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Nothing beats the feeling of standing before an illuminated arcade machine, looking at the flashing “INSERT COIN” message on the screen below the title of your favorite ‘90s video game. Of the many classics one absolutely has to include the quintessential fighting game Street Fighter. Even more thrilling than the title screen is the electronic soundtrack that opens up the 2D battlefield, set with your chosen character and his rival. Before you know it, “FIGHT!” flashes across the top and the real action begins. Both fighters start pulling out their array of special moves, and the air is filled with rapid-fire victory yelps upon landing a strike or grunts of anguish from receiving one. As a bright-eyed youngster in that dingy arcade, everything else in the world disappears, and the only thing that matters is defeating your opponent. 

Street Fighter was originally released in 1987 by the Japanese game manufacturer Capcom, creator of many multi-million dollar franchises such as Resident Evil, Monster Hunter and Mega Man. The first version of Street Fighter was actually a side-scrolling game, where the main player controls Ryu as he competes in a worldwide martial arts tournament, while a second player controls Ken Masters. The two fight their way through opponents using an array of martial arts moves. With the release of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior in 1991, the player-versus-player, round-based combat formula was introduced. Players could choose from a roster of fighters possessing unique fighting styles from around the world, executed by a directional pad and button combinations for special attacks with more skill and complexity than previously seen.

Street Fighter’s legacy still lives on generations later, setting the stage for myriad games such as Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Killer Instinct and Darkstalkers. Since making its mark in the arcades of our youth, the game has been released on multiple gaming platforms, accessible through video game consoles and on PC. The series’ newest game, Street Fighter 6, is due to release in 2023. It’s clear the pioneer of fighting games will never go out of style—and neither will these tattoos of all the colorful combatants from the series. Choose your fighter! And may the best fighter win.