Street Fighter Week: The evolution of Ken and Ryu

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Street Fighter | Street Fighter II | Alpha series | Street Fighter III | EX series | SF: The Movie and Gem Fighter | Marvel vs. Capcom series | SNK vs. Capcom series | Misc. games | Sprite comparison | SSFIITHDR and Street Fighter IV | Comics, films, and more 

Street Fighter Alpha Warriors' Dreams - 1995

The Street Fighter Alpha series takes place before Street Fighter II, and after Street Fighter. Ryu and Ken return in the Alpha series, redone in the series' signature Anime style. Ryu is sporting a white headband, as in the original Street Fighter. Ken's hair is significantly longer, and contains a red ribbon.


We can see the "cell shaded" look of the sprites in the below screen. Ryu's hair, while still brown, has become slightly more red than it was in Street Fighter II. Ryu's uniform is whiter, and his torn sleeves and legs more jagged. Also notice that Ken's stance is more front-facing than in SF II.


Street Fighter Alpha 2 - 1996

Alpha 2 is not a continuation of the story in Alpha - it is an update of the game, and what Capcom had intended Alpha, which was rushed to release, to be. The only new character created for the game is Sakura (right), a spunky schoolgirl who's obsessed with Ryu. There has to be one of them in every series, doesn't there?

The story of Alpha and Alpha 2 (as well as a variety of films and comics) sets up most of Street Fighter's back story. Earlier in the series, Ken and Ryu began as students of Gouken, Ryu's adoptive father. Ken came to Japan as an undisciplined American to study under the master.

The Alpha series sees Ryu return home to discover that Gouken has been murdered by Akuma. He confronts, but does not defeat, Akuma on an island, which Akuma smashes after revealing the hidden power of Satsui no Hadou ("Evil Intent"), which is buried within Ryu.

Ken returns to America after the death of Gouken, where he becomes a famous actor and eventually marries his girlfriend, Eliza. Ken's Alpha 2 story ends with him defeating Ryu, who he claims "wasn't in it." Ken gives Ryu the red ribbon in his hair, which Ryu presumably wears from Street Fighter II forward, explaining the white to red headband transition.

In this scene from M. Bison's ending, we see Ryu being brainwashed, which allows Bison to discover that Ryu's Satsui no Hadou is not unlike his Psycho Power. We're pretty sure Ryu is wearing a white Speedo here, and is not, in fact, a Ken doll.

Trivia: The SNES version of Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold lacks the hidden characters, the Venezuela stage, and generally sucks.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - 1998

Alpha 3 is an actual sequel to Alpha and Alpha 2, and is a fully redesigned game. The anime style of the character art is a bit more pronounced, as apparent in the screen below.

In Ken's ending, he defeats M. Bison using Ryu's Shoryuken. Ryu's ending sees him struggle between Bison's mind control and Satsui no Hadou.

Also notable in the Alpha series is the introduction of "Evil Ryu," a version of Ryu who has succumb to his "Evil Intent" (below). This character is a "what if" scenario - Ryu doesn't actually give in to Satsui no Hadou, excepting during his battle with Sagat in the original Street Fighter.

Trivia: There is no one correct way to spell "Hadouken" in English. Not even official game manuals have been consistent, and we've seen various sources refer to the attack as "Hadouken," "Hadoken," "Hado ken," and "Hado-ken." We're most familiar with the "Hadouken" spelling, which is why we use it in this article.


  • Ktown - January 23, 2011 4:09 p.m.

    This is very entertaining but most of this info is false. Ken isn't an actor, but his father is the worlds third richest man and Ken is an American martial arts champion. Second Ryu finished sagat with the Hadouken after the shoryuken and not the dark hadou. The shoryuken belongs goukens master not ryu. Third, ken fights ryu at the end because Ken has defeated every opponent he has come across, except ryu.
  • beoftw - March 2, 2009 2:23 a.m.

    lol street fighter 2: the animated movie shold have gotten alot more praise than it did. imo i thought it was alot better than the otheres.
  • Arukami - February 27, 2009 2:07 p.m.

    All beatiful recalls....aboveall th first SF! and SFII with that big pic with Vega with his hands open...i'll Kill you!!!!!! U understand me!!! I'll kill you Vega! XDDD! Great article!
  • Auron00 - February 21, 2009 9:31 a.m.

    Not that anyone will really care too much, but, just to keep this retrospective a bit more clear, Ken Masters was never an actor, he is a world famous martial arts tournament champion in america (multiple times over even) and his father is the third richest man in the world (in the SF world anyway).
  • jackrabbitslims - March 15, 2009 12:42 p.m.

    "and apparently a variety of nuts in his cheek to consume later" LMAO. Great article, I love catching up on the history of street fighter.
  • WiqidBritt - February 24, 2009 3:50 a.m.

    what? no mention of Violent Ken in SVC Chaos?
  • Sonneilon - February 21, 2009 9:18 p.m.

    Reading thru all these, feels like I should get a degree with all this SF knowledge now!
  • Bigpapa360 - February 21, 2009 7:27 a.m.

    Second. Man I love seeing how all these games get their start.
  • Grundler24 - February 16, 2009 4:29 p.m.

    First??? The arcade version of this is amazing, i've gotten the chance to play it at an arcade in china town and my friends grandpa owns it so i got free tokens and played it forever. SF never seems to end its reign of ass kicking.

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