RPO Replay: Street Fighter II

The Ready Player One Replay is an ongoing exploration of the games that inspired the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Love it or hate it, there’s value in revisiting our geeky roots.


Since then, we’d used Street Fighter II to settle our disputes. My Joust skills were a lot rustier than I thought. — Ready Player One p. 81

Game Play

Street Fighter II (1991) is a game of legend. It inspired generations of games and gamers and established the tropes for an entire genre of fighting games. The setup is straightforward: you pick from a roster of characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and then face off against a single opponent in martial arts-style combat. Players can learn combos that execute special maneuvers that devastate their opponents, something that subsequent games in the series and genre would adopt. Aspects of its gameplay were seen in the original Street Fighter (1987), but this is the game that ignited enthusiasm among gamers

Originally released in the arcade, Street Fighter II quickly saw a Super Nintendo port which succeeded in largely emulating the gameplay of the arcade version (if not the environment of stacking up quarters to reserve your turn while running to snag a slice of pizza while you waited for the current match to finish)


My nostalgia for Street Fighter II is limited. It came out in 1991 when I was a freshman at my local community college. While I certainly spent a lot of time in the arcade in those days, my preference was for solo or collaborative games (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Blasteroids, Off-RoadGauntletGolden Axe). There were a lot of reasons for that: Street Fighter II drew a younger crowd at the arcades, and getting my ass kicked by middle schoolers wasn’t particularly attractive. The need to memorize combos and actually practice the game didn’t appeal to me, though later games in the genre (Mortal KombatMarvel Super Heroes) eventually dew me in

Not having a SNES didn’t help; I was a Sega Genesis guy because it had the arcade games my friends and I enjoyed most. As a result, I largely ignored Street Fighter II, but I can appreciate its place in the gaming pantheon.

As for going back and replying it … my skills have not improved.

I bought Super Street Fighter II Turbo for Capcom Arcade Stadium on the Switch, and it kicked my ass. As in … I was barely able to land any hits on my opponent in my first few games.

Even playing as Ken. In truth, Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct are more my speed, but I still like trying (and failing) to play Street Fighter II. Maybe if I challenge my kids to a fight, I could actually win.

Then again … maybe not.

High Scores

  • My High Score: I didn’t make it past the first round.


Where to Play


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