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We Finally Understand The Entire Street Fighter Story

Generally, fighting games aren't exactly renowned for their deep  narratives, but that doesn't mean the narrative isn't there, or that there isn't a shockingly extensive amount of it. For a series that's been around as long as Street Fighter, and through as many pieces of media as Street Fighter has, we're talking about a story that literally spans decades. And yes, there's a lot more to it than just people getting in random back alley fights ad nauseam.


To wit, we present the entire epic history of Street Fighter, taken from dozens of games, anime, manga, and webseries, distilled as best as can be humanly expected. And yes, while there's a slew of plot threads to pull on as far as Street Fighter is concerned, and everyone has their favorite characters, there's really only one that's essentially the backbone of the entire series, and that's Ryu's. And so, to tell the fundamental history of Street Fighter is to essentially tell Ryu's story, the tale of the first World Warrior. 

Round One: The first tournament - Street Fighter

Our story begins with the first World Warrior tournament. Funny enough, nobody knows who started it or why and what the winner gets or anything. Either way, what's important is it represents the first time two specific warriors go out into the world to test their strength: Ryu Hoshi and Ken Masters. Trained by a legendary fighter named Gouken, the pair set out to compete in the tournament against the world's finest warriors. And by world's finest, we mean a collection of schmucks we mostly never even hear from again. 


The big story has to do with the game's final boss, a seven-foot tall Muay Thai master named Sagat, and his apprentice Adon. While Adon loses honestly to Ryu, Sagat actually comes within a hair of utterly demolishing the Japanese champion. But Sagat respects him enough to help Ryu up before declaring a winner. Ryu, however, manages to tap into some deep well of dark energy and hits Sagat with a Dragon Punch so brutal, it puts a deep scar across the diagonal width of his chest.

Adon is so embarrassed by the loss he abandons Sagat, and an enraged Sagat vows to get revenge.

Ryu wanders the world - Street Fighter Alpha 2

After his controversial win, Ryu returns home to Japan, only to find out that Gouken has been brutally murdered at his dojo. Realizing only an extremely powerful fighter could have defeated him, Ryu sets out on a nomadic path to take on the world's best fighters, hoping to one day find the mystery warrior. 


His many duels around this time include a spar with Ken that Ryu actually loses, but when Ken notices his friend is not fighting at 100%, he gives him his headband. A schoolgirl named Sakura basically becomes the world's first Ryu fangirl after his victory in the first tournament; she comes to Ryu looking for additional training. Ryu turns her down, but she does get a selfie with him for her trouble. 

Most importantly, however, is the fact that Sagat finally gets his rematch with Ryu. Unfortunately, he runs into the Ken problem: Ryu doesn't give it his all, probably because he's saving himself for Gouken's killer, and allows Sagat to win. Sagat figures this out after the fact, though, and vows to take on Ryu again for some real revenge.


Enter Akuma - Street Fighter Alpha 2

Ryu, however, does finally find his master's killer: an utter beast of a martial artist named Akuma, who — brace yourself — just so happens to be Gouken's brother. 

As it turns out, Gouken and Akuma learned the same lethal art: Satsui no Hadou. While both became impossibly strong, true mastery requires abandoning all humanity for its power. Gouken declined, instead learning to channel what he knew for good. Akuma, on the other hand, went the other way, giving himself over entirely to the Dark Hadou, eventually surpassing and killing his own master. When he comes for Gouken the first time, he actually loses. Afterward, Akuma kicks things up a frightening notch when he masters the Shun Goku Satsu, a deadly little maneuver some of you might know as the Raging Demon/Instant Hell Murder. It's how Akuma ultimately murders Gouken when they meet the second time, and what leads Ryu to Gokuentou Island to face him. 


Akuma, however, tones things down for young Ryu, after sensing that Ryu might have a little of the dark side in him, since he used it to destroy Sagat. Akuma destroys the island and promises they would meet again when Ryu chooses to summon the full power of the Dark Hadou. Not if; when. 

The rise of Shadaloo - Street Fighter Alpha 2

Meanwhile, in Sagat's world, after being left with a hollow victory over Ryu and being legitimately beaten by Adon, the Muay Thai master winds up being recruited by criminal organization Shadaloo and their new megalomaniacal boss, M. Bison. Bison promises that in exchange for Sagat's services, he'll help increase his power, as well as help track Ryu wherever he is around the globe. 


Bison, being an evil bastard, has other plans for when he catches up with Ryu. See, Bison's big deal is that he wields deadly psychic power, power which is very quickly reaching its pinnacle, forcing him to use his vast resources to create "doll" assassins, led by his own clone, Cammy, that he one day might jump into. Ryu, however, represents a prime opportunity to add a whole new source of power to his own. 

Bison's not the only psychic out there, though. Ryu comes across a woman named Rose who tries to warn him of Bison's intentions, which he takes under advisement when he and Bison cross paths. But not so closely under advisement that he doesn't find himself beaten and brainwashed by Bison after their first fight. 


The brainwashed warrior - Street Fighter Alpha 3

After Ryu is brainwashed in Bison's labs, his Dark Hadou starts to manifest in full. Seeing a prime opportunity to test out Ryu's power, Bison allows Sagat to face his nemesis. Driven with newfound determination, Sagat actually triumphs against Ryu. Still, powerful isn't the same as honorable, and even in victory, Sagat feels no triumph defeating what amounts to a Ryu puppet. Seeing clearly how Bison intends to use Ryu, Sagat rebels against his boss, and helps Ryu come to his senses. Enraged, Bison fights Ryu but is soundly defeated right around the same time that the military, led by Col. William Guile, Charlie Nash, and Chun-Li Xiang, bust in to take down Shadaloo once and for all. 


Cammy rebels, Bison's whole operation falls to pieces, and Bison executes a little escape plan by possessing Rose just long enough to get out of dodge. He will wait things out a while until his loyal scientists find him a new body. Still, for now, evil has been punished, and Ryu can focus on becoming a better warrior.

The world warriors - Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter Aftermath: Crimson Viper

What's left of Shadaloo starts to rebuild operations in Thailand. After Bison gets a newer, albeit weakened, body, the villain starts looking for payback and power. The best way to do that, in his eyes, is to set up a new World Warrior tournament and invite not just a whole bunch of new fighters, but all the folks who took him down the first time. Not the smartest plan, as evil plans go, but it does manage to lure Ken, Guile, Chun-Li, and, of course, Ryu out of hiding, especially since Sagat is still in and looking for a real fight. 


After some globe trotting fights, though, it's Chun-Li, Guile, Ken, and Ryu who manage to confront Bison in the jungles of Thailand, which seemed to be going well until Bison made a psychic bomb of himself. Bison appears to be gone for good, but since this is the guy who escaped the last comeuppance Exorcist-style, everyone just knows that's not the last they'll see of him. 

Ryu vs the Dark Hadou - Street Fighter 4

After the tournament, Ryu continues to wander the world aimlessly in search of a worthy fight. Eventually, he finds it when he's ambushed by Crimson Viper, an agent for S.I.N., Shadaloo's weapons division, whose scientists seem to still have a vested interest in his latent Dark Hadou powers. Well, be careful what you wish for.


During the fight, Ryu's powers manifest in full. But Ken, Chun Li, Guile, and Sakura show up to restrain him. After subduing him, Ken takes Ryu to his mansion and explains the situation: Shadaloo is apparently under new management, as a man named Seth has taken over operations in Bison's absence. He appears to have a special interest in human evolution and believes, like Bison, that Ryu's Dark Hadou may be the key to taking things to the next level. 

The S.I.N. tournament - Super Street Fighter 4

And what better way for a man obsessed with fighting as a means to human evolution to get all the research he needs than throw another global tournament? Seth's plans are a bit more coherent than Bison's. Seth is in charge of a secret bio-weapon project called B.L.E.C.E. ("Boiling Liquid Expanding Cell Explosion"), which seems to use the data gleaned from the participants in order to enhance human ability. The particulars of what Seth intends to do with the project are unclear. What is clear is that the Dark Hadou is key.


So, it's no surprise that Ryu is able to fight through the ranks and find himself face-to-face with Seth at S.I.N. HQ. Now fully aware of Seth's bizarre eugenics experiments, Ryu defeats Seth. It'd be a worthy happily ever after, except for the fact that Ryu had to use the Dark Hadou to do it and finds himself unable to stop being corrupted. He's saved, however, and purged of the Dark Hadou once and for all ... by a very alive-and-well Gouken.

Discovering that his brother somehow survived the Raging Demon and robbed him of his potential protege, Akuma arrives to challenge his brother for Ryu's soul. When the smoke clears, both men live, but it's Gouken who takes Ryu back home to complete his training.


Bison returns - Street Fighter 5

Ryu continues training with Gouken, meeting many a worthy challenger along the way, some of whom even have a bit of insight on whether to suppress or confront the Dark Hadou. Training is over when a soul-stealer named Necalli starts attacking warriors the world over, and a black moon starts to blot out the sun. As it turns out, the moon is one of a series of satellites under the control of — you guessed it — M. Bison, who's finally decided to reappear after Seth's defeat.


Bison's been a busy little bee since Thailand. As it turns out, Seth was a Bison android gone rogue, buying him time so he could secretly launch his satellites worldwide. With the satellites in place, Bison can issue an electromagnetic pulse that triggers fear and insanity in the general public, which he can then harness for his own psychic power. With the Moons already in place, he's already most of the way there when Ryu and his cohorts spring into action.

The final battle - Street Fighter 5, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike

Despite the widespread chaos, Ryu takes Ken, Chun-Li, and Ken's protege Karin to Shadaloo's new HQ, where he faces a nearly god-like Bison. But Ryu's been busy himself since the second World Warrior tournament. Despite Bison's new and improved Psychic abilities, bolstered by the energy streaming from his satellites, Ryu manages to destroy Bison with a Hadouken infused by Dark energy, completely under his control. Gouken's training is truly complete and Ryu is fully master over his energy. Shadaloo, and the Black Moon satellites along with them, are fully demolished, once and for all.


Some years later, a third World Warrior tournament takes place, and Ryu is once again its foremost participant. Not as a man seeking revenge, or an aimless wander in need of guidance, but as an honorable warrior, seeking to test and evolve his strength. No evil, no Shadaloo, just pure combat. But who knows what awaits our restless hero down the road ...