The pathetic history of Dan Hibiki

Sure, it was on a handheld nobody owned, but for 2D fighting fans, the first official SNK-Capcom mashup represented a nerdgasm of inconceivable proportions. It didn’t matter that all the characters were squat and superdeformed, or that the Neo-Geo Pocket Color only had two buttons – this was a clash of titans. But it was perhaps most significant to Dan Hibiki, who, after years of throwing his lameness in SNK’s face, finally had to put up or shut up against the characters his very existence had been mocking.

Dan being Dan, he put up, and with his usual dopey charm to boot.

The stress of confrontation must have gotten to Dan a little, though; normally he’s a sweetly imbecilic fool, but this time around his win quotes were somewhat less than friendly.

Above: Really, Dan? Suddenly now you’re a badass?

On the upside, Dan got a few upgrades to his special moves for the fight, not the least of which was a slightly improved Gadouken.

Above: It’s… a little better, actually

SNK quickly followed up its landmark crossover fighter with Card Fighters Clash, a sort of take-off on Pokémon that had players collecting and battling with cards instead of monsters. Which kind of begs the question of why you wouldn’t just go around collecting cards and battling people in real life. Whatever the case, Dan doesn’t really appear as a character – he’s just art on a card. But check out that sweet business to the right – Dan at least makes a better card than he does a martial artist.

Still considered by many to be the high-water mark for 2D fighters, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had – in addition to one of the most irritating character-select tunes ever recorded – a huge roster of characters. More importantly, that roster included Dan, who got to take another break from his more “serious” endeavors to leap 50 feet into the air and hurl autographed glossies at his enemies.

Above: This went right back to being terrible, though

Above: Hooray!

There wasn’t really any story this time around – MvC2 was just too huge, and the fighting between the three-hero teams was way too chaotic. Dan’s appearance, virtually unchanged from Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter, was probably just thrown in as an added bonus for players hungry to unlock as many fighters as possible. But for Dan, this was the ultimate opportunity to throw down with (and more often be thrown down by) the greatest assortment of fighters he was ever likely to face.

SNK wasn’t done with Dan just yet, though – oh, not by a long shot. Initially absent from Millennium Fight 2000, Dan was shoehorned into the PSone version (simply titled Capcom vs SNK Pro) as not only a playable character, but the first one you see when the select screen loads up.

This version of Dan has gotten something of a makeover, looking a little older and craggier. He’s back to being just a little more serious, apparently having gotten the crazy out of his system in Marvel vs Capcom 2, and his usual grin has been replaced by a Kabuki-like scowl. Most shocking of all, his Gadouken is… well, you’d probably better see it for yourself.

Above: DAMN, SON

Playing as Dan in this version felt like a stiffer, humorless mockup of his earlier selves (the new, stern-looking portrait by SNK’s artists didn’t help), but then he was never really supposed to be included in the first place. And we sort of got the sense that he didn’t really want to be there, either, considering how curt his win quotes were.

Above: Even after winning the tournament, he seemed strangely unenthusiastic

Despite being unplayable in the “real” version of Millennium Fight, he was still part of the tournament, inevitably winning it alongside Fatal Fury’s also-unplayable Joe Higashi regardless of what you did. Of course, it was another in a long string of hollow victories – the only reason they won is because your team was sidetracked dealing with SNK villain Geese Howard, blah blah blah, but let the man have his moment.

Above: Now that’s more like it

By this point, Dan had faced down the characters he was supposed to parody three times, but as it turned out there was still a lot of fight left in both SNK and its silly little imitator.