The characters that stand at the very top of the hill
Since 1987, Street Fighter has reigned as the most popular fighting game of all time. The genre itself may not have been birthed by Capcom’s most revered franchise, but it was popularized and brought to the forefront in arcades everywhere thanks to its efforts. Over the years, Street Fighter has produced mainline sequels, prequels, crossover projects, 3D spinoffs, and a myriad of other multimedia experiences.
With so many Street Fighter entries to play through, fans have had to master a dizzying amount of characters. At the moment, the franchise as a whole has given players a total of 112 street combatants to adore, despise or feel entirely indifferent about. But at the moment, we’re here to chat about the characters that stand at the very top of the hill as Street Fighter’s greatest characters and most likable fighters. The five individuals listed below are Street Fighter’s strongest icons that helped define the franchise they helped push to major mainstream appeal.
One of the major attributes tied to a certain group of Street Fighter characters is the fighting style that makes them quite similar to each other. That collection of fighters is referred to as a “Shoto,” who’s defined as a martial artist that relies on Shotokan martial arts. Shoto characters come in the form of series regulars such as Ryu, Ken, Akuma, Dan, Sean, etc. One of the younger Shotokan practitioners is Sakura, a spunky schoolgirl who’s inspired by Ryu and his dedication to martial arts. Her introduction to the series in Street Fighter Alpha 2 quickly made her a fan favorite due to her fun take on the Shoto playstyle, eye-catching school uniform and lovable personality. Her humorous win taunts are just icing on the cake for a Street Fighter character that inspires cosplayers and expert players everywhere.
Street Fighter’s first boss has remained a staple of the series ever since his first encounter with Ryu. Sagat, the “Emperor of Muay Thai,” stands tall (extremely tall, we might add) as one of the series’ more intimidating characters. His Tiger Shot projectile, plus his Tiger Uppercut and Tiger Knee special moves are iconic. The players that use those special’s love to destroy (and annoy) their opponents with them, while the players that hate those maneuvers can’t stand their viability in every game Sagat is featured in. Sagat’s eye patch and badass chest scar add on to his unmistakable mystique. With so much going for him, Sagat has stuck around for a lengthy amount of time in Street Fighter and remains a go-to pick for longtime players.
Shadaloo’s big boss and a master user of “Psycho Power,” M. Bison has reigned as Street Fighter’s ultimate bad guy for as long as we can remember. In the pursuit of eternal life and unstoppable power, he regularly switches bodies in an attempt to retain his abilities and continue to rule with an iron hand. M. Bison is just a terrible guy altogether, but his evil ways and sinister intentions make him cool in the eyes of several players and fans alike. His Street Fighter II pre-fight pose and fighting stance are just so damn cool, which makes it so hard to truly hate the guy. His powerful repertoire and tricky maneuvers are iconic – that Psycho Crusher of his breaks spirits and causes some pretty devastating chip damage, too. There’s a reason why so many Street Fighter characters have a vendetta against M. Bison – he’s a cruel dictator who has no qualms about causing his detractors plenty of discomfort.
Street Fighter II did something revolutionary back in 1991 – it gave the fighting game genre its second playable lady fighter. The woman we’re alluding to is Chun-Li, the strong-willed police agent with the most powerful legs in the series. Chun stands out as one of the most recognizable characters in all of gaming and is loved by men and women alike. Even Nicki Minaj honored her in musical form by naming a song after her! Besides her amazing fashion sense, Chun is beloved due to her strong athleticism and magnetic personality. Street Fighter has a ton of women on its still growing roster – all of those ladies owe their very existence to the road paved by Chun-Li. When the term “Lightning Kicks” comes up during a random conversation, everyone should know whom you’re talking about.
Akuma is undoubtedly Street Fighter’s most standout fighter. When players eventually encountered him as a final threat in Street Fighter II Turbo, they were equally amazed and scared to death. Akuma has mastered the killer martial art of Ansatsuken and fully tapped into the violent rage tied to the “Satsui no Hado.” The foreboding sense of dread tied to Akuma is due to his impressive arsenal of special moves – those air fireballs and that slick teleport he’s capable of kicks so much ass. Even though Akuma looks inherently evil, he’s really not out here to take over the world or even destroy it – he’s only interested in taking on the strongest fighters and putting his unmatched strength on display. Akuma is not only Street Fighter’s best character, but he’s also one of gaming’s most recognizable and respected video game personalities.