Gaming Greats – Street Fighter II (1991)

If you were a kid with a console in the '90s, chances are you were bashing buttons on Street Fighter II

Forget Tekken, forget Mortal Kombat, Capcom’s two-player beat-'em-up Street Fighter II was everywhere. Selling 6.3 million copies of the SNES version alone – as well as another 4.3 million of the Turbo update – it was adapted into 1994’s pretty shocking Jean Claude Van Damme film as well as a more faithful anime version.

Ryu was the hero – a Japanese martial artist, of course. But for different special moves, you could play as Ken, Ryu’s playboy, American rival or six other characters including beast-man Blanka, thunder-thighs Chun Li or Dhalsim, a Yoga master with freakishly long limbs and a pretty special victory dance.

On single-player mode, it felt pretty good to race through the seven international challengers on a 2D world tour complete with sweet clichés like elephants in India.

Just three minion bosses to defeat after that and you got to Bison, the caped Big Boss.

Bonus-points fun came in a happily destructive form – every few rounds you had to smash something to bits that wasn’t your opponent’s face.

Want to spend a few hours with Street Fighter II? Challenge a friend to a couple of rounds and get sucked into endless rematches. Or crank up the difficulty levels and if you’re playing SFII Turbo, ramp up the speed of your fights.

Even if fighting games have been devastatingly KO’d by first-person shooters, don’t lose your respect for this excellent sapper of free time. Street Fighter tournament next Friday anyone? Don’t pretend you’ve got better plans.

If you've got a Nintendo 3DS, check out our Street Fighter IV 3D Edition review.

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