Street Fighter has come a long way in thirty years, and it’s been a good year to look back and see where it came from.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is naturally in the center spotlight — and going into its fourth year, its shaky launch and a myriad of nagging issues continue to haunt it, leaving the community perpetually comparing it to its Ultra Street Fighter IV predecessor or waiting for Capcom to cut and run to some sort of Street Fighter VI, or both. But, after a tease at classic representation with Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers kicked off Capcom’s nod to Street Fighter’s 30th anniversary — and it started to look like the fans were the only ones to mark the occasion with a worthy tribute — Capcom brought us the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection.
Regardless of any minor quibbles (not to mention that the 30th anniversary kind of got stretched over two years…), it can’t be denied that this multi-platform collection brought the near-entirety of Street Fighter’s arcade legacy to players all over again, and stands as a firm reminder of the series’ rich legacy of style, creativity, and great gameplay. Looking at these games now really does feel like walking through a museum of classic game design — and brings much of the current issues with SFV into even sharper relief, even as we can see how SFV still draws from the better aspects of these games.
Whether intentional or a happy coincidence, the perfect companion piece for the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection arrived a number of months prior to that compilation’s release: the massive art book UNDISPUTED STREET FIGHTER: A 30th ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE. While Capcom’s software bundle contains its own nice in-game museum that details many design aspects of those titles, Dynamite’s hardcover tribute — penned by Steve Hendershot — covers many more things that Capcom’s own collection overlooks, and brings that history all the way up to the series’ present state.
While many hardcore fans and collectors have undoubtedly grabbed this gorgeous book already; those that haven’t yet are missing out on what may be the most comprehensive look at both Street Fighter and how the fighting game community has grown and developed around it. The 300-page hardcover is chock-full of promotional and behind-scenes artwork. It progressively focuses on the game’s rise in the arcades and its explosion into pop culture and mainstream media and mechandise — from Final Fight and Hard Times through the game’s battle in arcades on both sides of the Pacific, to Street Fighter IV‘s big comeback and later Street Fighter V, all peppered with tidbits from designers, organizers, and players. Look for Daigo Umehara, John Choi, Justin Wong, James Chen, Seth Killian, Brolylegs, and many more, as the book explores both the game and the people that have played a part in its community.
As we move into a new year of Street Fighter in 2019, I think it’s important to look at where Street Fighter came from and remember that no matter where the series is going — for good or bad — it has a fantastic three decades behind it, and that foundation isn’t going away. Be it through Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection or FightCade, and community events and circuits like Super Turbo Revival, Jazzy Circuit, Cooperation Cup… there are so many ways to keep enjoying this series and the many different games in it. UNDISPUTED STREET FIGHTER: A 30th ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE helps remind us of this. Keep playing what you love, because after 30 years, there’s a lot of Street Fighter to go around.