Street Fighter II is well known to be the progenitor of ALL fighting games, although the original introduced “some of the conventions made standard in later games, such as the six button controls and the use of command based special techniques” it pretty much limited players to only 2 characters (Ryu & Ken) and it wasn’t until the release of SF II in the early 90s did a sudden surge in fighting games start.
At the time, the closest we had was beat ’em ups and the likes but SF II changed all that. It essentially introduced a one on one battle scenario along with the arcade “story” mode with an extensive background for each characters. Speaking of characters, a unique cast of unforgettable fighters was made, easy to recognize with eye catching color palettes.
SF II should also be credited for introducing the Ryu/Ken stock characters-which is ever present in most fighting games. That I mean characters that are analogous to each other in some ways (Sub-Zero/Scorpion, Hanzo/Galford, Heihachi/Kazuya, Ryo Sakazaki/Robert Garcia).
Regarding the command based special moves(which were a novelty at the time), executing said moves took hours of practice and I must admit it took me weeks/months to master them (well I didn’t have the game so I used to play at a friends house). The thing is once you get the hang of it,it becomes second nature. As a matter of fact, I normally refer to any similar command on other fighting games by their SF II counterpart. That is instead of saying “Quarter Forward + Punch”, I would just say “Hadouken” etc.
I remember back then, being a great SF II player was the shit. There was really no space for half stepping when the control pad was handed to you because, everyone was out for blood and God forbid you get handed the dreaded “Double Perfect” treatment (which we called Duplex). those were really hard times, as the older kids didn’t go easy on us and I recall many a time when an innocent game of SF II would lead to physical altercations (sigh!)
SF II would always be a part of my childhood. To me, it signifies a time were kids were kids. Where we laughed, fought and even cried over a game. Unlike now where all we do is sit behind a 13inch screen and call the shots from thousands of miles away.