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Favorite Character Evolutions Leading up to SF6

Femi Famutimi
16 min

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Favorite Character Evolutions Leading up to SF6
Of the many characters in Street Fighter, these are our favorite evolutions

I have a theory: Legacy Fighting games will always be the best games for both new and old fans. Lazy prediction? Yes, I agree. But hear me out for a second. Why are they better? One word—time.

See, fighting games aren’t best known for their storylines, but over time there is a tendency to become invested in that story. For anyone else, it might seem bonkers that all the revenge plots, evil machinations, and personal biases of fighting game characters usually coalesce into some tournament or the other. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters, and Tekken all have this trope. But we have followed these games for years, and they make so much sense to us. 

However, more than the story, the real advantage that legacy fighting games have over all else is the characters. There’s something about watching a character grow through arcs and redesigns. We feel an affinity with them that makes us see them as a part of us somehow.

With that said, let us get into it.


The first character we’ll look at is the mighty Red Cyclone, Zangief. The towering wrestler was first introduced in Street Fighter II as a USSR patriot who had entered the Street Fighter tournament to show the might of his homeland. In his Street Fighter II ending, once he defeats Bison, he is visited by none other than Mikhail Gorbachev, the former USSR leader, who tells him he has made his country proud and then proceeds to celebrate in true ‘soviet style’ by doing the cossacks dance? It was wild, to be sure, but Zangief’s introduction was iconic as he is considered the grandfather of modern grapplers. His patriotism, while not adding any real character depth, was at least a visible distinction that made him interesting. However, the USSR would dissolve, and this created a lot of confusion on where to go regarding Zangief

In the Street Fighter Alpha series, Zangief remained consistent but wasn’t really fleshed out storywise, and it wasn’t until Street Fighter IV that we see any significant step forward in the evolution of Zangief. In Street Fighter IV, it becomes clear that Zangief is not a patriot of Russia and not the USSR which is no longer in existence. Not only that, his portrayal as a villain in most media outside the game may have necessitated a greater emphasis on his personality. You see, Zangief is big, fierce, and a little scary. I mean, this dude wrestles bears for training, add to that the fact that he is from Russia which is usually equal to ‘bad guy’ in western media, and you have something of a stereotype. So, In Street Fighter IV, we meet a Zangief who is more into the sport of wrestling and just wants to share his love for it with everyone he meets. In SFV, it is more of the same, but this time, they leaned more into the comic relief factor for Zangief

So, you can imagine that after seeing his trailer for Street Fighter 6, I was quite excited that we will be getting a Zangief who is still a wrestler and looks even more impressive. 

Zangief hasn’t changed much visually as he has consistently borne crisscross scars on his body, the red pants and boot, and the iconic mohawk. Street Fighter 6 might provide the first real change in his wardrobe as from the trailers, we see that he now wears an elbow sleeve and trousers that reach just below his knees while his calves to his feet are housed in his huge red boots. His chest hair has remained consistent but looks a lot more realistic, and he looks more like a wrestler than ever before. Without knowing the story of Street Fighter 6, we can’t say for sure what direction the developers have gone with the red cyclone, but with such great design. We do hope that we’ll get some more character development from one of the most recognizable fighting game characters ever created.


Guile was one of the original characters released in Street Fighter II, and he has appeared in every mainline game except Street Fighter III and will also be appearing in Street Fighter 6. The thing with Street Fighter II characters is that they were all iconic, and since they tended to come from different nations, there was something to each character. Guile was no different and was created to appeal to an American audience. This was clear in his looks, physique, and qualities. Guile is a blond-haired, blue-eyed, army colonel who screams patriotism and is something of a flamboyant personality. Guile’s appearance over the course of the Street Fighter timeline has been largely the same with his motivations, usually surrounding finding Charlie Nash or avenging him, depending on the game you’re playing. This aspect of Guile never quite changed which is why Street Fighter 6 is so interesting, because it will represent the first time that Guile will be without Nash and Bison. Both of whom were more or less his reason to exist. So, who is Guile without a Nash to look for, and who is he without a Bison to seek revenge against? 

Fighting style-wise, Guile has also retained his archetype of a zoner/turtle fighter. He has always been a reactive fighter, even if we have a lot of players that use him aggressively. His toolkit is very useful in keeping players away from him, and he has nice advancing moves that enable him space to get in against opponents who want to keep him out. Beyond a few changes here and there, he has largely kept this kit. His sonic booms and flash kick have remained ever present, as have many of his normals. His sobat kick, sweep, jumping light kick, and so on have more or less stayed the same. 

What has gone through a bit of a change, is his appearance. Though subtle, Guile IS changing. In the earlier games, his attire always stayed the same. It was a green military camo vest and pants, and this was pretty much the look up till Street Fighter V. According to the recent Climax Arts book, the developers explained that Guile’s look was to be more mature as someone who had indeed ‘gone home to be a family man.’ In SFV, Guile is most commonly seen in a rolled-up-sleeved white shirt and dark pants. He wears his sunglasses a lot more and seems to have a more laid-back persona. The change is not dramatic but is there. As for Street Fighter 6, all we really have is the trailer, and for the first time, we see Guile with something of a beard. This again points to the progression of his story. We don’t know all of it yet, and you have to wonder if there are some more changes to his gameplay we are yet to see, but whatever the case may be, Guile’s evolution continues and will be fascinating to see. 


Cammy, like Guile, has been around since Street Fighter II, making her debut in Super Street Fighter, and like Guile, has remained the same for most of her appearances in Street Fighter. Her moveset has stayed the same with Spiral Arrow, Canon Spike, and her jump grab moves staying the same. There are some minor differences, like in Street Fighter 6, where her jumping heavy kick shows her using one leg instead of two, which used to be the norm. 

Her story progression is also similar to Guile in that she was omitted from Street Fighter III, which is set after Street Fighter V. She too will be appearing in Street Fighter 6 for the first time sans Bison, who is believed to have met his end in the last game. Cammy’s backstory is tragic, but her story does have a happy ending. Despite her murky beginnings, she finds a home with the Delta Red team, and by the end of Street Fighter V, she and her fellow dolls are free from Shadaloo’s control, and it is believed that she would no longer be under the thumb of the evil organization. What does her story hold for Street Fighter 6? No idea. But, from the trailer, it is clear that she is, in fact, working for, or with someone. According to her character profile on the Street Fighter website, that entity is Delta Red.

Where we get to see changes in Cammy is in her outfits. In Street Fighter II, she is with the Delta Red team and dresses the part. So, her standard uniform is a green leotard thong with a red beret, gauntlets, and black boots. Her hairstyle was also significant as she wore her hair in braided pigtails, and she had green camouflage prints on her legs. There was a shift in her appearance in the Alpha games, which is a reflection of where she was at the time— a member of Shadaloo and a doll. Interestingly, the leotard thong remained but was blue, same with her beret, but her shoes were brown this time, and the camo prints matched her outfit. She got another change in Street Fighter V, where she went back to her SFII look without the camo prints. She also added a harness to her gear, making her a tad bulkier than previous iterations. 

However, the biggest change had to be Street Fighter 6. From the trailer we have seen, the first thing that might occur to you is her changed hairstyle. The pigtails are gone, and in their place is a short bob cut. She also changed her outfit, opting instead for a short jacket, sports bra, and athletic pants. She is also bereft of her beret; generally speaking, she looks good. I think the new look says a lot about her, as the pigtails can be interpreted as her affiliation with the dolls. Dolls are well known for bearing pigtails, and cutting her hair can be seen as her breaking ties with her former self. Looking at Cammy’s clothing over the years, we can see a progressive shift towards leaving the past and embracing the future.


Up next is the long-limbed nightmare that is Dhalsim. Depending on who you ask, Dhalsim is either really cool or the worst plague that could ever be unleashed on the earth. Whatever side you are on, what is, without doubt, is his iconic status within Street Fighter's lore. As one of the original world warriors, Dhalsim has been in every iteration of Street Fighter apart from the first and third Street Fighter games. Dhalsim has a lot of backstory that is very interesting, but we’ll keep this to his evolution. 

Dhalsim has kept certain aspects of his playstyle intact, but his fighting methods have evolved over time. Dhalsim was originally one of the OG zoners in Street Fighter. But, as players grew and started to learn to exploit his kit, we then saw people use Dhalsim as a rushdown character who excelled at great offense and pressure. This is remarkable, considering his slow walk speed and floaty jump. In Street Fighter II, Dhalsim had a grab where he punched the opponent on top of the head repeatedly. This has disappeared, as we no longer see it in later games. He also had a headbutt move that was a strong normal, but that also disappeared after the Alpha series. Dhalsim’s yoga fire has also changed over time. In Street Fighter II, it would go full screen, but later on, it would dissipate after a while. By Street Fighter V, his projectile was now bouncy rather than simply horizontal, making various set ups possible.

The biggest change for Dhalsim has come in his appearance. Dhalsim traditionally was a character with a clean-shaven face, red marks on his head, and saffron cloth on his hands and feet. This was pretty much his look till Street Fighter IV, where he retained most of his wardrobe but was now seen wearing anklets. This was a departure from the norm as he would usually wear bangles on his arm, but the anklets were a new addition. Another staple for Dhalsim are the three skulls that hang around his neck, which are said to be the skulls of three children that died in the plague. He also wore shorts that were held up by a rope.

Street Fighter V brought the most drastic change as Dhalsim now fights with bangles and anklets but no saffron cloth. He also sports a beard and is wearing a turban. The turban is a nod to Street Fighter Alpha, where he would pull off the turban just before a fight.

In Street Fighter 6, Dhalsim is a mix between old and new. Gone is the turban with his classic shaved head back in play. He also has cloth on his hands and legs, which is a callback to his earlier designs, although the cloth is white as opposed to orange in earlier iterations. He is also without earrings, but he keeps his beard from Street Fighter V.


Finally, we come to the protagonists of the game. Ken and Ryu have been in every single Street Fighter game, and in terms of a story, they are the two who have received the most development. Ryu has his mysterious past, and Ken has his millions. The two have been friends for as long as they can both remember, and their skills are comparable to one another. Their moves and style have remained largely the same throughout their history, with very few variations. Also, from a story perspective, they have shared a similar story with the progression as at Street Fighter 6, being that Ryu is now an older man who has been able to deal with his inner demons while Ken is in a fresh spot of trouble. 

With their appearance, we have a lot more to talk about. Ryu first started with a white gi, red headband, shoes, yes; he wore shoes, and a black belt. By Street Fighter II, Ken and Ryu were wearing similar clothing with the major difference being the color. What was interesting was that in SFII, Ryu wore generic-looking brown battle gloves. From Street Fighter III onward, he went back to the red battle gloves and has remained barefoot ever since. Asides from a few differences, Ryu has remained the same, although he is rocking a beard now and has a cape which looks so cool. 

Ken….phew! Ken has gone through a few changes in his looks. By Street Fighter V, there was the controversy around his face which never really went away. His clothing sort of changed too; while he’s still technically wearing a gi, he wears a muscle shirt underneath, and his hair is longer. In Street Fighter 6, he looks a lot more like his earlier iterations, but due to some…err….trouble in his life, he looks a lot worse for wear. He dresses in a jacket, pants, and boots. 

That’s it; those are all our favorite evolutions for Street Fighter characters. We have the base roster for Street Fighter 6 now, and they all look amazing. Who are you looking forward to the most? 

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