By FLStyle 16 Comments
The 21st of July. Not only an important day in Giant Bomb history (Happy 6th Birthday Giant Bomb!) but for one of gaming's most iconic characters. Ryu is now 50 years old, which means if Street Fighter V, which has not been announced as an actual thing in any shape of form, was set in the year 2014, many of our favourites would look a lot different today (Ken turns 50 in February 2015).
Ryu has been known as many things since his debut, an unofficial Capcom mascot, a shoto, an eternal challenger, an orphan, a wandering warrior. Let's take a look at his main series game appearances.
Street Fighter 1 could not be more different from what people think of Street Fighter to be today and Ryu's appearance with his red hair and sandals is as demonstrating of that as the game's outdated gameplay. Here we see Ryu rising to the top to face the final boss, Sagat, in what becomes a defining plot point for the both of them with Ryu delivering what we now know to be a Shoryuken* so powerful that it left Sagat with the trademark scar he still has to this day.
* When Capcom actually started making their lore for Street Fighter some time after SF1, they added/retconned Ryu's battle with Sagat to a losing effort on Ryu's part until he tapped into the Satsui no Hado and delivered a Metsu Shoryuken to Sagat.
The Hadoken, Shoryuken and Tatsumaki were as overpowered as they were difficult to execute. prior to the notion of fighting game mechanics like combos and the concept of balancing characters.
With fighting games at their height during the golden era of arcades the Super Street Fighter II Turbo version of Ryu is still the most well known. Ryu was seen as the gateway or starting character into learning how to play Street Fighter. His movelist in this game became the standard for future releases.
During the Street Fighter II series the Super Combo was introduced and players first used "New" Ryu's Shinkuu Hadoken for the first time.
Throughout Street Fighter II the Ansatsuken fighting style of Ryu and Ken, nicknamed as shotos, was more pronounced and the basis of the fireball (Hadoken), uppercut (Shoryuken, Sheng Long?) and hurricane kick (Tatsumaki) would become moves used by other characters in other games. Some more than others, see Ryo Sakazaki, which lead to creation of Dan Hibiki.
The Street Fighter Alpha Trilogy is where the Street Fighter lore began to take a life of its own. Set between SF1 and SF2, Ryu and Ken meet M.Bison (Dictator) for the first time, Akuma's Satsui no Hado power is introduced and Evil Ryu becomes a character unto himself, later featuring as a what-if? character is other games.
At the time Street Fighter III was a big shock for Street Fighter fans expecting to play as old favourites as Capcom intended on removing the entire cast for a brand new one. Street Fighter fans couldn't let go of the full roster and so Ryu and Ken returned and by the time SFIII: 2nd Impact and the most known of the 3 versions, 3rd Strike, released they had been joined by Akuma and Chun-Li.
In more recent memory there are 2 periods in competitive Street Fighter that Japanese player Daigo Umehara is known for. The first is the legendary Street Fighter III 3rd Strike parry video against Justin Wong (Ken vs. Chun-Li, the second is winning Street Fighter IV at EVO 2009 and EVO 2010 using Ryu (against Justin Wong and Ricky Ortiz respectively).
Daigo's fighting style, cool silent demeanour and love of the competition and community over prize money or fame mirrored his chosen character and won over fans as the fighting game genre began its revival which still goes on today.
So here's to you Ryu! Hope to see you in Street Fighter V soon!