This year, Capcom is celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of the most important videogames ever, Street Fighter II. Street Fighter II pulled itself up after the less-than-stunning Street Fighter, creating a competitive fighting genre and reinvigorating arcades throughout the world. In the time since Street Fighter II first spun its tale of twelve world warriors fighting across the globe, a number of characters have been added on top of that foundation. Most of them hit well, but some of them definitely didn’t quite land with series fans. Let’s celebrate Street Fighter II’s anniversary and next week’s release of Street Fighter V by looking at the characters who time forgot, either because of their design, their story, or just mismanaged expectations.
While more of a Final Fight alumnus than a Street Fighter one, Sodom can most accurately be described as the Jabberwock of the Street Fighter universe. Clad in a Samurai kabuto helmet, metal mask, jeans, and a football uniform, Sodom dresses like he tumbled head first through a Japanese history museum on a school field trip. Sodom’s backstory is uncomplicated: he likes Japan, so he dresses as a Samurai. Unfortunately for him, he is inexperienced with the language, and frequently flubs what he believes to be poignant lines. The kanji on his jersey is supposed to mean “Death,” but it’s miswritten, instead simply being gibberish. Sodom himself never left the Street Fighter Alpha series and very rarely do you ever see fans clamoring for his return.
When Street Fighter III came along and Capcom had truly mastered intricate sprite work, they desperately wanted a way to show it off. While Dee Jay’s “MAXIMUM” pants were clever (the letters looked the same mirrored, so new sprites did not have to be made when facing either direction), the team wanted to demonstrate that they were no longer held to those same limitations. This decision was the genesis of Gill, the final boss of Street Fighter III. A muscular, blonde Fabio look-a-like, Gill differentiated himself from the rest of the cast when he disrobed before a fight and revealed a red and blue body, split down the middle. The absurd design was more confusing than intimidating and Gill’s boss special, which allowed him to simply revive after being beaten, likely won him no favors. The Street Fighter story has never moved past Street Fighter III in the timeline, though I hope Gill no longer has plans to attend when it does.
Debuting in Street Fighter IV, Rufus has the singular goal of defeating Ken Masters and proving himself as the strongest martial arts master in the United States. Ken, however, has no idea who Rufus is or that Rufus is stalking him around the world to have this grudge match. Rufus rocketed to a popular lead among competitive players because his wide and quick attacks made him incredibly hard to defend against, which turned a lot of early tournaments into Rufus mirror matches. Unfortunately, as a character, Rufus is one big joke, annoying other characters and constantly screaming about his girlfriend after matches. It almost makes you feel bad for the character rather than excited to play as him.
When series producer Yoshinori Ono announced that a new character would be added to Ultra Street Fighter IV, the fifth iteration on Street Fighter IV, fans lit up with speculation over who it could possibly be. The answer came in the form of Decapre, one of M. Bison’s “Dolls,” or possible bodies for him to inhabit. Despite being a new character, Decapre was clearly appended to an aging game, and her appearance as essentially a clone of rival character Cammy disappointed fans that had been hotly anticipating a new character from Ono’s trademark teasing. While Decapre thankfully had a unique playstyle that separated her from her identical 3D model twin, she failed to really capture the imaginations of fans hoping for more.
Appearing first in Capcom Fighting Evolution before crossing over into Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX, Ingrid might be a character producer Ono would prefer to forget. Not much is known about the silver-haired schoolgirl, but her win quotes make strong implications that she is the progenitor of the series’ much-vaunted Psycho Power and also may not actually be human. Fans mostly rolled their eyes at her pandering character design and forced story push, the latter cementing her as the Roman Reigns of Street Fighter. Fortunately, Ono has never entertained the suggestion she might come back and fans cross their fingers he never rethinks that position.