Street Fighter (1987)
Console of origin
Ken (ケン or 拳, "Fist") also known by his full name, Ken Masters (ケン・マスターズ, Ken Masutāzu), is a video game character created by Capcom. He is one of the main characters from the Street Fighter series of fighting games alongside Ryu. Ken is also stated to be the second most popular character in the series, coming second to Ryu. Like Ryu, Ken's goal is to test his power against many different fighters and strive to become stronger.
Ken is most easily recognized by his sparring gloves (yellow in the Alpha series, brown elsewhere) and bright red gi with the sleeves ripped off, similar to Ryu's (Capcom has said that a red gi was chosen to stand out and to reflect his more flashy style of fighting). His gi has the sleeves neatly removed, and it is usually seen in better shape than Ryu's, since he can easily afford to keep up with and/or own spares. He has long blonde hair and has long eyebrows. He wears a black belt at his waist and fights barefooted. In the Street Fighter Alpha series, he had longer hair that he tied back with a red ribbon into a ponytail. The official explanation for the loss of the ribbon is that he gave it to Ryu to wear during the events of Street Fighter Alpha 2 (as stated in Ken's own ending); Ryu was distracted during his fight with Ken because he had just fought Sagat, and ended up losing. Ken gave Ryu the headband to remind him of their fight.
When Ken was about 12 years old, his father, a rich hotel tycoon, thought that his son needed to learn about discipline, or his son would become a spoiled brat all of his life and try to leech onto the Masters' family fortune. In order to do so, the elder Masters sent Ken to Japan to train under his best friend, the mysterious karate master Gouken. At first, Ken was very hesitant to learn from Gouken, wanting to go back to the United States, but later began to respect his master. He even enjoyed the company of Gouken's adopted son, Ryu, since he had a foil to finally pull pranks on, although this got Ken into a lot of trouble. Ryu and Ken would later become best friends and each other's principal rivals.
When Ryu was 23, Gouken decided that both of his pupils had grown up to be fine fighters and decided that their training was over and could now leave the dojo. Ryu decided to travel the world in order to continue his training, whereas Ken was finally happy to be going back home to the United States after his years of straining his back for his master, Gouken, and finally learning the meaning of humility. After coming home, Ken competed in many different Martial Arts tournaments held in the United States, winning most of them.
Street Fighter Alpha
Ken did not participate in the first World Warrior tournament; instead, he fought in (and won) the premiere U.S. Martial Arts tournament that had been previously won by Charlie Nash, as well as meeting a very attractive girl named Eliza, who became his girlfriend.
After winning the U.S. martial arts tournament, Ken returned to his training ground to tell his master Gouken the good news. There, he witnessed his master's death at the hands of Akuma. Enraged and grief-stricken, he attacked Akuma, only to be knocked to the ground by a single blow.
Ken began wandering the world in search of Akuma, and his friend and fellow student Ryu; he wanted to tell Ryu what happened to their master, and also hoped to win a match against him. He eventually finds Ryu in seclusion. Ryu is dejected upon seeing his long-time friend, but Ken makes him go try out a spar anyway. After winning, Ken realizes how stressed out his best friend is since his fight with Sagat. Ryu explains to Ken that deep within him there is a burning rage - a power trying to overcome him. Giving Ryu his red headband, Ken tells him to stay focused, which greatly cheers Ryu up. Ken returns home and, with Eliza's support, begins training harder, knowing even with his recent feelings, that Ryu is always stronger than he looks.
Ken begins to wonder about his own life. Ryu seemed to be on the right track again, but what of him? Along the road to proving himself again, he encounters Karin, who tells him she has followed his career and is trying to best her rival Sakura to prove she is superior. Ken advises her it's good to have a rival, not for supremacy, but to keep on training harder and focusing. With this, Ken finds himself again and is focused once more.
Going off to meet up with Sakura, they too have a friendly match, and Ken finally realizes that Ryu has the right idea all along. Both he and Sakura begin to travel to find Ryu, but their path crosses with that of Shadaloo dictator M. Bison. Ken confronts him but is easily defeated and placed under Bison's hypnosis. Bison then uses brainwashed Ken to lure Ryu out of hiding. Once Ryu shows up, Bison makes Ken fight him. Ryu wins and manages to release Ken of Bison's mind control.
Ryu then proceeds to fight Bison but loses and is, just like Ken before him, turned into a slave of Bison's Psycho Power. Sagat appears and, enraged by Bison's actions, engages Ryu in an attempt to break Bison's mental grip on him. The now free Ken, aided by Sakura, attacks Bison. This intervention, along with Sagat's presence, makes Ryu come to his senses.
Recovered, Ryu takes on Bison once more. Bison senses Ryu's dark power (which Bison describes as "The ultimate form of Psycho Power") and attempts to manipulate Ryu's mind once again. At his friends urging, Ryu resists and defeats Bison with a powerful Hadoken. Ken is happy to see his old friend again. With a promise of a new duel, the two part their ways.
Street Fighter II
Ken received an invitation to the second World Warrior tournament; however, since his last U.S. Martial Arts tournament, he had let himself spend too much time with his girlfriend, Eliza, rather than training. Only Ryu's personal challenge rekindled Ken's fighting spirit and persuaded him to enter the second World Warrior tournament.
After the events of Street Fighter II, Ken is married to Eliza, something he had apparently vowed only to do after winning a decisive victory against Ryu. However it is unknown if the two fought during the tournament, or if Ken actually won if they even did. No details have been stated, although it is heavily implied that they indeed did fight, and Ken won.
Super Street Fighter IV
When a new tournament is announced, Ken is unsure whether to compete, as Eliza is now heavily pregnant and he doesn't want to leave her. Sensing his inner conflict, Eliza assures him that she'll be fine and that the baby isn't due for a while yet, so he should go meet up with Ryu and tell him she says hi. Ken enters, and in the absence of gas stations near the location for the final, he parks his SUV in a convenient spot, calls Eliza to check on her, and continues the rest of the way on foot. Over the course of the tournament, he encounters his self-appointed rival, Rufus, although the results of that match are unknown.
After the tournament, it is discovered that Gouken is still alive, and Ken and Ryu pursue him as he leaves. Ken is upset that Gouken has not said anything to them, but Gouken counters that they no longer need a master. Ken and Ryu head home on foot, and Rufus passes them by on his motorbike, calling them losers. Soon however, Rufus' bike runs out of gas, and Ken and Ryu reach the SUV; Ken offers Rufus and his girlfriend Candy a lift, but Rufus refuses.
Upon arriving home afterwards, he tells Eliza that although he did indeed get to fight Ryu, they had been so busy with the rest of the unfolding events that they hadn't been able to give it their all. Soon afterwards, their son is born and they name him Mel.
Street Fighter III
Ken then entered the third World Warrior tournament. By this time, a Brazilian teenager named Sean had been pestering him to become his student, and Ken reluctantly accepted, beginning to train him. He fought Sean in the tournament and won against him; however, he drops out upon realizing Ryu was defeated by Oro. Ken begins to train his son Mel in rudimentary fighting techniques. He also told Sean to go find Ryu and challenge him, giving him some free time with Eliza.
Though bored, Ken hears about a mysterious organization and goes to investigate, and he may have confronted Urien. He does win his third straight U.S. Martial Arts tournament victory, which is a new record, and offers the trophy to Sean, although his student says he wishes to earn it for himself. He also learned that Ryu had sought him out and traveled all the way to New York from Oakland for their long-awaited rematch. Tossing some friendly jabs at each other, both have a good fight. Since then, Ken has continued to train Sean and Mel, handle his family and business, and keep up with his old friend Ryu.
While Ryu is the more serious and stoic of the two, Ken is the complete opposite. He's flamboyant, unorthodox and unpredictable. He is an alpha male with a giant ego and constantly reminds his opponents about his greatness. While he can be brash, egotistical, and arrogant at times, his heart is pure. He is generally kind, friendly, a good person, and very easygoing. He never backs down from a fight no matter how difficult it looks. Like Ryu, he believes in honor, hard work, endurance, and discipline. He always gives his opponents the utmost respect, whether it is his master Gouken, his best friend Ryu, or his Capcom vs. SNK rival, Terry Bogard. He is also a worrywart when it comes to his family. He nearly didn't enter the tournament in Street Fighter IV because he didn't want to leave Eliza so close to her due date, and only entered when she assured him she'd be fine. He still called her to check in and tell her to be careful on stairs.
In the original Street Fighter, and in the first iteration of Street Fighter II, Ken was a pallette swap of Ryu, in terms of gameplay, with only one attack (a throw) appearing to be aesthetically different. In later Street Fighter II editions, Ken's character was modified to be a variant of Ryu, using modified versions of Ryu's special attacks, though his animations and other attacks were still very similar to Ryu's, as Ken's sprite is always a head swap of Ryu. In the original version of this game, the only way to effectively have two characters with similar abilities fight each other was to have one player play as Ryu and the other play as Ken.
With the advent of "mirror matches" (same character vs.) in Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Capcom needed to vary the two characters' playing styles a bit. Ryu was given a stronger, faster Hadoken and a one-hit knockdown Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, while Ken was given a wider arcing Shoryuken and a multi-hit Tatsumaki Senpukyaku (in the Marvel vs Capcom series, the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku went on an angle, making it effective against airborne opponents). In Super Street Fighter II, Ken began deviating from Ryu further being given a multi-hit flaming Shoryuken. In the next SFII installment, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Ken was given the super combo Shoryureppa (which was simply Ken's Jab and Strong Dragon Punches chained together) and a number of different command kicks, plus a new jumping Forward and a Knee Bash hold. These command kicks would be incorporated as the standard move list in the Street Fighter Alpha series, but remain commands in all others.
Ken mainly focuses on the Shoryuken move, to the point where his Shoryukens set the opponent on fire. Ken's Tatsumaki Senpukyaku does not allow him to dodge projectiles at the start of the spin, but spins faster, allows him to hit his opponent up to five times. Ken's Hadoken attacks are less concentrated than Ryu's but Ken's Shoryuken is more powerful.
By Street Fighter III, Ken has two Shoryuken Super Arts (Shoryureppa and Shinryuken) and Shippu Jinraikyaku, and in Street Fighter EX 3, he has a "meteor combo" (a Level 3 super-combo) called Kuzuryu Reppa (九頭龍裂破, "Nine-headed Dragon Destroyer"), a mix of his other three Super Arts. Kuzuryu Reppa would be seen again in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom with it being one of Violent Ken's supers this time.
Ken's super moves consist of the Shoryureppa (昇龍裂破, "Rising Dragon Destroyer"), in which Ken does two or three Shoryuken; the Shinryuken (神龍拳, "Divine Dragon Fist"), a spinning vertical flaming Shoryuken (dedicated to his master Gouken, who Ken thought was dead at the time) that lacks range, but does greater damage and more hits, especially if the kick buttons are pressed rapidly; and the most recent addition to his move-list since Street Fighter III — the Shippu Jinraikyaku (疾風迅雷脚, "Gale Thunderclap Leg"), which Ken does a flurry of kicks before ending with a vertical Tatsumaki Senpukyaku (a diagonally vertical Tatsumaki Senpukyaku in Street Fighter Alpha Anthology's port of Alpha 3).
In Super Street Fighter IV Ken's 2nd Ultra is the Guren Senpukyaku (紅蓮旋風腳, "Crimson Lotus Whirlwind Kick"), a move visually similar to Shippu Jinraikyaku. Ken charges toward his opponent in an angled Hurricane Kick with a fire effect. Ken then adds one more kick at the end "for good measure".