Ryu from Street Fighter is one of the most recognisable characters in all of gaming. He has appeared in numerous movies, TV shows, comic books, and toy lines. Ryu has crossed over with Smash Bros, Mega Man, Asura's Wrath, and numerous other Capcom games. He has even battled the superheroes and villains from Marvel comics.
What has Ryu done to earn all of this recognition? As a fighting game character, he isn't exactly known for his personality, nor his deep and involved backstory. He has rarely spoken in-game and most endings in the Street Fighter series consist of a few pages of text. Ryu is arguably the least interesting character in Street Fighter II, and yet he is the one who has achieved the most mainstream success.
We are here today to look into the history of gaming's most mysterious superstar. From the time he almost got his own movie, to his endless rivalry with Peter Griffin and Stan Smith.
Here are 15 Things You Didn't Know About Ryu!
15 The Solo Ryu Movie
The original Street Fighter movie (starring Jean-Claude Van Damme) is terrible, but at least it's bad in a fun way. It fits into the same category of movies as The Room or Samurai Cop, where you can sit around with your friends and have some fun goofing on the film. For all of its many problems, Street Fighter is an endlessly quotable film.
In 2009, Capcom decided to try again with a live action Street Fighter movie. They decided to make a film that focused on Chun-Li's struggle against M. Bison and the Shadaloo organisation. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is a legitimately terrible movie, with almost no redeeming features. It currently holds a 6% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
During the final scene of the movie, Chun-Li is told about a Japanese fighter who might be able to help her out. His name is Ryu, and he may be an asset in an upcoming street fighting tournament. If The Legend of Chun-Li had been financially successful, then Ryu would have received his own solo movie as the star of the sequel.
14 Ryu's True Age
The first game in the Street Fighter series debuted in 1987. You could only play as Ryu in the single player mode, and a second player could only use Ken in two player battles. The game is considered to be far inferior to its sequel, due to the limited roster, difficult controls, and overall poor presentation.
Ryu debuted in this game, as did Ken, Adon, Birdie, Sagat, and Gen. He has appeared in every game in the series since, as well as most of Capcom's crossover games as the representative of Street Fighter. Ryu is generally considered to be the main character of the series.
While Ryu first appeared in 1987, his actual age is much older. Ryu was born in July of 1964, this means that he will turn 53 this year. Ryu looks amazing for his age. It makes sense for him to look so youthful, as he spends his entire life in physical training whilst eating healthy food.
13 Hot Ryu
Street Fighter V has caused a lot of controversy since its release in 2016. The game was sold in an incomplete state; most of the promised characters and modes were unavailable upon release, with lots of content now being sold as DLC. Capcom explained that the early release of Street Fighter V was for the competitive players, who needed time to prepare for the major fighting game tournaments of that year. Most fans saw through this flimsy excuse and the game sold way less than Capcom originally projected.
It wasn't all just negative publicity for Street Fighter V, however. The game would receive retailer specific DLC outfits as a pre-order bonus. If you ordered Street Fighter V from Gamestop, then you would receive the "Battle Costume" for Ryu. If you used this costume, then Ryu would fight topless, sporting a beard. He now looked like Joel from The Last of Us, if he decided to hit the gym, so that he could more effectively punch the Clickers.
This new outfit took the Internet by storm. "Hot Ryu", as it came be known, lit up Twitter with letters of affection. Hot Ryu ignited sexual desires from both men and women alike. It was a brief moment of positive publicity in a storm of accusations of screwing over the fans being aimed towards Capcom.
12 The Inspirations For Ryu
Many characters in the Street Fighter series have real life inspirations. Balrog is clearly based on Mike Tyson, which caused all of the messing around with name needing to be changed. Fei Long is basically Bruce Lee if he could set his leg on fire whilst kicking. Alex and Hugo are meant to be copies of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, with the two mimicking their famous stare down from Wrestlemania III.
Ryu was inspired by two different people, one real, one fictional. The first is a legendary Korean Karate master, named Masutatsu Oyama. Like Ryu, he would disappear for years at a time, in order to train alone in the mountains. He would travel around Japan giving demonstrations to different Dojos and fighting in tournaments.
The other inspiration for Ryu is the protagonist of a manga series called Karate Baka Ichidai. It followed a Karate master, who travelled to Thailand in order to challenge the king of Muay Thai. The villain of this series also inspired the design for Sagat.
11 Ryu Loves Chun-Li
There have been numerous comic book adaptations of the Street Fighter series over the years. These include both American comics and manga series. There have also been crossover comics, with the cast of Street Fighter meeting Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man and the soldiers from G.I. Joe.
The most infamous Street Fighter comic book has to be the one released by Malibu in 1991. The series only lasted for a few issues, but it has become known for its horrible artwork and dialogue. The second issue is also needlessly violent, as Sagat & Balrog defeat Ken in combat and scalp him with a knife. They then send his scalp/hair in a package to Ryu, in order to get him to leave his training and return to fight in a tournament.
In the Malibu version of Street Fighter, Ryu and Ken also trained with Chun-Li. It is heavily implied the Ken and Chun-Li used to be lovers before he became a celebrity and abandoned his training. In the first issue, Chun-Li basically throws herself at Ryu, who kisses her, before refusing her advances. Ryu and Chun-Li do have feelings for each other, but he is too obsessed with his training to commit to a relationship. It doesn't help that she is still determined to get revenge for her father's murder.
10 The Sagat Screwjob
It was once established Street Fighter lore that Sagat lost to Ryu in the final match of the first game. The reason Sagat has the long scar across his chest is because Ryu burnt it onto him with a Shoryuken. This was the move that cost Sagat the victory in their fight. Defeating Ryu in combat became Sagat's goal in life. This became his motive for entering the Street Fighter tournament in subsequent games.
This major plot point was actually retconned in later games and is no longer considered to be true. According to the new status quo established in the Alpha series, Sagat actually won his first fight against Ryu. When Sagat walked over to Ryu, in order to help him up from the ground, Ryu cheap shotted Sagat for the victory. When Ryu lose the battle, he also lost control of his senses and became possessed by the power of darkness. He became Evil Ryu and used the power of nothingness to become strong enough to scar Sagat's chest. Evil Ryu did this with a Metsu Shoryuken, which translates to "Destroying Rising Dragon Fist".
Ryu's struggle to control his dark side has been an important part of his story since.
9 You Must Defeat Sheng Long!
Ryu's Shoryuken (or his Dragon Punch, as it usually called), is one of the most iconic attacks in video game history. It is also the source of one of the biggest hoaxes to ever be spread by the gaming community.
In the original arcade version of Street Fighter II, if Ryu won the battle, then he would tell his foes that "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance". This caused a stir among players, as no character named Sheng Long existed in the game. Many fans believed that there was a hidden fighter in the Street Fighter II who had to be discovered.
The mystery of Sheng Long seemed to be answered in the April 1992 edition of Electronic Gaming Monthly. They claimed that it was possible to battle Sheng Long if you completed a series of impossible tasks. When Street Fighter II was released on the Super Nintendo, his victory quote changed the words Sheng Long to Dragon Punch. The whole thing was a mistake, caused by an incorrect translation of the word "Shoryuken".
8 The Game Where You Only Fight Ryu
The terrible Street Fighter movie may have caused people to think that the concept of the video game was unfilmable. This couldn't be further from the truth, as an awesome Street Fighter movie was also released in the same year. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is an anime film that was released in 1994. It proved that you could make an incredible movie using the Street Fighter licence.
What most people don't realise about the movie is that it also received a video game adaptation (and we're not talking about Street Fighter II). There was a game released for the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, called Street Fighter II MOVIE. You play as a Shadaloo robot, that needs to watch fights in order to learn how to defeat Ryu. The game mainly consists of clips from the movie, where you need to click on parts of the screen in order to learn new abilities.
Street Fighter II MOVIE only contains one actual fight. You play as the Cyborg as he attempts to defeat Ryu. If the Cyborg wins, then Ryu's personality overwhelms his programming. He kills M. Bison with a Hadoken and lives the life of a travelling warrior.
7 Mega Man's Moves
Capcom's mascot is usually considered to be Mega Man. He is supposed to be on the same level of recognition as Mario or Sonic. Despite this, Capcom has treated the Blue Bomber very poorly over the years. His appearances seemed to have dried up, with games like Mega Man Legends 3 being cancelled almost as quickly as they were announced.
With Mega Man diminishing in status, there are those who claim that Ryu is now the face of the company. This makes sense, as Mega Man has spent years trying to be like Ryu, rather than the other way around.
It is possible for Mega Man to use Ryu's Hadoken in several of his games. This started in Mega Man X, where you needed to complete a set of unusual tasks, which involve dying four times in a row. When Mega Man appeared in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U, his Mega Upper attack is essentially a Shoryuken. Players would later get the chance to see which character has the better Dragon Punch, as Ryu became a DLC character in that game. The Shoryuken would also appear as an upgrade in other Mega Man games.
6 Ryu Became The New Iron Fist
The Marvel heroes who appear on Netflix are about to gain a new ally. Iron Fist is about to get his own TV show, where he will presumably punch lots of people.
In the comics, the name Iron Fist is actually a title that has been passed down for centuries. In order to become Iron Fist, you need to prove yourself worthy of the title. That person then needs to undergo rigorous training, which involves defeating a dragon. When you receive the power of the Iron Fist, you gain the ability to make your hands indestructible.
If you complete Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds with Ryu, he will take part in a fighting tournament in Madripoor. Ryu faces Iron Fist in the final match of the tournament.
When Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was released, Iron Fist was added to the roster of the game. If you complete this game with Ryu, then he will have actually become the next Iron Fist. He will defeat Akuma with an Iron Shoryuken.
5 Shoot Ryu In The Bushes
Ryu has had cameos in numerous video games over the years. If you don't count the occasions where he is playable, then Ryu has appeared in games like Asura's Wrath, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, and Saturday Night Slam Masters.
The most unusual Ryu cameo has to be his appearance in a top-down shooter game, called Varth: Operation Thunderstorm. This was an arcade game, where you pilot a fighter jet in combat against waves of robot ships. The game is very similar to 1943.
In the fourth level of the game, if you keep firing at all the bushes in the level, you will cause Ryu from Street Fighter to Shoryuken his way into the air. If you manage to kill him before he lands, then you will see numerous Ryu's performing the Shoryuken in the game's ending.
4 Why Did It Have To Be Spiders?
There have been numerous versions and interpretations of Ryu as a character. This usually involves adding things to make him more interesting. Being the default lead character of the Street Fighter series has usually landed Ryu with the mantle of being the boring hero, who only does good things because he is the protagonist. Ryu's struggle with his dark side was most likely introduced to give him more of a motive than just winning tournaments.
One of the few things we know about Ryu's personality is that he suffers from arachnophobia. This was brought about due to an incident from his youth when he was still training with Ken. While Ryu slept, Ken put a spider in Ryu's mouth as a prank. Ryu woke up with a spider on his tongue and has hated them ever since.
Ryu's hatred of spiders has been mentioned in the Marvel vs. Capcom games, as he often comes into conflict with Spider-Man.
3 The Lost Fire Kick
Ryu, Ken, and all of their clones are known for using three specific moves. The most famous is the Shoryuken, which is a rising uppercut. The second is the Hadoken, which involves throwing a fireball made of energy. The third is the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, where the user performs a spinning kick that causes their whole body to revolve, as they fly across the arena.
The three signature Ryu/Ken moves date all the way back to the original Street Fighter. It seems that a fourth move was once considered to be used by them. There are graphical and audio files within the game for an unused special attack called the "Fire Kick". The move seems to have been a jumping kick, where the character's foot was engulfed by flames.
In later Street Fighter games, both Ryu and Ken would receive upgraded versions of their three signature moves that involve fire. Is a burning Tatsumaki Senpukyaku any different from what the Fire Kick would have been?
2 Punch Ryu Get Dizzy
The original version of Street Fighter II has been analysed by fans for years. We're not just talking about people digging through the files in the early days of emulation & the Internet either. When the arcade version of Street Fighter II was still new, there were people altering the code of the game for their own ends. This led to the creation of a hacked arcade game, called Street Fighter II: Rainbow Edition, which included numerous edits to the game. This unofficial version of Street Fighter II actually led to the creation of the Turbo games, as the developers loved the fact that the Rainbow Edition drastically increased the speed of the gameplay.
One of the most intriguing secrets hidden within Street Fighter II concerns Ryu and his dizzy animation. There are points in the battle where a fighter may get dizzy for a few seconds (signified by stars above their head). If the opponent is quick enough, then they can get a free hit. Ryu is unique in the game, as one of his dizzy frames takes a lot more damage than the others. This is something that is exploited at retro game tournaments, to the point where fighters will often pick Ken over Ryu.
1 Seth MacFarlane's Street Fighter
Ryu tends to be chosen as Capcom's representative in crossover games. As such, he has traded blows with the likes of Pikachu, Iron Man, Tekkaman, Galactus, Rocket Raccoon, and the Duck Hunt dog. At this point, we may as well change the name of the "Tommy Westphall Theory" and call it the "Ryu from Street Fighter Theory". It probably wouldn't be much of a stretch to link him to St. Elsewhere at this point.
By far the most unusual crossover appearance for Ryu has to be in the Seth MacFarlene animated universe. There is a flash game that can be found on the official Family Guy website, that is called American Dad vs. Family Guy: Kung-Fu II Turbo! Hyper-Mega Edition. This is a crossover fighting game that uses the cast from Family Guy and American Dad.
It isn't just Stewie and Roger who can engage in combat in this game, as Ryu from Street Fighter also appears as a playable character. You can use all of his signature moves in battle, and throw a well deserved Hadoken into Peter Griffin's face.