I had no idea at the time that Street Fighter II was destined to start a revolution, but it did. I watched as this game, this lousy, cheating, eat my last two quarters game, become huge overnight. By early 1992, Street Fighter II was all anyone was talking about, then Capcom ported the game to the Super NES and released it that summer, shortly after I graduated high school. That was it. The dam had officially burst. The demand for more vs. fighters was growing, and the game companies knew it. Street Fighter II wannabes started flooding the arcades, with most of them being ported to the Super NES and Genesis shortly thereafter. Then, in fall ’92, Street Fighter II‘s biggest rival appeared in arcades.
And where were you about a year later, on Mortal Monday? Me, I was at home.
Having never seen anything quite like it before, even I was impressed by the digitized fighters and copious amounts of blood, not to mention those fatalities. But in the end, it was just another vs. fighter. I’d already seen them start to overwhelm the Neo Geo, which had so much promise before it became the vs. fighter console (I’m still a fan of a lot of the games for it that aren’t vs. fighters, especially Magician Lord and the Metal Slug games). In fact, my main issue was the fact that vs. fighters were starting to overwhelm, well, everything.
For a time, this was actually a Good Thing. Before the asteroid impact that was Street Fighter II, arcades had such a selection of games that appealed to everyone. Sure, Double Dragon started a minor brawler craze in the late ’80s, but it had nowhere near the impact that Street Fighter II had when it took off. Now, all people wanted to play were vs. fighters, and they’d crowd around the SF2 and MK machines, watching others play, anxiously awaiting their turn. I had my choice of games to play, because very few people were bothering with them, and I could play whatever I wanted until I ran out of quarters. But little by little, the arcades I went to lost the impressively diverse selection that they had, in favor of wall-to-wall vs. fighters.
All I could do was watch helplessly as my old favorites – the shooters, the action platformers, the run-n-guns , the brawlers – were removed and replaced by the next big vs. fighter. Some of the old standbys and proven money-makers stuck around. Very rarely would you find an arcade that didn’t at least have one Pac-Man game, for example.
10 times out of 10, it was this one.
Home consoles weren’t quite as badly affected, but I did notice that were a lot fewer games in each of those genres released there as well. There were plenty of vs. fighter home ports and original creations, of course, but there was also the X-TREME CRITTER infatuation at the time too (thank you very much, Sonic the Hedgehog).
This was at least 50% your fault, you smug bastard.
In the end, all I could do was watch as the entire world of gaming that I knew was completely changed. And let’s not even get to the impact that 3D gaming had once consoles like the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were released, coupled with the rise of the first person shooter. In the end, I blame Street Fighter II for all of this. The world was never the same after it.
So what caused me to do this turnaround, so many years after this all happened? Well, that’s another story entirely.