Two: Shōryūken and HadōkenAs featured in the Street Fighter series
Ryu and Ken’s fuzzy exclamations of “Shōryūken” and “Hadōken” in Street Fighter II
will transport any ageing gamer’s subconscious back to the early 1990s, when 512 x 448 was considered high-resolution, and digital speech was a rarer novelty than a chocolate-filled Kit Kat.
In short, the Shōryūken is the uppercut performed by Ryu and Ken, while the Hadōken is the fireball. Of course, other characters perform similar moves, and some even perform the same moves, but let’s face it, nobody cares about them. Both moves are bold design classics that are announced with memorable sound effects and convincing graphics. The series has really been The Ryu and Ken Show ever since the arrival of Street Fighter II
in 1991, and these two moves are the reason.
The Hadōken fireball is, in fact, nowhere near the most powerful attack in the game, but it’s awesome for what it is - a fireball in a punch up. This is what defines the Street Fighter
series. It’s a fighting game where characters shoot fireballs at each other, introducing a fantasy element that opens the door to practically anything. Street Fighter II
doesn’t just recreate a battle between martial artists like you’d expect in a Bruce Lee movie. It’s a fighting game between super-humans, wizards, heroes and monsters, but it’s all set in the modern world as we know it.
Don't burn your fingers
Of course, there are other entirely fantastical moves in the Street Fighter
, from zooming through the air in a ball of blue flame to electrocuting yourself and anybody nearby, but the Hadōken is so much more unexpected and impressive than the rest. You expect someone who looks as outlandish as Blanka to have some extraordinary moves, but Ryu and Ken look like they could have strolled onto the screen from any number of contemporary fighting games.
However, while the Hadōken may have defined Street Fighter II
in the wider sense, the Shōryūken is a much simpler affair. It’s simply the best-designed single attack move ever committed to gaming code. The punch is stylishly animated, using the simple trick of barely animating the movement of the fist to imply that it’s moving too fast to see. What’s more, the sheer power conveyed by the flying follow up to it showed every gamer the importance of the quarter-circle on the D-pad.
One: The HeadshotAs featured in Unreal Tournament
As FPS Doug
might say: “Boom, headshot!” This had to be the number one move, because there’s no sweeter sight in gaming than the spectacle of your shot hitting an opponent right in the face. The game that really brought this fatal move to the fore was the original Unreal Tournament
, which not only rewarded snipers with a simple kill, but also brazenly proclaimed the word “Headshot” through the sound system so that everyone could appreciate your marksman skills.
The headshot has since become a standard that’s recognised across the gaming world, and not just in the rough and tumble world of the close-quarters first person shooter. Fallout 3
, for instance, is basically an RPG, but you can still cheerfully pop a cranium or two while you’re out and about in the Wasteland. Plus, skilled players of the MechWarrior
games could also knock down even the biggest and most heavily armoured enemies with a well placed shot to the head.
Meanwhile, fans of military simulators such as Arma 2
can shoot off heads from a distance of over 2km in the game environment, thanks to long draw distances and big sniper rifles. What’s more, even obscure games such as Mount and Blade
include headshots. After all, what’s the point of throwing an axe with Viking-like precision if you can’t inflict extra damage by hitting a vital area?
The headshot raised the bar for gaming combat. Imagine a first person shooter with no location-based damage. Where’s your target? You’re essentially you’re just aiming at a blob. This isn’t really that difficult, and you could soon find that players who aren’t particularly great can match you. Where is the capacity for brilliance when the game is so uncomplicated? It’s like entering a limbo competition where the bar will be dropped no lower than six feet. The headshot, as the old saying goes, separates the men from the boys. It provides the opportunity to excel, and it’s always both challenging and rewarding.
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