Street Fighter has grown a massive roster of characters in its nearly 30 year history. A 10 character cast grew to over 50, and all of them have their own unique moves.
What sets each character apart are their array of special moves, where a quick button combination unleashes a flashy, devastating attack. Here are 10 of the most impressive and iconic special moves from the franchise.
ROSE – SOUL THROW
Rose’s Soul Throw is a perfect illustration of the “high risk, high reward” type of attack. If you can predict an opponent’s jump, hitting a Soul Throw is very rewarding. Rose snatches her opponent out of the sky, and slams their flaming body to the ground.
This move usually can’t be used in combos, so it requires predicting an opponent’s movements. It makes you feel smart whenever it hits, as you knew what the opponent would do and stopped it. If you miss, Rose is wide open to take a ton of damage.
BLANKA – ELECTRIC THUNDER
Blanka’s Electric Thunder has annoyed new players since Street Fighter II. His entire body is coated in electricity. You can’t let him keep doing the move because he’s building Super meter. But if you touch him, you’ll get shocked!
It’s always fun to use Electric Thunder as a defensive move. Unless the player knows Blanka’s weak spot or interrupts the attack, they’re gonna get shocked over and over. It’s one of the biggest reasons Blanka is infamous as a troll character selected mainly to annoy opponents.
IBUKI – NECK BREAKER
The ninja Ibuki has a lot of special moves, but the Neck Breaker stands out for its brutality. With surprising speed, she slides across the stage and snaps her opponent’s neck.
It’s easy to get caught by this move due to its speed and its low-hitting property. It teaches players to be mindful of defense, or they’ll have multiple snapped necks by the end of a round.
Ibuki may not look too threatening, but seeing her twist someone’s neck so hard that they spin in the air shows that she’s a true threat in a fight.
DUDLEY – MACHINEGUN BLOW
Dudley is one of the more grounded Street Fighter characters, with a moveset of mostly realistic boxing moves. Machinegun Blow is not one of those realistic moves.
Showing superhuman speed and strength, Dudley can slide several feet in one second toward his opponent. Then, he uses their face as a speed bag, hitting them with one hand several times in a row.
There’s a reason why Dudley is in the Street Fighter tournament instead of a boxing ring. This attack would make boxing matches far too easy.
CODY – CRIMINAL UPPER
Unlike many Street Fighter characters, Cody has never had formal training in any martial art. He honed all his skills by fighting on the street, and got by with incredible natural strength.
The best show of this strength is the Criminal Upper. He uppercuts with such force that it forms a small tornado. Again, Cody has no training in martial arts or magic. He’s just so strong that his punches can cause small-scale natural disasters.
ZANGIEF- SPINNING PILEDRIVER
A regular piledriver from the massive Russian wrestler Zangief would be painful enough. However, his signature Spinning Piledriver takes this slam to extreme heights.
Zangief shows off surprising agility by lifting any opponent, rocketing several feet into the air, and dumping them on their head. And he adds a spin, because in the wrestling world all spinning moves do extra damage. No matter how powerful the opponent is, the Spinning Piledriver will ruin that poor soul’s day.
CHUN-LI – HYAKURETSUKYAKU
Chun-Li’s Hyakuretsukyaku, or “Lightning Legs,” attack is both her signature move and one of the most iconic attacks in all of gaming. Dante, Bayonetta, and even Spider-Man have made their own versions of this move.
Hyakuretsukyaku has several counterparts in the Street Fighter series itself, but none beat the original. After all, those kicks aren’t being performed by the strongest woman in the world. It’s a stylish move, and its legacy is reinforced by how much it appears in games outside of the series.
RYU – HADOKEN
Anyone who’s played Street Fighter for 10 minutes can throw a Hadoken. Even if Ryu is in a different game, the command and the effect of his fireball stay the same.
Several characters in the Street Fighter franchise have their own Hadoken or similar attack, even if they’re not throwing energy beams. And one of the first things new players learn is how to counter a “Hadoken spammer” in online matches.
This move influenced fighting games so much that not giving the main character a Hadoken-like move with the classic quarter-circle-forward motion is rare. That blue ball of pain is one of the most iconic moves in fighting game history.
M. BISON – PSYCHO CRUSHER
Regardless of the game it’s in, the Psycho Crusher is consistently one of the best looking special attacks. M. Bison is intimidating enough, but seeing him flying toward his enemy wrapped in flames makes him even scarier.
The properties of the Psycho Crusher also match Bison’s evil intentions. It can pass through opponents even when blocked, allowing him to strike from behind. It’s a display of his power and an opportunity to strike opponents while they’re not looking: two things the Shadoloo leader loves to do.
RYU – SHORYUKEN
The Shoryuken might be the most famous attack in all of fighting games. Capcom references it in their own games often, but it has homages in Tekken, Super Smash Bros. and even a few Mario games.
Several characters in Street Fighter have their own variations on the Shoryuken, including Ken’s fire-powered uppercut and Sakura’s uppercut that hits up to 10 times.
There’s a good reason why Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono ends many of his speeches by getting the crowd to “Shoryuken” together. Everyone who plays games knows the Shoryuken, and it’ll continue to show up everywhere for years to come.