It all began at the 7-11 in Gorham Maine back in 1993. I was 7 years old, and they had a CE Cabinet. I also very distinctly remember at a video rental place in Standish, the guy behind the counter playing WW on SNES. He was fighting Dhalsim w/ Guile and at my age it was so cool.
“Tiger, Tiger, Tiger Uppercut!” was about all I needed to see and hear.
The characters were beautifully animated, fucking huge, and I found out that there were home versions! I was sold on it. I immediately got Hyper (Turbo) and started playing all the time.
I kind of left fighters (reluctantly) when I had N64 though. I honestly thought that SF on the N64 would be awesome, and I was a Nintendo boy, but when no SF games came out I felt that N64 was a big disappointment. I see it now as leaving me 5 years or so out of practice with the new games and impeding my progress as a player, though I played on SNES the old versions all that time.
Then I had a DC for a while in 1999. Immediately got back into it with Powerstone (where are the new Powerstone games, Capcom?!) and Soul Calibur which had the best graphics of any console game in 1999 imo. Then when I got PS2 in 2000 I got every Capcom fighter on launch as well as building a collection of all the Alpha games.
I also got very much into MVC2 by seeing the Team Seattle combo vid, and I bought another DC just for the method to practice the game.