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Street Fighter II: Seriously, what’s with Blanka?

I was a guest speaker at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee this past weekend and right outside the presentation area was a very welcome blast from the past: A Street Fighter II cabinet.

To me, Street Fighter II is without a doubt one of the best side-view, head-to-head fighting games of all time. It really kind of redefined the genre and led to similarly important entries such as Mortal Kombat, Tekken and the Soul series. But as with many games of the 80’s and early 90’s, there were a few things about Street Fighter II that made no sense. Case in point: Blanka

So you begin the game and you are toggling through the different characters you can play: there’s the dark-haired kung fu guy in white; the blond kung fu guy in red; the Japanese sumo wrestler; the green beret; the kung fu girl; the monster; the punk wrestler – wait what? Was there a monster in there? Yes, there is a green monster with sharp fangs and claws named Blanka that you can choose from among these other archetypal human fighters. Now, I’m no sports handicapper, but when it comes to head-to-head fighting matchups, my money is on the monster every time. I’m not really sure how he qualified for the tournament, but I’m guessing they tightened up the rules a bit after Blanka got in. I can only imagine what the other characters in the game must’ve been thinking:

Organizer: Ok, Ken, it looks like you’ll be fighting Blanka at the dock.

Ken: Who, him? Ummm…I’m not going over there. Dude, that’s a monster.

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