I spent 30 minutes reading about the history of Street Fighter. It was completely fascinating to me.

The reason I was interested is I was at Golfland and there’s a new Street Fighter game out. In case you didn’t know, the hot Street Fighter games recently have been those that combine characters from different worlds. Like there was a Capcom/Marvel Super Heroes game. Also a Capcom/SNK game.

At any rate, this game was there, and there was a big crowd around it. It brought back memories, because there haven’t been crowds like that in a while. That I’ve seen at least. The popularity of these fighting games has definitely waned.

So I’m wondering why that happened, and I think it’s interesting.

Incidentally, I think I wrote about this before, but I was once did all this research on beverages. The most fascinating analysis involved Snapple. An interesting phenomenon is that as Snapple introduces more and more flavors, they end up losing money. Dunno if you know this but Snapple still makes the majority of its money from simple Lemon Iced Tea.

But what happens is that as more flavors are introduced, stores buy all these flavors. The simple one, still the most popular, sell out first. But these stores don’t want to replace them on the shelves because they still have all these other flavors to sell. If I understand it, shelf space is a huge thing in the food industry.

So yeah, they have all these other flavors left so they put them on the shelves to get rid of them. But this means they squeeze their top sellers off the shelves, so they sell less. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but that’s what this article said from some beverage distributor.

So the problem is that, Snapple keeps trying to introduce new flavors to capture the public’s interest, but ends up hurting their most popular flavors. Like I said, I don’t know much about business so this might not be accurate, but I think the gist is right.

Anyway, I think the same thing happened with Street Fighter. If you read about the history of the game, what happened is that with each successive game, Capcom made it more and more complex. And they did this so they’d keep the interest of the players. But what happened is that it eventually got so complex that new players didn’t start. It was just too complicated to learn.

I know this from personal experience. As long as I kept up with the game, it was fine. But once I got out of it, I just stopped playing altogether, because it was too complex to learn. I remember exactly when this happened. It was between Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha. I think it’s because I spent a summer in Korea. Speaking of which, I played this Jackie Chan Street Fighter-like game that very summer and beat it my second time playing.

Anyway, this came to mind after a comment Dave made about DDR type games in Korea. Just, the new ones are too hard so most people just watch, don’t play.

I think the same thing is happening with DDR type games (Bemani) as with Street Fighter, based on a comment Dave made. They have to keep making it more complicated and difficult to keep players interested. But what ends up happening is that it becomes too hard for novices to play, so they don’t. So with each game it just becomes a matter of attrition. New players don’t start playing (it’s too hard to learn), and old players eventually lose interest.

I can see it in this game called Beatmania that I’m into. It’s this DJing like game. The first game is pretty simple – I can beat every level. But with each sequel game, it gets more and more insane. Anyway, with the one at the arcade, I can beat exactly 2 songs. That’s it. It’s just way too hard; I dunno how beginners ever get into it.

So that’s my analysis. When games become popular, they get more complex to keep fans interest, but this keeps newcomers away. I don’t know what the solution is, from a designers standpoint. I’m leaning towards the idea that you have to resist the temptation of making things ever more complex and keep things simple, just new. But I dunno.

My guess is that maybe there’s a principle here that applies to business in general, or even life. But I don’t know what it is.

OK, the rest of this is just my personal reminiscing of Street Fighter so you can stop reading.

Anyway, I don’t know if everyone realizes how huge Street Fighter II was in its day. It was huge. I still remember the first time I played it. It was at Bally’s Aladdin’s Castle in Oakridge Mall (hasn’t existed for a long time). It was standing where all the hot games stood, like Final Fight and Double Dragon before it. I chose Ryu and the first stage was E.Honda, which I lost miserably.

I also remember all the rumors surrounding the game. These included rumors that Chun-Li threw bracelets and that Zangief could pull out a gun. And there were people who swore they saw that in person.

Some of the rumors were true. Like, there are a bunch of glitches in the game that I know how to do. I can make Guile freeze in midair, make him “handcuff” the opposing player, and do an “air-throw” with Guile (make him throw people even when they aren’t near). There’s also a glitch that will reset the game. You know when you press the reset button on your computer and it restarts? It’s exactly like that. I can make this happen with both Guile and Dhalsim.

There are other glitches that I know of also. In Championship Edition, there’s this glitch where you can make Vega scroll up and down the screen while doing his backflip. And in Super Street Fighter, I can make Zangief do his super pile driver to the opposing player no matter where that player is on the screen. But this doesn’t work with the versions of Super Street Fighter where a bunch of machines are linked together tournament style, like they used to have at Vallco.

Uh, forget the reminiscing, since it’s boring. The point is, I was a serious freak with Street Fighter II. I can beat any man in this room in 60 seconds.