While her name was formed nearly 20 years ago for the franchise, Karin Kanzuki could not have a better name right now. She was first seen in the Sakura Ganbaru! manga from 1996 but became a playable character in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Karin is an elitist character and rival to Sakura. She is the head of the Kanzuki Zaibatsu, which technically means she runs one of the largest enterprises in Japan and is very wealthy. Like any rich girl, she has an ego far too big. While she has learned humility at times, she is not a terrible person overall. Plus, she’s a relatively gifted fighter who uses her family’s specialized fighting style.
Guile at one point was considered to be the most promoted star of the franchise due to his “American” appeal. He is a major in the United States Air Force, and his entire goal in the franchise has been to take down the Shadaloo. This led to him being one of the main characters in initial storylines when he debuted, as well as the main character in the Street Fighter movie. In fact, Jean-Claude Van Damme played him in the film. While Guile’s cool factor has diminished a bit, he’s still incredible to play as in the games. He also remains a central figure in the franchise to this day.
While he’s not the greatest character to hit the franchise, Blanka is one of the most recognizable to old-school Street Fighter fans as well as many newer fans. The trademark green skin and wild orange hair are hard to miss for sure. What you might not know about the character is that his real name is Jimmy. He went feral in the Brazilian jungle and somehow became the “Blanka” we know today. With his ability to generate electricity, he is a powerful enemy as well as a potentially powerful ally as well.
Possibly one of the most popular characters ever in the cosplay industry, Cammy White is well-known for her…”interesting” outfits. The most notable is a weirdly skimpy Green Beret type of outfit. Pretty much all of them are skimpy in some way or another, especially when it comes to showing off her legs. She was actually only the second female character introduced years ago. She is a Black Widow type of character, who now works for MI6 as an operative after working as a cloned assassin for the Shadaloo.
G is the name of a man who believes himself to be the “World President.” Of course, it is hard to tell this purple-eyed man he’s crazy without getting annihilated. He stands at 6’7 and weighs in at 330lbs. We’d call him the World President too! He really pushes the patriotic nature of Earth pretty hard. He even acts almost like a minister as he enjoys giving helpful advice to his enemies. G also takes the “politician” concept to new levels, as he sees antagonists as potential allies and not as a threat to mankind overall. It’s clear G is walking a fine line between crazy and genius.
Adon made his official debut in the original Street Fighter game as an opponent but was not playable. He’d make his playable debut in Street Fighter Alpha and has often been a mainstay in the franchise ever since. Most assume he’s some sort of kickboxer, which is sort of true. Adon is a master of Muay Thai and is seeking to become the Emperor of Muay Thai as well. Yet most feel this is a bit off, considering he’s from Thailand and likely wants to be the nation’s Emperor in all reality. Either way, attempting to stop him will result in a kick to your face.
In an attempt to freshen up the franchise, Capcom released a “New Generation” game with several new characters in 1997. While it also took its name from the new mechanics and graphics, the roster was almost completely made up of new characters. Alex led the list of the big new names, serving as the main protagonist in his debut game. The main antagonist of the game, Gill, injures his best friend. To get his hands on him, he finds out Gill is sponsoring a World Warrior Tournament. Alex, an experienced wrestler and kickboxer, enters it to seek his revenge.
Charlie Nash is a former U.S. Air Force Captain (though he reaches First Lieutenant) who also took part in U.S. Special Forces units. The assumption for quite some time was that he was long since dead, but similar to Marvel’s Winter Soldier, we later find Nash is alive. He is essentially a puppet for the Secret Society, who brought him back to the world of the living. His armed forces training makes him a legit combat threat, yet he’s also a master tactician too. His hatred now drives him, and stopping a man like this is almost impossible.
Zangief is a very interesting character in the franchise. Known as the Red Cyclone by some, he is considered to be a national hero in his native land of Russia. Pretty much everything he does, his entire goal for fighting, is simply to bring glory to mother Russia. It is easy to see Zangief as the villain of the franchise, but he really isn’t one. He loves competition and chooses to stop your skull into the ground just for that alone. He’s a big, burly wrestler who once wrestled a bear to train. That is the guy you’re getting here. Clearly, he is one heck of a character.
M. Bison is the main villain or antagonist in the franchise, and leader of the infamous Shadaloo we’ve referenced a lot. This self-imposed dictator and narcissistic maniac has but one goal, to achieve world domination. He does not care how he has to do it or who he has to kill to make it happen. Nothing is below him when it comes to achieving his goal. He has quite a force to take on but Bison himself is no pushover. He wields the “psycho power,” which makes him incredibly dangerous and very hard to stop.
We all knew when Ryu became a top figure in the world of the franchise, he would have his fans. Yet one fan, in particular, became obsessed with him, Sakura Kasugano. Her intense love for him made her want to be around him all the time, but she was but a Japanese school girl. She wanted to prove herself to him, so she watched and learned many of his techniques, then chased him around the world in hopes of proving herself. Due to learning so much, she became an amazing fighter in her own right. Of course, her outfit was clearly inspired by developer fantasies of the time so her costume has changed up some throughout the years.
Cody Travers first appeared in that old Final Fight game from years ago before debuting in this franchise in the Alpha 3 game. When he first arrived, he was known as a vigilante who unlike the likes of Batman, ended up being reckless with his actions. Thus causing him to be caught, especially since he had to fight just to survive in the slums of Metro City from childhood into adulthood. After serving time for some of his actions, especially on trumped-up charges, he finally got out. Now on a mission to fix the system of oppression, Cody became the new Mayor of Metro City.
Vega is yet another interesting character that also served as a bodyguard for M. Bison at one point. While Vega is obsessed with his own beauty, he’s also obsessed with messing up the beauty of those he fights. This is a true narcissist who only really cares about himself unless you pay him to care about you, of course. While we’ve never heard of Spanish Ninjitsu, Vega seems to be an expert in this martial art. The Spaniard is a skilled fighter who uses his unique brand of ninjutsu as well as a trademark claw to defeat his enemies. He also has an impressive mask that has since become pretty iconic.
Ken Masters is one of the most popular characters in franchise history. He is particularly interesting due to being so similar yet so different from the likes of Ryu. In a world of Asian martial artists, Ken stood out as the lone American ninja. This allowed him to become essentially the co-main character of the franchise for quite a long time. Although Ryu is his best friend, he is also Ken’s biggest rival. In fact, Ken’s entire goal is to test his power and abilities against every major fighter to become a stronger combatant. However, while he used to eat, sleep, and breathe fighting…he settled down due to his family in recent years and fights for the thrill.
Perhaps the most popular female video game character after Lara Croft, Chun-Li is now an icon in the video game industry. Like Cammy, she is a popular character in the cosplay community. Due to her bad*** energy and fighting ability, she has become one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. Trained in Chinese martial arts, she is currently an Interpol Officer seeking to take down M. Bison for the death of her father. Chun-Li is the very first female the franchise produced, making her a key figure in the series. Her popularity has since made her a must-have in every game since her debut.
While Adon might be seeking to be the “Emperor of Muay Thai,” Sagat holds that title. The former Shadaloo member was once the main antagonist in the original version of the series. In fact, he was the final boss in the original game and one of the main bosses in the following game. Since then, he changed sides, turning on M. Bison and the Shadaloo entirely. In his quest to seek redemption, and has become essentially an antihero in the franchise. Everyone loves a good redemption story of a bad guy trying to be good, and Sagat has done this in an impressive way.
Ryu is Mr. Street Fighter, without a doubt. Whenever someone thinks of this franchise, they will always think of Ryu right away. He is the main protagonist in the franchise and has been in every game since the beginning. This includes every crossover game, as well as special appearances in several others. While Ryu seems like he’d be a ninja of some kind, he’s actually mostly known as a karate master. However, he’s also an expert in Ansatsuken, also known as the assassination martial arts. It is really hard to dislike the man, as he’s always fun to play as.
Akuma is similar to Ryu and Ken, except so much cooler. His name essentially translates to “devil,” and his look certainly displays that. He is an emotionless warrior, known for his powerful attacks and abilities. He’s also seemingly addicted to mastering the Satsui no Hado, or “Dark Hado.” This is a dark energy force, and the opposite of the Power of Nothingness or “Sacred Hado.” You’ve likely seen Akuma in Tekken 7 too, this is due to Capcom needing a lot of help to revive Street Fighter for its fifth installment. Bandai Namco, owners of Tekken, was nice enough to help them out. Now Capcom has allowed Akuma to appear in their universe.
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