There's something special about Street Fighter. No other game, it seems, can have a preview event quite like the one I popped along to last Friday. At Maya, a smart club set underneath the busy concrete pavements of London's West End, Super Street Fighter IV, the upcoming fighting game sequel to Street Fighter IV, wasn't just being played, it was being played. And by those in the know, no less. Guys from across the UK who play Street Fighter with the kind of skill only obtained after years of finger-breaking practice. But they weren't the draw. Oh no.
The draw was Capcom's Yoshinori Ono, the man responsible for Super Street Fighter IV and indeed the iconic franchise itself. Here, in a wide ranging interview with VideoGamer.com, conducted as "K0s" and "Hadokens" ring loud in the background, we delve into all things Street Fighter, past, present, and future, and emerge from the rubble with food for fighting game thought.
Q: How does it feel to be the man in charge of one of the most iconic game series in the history of the industry? Do you feel the pressure?
Yoshinori Ono: As you know Capcom has many iconic IPs, but many of them were sealed for the past decade. So in the end it is the fan base that has made the noise and made it possible for us to start on the work. I'm really happy and appreciate people's support.
Q: What were you most satisfied with and what were you most unsatisfied with in Street Fighter IV?
YO: The most satisfying point I must say was when I went on a media tour to several different countries, there was one country where the customs officer knew about the game, and he knew me. He stopped me and started discussing Street Fighter IV. At that moment I knew that this person had been playing Street Fighter II and had been yearning to play the latest instalment.
Now, the most unsatisfying point must be the fact that those people who had been playing Street Fighter II have not fully come back to it yet. So what I called the "daddy age" hasn't really picked up on it yet. I'm trying to spread the opportunities for people to see Street Fighter IV in the way of iPhone Street Fighter IV and such, and hopefully more of those players will come back to it.
Q: Before Street Fighter IV was released, the fighting genre wasn't as popular as it had been in the past, but Street Fighter IV has put the genre back on the map. Were you surprised by the game's success?
YO: I understand that fighting games have always been fun. I wanted to recreate the feeling people used to have when they were playing Super NES Street Fighter II. I rather deem the fighting game as more of a fighting tool, rather than a game. I was pleasantly surprised by the passion people still have for the franchise. I really appreciated it. I deem all the fighting game fans part of a large community, part of a huge class. My analogy is I wanted to do an alumni meet up with all the fighting game fans from the late Eighties and early Nineties. Street Fighter IV was an invitation to all the alumni to come back and meet and have fun.