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Evolution of Street Fighter Characters

“Street Fighter” remains one of the most popular and best-selling fighting game series of all time. From its first release in 1987 by Japanese company Capcom to the release of “Street Fighter V” for PlayStation 4 and Windows PC, “Street Fighter” continues to be a cult favorite among gamers due to great characters and refined gameplay that has been established in the decades since the franchise’s inception.

While these games might be considered timeless, things have changed in the series due to technological advancements ushered in by new platforms and systems. Here is how some of the series’ chief characters – Ryu, Chun-Li, Sagat, M. Bison, Ken Masters, Sakura, and Akuma – have been altered by designers since their first appearance.


Evolution of Ryu from Street Fighter GIF

Ryu, the closest character “Street Fighter” has to a main protagonist, maintains a very similar look from game to game in the 20 different versions we examined. He wears a tattered white gi (karate uniform) in most versions of the game.

What tends to change is his hair color – it started off red in “Street Fighter” only to alternate between brown, dark brown, and black (it is currently black in “Street Fighter V”). His headband also started as white, but then changed to red as the series progressed. His gloves even change between red and brown.


Evolution of Chun-Li from Street Fighter GIF

Chun-Li appeared as the series’ first female fighter in “Street Fighter II.” She is regularly seen in a blue qipao, a type of Chinese dress. This is modified to allow the character’s muscular thighs to have the necessary range of motion to kick the opponent into submission.

She also is frequently seen with hair styled in ox horns, using white or yellow ribbons and other objects to hold them in place. Chun-Li is typically seen with studded or spiked bracelets and white, calf-high boots. Her most notable change came in “Street Fighter Alpha,” when she ditched her traditional qipao for a crop top, unitard, and gym shoes.


Evolution of Sagat from Street Fighter GIF

A practitioner of Muay Thai, Sagat keeps a strikingly similar yet imposing appearance throughout his inclusion in multiple “Street Fighter” titles. He is physically intimidating, with a bald head, recurrent black eye patch, and exposed chest that shows off a scar from a fierce battle with Ryu.

He maintains both hand and feet wraps. What changes is his Muay Thai shorts, which have been in a variety of different colors. Blue and red or purple and gold are popular combinations for Sagat. He’s also continued to gain and lose muscle mass over the years, though he has always proven his strength.

M. Bison

Evolution of Bison from Street Fighter GIF

M. Bison debuted in “Street Fighter II,” clothed in a uniform fit for a military dictator. Although he wasn’t a playable character until “Street Fighter II: Champion Edition,” he has continued to be a playable character since then. He is often portrayed as a physically imposing character in his red uniform.

He wears a cap that features the insignia of his crime syndicate, Shadaloo. He’s also seen sporting a dark-colored cape in cut scenes, but he removes this in a flourish before the battle starts. One of the biggest changes that occurred to the relatively similar looking M. Bison over the years was his eyes. While they once had an iris, they became milky white after “Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting.”

Ken Masters

Evolution of Ken from Street Fighter GIF

It’s a blonde Ryu! With a red gi! While the comparisons are easy to make, Ken Masters is his own character, despite similarities to Ryu’s appearance. His hair length tends to change more often than most of his other physical traits, such as in “Street Fighter Alpha 3,” when his ponytail went down almost the entire length of his back.

“Street Fighter V” gives us the biggest change in Ken’s appearance.. He adopts a crimson pair of pants, a black athletic top and belt, sparring gloves, and foot pads. Ken also goes to the barber and picks up a samurai-style haircut. If you have mistaken Ken for Ryu in the past – well, at least that might not be an issue now.


Evolution of Sakura from Street Fighter GIF

This Japanese schoolgirl has a hard crush on Ryu, which leads to the basis of her costume – one part Ryu, one part schoolgirl. Making her first appearance in “Street Fighter Alpha 2,” Sakura is often seen sporting a blue skirt, white crop top, yellow bandana, blue collar, and red gloves and shoes.

She also sports a white headband, like her idol Ryu. Small adjustments have been made (hair, skirt, and top length) over the years, but Sakura has one of the most iconic and consistent costumes in the “Street Fighter” universe.


Evolution of Akuma from Street Fighter GIF

Tanned and terrifying, Akuma is a heartless warrior who made his debut in “Super Street Fighter II Turbo” as a hidden boss. He is among the gi-wearing clan of characters – Ryu, Ken, Dan – who wears either black or gray depending on the game. Akuma has red hair and eyes and covers his hands with brown wraps, gloves, or ropes.

He often wears sandals when he fights, which can easily be seen in “Street Fighter III” and “Street Fighter IV,” but is otherwise barefoot. In “Street Fighter V,” Akuma appears more muscular than ever before, with darker prayer beads across his chest. He also has a thick beard now – perfect for winter on the battlefield!


There you have it. Some of the most popular “Street Fighter” characters and how their appearances have evolved over time. Keep coming back to MuchGames for even more content about the amazing history of video games.


We took screenshots of live gameplay across the “Street Fighter” series to show how characters have evolved over time. We then manually created morphs from one image to the next to show the transition and changes.


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