street fighter ii is perhaps the most influential fighting game of all time. The 1991 arcade game introduced ideas that became standard across the genre: being able to choose from multiple characters, using six buttons and eight joystick directions to create a multitude of combo attacks. The game sold over 15 million copies and became a phenomenon that other video game developers couldn’t help but notice.
But there’s the influence of other games, and then there’s Really influencing other games to the point where one has to wonder if they have any original ideas for themselves. At a certain point, Capcom’s studio bosses felt they had to stomp their feet. They decided to sue Data East, creators of a game called wrestler story which had come out in 1993, the third year of SFIIThe complete domain of the sales lists.
Akira Nishitani, who had designed SFIIsaying Polygon in 2014 that wrestler story it had crossed the line, almost feeling like a personal insult to Capcom.
“A lot of people were reaching out to people at Capcom, reaching out to Mr. [Kenzo] Tsujimoto, and say, “Are you sure you’re going to let this go? You really can’t let this go. This is really bad.”
So Capcom sued. And he lost. You can see what the fight was about right now if you subscribed to the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack.
The argument that wrestler story cheated street fighter ii makes a lot of sense when you play it. The game features nine diverse characters that can face each other in one-on-one combat, eventually leading the fighters to secret characters that are initially unselectable. These fights take place in a variety of slightly interactive settings around the world, from in front of the White House to European palaces and villages in Thailand.
Several of the fighters are extremely similar to those found in street fighter ii. As the intellectual property law blog Patent Arcade points out, the courts determined that the wrestler story characters “Matlok, Feilin and Ray, were similar to Guile, Chun Li and Ken”. Playing Ray, it’s easy to see why. Ray is clearly an American who knows karate, shooting projectiles from his cupped hands and yelling “Yes!” after a win. After the victory, a blue screen appears showing both characters, the loser getting hit and the winner giving a terse taunt.
While Matlok Jade is undeniably a rip-off of Guile with his blonde mohawk, at least the character has been given a fun bio reboot. Instead of being just another soldier, Matlok Jade is a British punk. A bobby watches you while you fight, and when Ray defeats him, he says something like “I’ll never dance with you!”. That’s pretty fun.
the fighting in wrestler story is quite simple, and again, very similar to street fighter ii. Samchay Tomyamgun, the Thai fighter in the game, bears a strong resemblance to Dhalsim. The backgrounds, which show cheering crowds, resemble SFII background. speaking to PolygonData East’s attorney in the case, Claude Stern, said that “the fact is that Data East artists were copying Street Fighter. The final work was not a slavish copy, a pixel-for-pixel copy, but they had evidence that we were copying things.”
So how did they get out of it? “Our response was, well, what we were copying couldn’t be protected,” says Stern. “If a character like Ray or Matlok Jade was kicking like Ken or Guile, Data East’s response was ‘Well, wait a minute. Those are conventional moves within the field of martial arts. You can’t own that.'”
Stern and Data East argued that while street fighter ii was certainly influential, Capcom couldn’t accept the idea of a one-on-one martial arts fight on a street. Of the 650 possible moves in SFII, the vast majority of them amount to several punches and kicks. The court did not see the case for making such moves solely owned by Capcom.
Fighter‘s History it has some unique features. Probably the most creative fighter is Clown, an evil clown who fights in a world of weird clowns and juggles enemies with his feet. I would have loved to see more of Clown, but he wasn’t in the cards.
As is, wrestler story it’s a fascinating part of gaming history and fun enough to play. It’s a street fighter ii clone after all, how bad could it be?