Also read part 1, part 2 and the finale.
Street Fighter’s characters are some of the most iconic in the world. You can find them on billboards, in murals decorating the sides of shops from San Francisco to Brazil, and as piñatas at your local grocery store. They’re often shallow caricatures of the cultures they represent, but that over-to-the-top characterization is part of why these characters have stuck around for so long; seeing your culture on a TV screen, no matter how careless the portrayal, can mean a lot when you don’t see it anywhere else.
In the spirit of global street fighting, we’ve decided to pit every Street Fighter character against each other for the prize of our affection. We’ve collected a panel of experts (two experts, to be exact) and ranked characters from every game in the series (and we do mean every game) from worst to best. Who is the best fighter of streets? Read on to find out. Part three will be up later this week.
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45. Adon: The successor to the throne of Muay Thai fighting, Adon has been in the series since the first Street Fighter, though he only made a splash when re-introduced in the Alpha series. His acrobatic style of Muay Thai contrasts that of his former master's, and good Adon players will generally use their speed to overwhelm opponents. Though he doesn't rock the flat top quite as well as others in the series, Adon is more unique than a copy of Sagat, and adds a lot to the Muay Thai roster.
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44. T. Hawk: A Mexican Indian / Native American, T. Hawk's entire tribe was forced off their land by Shadaloo forces, who also killed Hawk's father and many other Thunderfoot tribesmen who resisted. A strong fighter with a great resolve for vengeance, Hawk has been a series regular since Super Street Fighter II, and his tragic story of loss and redemption is one of the better bits of fighting game lore. For a large guy, he has a surprising amount of dexterity and finesse, and has a number of sweeping attacks and aerials at his disposal. T. Hawk is that one character that you keep rooting for to get a happy ending, and maybe someday he will, but for now he's a gem among the list of regular side-characters.
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43. C. Viper : Viper made her debut in Street Fighter IV with resounding success, bringing speed and power to an already solid roster. She plays double agent to most, playing off both S.I.N. and Shadaloo to eliminate Seth and steal data on the Blece Project. Her specials employ the use of many gadgets to augment her natural speed, and can dazzle an unprepared opponent. Lightning arcs, jet propulsion, metal knuckles—C. Viper loves to get in an opponent's face and never let up. Despite making only a cameo appearance in Street Fighter V, it wouldn't be surprising to see her come back for more rounds.
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42. Birdie: An Alpha series favorite, Birdy's chain-link grappling and booger-flinging can be comical, but his playstyle is so unique from other grapplers that he became an easy candidate to return in V. His love of food might be unseemly, but Birdie is able to put a lot of pressure at any range, and can easily punish a foe who extends themselves too far and leaves an opening for a chain-grapple. Is he a big part of the story? No. Is he a crucially important character? Probably not. But he adds a lot of comedy to the roster and gives grapplers some variety, two aspects that make Birdie a solid plus on the list.
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41. Laura: A newcomer to the series, Laura Matsuda's debut in Street Fighter V has been electric (no pun intended). Using a variety of moves that vary in-between a mix-up, mid-range fighter and a grappler, Laura is one of the most unique additions the series has had for a while. Her current story bits are a little weak (at this point, everyone travels the world to exhibit their prowess), but her spunk and use of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu make her a solid new addition to the lengthy Street Fighter gallery.
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40. F.A.N.G: F.A.N.G (the meaning behind the acronym hasn't been made clear yet) is one of the most lively new characters from Street Fighter V. His obsession with the number two and his wiry frame and purple robe give him a well-rounded look that you don't see with many other fighters. His reliance on poison attacks to chip away at his opponents (a first for the series) also hints at Capcom's desire to branch out in terms of combat possibilities, approaching Guilty Gear levels of weird. His potential as a character has yet to be unlocked (most people don't think he's very strong), but making a kooky character like this is usually a boom-or-bust affair. Here's hoping someone figures him out one day, because I'd love to see more of him in the future.
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39. Ibuki : Ibuki is currently reviled for the frustrating guessing game she forced her opponents to play in Street Fighter IV; she would knock you down, jump in the air while throwing a kunai blade, then force you to guess whether to block right or left as you got up. Guess wrong and she knocked you down again, forcing you to guess again. But her design, both aesthetically and as a fighter, is actually pretty strong when you take the guessing game away from her (which Street Fighter V's various changes to the wake-up game will definitely do). She can be annoying to play against, but she's a ton of fun to get ahold of. She's definitely the best ninja in the series, by far.
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38. Rolento: Street Fighter has always lacked characters who said "screw this whole martial arts thing, I have grenades." In that way, Rolento is Street Fighter's Kurtis Stryker. That's not to say the guy can't fight, but throwing daggers and twirling batons isn't exactly "street fighting" in the traditional sense. His playstyle in Street Fighter IV may have been a bit tame compared to his Street Fighter Alpha incarnations, but the character's always been a solid idea, if for no other reason than you don't see many characters with weapons fighting it out on the streets.
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37. Rose: Rose is perhaps the best character in Street Fighter that arose from a convoluted backstory. She has a sordid history with M. Bison, who shares a similar power and who once inhabited her body. But divorced from her storyline, Rose has been one of the most approachable characters in the series for newcomers, like Ryu. Her combos take a lot of timing to pull off, but her gameplan is rather simple: throw some fireballs, absorb some of your opponent's with your scarf, then stuff their approach with your long-reach normal attacks. She isn't as flashy as some other characters in the series, but her methodical approach to combat gives her design an enduring appeal that most players take for granted.
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36. Dan: The classic joke character, Dan Hibiki has ironically been all over the place in terms of power. There were several times in the past when Dan was one of the strongest combatants in the pool, despite being a "fun" fighter that let the designers mess around a little with the stale concepts of Ryu and Ken. He hasn't made the cut for the new title yet, but mark my words, we'll see the pink gi again and soon. Dan may run the gamut of usefulness, but there's a sense of tradition in his unique brand of awfulness.