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Shortly after it was granted, Dan’s mainstream-character status was revoked. Oh sure, he’s still one of the most memorable things about Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, but he’s a secret character once again, available only to those who know the secret to unlocking him. Not that you’d really want to, because even when he’s in a puzzle game, Dan suh-huh-ucks.
See all those red blocks on Morrigan’s side? They’re what Dan unleashes on his opponent when he clears a bunch of gems from his own side. In fact, they’re all Dan unleashes on his opponent, and that’s very, very bad. If you’re playing as Dan and you let loose a ton of bricks on your opponent, all they need to do is get one red bomb gem – which show up pretty frequently – in order to make them all explode and send them right back to you. There’s just one way to (maybe) succeed, and that’s to play like Dan: as fast and random as possible. If you’re lucky, you’ll stack up enough new unusable blocks to keep your opponent from clearing any of the old ones away.
Also, while Dan’s super-deformed look is a radical departure from earlier games, it suits him – maybe a little too well. It was appropriate that Dan’s weird antics would be amped up for Puzzle Fighter, but in seemingly every game after this, he’s forgotten to dial them back down. Dan doesn’t have much of a story this time around, although to be fair nobody else has much of one, either. This is pretty much the extent of “story” in Puzzle Fighter:
Never one to let a weird thing die, Dan came back full-force for the Puzzle Fighter sequel/spinoff Pocket Fighter, which once again stuck him in the secret-character gulag. It wasn’t that bad a gulag, though, seeing as anyone who wanted to play as Dan just had to go up to Ken on the character select screen and press right.
Above: Nope, still sucks
Pocket Fighter was arguably Dan’s finest hour, as the cute antics he developed in Puzzle Fighter turned out to be just a gateway to some genuinely bizarre behavior.
Above: Yep, that’s Dan on the left
Best of all, Dan’s father, Go Hibiki, came back from the dead for his first-ever in-game cameo, in which he further cemented the SNK in-joke by looking exactly like the mask worn by Ryo’s “dead” father at the end of The Art of Fighting. He also did as much as he could to help his son suck less, including but not limited to the devastating “Oyaji Beam.”
Dan once again got a story for Pocket Fighter; continuing his plotline from Street Fighter Alpha 2, he decides he needs to find a fighter weaker than himself to train as a disciple, and settles on Ryu fangirl Sakura.
For a little while, this plan works out beautifully…
But in the end, Dan’s Saikyo style is utterly worthless to anyone but Dan, and Sakura’s smart enough to realize that. Strangely, this is the only Pocket Fighter ending that’s seemingly become canon within the main series, something that will be hinted at much further down the road.
But whatever. Morrigan wants to imitate Dan, and she’s way more awesomer than Sakura.
Weirdly, when the X-Men/Marvel vs. Street Fighter/Capcom series started, the chief complaint among fanboys was “Ryu couldn’t go toe-to-toe with Magneto and survive! That wholly fictitious scenario is unrealistic!”
Note that this completely ignores the likelihood that Dan couldn’t so much as breathe the same air as Wolverine without instantly dying of shock.
Above: It still sucks, even with speed lines
Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter was where full-sized Dan finally ditched his pathetic-revenge-seeker seriousness and fully embraced his status as an in-joke. He looked more or less the same as he did in Alpha 2, but the addition of a slightly rounder head (possibly inflated with ego) and a more visibly carefree attitude gave him a more openly goofy feel than his more “serious” earlier incarnations.
Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter also beefed Dan up considerably (while still leaving him weak compared to everyone else), giving him two important new moves: the Otoko Michi, which he apparently invented after seeing Akuma’s Shun Goku Satsu/Instant Hell Murder on TV, and the Premium Sign, a new projectile that was infinitely more effective than the sad, impotent little Gadouken fireball. Dan, still hopped up on his post-Alpha 2 taste of fame, takes a second to happily sign a photo of himself before generously chucking it at his opponent, doing a little bit of damage on impact.
But the real fun came with the ending. If you could actually beat the ridiculously cheesy Cyber-Akuma with Dan in order to see it, you got to witness a surprising revelation that A) reminds us that Dan exists to make fun of SNK by directly aping the ending to Art of Fighting, and B) hints at a shocking connection between Dan and Akuma.
That’s right! Akuma is their…!!
Trying to return to a semblance of normalcy after three ridiculous joke games can’t be easy, and Dan in Street Fighter Alpha 3 is like a hyperactive child who’s just been told to sit still after running around in circles for an hour during recess. He can’t take it. He wants to just go nuts. And he wants to look like this:
For what it’s worth, though, this is regular old Alpha Dan, albeit with fine-tuning and a few tweaks that enable him to do cool stuff like launch his lunging flail kick in the middle of a jump. In general, he’s as much fun to play in Alpha 3 as ever, sober surroundings be damned. The Gadouken still sucks, though.
Dan’s new, more mellow outlook seems to have stuck with him from earlier games. He’s not interested in avenging his dad anymore; now, he just wants to spread the gospel of Saikyo. And there’s something strangely endearing about offering to teach the man who punched your father to death how to fight.
Above: ‘And then you can punch MORE fathers to death!’
Above: Looks like someone’s ambition is just never going to rest, period
Of course, it’s nothing compared to what happens when SNK finally catches wind of the joke - and hits back.