In March of 1991, Street Fighter II machines began appearing in arcades worldwide. The game would end up defining the fighting game genre, and it became the biggest title of its era in the process.
Street Fighter II’s predecessor Street Fighter introduced some of the aspects seen in the sequel, but in comparison was very basic. It featured only two playable characters, Ryu and Ken, but it was the first fighting game to introduce the concept of special moves. The difficult moves were never shared by the game makers, so players had to discover them for themselves.
Street Fighter II built upon the original by adding much better graphics, sound, and more responsive controls. It also added 6 more characters, all with their own set of special moves.
The addition of new playable characters made the game incredibly competitive, with each character being able to utilize different strategies and play styles. The game also introduced the concept of combination attacks, which became an essential part of fighting games.
Within its first two years, Street Fighter II had already earned over $1.5 billion, making it one of the top selling games of all time. Its Super Nintendo version would sell over 6.3 million copies, making it Capcom’s bestselling game for two decades.
Street Fighter II‘s popularity led to an explosion in fighting games being released in the 1990s. Games like Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and Virtua Fighter all became incredibly popular in the wake of Street Fighter, which all of them borrowed from.
The Street Fighter series remains one of the highest-grossing video game franchises in history, selling a whopping 44 million units worldwide as of December, 2019.