A new Street Fighter is always a big deal, especially when it is an entirely new entry in the series rather than one bearing a Super or Ultra prefix. Street Fighter 5 is set to shake up the series in a big way, ditching the player base-fracturing follow-ups in favour of an extensive DLC plan and a more accessible game for new and casual fans.
Everyone has their favourite character from the series' near-30-year history, and of course the most recognisable of those fighters are set to return – so IBTimes UK is running through the fighters who have appeared most often in the series' history.
We have also compiled a look at how each character has changed over the years, from the original Street Fighter to Street Fighter 5, via SF2, SF Alpha, SF3 and SF4.
The most iconic Street Fighter character of all has been kicking around since the very beginning. Ryu and his long-time friend and rival Ken were the only two playable characters in the original game, and so are the only two to have been in every game.
Neither Ken nor Ryu has changed their appearance much over the years but Street Fighter 5 does offer a new look for Ken and an alternative look for Ryu, which sees him dressing down a bit and sporting a great big bushy beard. Swoon.
In the opening tutorial for Street Fighter 5, Ken wears his familiar red attire, but switches things up in the game proper, sporting a black top with red trim and a new hair style. The move is presumably born out of a desire to differentiate Ken from Ryu, whose shadow he's been occupying for 29 years. But he deserves credit for proving to be enduringly popular despite originating as little more than a pallet-swap character for Ryu.
If anyone has challenged Ryu and Ken to the title of being Street Fighter's biggest star, it's Chun-Li – the most notable female fighter in the game and a regular on the competitive circuit. Fighting games have long had issues when it comes to representing women (and Street Fighter 5 has a few issues too) but Chun-Li has been treated fairly well by the designers over the years. That is, unless you take exception to her ridiculously out-of-proportion thighs in SF5.
The most famous antagonist of the Street Fighter series, M. Bison is a big and powerful fighter who has been causing problems for the games' ever-changing roster since he was introduced in 1991's Street Fighter 2. His look hasn't changed greatly over the years, but he has become something of a silver fox in SF5.
Given he only ever wears red pants, Zangief's look hasn't changed much over the years either. Capcom wouldn't dare mess with his beard, Mohawk or creepy, hairy shins. The character is a firm fan-favourite who – fun fact time – got his scars from fighting bears in remote Siberia. He also memorably appeared in Disney's video game-inspired animation Wreck-It Ralph to dispense some wisdom.
I think I've cottoned on to Capcom's male fighter design philosophy here: turn their hair grey, give them a beard, or both. Dhalsim has a big grey beard and turban in Street Fighter 5 but keeps his iconic look and fighting style. Like Zangief, M. Bison and the next fighter on our list, he did not appear in Street Fighter 3 but was too popular not to include in 4 or 5.
There's no fighter on the list quite like Vega, the most narcissistic character in the series – who hates anyone and anything he deems to be ugly. He has a quick fighting style and can use Wolverine-like claws mounted to his wrists to dish out damage at range. His new look sees him sporting a shirt and a dye-job, becoming a blond for the first time.
Vega certainly isn't the Street Fighter series' most famous blond, though. Without a doubt, that honour goes to Guile – the US army major (as of SF4) first introduced to the series in Street Fighter 2, after which he quickly became a favourite. Guile doesn't exactly represent the subtlest attempt to woo the US market but you can't deny it was successful. He returns in SF5 but as a post-release character Capcom has yet to show off.
Balrog was introduced to the series as a boss in Street Fighter 2 but later became playable in the Championship Edition (as did Vega, M. Bison and Sagat, who is not on this list). He's a brutish boxer and the reason for one of the series' most confusing aspects – the region-specific name swapping. Balrog was originally M. Bison in Japan, whereas M. Bison was called Vega and Vega was known as Balrog. The switches occurred after Capcom feared a lawsuit from Mike Tyson over the design of the character.