Another of video gaming's greatest myths has been confirmed, 30 years after it first did the rounds in a pre-internet world.
The myth relates to Capcom's insanely popular Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, and the notion that the original version of the game, first released in arcades in 1991 and later ported to the SNES, contains a '10-0 matchup' between the characters Zangief and E. Honda.
In case you're not familiar with that terminology, a 10-0 matchup is used to describe a contest between two characters where one is at such an unfair advantage that they always come out on top in a 'best of 10' contest. In this case, we have a situation where the player controlling Honda will always lose against the player controlling Zangief, providing the correct tactics are employed.
How does this work? Well, as the round begins, Zangief performs his Spinning Piledriver, the most powerful move in the entire game. The myth always maintained that in the original version of Street Fighter II, the range of this grapple move was so great that Zangief was able to grab Honda from the very start of the round without moving (Honda's sprite is one of the largest – or should we say 'widest' – in the game).
Zangief can then perform the Spinning Piledriver again as Honda picks himself up, due to the fact that there's no way of reversing the grapple attack from a knockdown position. This was later added to Street Fighter II's successors, but it's not in the original game.
This can be repeated until Honda runs out of stamina, as he's incapable of leaping to safety because, in Street Fighter II, characters are vulnerable to throws even at the start of a jump. So, as long as Zangief is able to pull off that initial Spinning Piledriver as the round starts (and continue to pull off the move repeatedly) there's no way Honda can break the chain and the round is effectively over the moment it begins.
What makes all of this so interesting is that like all good video game myths, this one is well-known but has gone largely unproven over the decades. Because it doesn't exist in all versions of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, many people assumed it was only present in a very, very early version of the game and was later fixed by Capcom.
Keen to know the truth, fighting game expert TheoryFighter tested several versions of the original game and found that the range of Zangief's Spinning Piledriver wasn't enough to trigger it from the start of the round. Despondent, he was close to conceding that perhaps this particular myth was just that – a work of fiction; a fabrication which began life as idle gossip 30 years ago.
TheoryFighter then threw the challenge down on Twitter:
Amazingly, on 13th May 2021, someone claimed the bounty:
The version of the game in question is a beta of Street Fighter II on SNES and not a final production version. So how did the myth become so widespread in the days before people had access to emulators and the internet?
TheoryFighter has a, er, 'theory', which he explains to Eurogamer:
At this point in time, home versions of fighters were incredibly inaccurate when compared to their arcade counterparts but these inaccuracies weren't documented online like they are now. So it's possible that word of mouth just spread from a handful of people playing the SNES version as genuine matchup advice without the understanding of how bad these ports are.
My other theory is, it did actually exist on the arcade version. People have continued to talk about it and if the beta of the arcade version is even half as broken as the SNES port, anything is possible because that game is a complete mess. The problem is we don't have a ROM dump of the arcade beta, and until someone finds one we'll never find out.
Were you aware of this particular myth? Have you ever seen it done yourself? Let us know with a comment.