Fighting in the Street: Part I

It began in February, 1992.  

My mom had only recently moved into her first apartment after she and my dad separated. My brother and I spent the weekends at her place, and most weekends we’d go to the Blockbuster Video that was about a mile from her house. My bro and I would each pick out a video game to rent and then we’d get a couple of movies. But something different happened this particular Saturday. Blockbuster had a single magazine up by the checkout, called GamePro, and it featured what was the biggest craze in the world at the time – The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  

I begged with my mom to please get the magazine for me. I wanted– No, NEEDED– to know about this new Ninja Turtles video game coming out! She conceded, and I was happy as a pig in shit.

GamePro from February, 1992

The magazine was awesome. Not only did it have a two-page story about the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project on the NES, it also had reviews on a bunch of other games. I remember one for Megaman II on the Gameboy, and one for an arcade game that I’d never heard of before: Street Fighter II.  

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this game, but it had a very unique premise: You could select one of eight brightly-colored characters, each with their own look, fighting style, and attacks. And this game had SIX attack buttons! SIX!!! As an NES owner, I was used to two buttons. My cousins had gotten a Sega Genesis for Christmas, and they kept bragging that those controllers had THREE buttons. But six?! This was unheard of!  

The next month, not only was Street Fighter II featured, it was the COVER ARTICLE. I enjoyed the previous month’s GamePro, I had to get this next issue, too. Thankfully, mom obliged me yet again, and I went home with this magazine dedicated to SFII.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Street Fighter II preview in that initial issue didn’t really do very much for me. I have only the vaguest recollections of looking at the article, reading it, and moving on to something far more interesting. And even when the March issue came out, it still wasn’t a huge deal, but I figured the game had to be important if it got to be on the cover. After all, the month before, the NINJA TURTLES were on the cover! So SFII had to be at least almost as big a deal as a new TMNT game.  

The subsequent months had articles and special insert pages telling the coolest moves and combos for each of the characters. Oh man, this game looked SO COOL! I couldn’t wait to play it!   But wait was exactly what I would have to do.

See, the Super NES had JUST come out, so there was no way I was going to get my parents to buy me one so quickly. Plus, I had managed to talk my dad into buying me TMNTIII on a rainy Monday evening in the spring, and an entire Sega Genesis with Sonic the Hedgehog the very next day. Not only that, I had somehow managed to rack up something like 7 or 8 NES games at Christmas – Codename: Viper, Clash at Demonhead, NARC, and a new copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 to replace my broken one were just the tip of the iceberg. I had enough new games, so my dreams of a Super NES and the forthcoming Street Fighter II home release would have to wait.

I think it was October of the following school year, one of my new friends in 4th grade (whom I never saw again after that year) had gotten a Super NES for his birthday, and invited a bunch of us over to play  games with him. If I remember correctly (you have to understand, 1992 was 18 years ago for me), his parents were going to be at work late that night, and his older brother was okay with people coming over to play video games. He was telling us that he’d gotten Super Mario World, Final Fight, Contra III, and Street Fighter II.

Humminabwah!? Street Fighter II?! The game that I had been reading about in GamePro for A YEAR?! Yeah, I was gonna be there for that, I don’t care what kind of trouble I might get in (turns out it was none).

You know this box.

I totally sucked at the game and lost every match, but holy crap, did I have fun! People were impressed that I knew all the special moves, even though I’d never played the game. I remember being pretty good with the manbeast, Blanka, although the fact that he turned around to do his crouching Roundhouse kick kind of threw me off.

That Christmas, Santa was kind enough to get me and my brother a Super Nintendo (along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time…But more on that game in a future entry!), so the FIRST CHANCE I GOT, I rented Street Fighter II. AND HOLY CRAP WAS THIS GAME AMAZING!!! By this time, I had even memorized the code to play character vs. same character (Down, R, Up, L, Y, B at the “Capcom” logo screen), and I just could not stop playing.

As a ten-year-old kid, this game had been building up in my brain for a year. That was 1/10th of my entire life — There was NO possible way that this game was going to be bad. None, period.

My first favorite character was Guile, because I could do the Sonic Boom and Flash Kick. I liked that he was an All-American “army guy,” and his funny hair intrigued me. Plus, he had that weird upside-down jumpkick attack, and nobody else could do that.

It took me forever to finally beat the game, even on the lowest difficulty setting. But I was so proud when I finally did. I felt like I could do anything in that game, now that I’d toppled the evil M. Bison, and crushed his crime syndicate.

After a year of build-up, I had finally played and conquered Street Fighter II. But that wasn’t the end of the journey, my fellow Geeks. No, it was only the beginning…