This film paints a clear picture of why Street Fighter has been a seminal fighting game series and why people are so passionate about it.
The Street Fighter series has been around for decades and apart from selling millions of copies, the fighting game franchise has touched the lives of a lot of people. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter, developer Capcom tasked Area 5 with the creation of a documentary about the people behind the series, including developers, professional players, collectors, cosplayers and die-hard fans. It’s easy to see something like I Am Street Fighter and be cynical about it, but make no mistake, this isn’t a marketing gimmick. This film paints a clear picture of why Street Fighter has been a seminal fighting game series and why people are so passionate about it.
At its core, I Am Street Fighter is a series of interviews that are connected by the game. Some of those interviews feature Yoshihiro Ono, Seth Killian, a collector whose house is filled with rare items and memorabilia, pro-players Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara, a DJ whose work is inspired by the games, the composer of Street Fighter II’s soundtrack, artists from UDON Entertainment (creators of the comic books) and the list goes on and on. In these interviews people analyze the different games in the series from Capcom’s formative years with the original game, the arcade hit that was Street Fighter II and the modern blockbuster of Street Fighter IV. For each title, the interviewees focus on the innovations, how the games shaped the genre and how they affected the industry.
One of the things that I liked the most about the documentary is that it shows the progression from a product that was sold in shelves to a game that connected with people. For most of the people interviewed (and for a lot of those watching,) Street Fighter is certainly more than just a game. Not only have they spent thousands of hours playing it, analyzing it and working on it, but in some cases, they have paid the bills thanks to it and that’s something that can’t be said about most video games. The community surrounding the game is fascinating and one of the fastest-growing in the industry. But why? The answer varies from person to person, but to me, Street Fighter tournaments are entertainment to watch, the game’s accessible enough to star playing against people with a similar skill level and its community is simply fascinating.
Eventually, Justin Wong explains how he started playing the game as a hobbies and ended up becoming one of the best players in the world. The popularity of fighting games leads to the creation of EVO, the biggest fighting game tournament and one that’s recognized all over the world for its passionate community and for having some of the fiercest and most entertaining matches to watch. In case you were wondering, the Daigo vs Justin EVO moment #37 is shown in all its glory and there are interviews with both players. I guess if you were going to try and convince anyone to play Street Fighter, you should show that person that video and if they aren’t surprised, maybe fighting games aren’t for them.
I agree, Street Fighter is something special and you don’t need to understand everything that happens in the game to see that. Many friendships were forged though the game, careers established, players were able to travel to other countries and that was possible thanks to the Street Fighter franchise.
Editor’s note: The I Am Street Fighter documentary was originally released as part of the $149.99 Collector’s Set that came out for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 which included Blu-Rays, a Ryu statue, an art book and a complete soundtrack. The documentary is now available for everyone to watch on YouTube and I embedded the official video above.