STREET FIGHTER / Capcom / Arcade
If you're coming back to this one for the first time and expecting something close to the fluidity and smooth gameplay of Street Fighter II, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. This is closer to Yie Ar Kung Fu
than it is to its own sequel.
The original Street Fighter is a product of 1987, and has decidedly choppier movement and more noticeable input lag than the rest of the franchise it would found. It feels more like an attempt at a "technical" simulation of karate, kinda like what Karate Champ went for, with well-timed individual strikes carrying more weight ... albeit with a few fireballs, shurikens and physics-defying moves thrown in. It also has a slightly grittier vibe than the rest of the series, reminiscent of the Van Damme et. al. martial arts movies that were huge when this came out.
This is the character select screen basically
If you can say one thing for the game, it's that the art was very impressive for the time and the backgrounds have held up well. The sprites didn't age as well, but for 1987 they were a good size and level of detail. The one poor quality is choppy low-frame-count animation, which feeds into the game's overall problem of feeling stiff and unresponsive.
As if the generally clunky play control wasn't enough, the deck is increasingly stacked against Ryu / Ken (the only two playables and basically just palette swaps) as they work their way through the fixed order of challengers. Enemies hit harder and harder as you go on, leaving less and less room for error, until you get to a final boss who regularly obliterates you in two hits (while you'll have to land closer to ten to put him down). The primitive AI does leave a lot of room for exploitation, however; on this recent review run I was able to get through the first five guys on the first try with nothing more than the Roundhouse button in a mix of mostly jump kicks and foot sweeps. The suite of Hadokens and Shoryukens is present here, but good luck actually pulling them off at all, let alone in the heat of a critical situation.
Aside from the nice backgrounds, one final positive thing I can say about OG Street Fighter is that it does have an interesting variety of bonus rounds, something I kinda wish the series had stuck with. I know the car smashing in SF2 has become iconic, but honestly it gets old really fast and didn't really add much when revived for SF4.
I was a young kid just starting to frequent the arcades back when this came out, and this machine was never anywhere close to the popularity of Street Fighter II. You'd usually see it empty, most kids getting frustrated with the stiff controls and high difficulty very quickly. It was downright shocking to see a sequel to it come out four years later, nevermind how good it ended up being!