How Street Fighter 6 Pays Tribute to a Forgotten Capcom Franchise

Among many other things, Street Fighter 6 appears to be a glowing tribute to another Capcom franchise with a close relationship to the Street Fighter series.

Street Fighter 6
Photo: Capcom

In 2023, Capcom will finally release Street Fighter 6. When the game was announced a few months back, all we knew about the sequel at that time was that it was going to feature a new character named Luke and a very wide, beefy take on Street Fighter protagonist, Ryu. Thanks to the new Street Fighter 6 trailer revealed as part of Sony’s latest State of Play presentation, though, we now know the game will feature so much more than that.

At first glance, the trailer clearly reveals four confirmed characters in action. Ryu is back, of course, retaining his fan-favorite beard from his Street Fighter 5 alternate outfit. Series regular Chun-Li also returns, shown fighting her adopted daughter Li-Fen at one point (Li-Fen’s teenage appearance suggests that we’re finally going past Street Fighter III in the timeline). Luke, the last DLC character introduced in Street Fighter 5, also shows up as this game’s new hero character. Then we see the brand-new drunken fighter Jamie, who appears to be a friend of Luke’s.

While the second half of the trailer shows plenty of in-game one-on-one fighting, including the return of parries, the first half is where things get really interesting. It turns out that Street Fighter 6 features what appears to be an open-world mode where you go roaming around a city, interacting with people and moving whatever the story is forward. It feels like the Konquest mode from Mortal Kombat: Deception, but with better graphics.

There are even quite a few easter eggs in that world’s background signs and billboards. An advertisement for something called Paradise suggests ties to Street Fighter III’s main villain Gill and his cult. Turkish wrestler Hakan has a big billboard for his company’s world-famous cooking oil. More importantly, we see many references that seem to confirm that that part of the game takes place in Metro City. Not only are there numerous signs that identify the name of the city, but we even see a large statue of former mayor Mike Haggar, a glance at Abigail’s Scrapyard, and quite a few scenes that suggest the city has been overrun by Mad Gear punks.

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Yes, after years of playing up Street Fighter‘s relationship with Final Fight, Capcom looks to be centering Street Fighter 6‘s story around that beloved, and all-but-forgotten, video game series. Of course, that relationship between those two franchises has been building for quite some time now.

The Initial Fight

After Street Fighter came out in 1987, Capcom decided to give the game a fresh follow-up. No, not 1991’s revolutionary Street Fighter II. At least not originally. Instead, they started work on a game called Street Fighter ’89, which was going to have Ryu and Ken fight alongside each other against waves of enemies. Over time, they decided that it just wasn’t Street Fighter enough and changed the plot, characters, and title.

That project instead became Final Fight: the story of the Mad Gear Gang’s attempt to kidnap the mayor’s daughter, Jessica, in the hopes that the mayor will finally get off their backs. Unfortunately for them, the mayor was a former professional wrestler and an absolute beast of a man, Mike Haggar. Haggar, alongside Jessica’s boyfriend Cody and their ninja friend Guy, take to the streets of Metro City to save Jessica, beat people with pipes, and eat entire roasted chickens off the ground.

Final Fight received two sequels for SNES, and while they still weren’t named after Street Fighter, it was soon apparent that the two franchises shared one continuity. Even as early as Street Fighter II, it was established that Soviet grappler Zangief was a longtime wrestling rival of Haggar’s (which neatly explains their tendency to do the same moves).

The Street Fighter Alpha Series

Street Fighter Alpha effectively served as the middle ground between the first two Street Fighter games. As a sub-series partially dedicated to worldbuilding, the first Alpha game introduced Guy and Final Fight second-level boss Sodom as playable characters. Street Fighter Alpha 2 even brought in fellow Final Fight boss character, Rolento. With Street Fighter Alpha 3, Cody was playable, albeit in a new form. Turns out that after saving the day and rescuing Jessica, Cody went down a dark path, couldn’t stop getting into fights, and ended up in prison for his antics.

The connection even led to the penultimate episode of the Street Fighter Saturday morning animated series, “Final Fight,” where Ryu and Ken helped Haggar, Cody, and Guy clean up the streets of Metro City by going undercover and joining the Mad Gear gang.

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Later, Final Fight was re-released for the Game Boy Advance as Final Fight One, which included the ability to play as the Alpha versions of Cody and Guy. Due to the inexplicable time travel and the port’s addition of pre-boss dialogue, it led to some fun in-game conversations.

Final Fight: Streetwise and Street Fighter 6’s Tributes

Unfortunately, the Final Fight series was never able to stand on its own and keep its momentum going. In 1999, the one-on-one 3D fighter Final Fight Revenge was released on Sega Saturn, which quickly fell into obscurity. The same can sadly be said for 2006’s Final Fight: Streetwise, an open-world brawler which starred Cody’s brother Kyle. Actually, elements of Street Fighter 6‘s open-world sections look like they may have been inspired by Streetwise.

However, Streetwise did feature a few interesting Street Fighter cameos, such as Cammy and what appeared to be Joe: the completely generic and forgettable American opponent from the first Street Fighter game.

Meanwhile, Street Fighter games kept bringing in Final Fight characters. From Street Fighter III: Second Impact to Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition, the fighting franchise’s roster included characters such characters as Maki, Hugo Andore, Poison, Lucia, and Abigail. Guy’s former master Zeku was even brought in, and Capcom even tossed in the fun reveal that he was the original ninja warrior known as Strider (meaning Final Fight and Street Fighter are prequels to the Strider series). Down the line, Cody cleaned up his act and went on to become the new Mayor of Metro City, ousting Haggar.

Strangely, Haggar himself was never playable in a Street Fighter game. He did show up in the Marvel vs. Capcom series a couple of times, though, and even ran for President with Tony Stark as his running mate in one of the endings. Look, the dude rules.

Now Metro City and the Mad Gear gang seem to be central to whatever Street Fighter 6’s plot is. Not only do we see masked hoodlums getting fed their own teeth by Luke and Jamie, but there’s a quick look at some blond, vest-wearing guy on a rooftop who appears to be their new leader. At first glance, I thought it was Damnd (the first Final Fight’s first boss), but Damnd is shown hanging out in one of the backgrounds, so I have a feeling we’ll be seeing another brand-new character popping up on the roster sooner than later.

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Anyway, I just hope that we finally get to play as Mike Ha…oh, no. I just realized that that giant statue of Haggar says “MEMORIAL” on it. Capcom, you monsters. You absolute monsters! Did they really kill off Mike Haggar before he could finally join the roster of a Street Fighter game?

Well, at least Street Fighter 6 finally seems to be fully embracing Final Fight‘s relationship with, and influence on, the Street Fighter series. While we’re still holding on to hope for a proper new Final Fight game, the ways that Street Fighter 6 so clearly pays tribute to that beloved beat-em-up at least shows that someone at Capcom still cares about the franchise.