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Ryu: A Study on Design and Inspiration

posted Feb 3, 2012, 5:00 PM by Ric Lop   [ updated Dec 27, 2013, 10:08 AM by sf3forever ]

Ryu: A Study on Design and Inspiration

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter, a property very important to me- I decided to write this post. (and posted on Chinese New Year…year of the DRAGON! How fitting!) I enjoy discussing, studying, and observing my favorite works of art in order to learn and improve my own work. I hope you find this post informative or interesting! (Hopefully both!)

In the ‘90’s, one of Capcom’s crowned achievements in arcade fighting was the game known as Street Fighter II. Countless arcade go-ers and SNES/Genesis owners competed head to head for fun and competition in this impressive game. The intricate amount of detailed styles of gameplay in Street Fighter II certainly led to hours of fun and close calls-and all of the fun gameplay was further enhanced by impressive stage visuals, catchy music and sharp character designs.

Of the designs, Ryu, the main character; is one of the most notable designs in all of video gaming. I’d probably say that despite age, nationality or even understanding of Street Fighter-many people have seen Ryu or have at least heard of him. His design is well thought-out and inspired a generation of various other designs based on his appeal, moveset, and character. His design shines for many reasons, but the one that resonates most with me would be its “intricate simplicity.”

Strange oxymoron there, I know. But in its own way-it makes sense. Rather trying to explain it myself, I think a very reputable source places my sentiments best.

“Ryu is a guy with black hair wearing a red “hachimaki” (headband) and a white karate gi with tattered sleeves. And Ken is a guy with long blonde hair paired with a bright red gi. That’s who they are. From my point of view, they are complete and perfect as they are. I couldn’t imagine adding something to this sublime blend of characteristics. On the surface, they may seem simple…lacking in distinguishing characteristics, but isn’t this simplicity — characters boiled down to their bare essence — the very thing that lends them their uniqueness? I could only hope that I’d manage to design such simple perfection in my career.”
-Daigo Ikeno

Daigo Ikeno is the amazing character designer and artist who’s worked at Capcom since the 90’s. He has amazing work, and the quoted text above is from his interview during the development of Street Fighter 4. Frankly, I think he hit the nail on the head!...............