Has it been that long? 20 years since SF2: The World Warrior has been released. The game was the root of the fighting game community; yes, there were other fighting games before it (such as Karate Champ, and the first Street Fighter), but those games were very limited and came after the video game and arcade market crash, meaning there wasn’t going to be much of a community. SF2WW single-handedly revived a dying arcade market, despite there being great games at the time, such as Contra, Rygar, Double Dragon, Final Fight, Bubble Bobble, etc. They couldn’t save the arcade market from the pits, but SF2WW did.
With SF2WW has spawned a community of players that were able to bear witness to their talents, not against the computer, but against another player. No longer were you playing against something that was based on a pattern, and the game getting harder meant that enemies would be faster and there would be more stuff on the screen for you to get around, now, you had to play against an actual player, someone that can think outside the box, someone that can adapt, someone that can actually strike fear to you, not in real life, but on the screen (sometimes, both can happen) which made the game more dynamic, which made players coming back for more.
With SF2, we have heard of players that we never would have either come across or ever heard of, or cared to. With SF2, we have created friendships with people that we never would have even noticed. With SF2, rivalries were created, language was created, traveling across the country for just a video game actually became common; but it wasn’t just a video game, it wasn’t one of those games that you played once and then shelved it to collect dust. To play SF2 the way it was meant to be played, you had to be coming back for more, and just when you thought you figured out everything, there was still more to dive into. SF2 was a way of life, and taught some life lessons (metaphorically speaking).
After SF2, more fighting games from different series started to come out. Mortal Kombat, the Alphas, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, the Marvel series, Guilty Gear, etc. With these games spawned more players in the fighting game community. While there are plenty of disagreements from each community to one another, they still share same traits (practicing to get better, traveling to tournaments, talking strategy, trying to find out what the latest news is), and there are many players that intersect different communities, playing a variety of games.
While the game might be primitive and unbalanced compared to its latest versions, and modern fighters (can’t reversal, can’t mirror match, Guile being too good, etc), SF2WW is arguably the most important fighting game to ever come out. I’m sure some would say another game would have done the same thing SF2WW did, and that is very well possible; but what SF2WW did had magnified the globe, revived a nearly dead market, creating communities from various fighting games in nearly every pocket of the world. I don’t think just “any other game” could have done that.
Some threads and videos:
http://shoryuken.com/f2/info-old-school-sf-scene-1427/ - jcasetnl’s posts are must read
http://shoryuken.com/f2/1994-capcom-official-ssf2-tournament-super-just-games-northbrook-il-game-footage-156988/ - the longest going major tournament
http://shoryuken.com/f2/no-vids-us-sfs-golden-era-best_ever-player-103126/ - thread about arguably the best pre-ST player in ever, Tomo Ohira
[media=youtube]s4ABbhQIQHo[/media] - World Warrior videos
[media=youtube]p3COZ1741GY[/media] - You should watch the rest of the parts, from the 2nd best pre-ST player in the United States
[media=youtube]XCuZ3b7GuKc&feature=related[/media] - one of the greatest comebacks ever
[media=youtube]9eWJ69qODFw&feature=related[/media] - USA vs. Japan
[media=youtube]68tQ3qNQuRU&feature=related[/media] - the beast is brought down to earth by Cali’s finest
[media=youtube]6XB1RgcQBzU[/media] - videos from the longest going major, back in '94
[media=youtube]RgVUUHU84YU&feature=related[/media] - An example of why the old school players were great, even with a lack of practice