Street Fighter I: An Oral History

Street Fighter II turns 30 years old next year, but Polygon is starting its celebration early by documenting everything leading up to it. The first part documents the original Street Fighter.

When Street Fighter arrived in arcades, it came in a crescent-shaped “deluxe upright” cabinet with a joystick and two large pneumatic, pressure-sensitive buttons on each side — one for punches and one for kicks. Capcom was attempting to move into the high-end arcade cabinet business, where it could sell a bigger machine with a custom interface for more money, and the gimmick of pressure-sensitive buttons set the game apart from the hundreds of games using standard control setups.

When I was younger, my family spent Sundays at the 32nd Street Naval Base bowling alley. I loved going there, not only because we got to bowl, but there was an arcade there. The arcade had both the original Street Fighter and Street Fighter II. SFII was always crowded and when I got my chance to play, I always got my butt kicked. I ended up playing on the original SF game just because I wanted to play. It was the standard cabinet with the 6 buttons. I would have loved to played on the cabinet with the pressure sensitive buttons.