Jesus wept, it gets worse every time I hear it. It's worse than the Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced Tetris song, and I'll give you a moment to let that sink in. Ready? Good, let's continue.
If you think of the phrases "Street Fighter" and "licensed crap", the first thing that pops into your head may well be the 1994 live-action Street Fighter movie, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile and Raul Julia as M. Bison. Now, a lot of people will tell you that the Street Fighter movie is terrible, and they're sort of right. The fight scenes are poor, the acting is generally atrocious (it does star JCVD and Kylie Minogue, so what else would you expect?) and there's so much deviation from the Street Fighter canon that if you changed the character names you'd probably struggle to figure out what it was based on.
Yet despite all this I'm quite willing to defend the movie, because for what it is it's really not that bad. Taken as a goofy adventure movie aimed at kids, I think it holds its own quite well; there's some action, some (occasionally quite amusing) humour and I will go on record as saying that Raul Julia's Bison is one of my all-time favourite movie villains. People often say it's sad that this was his last film role, but I don't agree; apparently he took the role because his grandkids asked him to, and he gave a great performance that gave an otherwise mediocre movie a bit of sparkle.
Something that neither sparkles nor even manages to be mediocre is the second live-action Street Fighter film, The Legend of Chun-Li.
I'll be blunt; this film is an unmitigated piece of shit. It's terrible on every level, but I think the worst thing about it is the way it pisses over the all over its source material with the glee of a toddler who's just learned to use the big-boy toilet. Balrog uses a rocket launcher. Vega is a member of the Black Eyed Peas, a man who if I was being polite I would describe as "facially interesting". And M. Bison? Well, here's Bison in the games:
And here's how he was portrayed in The Legend of Chun-Li.
What the actual fuck. Fun fact: The first Street Fighter movie turned a profit, despite being widely regarded as being one of the worst movies of the '90s. The Legend of Chun-Li lost millions of dollars. I like to think of this as some kind of cosmic justice.
Oh, and who could forget Street Fighter: The Animated Series?
An American Saturday-morning cartoon, SF:TAS has gained some notoriety for the amount of meme-worthy phrases it has spawned. This is appropriate, because it's goofy as fuck.
As much as I'm against repeating internet memes out loud in real life, I must confess that "this is delicious!" and "Not the head bite!" have slipped into my everyday vocabulary.
So, Street Fighter's televisual offerings, or at least those produced in the west, are a mixed bag to say the least. Still, they're movies and TV shows, so far removed from the experience of actually playing the game that they're bound to be inferior, right? Maybe, but it's not as though the game itself was immune from being fucked over. With that in mind, here's the DOS port of SFII.
Yep, there was a DOS port of SFII. It is the worst version of SFII, and considering there's a version for the friggin' Game Boy that's really saying something. The DOS port looks like it was produced by someone who had never actually played SFII, but had all the art assets and had seen someone playing it once. They figured they could make a decent reconstruction with what knowledge they had but sadly they didn't quite grasp the fine details, leaving us with the videogame equivalent of the backwards-assed dinosaur skeletons put together by early paleontologists.
The physics are completely wrong, with each jump seeing your character float almost off the screen. Certain actions paralyse you. The music is dreadful, there are long loading times, each character only has one special move, and worst of all there's only one attack button, with different blows produced by holding different directions while you attack. Here, check it out for yourself.
Dhalsim being some kind of invincible super-warrior is just mind-boggling. I'll stick with the SNES version, thanks.
Hold the presses, I've lied to you all and I can only apologise. This, in fact, is the worst version of Street Fighter II: the LCD handheld version produced by Tiger Electronics. Tiger were the bane of my childhood, especially around Christmas time when well-meaning but naive (or poor) relatives heard that I loved videogames and so, wanting to buy me a videogame as a present, would get me an LCD game like this. "Disappointed" doesn't quite cover it. Maybe it was the admittedly powerful advertising that convinced them it'd make a good gift:
If a creepy hobo from a post-apocalyptic future tells you to get good at the handheld SFII game, you don't argue: you buckle the fuck down and play until your fingers bleed.
As much as I hate LCD games, I was a very polite child and never caused a scene. Instead, I would retreat to my bedroom and construct elaborate plans involving Tiger's game design staff and their slow deaths via drowing in a vat of liquid crystal.
Oh, and there was a watch version, too.
Better than the hand-held game, purely because it was robust enough to be used as a makeshift mace against any bully that dared laugh at your "fucking gay bender watch".
Bittersweet memories of childhood bring me neatly on to toys. Street Fighter was popular with kids, and that means toys. Did this mean a new and exciting range of toys combining the muscular fighting action of He-Man with the Japanese flavour of the Power Rangers? Did it bollocks. What we got instead were repaints of old G.I. Joe figures.
Would it be crass to point out that this figure's face doesn't look female, let alone like Chun-Li? Possibly, but I'm going to do it anyway; look at that man-face. Oh, and the rest of it looks nothing like Chun-Li, either. You might also notice that Chun-Li here comes with a fairly varied assortment of weapons. All the characters did, because kids were going to be pissed if they couldn't recreate the scenes from the arcade game where Ryu attacked Ken with an axe. The best thing about the weapons? Chun-Li came with claws. Sagat came with claws. Vega, a character pretty much defined by his use of a fucking claw, did not come with a claw. They had the claw mould, they even made claws for other people, but they took one look at Vega and said "screw you, buddy - these claws are for that bald dude with the eyepatch".
To be fair to Hasbro, they did remedy this when they released the "Movie" version of of the figure, but by then the damage was done and Vega, unable to defend himself without his trademark weapon, had been repeatedly battered by every challenger that crossed his path.
One final word on the Street Fighter G.I. Joes. What's tougher than a Capcom Street Fighter?
Advertising for children really is an artform, isn't it?
A tiny mushroomoid M. Bison? Why, that is curious. Wherever could he be from? Well, I'll tell you: he's from a Street Fighter Whack-a-Mole machine.
I think you all know the idea here. Miniature Bisons pop out of the machine, and you have to bash them back down again. With a hammer, not your mystical karate skills. Okay, so this one isn't too terrible; I just thought it was interesting enough to mention because a) I'm impressed that they bothered to make new art and sprites for it and b) that Bison is pretty adorable.
And finally, something that is terrible. In fact, I think it's tied with The Legend of Chun-Li for the title of "worst thing to carry the Street Fighter name that isn't an unlicensed hentai doujinshi starring Sakura and an octopus". Witness the majestic trainwreck that is Street Fighter: The Ride.
Did you watch it? If you did, I'm sure you'll understand why I am somewhat lost for words. Apparently once located at Universal Studios, this is a "simulation" type ride, which as far as I can tell means that your chair shakes around. But it shakes around in a Street Fighter-esque way, so there's that.
Just the concept of basing a ride around a fighting game is confusing. How could you possibly make that work? The answer is you can't. It's not possible. The people at Cadix Media and Show Scan either didn't realise this or simply didn't care, and gave us Ryu and Ken flying through a poorly-rendered digital world on some kind of hover-sled. Is it just me, or does it have an almost F-Zero GX feel to it?
Of course, all your favourite Street Fighter hereoes are there. Fei Long squeals at you like a bad Bruce Lee impersonator should. Vega literally stands in the way until Ryu tells him to move. Dhalsim fights Blanka while making a lot of vaguely racist-sounding "Indian" noises. Sagat... I don't know what the fuck is going on with Sagat, but that face shouldn't be shown to people with preexisting heart conditions. Finally, Bison arrives. Did I mention he's twenty feet tall now? I think it's a side effect of having conquered ReBoot's Mainframe. Then Ryu and Ken shoot a double hadoken in Bison's nuts and he dies. And you die too, just a little, deep inside.
And that's that. Please, don't love Street Fighter II less because of the travesties featured here - that'd be like hating a girl because she was once forced to wear a really ugly dress. Instead, plug in your SNES, grab a pad and play the game as it was meant to be played - with your friend calling you cheap for performing constant hadokens.