(This is a new series that will look at odd dealings in video games. Hopefully, this will be a weekly series. Considering who’s writing it, however, that remains to be seen!)
Way back in 1987, Capcom released Street Fighter in the arcades. I’ve spoken about the game before. Short version: it isn’t all that hot. Slightly longer version: player one is Ryu only, player two is Ken only, and the combat is wonky. Special moves are difficult to pull off, and that’s with the joystick and six buttons. Earlier versions sported pneumatic pads that you had to punch in order to attack. Those things were notorious for breaking hands.
Gamers weren’t exactly head-over-heels over the game in North America. I’ve only seen the cabinet once ages ago, and it was the six-button version. But it was popular enough in Japan and Europe. A half-hearted port was made for the PC Engine CD and Turbografx-CD, renamed Fighting Street for some odd licensing reasons. There were also ports for DOS and Windows in North America; Europe received ports on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. Nintendo eventually added Street Fighter to the Wii Virtual Console. None really pegged the needle for gamers.
Despite the lukewarm reception for Street Fighter in some markets, Capcom wanted to make a sequel. The sequel would eventually arrive with Street Fighter II in 1991. The sequel became an absolute monster, reinventing the competitive fighter. But it wasn’t the sequel Capcom had originally planned.
In 1987, Yoshiki Okamoto began development for a sequel to Street Fighter. It would eventually be shown at conventions under the name Street Fighter ’89. However, the gameplay was far removed from the 1-on-1 fighting of Street Fighter. Instead, Street Fighter ’89 was a sidescrolling beat-em-up. This confused people who saw the game at the conventions. Street Fighter was a popular game in Japan, and no one understood why the gameplay had to diverge so much. The general consensus was that Street Fighter ’89 should not be a sequel.
At the time, Capcom was struggling financially. The idea of striking out with this game concerned them. So a push was made to remarket the game as the beginning of a new franchise. It was eventually released in 1989 with a new name: Final Fight. Yup, the game that introduced Cody, Guy, and Mike Haggar to gamers started out as a Street Fighter sequel.
Fortunately, the change paid off for Capcom. Final Fight was a huge seller and went on to be one of the best arcade games of 1989. It would later be ported to the SNES and SEGA CD in North America, with Europeans receiving ports for the same computers as Street Fighter.
Funnily enough, Final Fight wasn’t the only attempt at a Street Fighter sequel. The second attempt was external to Capcom and was just odd.
Tiertex is an English developer who most commonly works on ports for handheld and mobile devices. Back in 1989, however, they worked on games for computer systems. In 1988, they decided to work on a game they wanted to pitch to Capcom as a sequel to Street Fighter. Since Capcom had not released a sequel by that time, Tiertex figured to jump in and help. They contracted another development team, Blue Turtle, to work on the graphics for this purported sequel.
The finished product was named Human Killing Machine: Street Fighter II. It was very similar in style as Street Fighter. In this game, the main protagonist is a South Korean kickboxer named Kwon. Just like Street Fighter, he would travel the world and duke it out against other fighters. And a Doberman Pinscher. And a bull named Brutus. Not sure why, but they’re there.
Tiertex pitched the game to Capcom and were rebuffed because Capcom was already working on a sequel: the aforementioned Street Fighter ’89. Nonplussed, they instead had publisher U.S. Gold release the game as Human Killing Machine, shortened to HKM by many. U.S. Gold released the game for the usual suspects in Europe: the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, DOS, and ZX Spectrum.
Other than the ZX version, which was generally praised, Human Killing Machine was savaged by reviewers. Chief among the concerns was the game’s presentation, which lacked the scrolling of the original version. It was a one-player only game as well, which pleased exactly no one. The game also employed a strange system where the number of rounds you needed to win changed depending on how well you fought up to that point. The Amstrad version was considered practically unplayable, and the Amiga version was plagued with silly bugs caused by shoddy porting.
This didn’t faze Tiertex, who would go on to make a sequel to Capcom’s arcade hit Strider in 1990. Unlike HKM, however, they bypassed the pitch to Capcom entirely. Instead, they handed the game to U.S. Gold again, who released it as Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns under license from Capcom. That game managed to see a release on the SEGA Genesis and Game Gear. Reviewers generally found the game average and disappointing as a sequel. Capcom wouldn’t release their own Strider sequel until 1999 when Strider 2 hit Japanese arcades. There would be a home port for the Sony PlayStation in 2000, and ports for the PlayStation 3, PSP, and Vita followed.
None of this mattered to Capcom. In addition to Street Fighter II, they managed to launch another great franchise in Final Fight. Eventually, things would come full circle, with Final Fight characters Cody, Guy, and bosses Rolento and Sodom making appearances in the Street Fighter Alpha series. Although Haggar doesn’t appear as a playable character in that series, he makes cameos in the backgrounds there and in Ultra Street Fighter IV. He is playable, however, in Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
In addition, Poison, a common enemy in Final Fight, came into her own and carved out her own history. She was playable in Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, and Ultra Street Fighter IV. She also appears alongside Hugo, known as Andore in Final Fight, in Street Fighter x Tekken. In Street Fighter V, she’s mentioned by Rashid. And in her ending for Ultra Street Fighter IV, she decides to start a rock band named “Mad Gears”, a reference to Final Fight’s Mad Gears gang. Joining her in Mad Gears are Hugo, Rolento, Cody, and Guy. Ryu and Ken provide the pyrotechnics for the band with their Hadokens. THAT ending is – quite literally – METAL!