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An illustration shows Kylie Minogue fighting Jean-Claude Van Damme while the Incredible Technologies staff records footage
While capturing shots for Street Fighter: The Movie, the Incredible Technologies staff filmed each actor against a blue screen.

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Street Fighter: The Movie: The game: An oral history

Kuis olahragaOur Street Fighter history series continues with a look at the time Capcom copied the copycats

Kuis olahragaBy late 1994, Capcom had been through a lot on its first live-action film.

A challenging shoot starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Cultural differences. Script issues. Drug problems. Injuries. Delays. Actors who didn’t know martial arts. An association with MC Hammer, fresh off a controversial rebranding. Even the illness and death of co-star Raul Julia. The movie, which began as a pet project of Capcom founder Kenzo Tsujimoto, had become a series of compromises for many involved, and it showed on the screen.

But Capcom had a film to promote, so toward the end of the year, it organized a premiere at its U.S. headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, inviting local media and putting together a Q&A session with actors from the movie. Taking place in a Silicon Valley office park, the event lacked the spectacle of a Hollywood opening, with second-string celebrities filling out the space.

Kuis olahraga“Van Damme, of course, wasn’t there, and Kylie Minogue wasn’t there,” says former Capcom PR rep Chris Kramer. “Wes Studi was not there. Raul Julia was definitely not there. But it was all the other guys, you know? It was, like, the dude who played Honda.”

Kuis olahragaThen MC Hammer drove into the parking lot in a convertible, blasted for the soundtrack, and drove off, fulfilling his appearance quota.

As Kramer says: “MC Hammer did a drive-by.”

Such was the state of Capcom’s film, an earnest fumble that landed somewhere between tribute and parody, as detailed in a 2014 Polygon feature. Capcom even ended up in a lawsuit over the soundtrack.

And without all that, we’d never have gotten one of the most bizarre games in Street Fighter history.

Grid of six different screens from the Street Fighter movie video game
Incredible Technologies’ Street Fighter: The Movie hit arcades in 1995, and is one of the rare Street Fighter titles Capcom hasn’t re-released over the years, a fact that Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection producer Stephen Frost attributes to actor licensing rights. “If we ever do a follow-up collection, I will definitely try to hit up Capcom and work this out earlier on,” he says.
Graphic: James Bareham/Polygon | Source images: Capcom

Role reversal

For a brief period in the mid-’90s, fighting games starring digitized actors were having a moment. As Street Fighter’s popularity began to fade, Mortal Kombat became the industry’s new favorite target — with some taking inspiration from its over-the-top violence, and others copying its visual style.

At the same time, Capcom was in an experimental phase, following a dip in Street Fighter sales. It opened an internal development studio in California. It kicked off development of Resident Evil, which went on to define its next decade. And it kept trying new fighting game concepts, from Darkstalkers to X-Men: Children of the Atom to Cyberbots to Street Fighter Alpha.

Continuing its experiments, Capcom decided to take a shot at a digitized fighting game of its own. It had actors lined up, on account of the movie. It had the deepest fighting game expertise in the industry. It even had Jean-Claude Van Damme, who the creators of Mortal Kombat originally wanted to star in their game.

Kuis olahragaCapcom’s U.S. arcade division was also evolving, as Capcom and licensor Romstar were building a pinball and redemption factory in Illinois called GameStar. Romstar founder Takahito Yasuki, an old friend of Tsujimoto, ran GameStar for a short period before Capcom merged the office with its existing U.S. arcade video operations and turned the combined group into Capcom Coin-Op.

Kuis olahragaTo develop the game, Capcom hired Illinois-based studio Incredible Technologies, located near GameStar/Capcom Coin-Op and not far from the team making Mortal Kombat at Midway. Under its Strata brand, Incredible Technologies had been developing arcade fighting games for a couple of years at that point. But, as former team members recall, that didn’t mean the team was ideally positioned to take on the game.

Katsuya Akitomo
(artist, adviser, and translator, Capcom Japan)

I think the whole reason this project got started was because the president of Capcom at the time, Kenzo Tsujimoto, was a big movie fan, and he actually had always dreamed of making a movie out of one of Capcom's properties. The movie was a dream come true for him, and he felt very attached to it. And because Tsujimoto wanted a game for the movie, even though [Capcom Japan executive producer Yoshiki Okamoto and illustration group head Akira Yasuda] probably didn't think it would be very financially successful, they realized it was extremely important to Tsujimoto, so they probably had no choice but to go along with it.

Joe Morici
(senior vice president, Capcom USA)

If I remember correctly, Capcom Japan wasn't very high on the idea of doing the movie version, so we chose to start the development for the movie version because Capcom didn't really want to do it in Japan. So we took it over here and went to Incredible Technologies.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

We were a really small company. [...] At the time, Incredible Technologies was maybe 32 employees, and of those employees, I'd say maybe half were actually game developers. Other people were administrative, accounting, whatever. Tech support. So Richard and Elaine, the owners of the company — Richard Ditton and Elaine Hodgson; they were married at the time — but they were approached by Capcom to do this game.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

We were working with Capcom at the time — or trying to get work with them, because at that time we were going off to various companies to try and do development work for them. We had some games we were working on for our own IP, but we were trying to make money to keep the company afloat. So I know I went off to Capcom and proposed different game ideas to them. But then they came back and said, "We have a job that you could do. We're making a movie and we want to make a game based on that movie." And we also had some expertise with digitizing pictures and that kind of thing. So they looked at our skill set and thought that we would be able to do it.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

We had experience in the past. We had done a digitized football game, and a basketball game called Rim Rockin' Basketball. The football game was called Hard Yardage, where we digitized the characters, but the tools we had were very, very primitive to do that. But since we had some experience with digitizing characters, and we had done Time Killers and another game called BloodStormKuis olahraga, [they thought we'd be a good fit].

Time Killers was a big hit for us. It came out just on the heels of Mortal Kombat, so it was really successful for the company. For a company that small, we sold a lot of units, which really made us a lot of money. For a small company of 32, it was, it was a home run, you know? [...] We sold about 7,000 of them, which, now — you've got to understand, the size of our company was really small. That was huge. [...]

[After Time Killers], the company had been struggling a bit. You know, we had kept our head above water, but the owners had seen this also as a higher-profile project and to bring money in to seed some other stuff we had going on. Among them was the new version of Golden Tee Golf, which is still going on, right? So Street Fighter kind of helped fund Golden Tee 3D, which became a huge, huge hit for us.

[Ed. note: While Capcom ignited the fighting game boom a few years earlier, some saw its decision to hire Incredible Technologies to make a Street Fighter: The Movie game as a sign that the company was no longer leading the genre, but following its competitors.]

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

They were definitely trying to find an American audience. They had success with their own Street Fighter [games], obviously, and then when they were doing this movie for an American audience, they were looking to us to be more Americanized.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

Well, they wanted to compete with Mortal Kombat, right? They wanted to take on Mortal Kombat, which is why they came to us. [...]

Midway and WMS, Williams, they were massive. They were huge. We were the little guy. They were always laughing at us, right? They were always like, Oh, you're nothing. I mean, really. If anything, that was the feeling, that we were the little guy. But yes, it gave us motivation: We've got to compete with these guysKuis olahraga, right? They all had better hardware. They always had more people. They had better tools. Bigger staff. More money to develop the products. They were just better at it, you know? Them, along with these other companies. We were a little guy. Our bread and butter was making cheap, affordable kits that you could put into old cabinets.

Chris Kramer
(public relations representative, Capcom USA)

I made an unfortunate comment on Usenet [about Street Fighter: The Movie when it was in development] and I got in trouble for that. [...] I think I tried to say something very neutral where I was like, Oh, the Street Fighter movie game is not being done by Capcom and so it's being done by this company that did a game called Time Killers, so I can't really comment on it, or something like that. I think I tried to say something that I thought was fairly neutral, but it was pretty clear to people that I was like, Don't expect this to be any goodKuis olahraga. And at that point in time, no one in Japan was on Usenet, but it turned out that some of these guys who were making the game were on Usenet, and they saw that and made a complaint to Japan. So I got in trouble, and then those guys came out to have a meeting with me to show me the Street Fighter movie game to convince me that it was going to be as good as any Street Fighter game.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

By that time, Mortal Kombat 2 or 3 — I think maybe 3 was out. The competition was fierce, right? I mean, it was with fighting games, and [Street Fighter: The Movie] wasn't a very good game, I mean, honestly. I mean, I know what we had with it, which is why sometimes it's painful to talk about this, because it was a tough game to work on.

The Australia trip

With the deal signed, Incredible Technologies mapped out its approach, figuring out a visual style and which characters to implement. Before long, the team was off to Australia to visit the movie set. The plan was to get in, capture each of the actors doing moves for the game, and get out. Yet the team ran into a few complications along the way.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

We were a small crew, man. In Australia, to film, there were basically three of us and then the owners of the company, right? So there's a crew of five.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaI went because I was in charge, but the real worker bees were [game designer Alan Noon, project manager Leif Marwede, and art director Ralph Melgosa], and Richard went as well, and we had some programming help. But really, the real work was Leif Marwede and Alan Noon doing the choreography for the [actors]. They knew what moves they wanted to digitize for the different actors, and then Ralph did a lot of the heavy lifting as far as being behind the computer with the camera, and capturing and making sure we had the assets that we needed back home.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaWe rented camera equipment here in the U.S. and brought that over with us, and we stayed just a few miles away from what I believe is Warner Bros.' studio in Brisbane, which was kind of like an amusement park. Like, they have tours and stuff there. That [was next to us].

[On the Street Fighter set], they set up a blue screen studio, which was right next to the special effects building, which was really cool because we got to hang out with special effects guys and make props and models and stuff, and I was into that stuff when I was a kid. I loved that stuff. So just to hang out with those guys and the model makers and all that, I loved it. I absolutely loved it. But yeah, the blue screen room was pretty much just an empty studio. We had our equipment in there. We [had access to] the commissary or wherever they had catering set up for the actors, and we could just stroll over there and eat. So, many times, you'd see actors and the director. Some of the actors' families would be there, watching the filming of the movie. So that was kind of fun.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaThe original idea was that we were only going to be there for maybe two weeks, and that was the schedule, to get the actors in there when they were in costume while they were shooting. So then there was a big meeting with everybody there while we started the process, and the president of Capcom at the time got up and was talking about the success of the franchise and how Street Fighter had made the company, Capcom, over a billion dollars and all this stuff. And then all of a sudden, the actors determined that they wanted more money.

I mean, this is probably the most interesting part.

So they were now not wanting to come and digitize, necessarily, until there was a negotiation on them getting a royalty for being in the game. These were the very early days of video games using real actor images, and nobody in that field had really thought about the video game part. So him getting up in front of everybody, saying how much money the franchise made, I think made the actors and their agents rethink it. So what [was supposed to be] like, 10 days, two weeks, in Australia eventually turned out to be about six weeks in Australia.

Capcom footed the bill for us to stay, with additional lodging, and we would wait in the blue screen room for the actors to come as they were negotiating these things. So there was actually a lot of time where we were waiting and not working. Sometimes we got to go into the shooting of the movie, which was interesting to see how tedious that process was, because I'd really never done that before, and how they kept having to reshoot the same thing over and over again. And we got to see the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme perform, and Raul Julia and Ming-Na Wen. I actually got to know Ming-Na Wen a little bit. We went to dinner with her and her husband, I believe. She's very nice. Kylie Minogue, we didn't get to interact with her very much except for the digitizing part. So there were interesting people there to observe and meet. But we had to wait for them to renegotiate the contracts with some of these people before we could get them off.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

That was our first night we arrived in Australia. We were invited to this dinner. All the actors are there. Got to meet Van Damme for the first time. I'm 5'7" without a haircut, and he was probably just maybe an inch taller than me. I mean, he's not that big of a guy.

But yeah, Tsujimoto came out and talked about the millions of dollars that Street Fighter had made, and, Now we're making this movie and this movie is going to make millions of dollars and now we're going to make a game based off the movie and that's going to make millions of dollars. And all the actors were looking at their agents saying, "Hey, wait a minute. It's in our contract, but we should probably be making more money because it's not just the movie, but it's a game as well, right?" So they were all holding out, just renegotiating. Which turned our — it was supposed to be an 11-day shoot, into almost a month that we were there, in Australia.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

I thought Capcom treated us well when the issue came up that we had to stay longer. So that could have been a big mess, because there we were in Australia — that's where it was shot — and that's a long way from home. Luckily, Richard and I had his parents watch the kids, and we had the ability to do that. But it was a long time, and they did treat us with respect and financial assistance, so I did feel Capcom was good to us.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

[Most of the actors] were good [to work with]. It's funny because they were all required to work out and have martial arts training, even while they were filming the movie. And one of my favorite things I remember of Damian Chapa [who played Ken] is walking by the exercise room, and he's walking on a treadmill. Not running, but walking extremely, extremely slow, eating a Snickers bar. So it's like, All right. Way to work out, buddy.

But we did go out socially with these guys sometimes, and they were great. Grand L. Bush, he and his wife took us out for dinner one night. We went to a club with Kylie Minogue and ... who played Dee Jay? I can't think of his name now. [Ed. note:Kuis olahraga Miguel A. Núñez Jr.] He was a good guy. Very nice people. Ming-Na Wen was nice. She didn't want to come to the set. [...] We didn't even shoot her until she ended up coming back to Chicago so we could film her. Gregg Rainwater never even showed up.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaUltimately, the game was OK, but I don't think it was extremely successful. I don't even know how many units they sold, ultimately. [...] I don't think the royalties ended up to be gobs of money for these actors.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaNo, not at all. Not at all.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

But they were taking care of themselves, as they should.

[Ed. note: As the star of both the movie and game, Jean-Claude Van Damme did well for himself. In 1994, he would get between $7.5 million and $8 million for the role. A representative for Van Damme didn’t respond to an interview request for this story.]

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaI did understand that he was the marquee draw and they, at Capcom, paid a lot of money to him to be in the movie. And that's how they got him.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

It was his biggest payday at the time. I know that. I remember — I thought it was more than $7 [million], to be honest with you. [...] I thought it was $20 [million].

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaI remember him making sure that he could see his image at the same time we could, so he could see how he would look in the scene. And how he was probably, without a doubt, the most professional at knowing where every part of his body was in these moves, because that was important to us. We were taking snapshots, basically, of these people while they were moving, and he, more than anyone, probably knew exactly how he would look to the camera.

And he had a lot of control over his body and he could do these poses — he could stand with his leg straight out to get that move, you know? Without having to do it while it was in motion, because he had that kind of muscle control. The crazy guy could stand and do the splits in midair, you know? Most of the other actors didn't have that physicality. And so, oftentimes, Leif would hold some of the people in position while they were digitized, and then Leif would have to be erased out of the scene. [...] But, yeah. Jean-Claude Van Damme didn't do that, and I remember going, actually, to his dressing room while he was getting ready to do this, and I was kind of starstruck, actually, and he was very gracious. But we only had limited interaction with any of them. So it was nice. It was good.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

The guy was such an asshole. He wasn't pleasant to work with. [...] I literally remember — we'd have to wait for the actors to become available to work with them in the blue screen room, and so, if we had downtime and there were no actors available, we are allowed to just go walk the set and watch them film the movie.

So one day, they were filming the big fight scene between Van Damme and Bison at the end, and Van Damme's fighting Bison's stunt double, and here you've got the crew, you've got everyone around, catering, all the other actors. And they're fighting, and this actor's hat keeps falling off, and you see that it's not Raul Julia. It's the stunt double. And after about three times, Van Damme said, "I'm not coming back until you staple or glue this guy's hat on his head," and he went into his trailer and sat and drank beer for, like, an hour and a half, and wouldn't come out. Everybody's waiting, and I just thought — and I saw this firsthand, and I'm sure this happens all the time, and he was the star of the movie — but I just thought, What an arrogant prick, you know?

Kuis olahragaWhen we did finally work with him [...] he was good only because Leif constantly was stroking his ego while we were working with him. [...] Leif worked with the actors really, really well, in particular Van Damme. He just had that personality and presence that can get a little bit more that we needed out of these actors. He just knew how to schmooze. Leif was a huge martial arts fan. Huge Van Damme fan. He knew every one of his movies, every one of his moves, so when he finally worked with him, Leif would say, "Oh, in this movie, you did this type of a move. Can you give us something like that?" And Van Damme totally, totally ate it up.

[Ed. note: While in Australia, the Incredible Technologies team not only captured footage for its game, but also for a console version of the game being developed at Capcom Japan — which played quite a bit differently.]

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaIt wasn't until we got to Australia where we actually met with [staff from Capcom Japan]. There was a group of, I think it was three or four people from Capcom that we dealt with almost on a daily basis while we were there. [...] They were in charge of overseeing the PlayStation version of the game. [...]

Originally, they were going to have a separate camera set up. We were going to have the actors film our moves, and then they were going to do their moves. And then they decided they would just piggyback off of what we set up, and they just gave us [an] additional moveset list for each actor. So they piggybacked off us that way. [...]

They just kind of hung around and watched. [...] From my perspective, it was intimidating because they were so big and there wasn't a lot said. So I'm just like, Do they like this or not? Like, What do they want?

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

Leif Marwede and Alan Noon were the choreographers, and they knew exactly what kind of moves they were going to have in the game, what special powers and all that, and I know that the [Capcom Japan team members] were there and they were not necessarily loving it. They weren't necessarily loving the moves because they weren't traditional martial arts moves. And so there was a little conflict there, that they did want it Americanized and they did hire us because we did stuff like Time Killers, which had the bizarre [style with] chainsaw people in there and all kinds of stuff. So we were trying to be Americanized and different, but the [Capcom Japan] designers were not loving it. But that was our charter, and that's what they allowed us to do, so it was different, by design.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

I'm from a small town, so seeing the whole culture dynamic between us and Japanese culture and development was pretty eye-opening. But overall, I look back at it fondly, right? It was a lot of work. [...] We had fun. It was a good time. I spent my 30th birthday there. Richard had gone out and he was gone that whole day, and I remember being pissed off, saying, Shit, I'm here working on my birthday and he's off having funKuis olahraga. He came back at the end of the day and gave me a cake, because he was running around getting stuff for my birthday. So it was kind of neat. But yeah, it was a pretty wild experience.

Photo of a group of people from the movie Street Fighter
While in Australia capturing footage for the game, the Incredible Technologies team took a photo with co-star Kylie Minogue. From left to right: project manager Leif Marwede, art director Ralph Melgosa, Minogue, game designer Alan Noon, and studio co-founders Richard Ditton and Elaine Hodgson.
Graphic: James Bareham/Polygon | Source image: Photo courtesy of Ralph Melgosa/Incredible Technologies

Was it almost called Street Fighter 3?

Released under the title “Street Fighter: The Movie” — even though the movie itself was called “Street FighterKuis olahraga” — Incredible Technologies’ game always had a bit of a naming problem. Yet for some, the title issues went deeper. In 2007, former Incredible Technologies game designer Alan Noon posted on fighting game site Shoryuken.com that he remembered the game, at one point, going by “Street Fighter 3.”

“Perhaps this is all my perception, but looking back, I remember that there was some amount of confusion as to what it was we were making exactly,” . “It could have been the international game of ‘Telephone,’ but somewhere along the communication chain from the Capcom Japan guys to the Capcom USA guys, to our management, down to the team, there seemed to be mixed signals. I distinctly recall that originally during the pitch process the game was billed as Street Fighter 3.”

Noon wasn’t alone in his confusion. In early 1995, Capcom USA public relations associate Chris Kramer to clarify that Street Fighter: The Movie was not Street Fighter 3, due to various articles and rumors that had reported it that way.

Kuis olahragaAnd years later, Noon for the game with the name “Street Fighter III” printed on it. So when doing interviews for this story, we asked around to find out how widespread that name was at Incredible Technologies and Capcom at the time.

[Ed. note: Noon declined to participate in this story.]

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

I do not [remember hearing it called "Street Fighter 3"]. Because I don't think they ever thought this was part of the original franchise. In my view, it was Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game. [That] was all I ever heard it referred to as. [...] [Alan is] younger than me. His memory is better. He was there. But I don't remember it called "Street Fighter 3." But, you know, maybe he was in a conversation I was not privy to.

Katsuya Akitomo
(artist, adviser, and translator, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaI haven't heard anything about this myself.

Akira Yasuda
(head of illustration group, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaI don't remember, but I don't think that would have been possible.

Takeshi Tezuka
(Marvel Super Heroes planner, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaI mean, it was obviously supposed to be a spinoff game and it was obviously designed in such a way, so I'm kind of wondering how they came to that conclusion.

Hideaki Itsuno
(Street Fighter Alpha planner, Capcom Japan)

This is definitely the first time I've heard that.

Katsuya Akitomo
(artist, adviser, and translator, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaIf Capcom was going to make a Street Fighter 3, it would have obviously been a big, important project. They would of course want it to be the highest possible quality. At that time, everyone at Capcom knew we were the No. 1 maker of versus fighting games in the world, so it's impossible for me to think they would subcontract out the development of Street Fighter 3.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

It was not a name that was approved by Capcom. I think it was just more kind of a local, internal development [name]. But that's how he envisioned it. […] If you'd seen what Alan had in his concepts and his proposal on what he [originally wanted to do with the game, it] was a much greater scope, which was actually a really cool thing. And he's a super passionate guy about game design and about Street Fighter itself. I mean, he was totally, totally into it. So when you see what we ended up with compared to what he had started out with, it's disappointing, but it's not because of him at all.

Kuis olahragaYou know, the scope was [originally] much different. The first script we got for the movie was totally different. It was Ken and Ryu, almost like a buddy flick — or not even a buddy flick, but the story centered around them, right? And Ken was kind of the miscreant, the kind of roguish character getting them into trouble. Ryu was the one that was the honorable guy that was kind of helping his buddy get out of these messes. So it was a little more interesting. Then it turned out to be something totally different.

The Illinois trip

For much of its time on Street Fighter: The MovieKuis olahraga, Incredible Technologies kept to itself, pushing forward without outside interference. Internally, team members ran into some tense disagreements, such as whether to make the game feel more like a classic Street Fighter game or more like Mortal Kombat, but for the most part they hashed out these issues among themselves.

Kuis olahragaWhile the team saw staff from GameStar and Capcom Coin-Op from time to time, and they spent time with Capcom Japan team members while in Australia, they didn’t have the sort of daily or weekly progress check-ins that might be more common in 2021. So when a group from Capcom Japan flew in to visit Incredible Technologies and check on the game late in development, the trip stood out in a few ways.

Katsuya Akitomo
(artist, adviser, and translator, Capcom Japan)

[Yoshiki Okamoto, Akira "Akiman" Yasuda], and myself, we went to Chicago to spend a month with the developers in order to give them some guidance on the game. Obviously, the graphics looked like digitized versions of the actors, but we did some pixel adjustments to them. I think Akiman was in charge of that at the time. And Okamoto made suggestions regarding the game's balance and hitbox settings.

Akira Yasuda
(head of illustration group, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaI think [Capcom producer Tetsuya] Iijima was there as well. It might have been four people. [...] I think I was there for two weeks. I saw the game, but it didn't look like it would sell very well. I think Okamoto was pretty much angry the whole trip.

Katsuya Akitomo
(artist, adviser, and translator, Capcom Japan)

Okamoto had a lot to say, and I was the interpreter for the project. But my English isn't that great, so I remember it being a very tough job. In particular, Okamoto is the kind of person who always has to be making jokes and teasing people. He was constantly harassing the people around him, the kind of behavior that today would probably cause a lawsuit. And since there wasn't a lot of staff and I was the lowest man on the totem pole, I got the lion's share of it. It was extremely stressful!

Akira Yasuda
(head of illustration group, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaWhen Akitomo was interpreting for Okamoto, he would often try and soften or downplay Okamoto's anger, which actually had the effect of making Okamoto angrier. The thing was, the game was mostly done and we couldn't make any big changes at that point, so there was an atmosphere of futility to the whole trip. Still, I had nothing else to do, so I tried to at least fix up some of the graphics, and I messed around with those a bit, making some small improvements. It was all I could do, but unfortunately, even then, the game wasn't really any more fun.

[Ed. note: A representative for Okamoto declined multiple interview requests for this story.]

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

I don't remember them being angry. I don't know. Maybe I put it out of my memory. [...] I thought they were gracious, but once again, they were not convinced that what we were doing was what they wanted.

Katsuya Akitomo
(artist, adviser, and translator, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaWell, actually, maybe it's not so much that he was angry all the time. It was just more like, Okamoto's the kind of person where, if he's not making fun of people around him, maybe his life has no meaning, or he just can't live without giving somebody some kind of flack, right? It's kind of like Loki, the trickster god, how he just always has to be acting like that. So, you know, you can call it harassment. You can call it fooling around. But basically, it's like he had this innate need to give people a hard time in order to enjoy his life.

Darryl Williams
(video department supervisor, Capcom Coin-Op)

Kuis olahragaHe was never happy. I've worked with him for 20 years — not directly, because I would work with the teams, but I can't fault them. Those guys were meticulous at making the details work, and that's what made Capcom products so strong.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

It was tense. I would say that, but from my perspective, it was all intimidation. We had Capcom there. I mean, these guys were huge, right? We're this little guy. [...]

Kuis olahragaOkamoto, I'll say one thing about him. He was different than any other Japanese person I've ever met. He was so outgoing and he made such an effort to communicate, and if he couldn't say it audibly, he would use gestures. He would try to act out what he meant, and he went through great efforts to do this. And I found him to be a personable guy. I actually liked him. I thought he was really, really different and unique and creative and kind of inspiring, actually, you know? But I did also hear some offensive kind of comments from him as well, which I thought was very odd. Different times.

Akira Yasuda
(head of illustration group, Capcom Japan)

Kuis olahragaOkamoto was so angry with the game that the CEO of Incredible Technologies tried to patch things up by inviting us over to her home. The house was humongous — it had a basement area, a huge 200-inch projection screen TV, a game room ... it was an impressively luxurious house.

Seeing that house actually made my heart sink further, just with how big it was, and how little money I had myself. I mean, we'd created this huge hit with Street Fighter 2, but I didn't get rich off of it. It wasn't until much later, long after the development of Street Fighter 2Kuis olahraga, that we actually started to see some money come in. It wasn't until it looked like we all might quit, and then Capcom brought in a consulting group and we were finally given raises. But before that, we didn't see a lot of money from the games we made.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

We had the house that Golden Tee built. [...] [Later on], that house was collateralized to the bank for a loan that we had at the time when things didn't go well, so it was part of the building of the business.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

It was an interesting relationship because, especially the guys that were with us in Australia, they were there to give us help somewhat, but there was a part of them where they're like, We're not going to help you. We're going to let you do it on your own. So it was kind of an odd relationship where they're kind of looking over your shoulder, but not saying anything. And they came out once. That same crew flew out to Chicago and stayed here for a few days and kind of hung out at the office. But it was that same type of thing, where they're just kind of looking over your shoulder but not really saying anything, right? And there's times, it's like, Hey, is this what you like? Do you want us to make any changesKuis olahraga, right? And I'm not sure if that's just part of their culture. So that was kind of a head-scratcher.

Darryl Williams
(video department supervisor, Capcom Coin-Op)

So the guys from Japan — I'll tell you a story about that. The guys from Japan — they saw the version we did, and three of the top producers flew out, and they're like, Darryl, we have a problem with the game. And I'm like, OK well, what's the problem? They're like, Well, this flip move doesn't look real. This jump move isn't how Zangief does it. And then they told me the fireball looks wrong. So then they sat there at my desk and edited the fireball sprite. [laughs] Which I thought was interesting, but I'm like, No problem. It's all cool. This'll be a story I can tell peopleKuis olahraga. So the guys sat there. They edited the sprite and sent it back.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

They were relatively hands off. When it came to things like effects and the fireball effects, then they'd come in and say, "No, it should be like this." But for the most part, even with the moves and stuff, they were pretty distant. [...]

It was weird, in a way. And I don't want to make excuses — it is what it is — but I do feel in some ways like they kind of wanted us to fail. Because Street Fighter was their thing, and then this American company is given their franchise to do this, and I think there was a little chip on their shoulder over that. Like, Hey, this is our babyKuis olahraga. I totally get that. I don't fault them for that whatsoever.

Katsuya Akitomo
(artist, adviser, and translator, Capcom Japan)

I mean, I didn't think the game turned out to be much of anything. I was more surprised at, like, How did I end up spending a month with these two very important people? What was the pointKuis olahraga, you know?

Graphic image with a photo of Jan Claude Van Damm doing a full splits and fight pose
Before releasing Mortal Kombat, some at Midway wanted to make a fighting game starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, but the plan didn’t work out and Midway made Mortal Kombat instead, with martial artist Daniel Pesina as the game’s star Johnny Cage. A few years later, both Van Damme and Pesina ended up working with Incredible Technologies — Van Damme starred in Street Fighter: The Movie, and Pesina appeared in a print ad for Incredible Technologies’ fighting game BloodStorm.
Graphic: James Bareham/Polygon | Source image: Photo courtesy of Scott Morrison/Incredible Technologies

A quiet launch

In mid-1995, Street Fighter: The Movie shipped to arcades, approximately six months after the movie hit theaters. It arrived alongside Capcom Japan’s Street Fighter Alpha, which featured a number of references to an animated Street Fighter movie produced in Japan — making for a convenient parallel of a Western studio making a game based on the Western movie and a Japanese studio making a game with ties to the Japanese movie. (Capcom also released a multimedia game directly based on the animated movie in Japan toward the end of the year.)

When the games arrived in arcades, however, AlphaKuis olahraga turned out to be far and away the more successful of the two, regardless of territory.

Alex Jimenez
(design support, Capcom USA)

When the game came out, we looked at it. I looked at the graphics of it and whatnot, and I'm like, OK. You realize this has been done already much, much better, you know? Mortal Kombat has already done this system and they've done it way better than us, you know? I don't think this is going to work, you know? I was criticized for being too negative. Oh, you're being too negative. You're not supporting the company. I was like, I won't support the company while they're flushing cash.

James Chen
(Street Fighter series commentator)

Boy, I still remember being at UCLA arcade when the game arrived. I used to get to campus before the arcade opened, so I would just basically sit by the arcade until it opened and go play Darkstalkers by myself, one player, just to have some fun. And I still remember one morning, I showed up and Street Fighter: The Movie was being set up, and a whole bunch of people were sitting outside the arcade. We're like, Oh my God, there's this new Street Fighter: The Movie game. We were all just kind of sitting there, waiting to play the game. And the arcade opened. They turned the game on, and we looked at it, and oh boy ... oh boy. Yeah. That's the best way I could describe it. It was so bad and kind of almost laughable — you know, we just kind of laughed at the game, really, and instantly nobody took it seriously. [...]

The funny thing is, we were all eager to play on that first day. [But] I don't have any recollection or memory of actually playing it, weirdly enough. That's how little I cared, that my memory of the game has basically all but vanished.

Stephen Frost
(Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection producer, Digital Eclipse)

Digitized graphics, for the most part, were a little bit silly. Even though I played a lot of them, I never got into the whole digitized movie stuff in the early days — Sega CD and things like that. I always felt it was kind of bad, and I always felt that digitized content didn't play very well and things like that. And so when I first saw it before I played it, I was like, Oh man, this is going to be horrible. I don't see how this is going to be funKuis olahraga. Because you can look at Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat works within the system, but it is a very rough kind of a game as far as how it looks and how it plays and some of that. It plays a very specific way, and it kind of goes against how Street Fighter plays, and so I was a little bit concerned about that.

Ken Williams
(assistant editor, Electronic Gaming Monthly)

I actually found that game fun, if I [didn't] take it seriously. I actually found it pretty fun. And part of it was, we got to go to the offices when they were making it. [...] I just remember going in there, because I remember the movie was so bad. [laughs] We went to play it, and we were like, It actually plays fairly wellKuis olahraga. I mean, it's not really Street Fighter. But it's just funny to see how they translated it from the movie to the game. And I thought it would be a lot more Mortal Kombat-ish. Does that make sense? You go in expecting it to play in a more Mortal Kombat-type play style, but it actually played a lot more like Street Fighter than you would expect. So it was actually — because our expectations were so low — we were actually pleasantly surprised.

Chris Tang
(design support, Capcom USA)

It's better than Real Battle on FilmKuis olahraga — the home version [made by Capcom Japan]. But I admire them for digitizing those actors the way they did. It played better than any Strata/Incredible Technologies game had any right to. But it's not something that I wanted to play competitively.

Darryl Williams
(video department supervisor, Capcom Coin-Op)

Everybody's like, Ah, Street Fighter: The Movie sucked. I'm like, Yeah, but we were trying to do like Mortal Kombat, and we got it done. [...]

Kuis olahragaThe guys who developed it were great guys. They knew what they were doing. But obviously, trying to make a game similar to Mortal Kombat — obviously, if you don't know the secret sauce, it's a lot more challenging than you realize. [...] So we tried really hard to get the feel right. Between trying to get the feel right and trying to make it Mortal Kombat-esque, we got close enough but we didn't quite hit the mark. And so, that's kind of how it goes in the games world. Sometimes you get a hit, and sometimes you don't.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

Kuis olahragaI mean, we wanted the game to be so much more, and we were really limited by what we had to work with on the set of the movie. [...] We did what we could with what we had to work with.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

I don't remember there ever being talk of a sequel. That would have had to have been contemplated while we were actually digitizing the characters, obviously. I mean, if there had been a movie sequel, maybe. But I didn't hear that spoken of.

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

[A sequel] to Street Fighter: The Movie? No.

Elaine Hodgson
(president and CEO, Incredible Technologies)

Kind of after that, we found our footing with increased Golden Tee and other things. So we didn't have to go out to do third-party development for others. We started just doing our own development.

[Ed. note: Golden Tee went on to become one of the biggest arcade video game franchises of the ’90s and early 2000s, giving Incredible Technologies a unique level of success in a struggling industry. Unlike many arcade-focused studios from that period, the company is still around, releasing a mix of casino games, bar games, and Golden Tee sequels.]

Ralph Melgosa
(Street Fighter: The Movie art director, Incredible Technologies)

There's a handful of us that have been there for over 30 years. And Richard and Elaine are just really, really good people to work for. I think multiple times they could have sold the company and made a ton of money and just checked out, but they know that this is our livelihood and that we're into it and passionate, so they want to keep it going. They're millionaires. They've made a lot of money, so they're like, OK. What else are they going to do?Kuis olahraga They'll keep the company going.

We have changed certain game titles and character names throughout this series to reflect their English versions and reduce confusion. Job titles reflect past roles relevant to the topics discussed.

Japanese interview interpretation:

Post-interview retranslation:

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