Virtually Overlooked: Fighting Street

In a few months, Street Fighter IV will be released on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. It combines new characters, bright new 3D graphics, and new gameplay systems with a celebration of classic Street Fighter history. Home ports of new Street Fighter arcade games have been a very big deal since Capcom first revealed that they were porting Street Fighter II to the Super NES -- a port that, even at an MSRP of $70, sold over six million copies, more than anything Capcom has released before or since.

But as huge as it was, Street Fighter II was not the first home console port of a Street Fighter game. The first, mostly forgotten Street Fighter was ported to the Turbografx-16 CD-ROM in 1988, and renamed Fighting Street.

Back then, Capcom's fighting game was enough of a nonentity that it didn't matter if NEC wanted to rename it for whatever reason. It would be impossible to imagine renaming Street Fighter IV for the home market, but at the time there was absolutely zero recognition.

For that matter, maybe the title change was designed to protect against recognition: the people least likely to buy the disc would be those who had actually experienced Street Fighter in the arcade.

Street Fighter pioneered the six-button control scheme found in Street Fighter II, but only in its 'normal' cabinet. Capcom also released a 'deluxe' Street Fighter cabinet that assigned punches and kicks to one pressure-sensitive button each. And not "lightly tap for delicate movements" sensitive like modern controllers, either; the giant pads were designed with pounding in mind. Capcom sort of mimicked the wacky pressure-sensitive controls for the two-button Turbografx-16 pad, varying the intensity of the attack with the duration of the button press.

The game's only selectable character, Ryu, and his identical player-2 counterpart, Ken, had the same moves then as they do now: the fireball, the hurricane kick, and the Dragon Punch. Back then, though, pulling them off was a great deal more difficult, due to poor controls and the fact that it wasn't the most famous game ever. They were a lot more "special," as well, draining ridiculous amounts of opponents' HP.

Ryu, Ken, and final boss Sagat became staples of the series, of course, but it took until Street Fighter Alpha for the influence of the first game to be seen again. Ryu's hair turned red once more, and characters like Birdie, Adon, and, later, Gen returned. Mike and Joe sort of returned in Street Fighter II as the guys fighting in the intro movie, marking the last time anyone noticed Mike and Joe.

It's kind of hard to imagine an exclusive Street Fighter home port not skyrocketing a platform to massive success, but Fighting Street didn't really set the market for the $400 CD addon aflame. But for eight dollars, I wouldn't mind having an arcade-perfect port of this rare game. At least I know the Wii would be able to get it "right" (for Street Fighter) instead of forcing Capcom to make a scaled-down port.

Virtually Overlooked is a weekly feature that spotlights games that aren't yet on the Virtual Console, but should be. Want more Virtually Overlooked? Check out the first year!

This article was originally published on Joystiq.