’s lifelong dream of glory and victory.
13. DOWNRIGHT FIERCE
Street Fighter has become iconic for a variety of reasons, but one that stands out is the treatment of special moves. The simple yet precise nature of the button combinations has earned them a place in history. Tell someone playing any fighting game that controls are “Street Fighter motions” and they’ll instantly know what you’re talking about.
This really helps the franchise earn a lot of respect for being able to pick up and play pretty much any iteration. Once you’ve learned the special moves in one game, chances are you know them in all of them. There are a few exceptions, but most have been the same for decades. One obvious case, Ryu’s Hadouken, is a button input that might be as iconic as Contra‘s legendary Konami Code.
12. SCUMBAG BISON
You see a lot of video games adopt ideas from their tie-in properties when they’re successful. Street Fighter wasn’t as lucky. The 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle has a lot of ironic respect these days, praised by fans for its value as a bad movie rather than a faithful adaptation of a classic video game series. But Raul Julia’s Bison has perhaps gone down as one of the most beloved aspects of the film.
Julia himself was doing perhaps his most memorable work for today’s generation at the time, with roles in The Addams Family series as well as his turn as the villainous Bison. The level of scenery chewing in Street Fighter is impressive, and some of his most memorable lines carry on today in the form of memes, such as this Scumbag Bison meme featuring his memory of the day Chun-Li’s parents were murdered.
11. LET ME FIGURE OUT MY MOVES
It’s something of a right of passage to play a fighting game with your friends. Though the nature of this has changed largely over the years thanks to the advent of online play, you just can’t beat the feeling of sitting down in the same room with your best friend, running that long, slightly coiled controller cable that’s been wrapped up for six months across the floor and playing some Street Fighter II.
But it wasn’t always an easy affair. One of you might not even own the game. And while today’s gamers may be instantly familiar with the similar controls, the standards were still new in 1992. So inevitably you spent a few minutes each round on the other side of the screen, doing button checks and trying to figure out how your moves worked. It was an integral part of the experience and something that still exists even today.
10. SPAM IT OUT
There’s always that one Street Fighter player; the guy who never really learned any of the moves; who doesn’t have the combos down; the guy who shows up at every party and spends a few rounds getting thrashed but manages to cheese out a few victories in the cheapest way possible. Hell, maybe you’re that guy. You know it if you are.
The original Street Fighter II manual even warned against this, letting you know that special moves left you open. But that super simple, quarter circle motion to drop a Hadouken is just so easy, and effective! Sure, your opponent can block it, but there’s chip damage. And if you throw enough then maybe, just maybe, you’ll sneak one in when he’s trying to press his advantage. You don’t have to learn the combos to be good at Street Fighter, but your friends sure will appreciate it.
9. NOT THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
There weren’t always a million fighting games to choose from. Sure, you had the arcade heyday, where there were a number of fighting games, but with the release of Street Fighter II on home consoles, the market changed entirely. For a while, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat were the big two, the ones everyone could rely on, but that quickly changed.
Eternal Champions, Samurai Shodown, Tekken, Virtua Fighter and many, many more flooded the market. Fighting games became huge, and the prospect of having them for home play was even more lucrative. These days the classic arcade experience is all but dead save for a select few areas, but home games have expanded to the point that even Nintendo’s Pokémon franchise has its own viable and well-received franchise with Pokken Tournament.
8. STARTED FROM STREET FIGHTER I
Few people remember the original arcade presence of the original Street Fighter today. Rather than having proper buttons, the cabinet had a control stick and two large, pressure sensitive pads. By pounding on the pad, the strength of the blow would dictate the strength of the attack. This didn’t last terribly long, though. The pads were prone to wear out quickly, and the resulting cabinet was downright dangerous to use without injury, prompting the replacement of traditional buttons.
These days, Street Fighter is regarded as the standard bearer. The traditional six-button layout has been something of a go-to ever since. The franchise has also set standards for character design and storytelling since those early arcade iterations. To play the original Street Fighter now is something of a surprise to see how far the franchise has come, but it is something every Street Fighter fan should get the chance to see.
7. WHY NOT PLAY THE CROSSOVER?
It is impossible to describe how excited fans were about Street Fighter X Tekken. After years as two of the biggest fighting game franchises in the world, seeing the worlds of the World Warriors and the King of Iron Fist Tournament clash in one giant, epic brawl was something no one ever could have dreamed up.
Unfortunately, fans weren’t as excited by the final product. Fans found the game to control odd, trying to using Tekken characters in the wildly different Street Fighter system. But where the game really soured fans was the addition of DLC characters whose data already existed on the disc. Street Fighter X Tekken isn’t remembered fondly today, and the planned Tekken X Street Fighter follow-up is languishing in development hell.
6. SURE YOU CAN
There are some pretty silly conceits in Street Fighter‘s repertoire of super moves. Take the Sonic Boom for example, where Guile literally whips his arms forward fast enough to generate a sonic burst; or E. Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap, where he repeatedly strikes with a slap at lightning speed. Naturally, given that he’s the main character, Ryu’s special moves are the most iconic.
Ryu’s Hadouken is perhaps the most well-known move in all of gaming. Not just the input, but the iconic pose, even the way he shouts Hadouken. His Hurricane Kick is a close second, with his seemingly gibberish cries second only to Raiden’s during his Superman torpedo. And then, of course, there’s the Dragon Uppercut. The Shoryuken has proven a pop culture mainstay, even being adopted as the name for a popular gaming website.
5. YES WE HADOKEN
Shepard Fairey’s iconic Hope poster quickly became a part of pop culture. Originally created in association with President Obama’s 2008 election campaign, it was everywhere in the months leading up to the election. These days, it seems like everyone has their own parody version of the poster, cementing its place in pop culture history.
The Street Fighter one above is a pretty straightforward parody. Ryu’s Hadouken is an easy target for word puns, much like the Shoryuken, and you can find any number of riffs on the same joke. Pretty much anything you can think of has its own riff on the Hope / “Yes We Can” poster these days. Ironically, creator Fairey found himself in hot water over the image when it turned out he had based the image on an Associated Press photo without acquiring permission to use the image.
4. THE TUNE TO WHICH GUILE IS KNOWN
It wouldn’t be a list of Street Fighter memes without the most present one. For years now, the Internet has been flocked with a meme affectionately known as “Guile’s theme goes with everything.” First noticed as a series of YouTube Poop videos, the premise is exactly what it sounds like: any video, no matter how unrelated or disconnected, will match up with Guile’s Street Fighter II theme.
This isn’t true 100% of the time obviously, but it is pretty common. This is thanks to Guile’s theme being admittedly a theme which follows a fairly simple and basic progression, meaning it fits in with most situations. The upbeat nature of the song doesn’t hurt, either. “Guile’s theme goes with everything” hasn’t been as popular recently as it once was, but you can still find new mashups even today.
3. BEAT ALL YOUR FRIENDS
Every once in a while, you’d run into a kid who thought he could win a fight because he played a ton of Street Fighter. This kid would actually think they could emulate the characters they were seeing in the game and master a fighting style. Sure, they weren’t trying to throw Hadoukens or anything like that, but they would claim they’d learned to fight from the game.
Street Fighter is a hell of a game, but it’s no substitute for real fighting obviously. While there’s a lot of attention paid to the fighting styles of the game, the arcade nature of Street Fighter means a lot of the movements and techniques are sensationalized in the name of making the game more appealing. Obviously, it’s impressive to be a great Street Fighter player, but it certainly won’t make you an actual black belt.
2. ZANGIEF MANEUVER
Oh, Zangief. That big, bearish wrestler might be one of Street Fighter‘s most classic characters. Another character debuting in Street Fighter II, Zangief’s large character sprite and cartoony appearance covers up the fact that he’s a hell of a character with a steep but rewarding learning curve, making him one of the franchise’s most difficult characters to master.
Zangief’s larger nature makes him a bit slower and his moveset is geared towards up close fighting, though he still keeps pace with other characters. He’s a character with a lot of complicated super moves too, but the reward is high. Though his most infamous super move, the Double Lariat, is typically a simple button masher, the infamous Spinning Piledriver typically requires a full 360-degree motion, something many new players have trouble with.
1. ZANGIEF FLOWCHART
Zangief’s got a pretty over the top story, too. At 7 feet tall and around 400 pounds, Zangief was originally portrayed as hailing from the Soviet Union, those he’s understandably billed as Russian now. Fighting in the Street Fighter Tournament at the behest of Russia’s President, Zangief loses and goes back to his bear wrestling roots.
Yeah, bears. That’s an actual part of Zangief’s backstory. He spent time in Siberia, living in the wild and wrestling bears, which is how he got the signature scars all over his body. By Street Fighter V Zangief is a publicly recognized figure and beloved performer. Zangief these days is portrayed as something of a gag character, playing up his over the top personality, but he’s still one hell of a fighter and someone not to be trifled with.
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