Read part 1, part 2 and part 3 first.
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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20. Makoto: Makoto's brash, intense fighting style perfectly suits a teenager trying to make her mark on the world. In a way, she's Sakura's polar opposite—someone who dreams not of finding a mentor and emulating them, but of forging her own path as the master of her late father's fighting style. It's a martial arts story as motivating as Ryu's globe-trotting adventures, and it doesn't get the play it deserves in the series' storyline. In-game, Makoto compensates for her rough neutral game by being able to pressure an opponent once she gets in, and even her opponent's most minor mistakes can give her the opening she needs to completely maul them.
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19. Eagle: One of the few enemies from the original Street Fighter to make it out as a playable character, Eagle has made precious few appearances in the Street Fighter series. When he does come up, though, his domineering moves and use of two small sticks resembling eskrima are a breath of fresh air. One of the most recognizable and memorable fighters introduced in Capcom vs. SNK 2, Eagle is a stylish, unique character who we'd love to see more of in future Street Fighter games.
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18. Cammy: Codename Killer Bee, Cammy was the second female fighter introduced to the series with Super Street Fighter II, and quickly became a fan favorite. One of Bison's dolls who escaped his clutches, Cammy now fights to save all of her sisters and destroy Shadaloo as a member of Delta Red. Her fast, unrelenting style makes her one of the best rush-down fighters in the series, and her signature moves Spiral Arrow and Cannon Spike are devastating. With a great backstory and excellent playstyle, there's no doubt Cammy will continue to be a much-loved member of the Street Fighter cast for years to come.
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17. Sagat: The brutal Muay Thai warrior Sagat was introduced as a boss in Street Fighter II before becoming a signature competitive fighter in home versions. His evil eyepatch and short-shorts signify both his confidence and brutality, as he can stand easily with the best of them. His Tiger Punch, Knee and Uppercut give him options at all ranges, and he's an incredibly offensive version of the typical shoto style, making him a staple for new and old players alike for years.
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16. Vega: The Spanish ninja Vega utilizes a claw weapon to great effect and is one of the trickiest fighters to play against. Using his acrobatics to leap through the air and strike from multiple angles, Vega can keep you on your toes for an entire match as he pokes and prods, looking for the fatal blow. His womanizing character can be a little tired at times, but his style is second-to-none with his mask-and-claw combo. This beautiful megalomaniac is easily one of Street Fighter's most memorable villains.
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15. Nash: Charlie Nash is one of the few characters so popular, Capcom literally brought him back from the dead to make a reappearance in Street Fighter V. His mix of Sonic Booms and crushing close-range moves makes him a dangerous fighter at all ranges, and his new changes in V have made him one of the more interesting characters to master. Mix in a story of coming back from death for revenge on the country that betrayed him and the man who arranged it all (M. Bison), and you've got a compelling story that sets up some big conflicts in V's upcoming Story Mode. This half-zombified fighter is easily one of the most compelling characters in the series right now.
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14. Dudley: Dudley is a prime example of how evocative Street Fighter characters can be without resorting to stereotypes. He's likely based on British boxer Chris Eubank (per the Street Fighter wiki), but you never get the sense that Capcom looked up "British things" on Google in order to come up with his character design. He bears the kind of unique traits (frilly mustache, suspenders, suave voice) that serve as potent shorthand, just as best fighting game characters have, but without evoking any stereotypes that might make anyone feel uncomfortable. He's also one of the most consistently dazzling characters to watch, as he can juggle opponents in the corner with salvo of jabs, hooks and straights that make his fights feel like real boxing matches, even when his opponents are throwing fireballs at him.
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13. Rashid: One of the newest additions to the series, Rashid is a tech-savvy fighter who uses gadgets and wind power to dazzle his foes. His use of tornadoes and flying kicks makes him a ridiculously fun fighter to watch, and his massive tornado V-Trigger combines with his specials to form a virulent fury of attacks. Add in some cocky style and hailing from an area of the world that's been sorely under-represented in Street Fighter games prior, and Rashid is not only one of the best new characters in Street Fighter V—he's easily one of the best the series has ever offered.
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12. Karin: Originally a character in a Street Fighter manga from the mid-'90s, Karin Kanzuki has since become of the series' most popular cult characters. The posh, high-class Mean Girl made for an easy villain in the manga, but over the years, (and especially in Street Fighter V), she's evolved into a worthwhile character beyond her stuck-up demeanor and distinct noblewoman's laugh. She has the fighting chops to back up her superiority complex, too; she's typically one of the most intricate characters in any game she's in based on raw number of moves alone, with each of her special attacks having follow-up maneuvers. We may not want to hang out with her anytime soon, but she's earned a place in our hearts anyway.
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11. Balrog: Balrog's a divisive character for us. On one hand, he's one of the worst examples of brutish black characters in videogames. On the other, his raw power and surprising finesse make you want to believe his character has more going for him than pure punching prowess. Maybe not, but watching a good Balrog player (especially in Street Fighter II) is a pure joy; though he doesn't have the technical chops or mobility of other characters, Balrog excels at finding a hole in the opponent's offense and tearing it open with a well-timed dash punch. The satisfying "whoosh" sound his punches make is a just a nice bonus.