The April Fool’s joke that kicked off Gouken’s story is a now a quarter-century old.
Capcom is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Street Fighter this year; but that also means it’s the 25th anniversary of the classic April Fool’s joke that ran in the April 1992 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.
The hoax was presented as a means to unlock the mysterious “Sheng Long” in the original arcade version of Street Fighter II: using Ryu, and reaching M. Bison with nothing but Perfect victories, you must then survive ten rounds against the dictator without exchanging any blows. If successful, instead of a draw game, Sheng Long–Ryu and Ken’s long-lost master–will appear, dispose of Bison, and proceed to wreck you with his broken moveset.
The near-impossible trick to fight Sheng Long was soon exposed as a hoax, but is still remembered for the glorious gag it was. “Sheng Long” is born of the mistranslation in Ryu’s win quote, where “Sheng Long” was later corrected to “Dragon Punch” as intended.
This hoax holds such a strong place in Street Fighter collective consciousness because it inspired design choices that made many of its aspects reality in future games. Sheng Long’s substitution for M. Bison mirrors the entry of Akuma as a hidden boss in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. And as for “Sheng Long”–he became Gouken in Street Fighter IV, making Sheng Long effectively canonical after many years. Gouken even has a win quote in Super Street Fighter IV that pays tribute to the original mistranslation–“You must defeat me to stand a chance!”–as if his very design and existence wasn’t tribute enough!
AcidGlow marks the upcoming April anniversary of Sheng Long with this retrospective video: