Get ready for broken barrels, teleporting rocks and every national stereotype you can fit on to a 2D background. We present 14 perfect, far-flung locations from the Street Fighter series - it’s called World Warrior for a reason.
Las Vegas, USA - Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior
Balrog’s Las Vegas stage has all the stuff you’d expect from a hive of iniquity and gambling – neon lights, hustlers, doves flying out of top hats – but look more closely and you’ll also see a nice reference to the developers. Nin-Nin Hall is a shout-out to Nin-Nin (real name Akira Nishitani), a character designer who worked on Street Fighter 2, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, and Final Fight.
East Coast, USA - Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior
It feels like he should be from California, but Ken’s stage in Street Fighter 2 is actually on the Upper East Coast (he’s a billionaire, he can live wherever he wants). There’s a rumour 3rd Strike’s Q can be seen on the boat in the background – a theory made more compelling by his removal from Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo HD Remix.
Northern Brazil - Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, Street Fighter 4
Anyone who’s fallen out of a plane over South America and been raised by electric eels will recognise Brazil, the home of Blanka. Street Fighter 4’s Inland Jungle stage is set in the Amazon rainforest, on the border between the Pará and Amapá states. There’s also an inaccurately named Pitch Black version, which should actually be called ‘Slightly Darker Jungle’.
North Atlantic Ocean - Street Fighter 4
Seth’s Crumbling Laboratory, and the non-crumbling version which precedes it, are the only levels in Street Fighter 4 assigned to a specific character. This stage elicits a sweary, Pavlovian response from anyone who’s played Arcade Mode and got stuck on the cheapest, smuggest, Yin-Yang-bellied baldy bastard ever to sour an otherwise perfect fighting game. Get in the sea, Se... oh, you already are.
Scotland, UK - Super Street Fighter 2
It’s listed as ‘England’ in Super Street Fighter 2, but this stage is more Scottish than Irn-Bru sausages (yup, they’re a thing). Scotland is the only place in the United Kingdom you’re likely to see the Northern Lights, and the ancient stone castles have a distinctly Edinburgh feel. It’s safe to assume Street Fighter 4’s Historic Distillery stage is also set north of the border, because... whisky.
London, UK - Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike
This stage contains every single British thing that has ever been, or ever will be. Standing on the corner of Main Street in Knightsbridge you can see the Underground, Downing Street, Big Ben, a Mini, red telephone boxes and a quiet, inescapable sense of losing relevance on the international stage. Japanese tourists must be so disappointed with the real street – especially as it doesn’t actually exist.
Paris, France - Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike
Remy was conceived as a swipe at other fighting games trying too hard to be edgy, and his stage is a reflection of that. It’s a glowing, cyberpunk nightclub in the historic quarters of Paris, which fits with Remy’s (actually very tiresome) persona as ‘guy who hates everything’. Yes, that includes fighting – a problem, given his choice of profession.
Germany - Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike
We learn a lot from this stage. For one thing, Hugo is clearly a massive narcissist with the mind of a child: the walls display his championship belts next to giant murals of his own face, and there are toys all over the floor. This stage is also proof nobody at Capcom went to Germany on a stereotype-finding mission. Where are the beer halls, the sausages, the lederhosen? Poor form, Cappers.
Russia - Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike
There are loads of snazzy Russian levels to pick from, but Necro’s stage in 3rd Strike is the best. It’s set on a platform nestling between the towers of what looks like St Petersburg’s Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Nobody knows why the restoration of a Tsarist Russian church would halt so people could kick each other in the minarets. And nobody cares.
Central Africa - Super Street Fighter 4
The Super Street Fighter 4 Solar Eclipse stage is a classic African savannah, apparently located somewhere in western Chad or northern Cameroon. It’s lacking the prerequisite ‘street’ element of Street Fighter, though, replacing people with giraffes, zebras and jostling hippos. A solar eclipse takes place while you’re fighting. Lovely, but dangerous – though you won’t go blind looking at it, you will get punched.
Central China - Super Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 4
This beats London as the location with the most clichés. Bicycles, chickens, laundry – it’s all there. That’s taken to ridiculous extremes in the Alpha series (which Capcom never brought to Xbox, sadly), with thousands of bikes endlessly scrolling by in the background. There’s also a rejigged version in Street Fighter 4, one of the most detailed stages in the series.
Thailand - Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior
Most of Sagat’s stages feature a reclining Buddha statue, based on the Ayutthaya ruins in Thailand, but Street Fighter 2 has an especially cool hidden secret. A rock in the background moves, apparently at random, messing with your ability to judge distance. Once you spot this there’s nothing stopping you judging based on the elements of the stage that don’t move, of course.
Japan - Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike
The iconic Suzaku Castle has been Ryu’s home stage in every version of the game. In its second incarnation, it has wonderful, breakable signs that say “Wind, forest, fire, mountain”, a shortened form of a quote from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: “Be as swift as wind, as silent as forest, as fierce as fire, as unshakeable as mountain.”
Japan - Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike
The Kousyu Street stage is extra cool for featuring two separate states. When you first fight Akuma it’s in the “1:55 AM” state, with moonlight illuminating the Jizō statues and flagstones. When you come back later and battle Akuma in his even-more-powerful Shin form, a lunar eclipse bathes the entire stage in blood-red light. Creepy.
This article originally appeared in Xbox: The Official Magazine. For more great Xbox coverage, you can subscribe here.