Official artwork of Ryu from Street Fighter X Tekken.
Street Fighter (1987)
Console of origin
Ryu (リュウ, 隆, Ryū) is the protagonist and main character of the Street Fighter series. Ryu has made an appearance in every Street Fighter game, as well as in almost every crossover fighting game with Capcom characters in it.
Ryu has arguably become the most famous character in the fighting game genre, starring in early fighting games such as Street Fighter, and started to become popular in Street Fighter II, where he was considered a "basic" character. He, along with Mega Man, is considered one of Capcom's unofficial "mascots".
Ryu's most recognizable attire consists of a white karate gi with the sleeves torn off, medium length hair, a long red headband, a black martial arts belt and bare feet.
His appearance has deviated over the course of time, however; he has grown taller and more muscular, his karate gi has grown more tattered, his gloves have changed from brown to red and his headband has changed from white to red. Most notably, his hair color has changed; his original Street Fighter appearance gave him red hair, his Street Fighter Alpha appearance brown hair, his Street Fighter II and Street Fighter IV dark brown hair, and his Street Fighter III appearance black hair. In summary, it can be said that his hair darkens over time. The red headband Ryu wears was originally worn by Ken.
In many of his appearances, Ryu carries around a large, white duffel bag containing items important to his travels, such as clothing, plane tickets, passports, and local currency.
In some official Street Fighter II artwork, Ryu's belt has four kanji emblazoned upon the right end: '風' (kaze, "wind"), '林' (hayashi, "woods"), '火' (hi, "fire") and '山' (yama, "mountain"); these four kanji make up the Fūrinkazan. The same four kanji can be seen on a sign on the left-hand side of Ryu's stage in Street Fighter II. The four words are based on chapter seven of Sun Tzu's Art of War, which dictates how one should conduct battle: "as fast as the wind, as quiet as the forest, as daring as fire, and immovable as the mountain." These kanji are again visible on his belt in Street Fighter IV.
As a very young child, Ryu was orphaned and left with no memories about his parents, and whether they were still alive. He was found and adopted by a man named Gouken who raised Ryu in his secluded dojo and trained Ryu in the ways of his martial arts. Shortly afterwards, Gouken would later train his best friend's spoiled son, Ken Masters. Ken served not only as a sparring partner, but also gave Ryu a friend in the form of a boy his own age. Ryu looked up to Gouken as a father figure, and regards Ken as his best friend and surrogate brother, a relationship which remains to this day. When Ryu was 23 years old,Gouken believed that Ryu was ready to travel the world in order to test and hone his martial skills against the best fighters from around the world. With this, Ryu left Gouken's dojo, and headed to fight in the World Warrior tournament.
Ryu is one of the participants of the World Warrior tournament. After defeating all challengers, Ryu's skills earn him the right to fight its host, Sagat. Sagat nearly beats Ryu into unconsciousness and, thinking he had won, drops his guard to help Ryu up. Ryu, however, having such a strong desire to win, allows himself to be engulfed by the Satsui no Hado and he strikes Sagat with a nearly-fatal Metsu Shoryuken that not only knocks Sagat unconscious but also marks his chest with a great scar. After regaining consciousness and discovering what had happened, Sagat swears vengeance on Ryu.
Street Fighter Alpha 2
Ryu leaves Sagat behind and returns to his home only to find that Gouken, his master and adoptive father, has apparently been murdered. Learning that Akuma had fought and supposedly killed his adopted father, Ryu began to travel the world to find this man.
He encounters and fights Akuma on a secluded island known as Gokuentou, but Akuma was only testing him. He senses that Ryu has the same powers as he does, and tells Ryu about the Satsui no Hado - a power that consumes the practitioners of their shared fighting style, driving them to win even when it means killing the opponent. Akuma then uses his fist to smash the island, leaving Ryu stranded.
Sometime after escaping the island, Ryu battles Ken and loses. Ken realizes Ryu is not himself and has been deeply troubled since his last victory over Sagat. He gives him his red hairband as a reminder to stay focused, which Ryu was sincerely grateful for. Soon thereafter, a fan of his, named Sakura, comes up and expresses her desire to train under him. Ryu replies that he himself still has much to learn, but allows Sakura to take a picture of him. She swears to make him accept her eventually.
At some point during all this, Ryu is found by Sagat who is out for a grudge match. Ryu protests that Sagat hasn't fully recovered from their last bout, but Sagat persists. Ryu lets Sagat win rather than do any further damage, and Sagat leaves. Only later, upon reflection, does Sagat realize that Ryu held back, vowing to fight him again.
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Two years later, Ryu continues to be troubled by what Akuma had told him, compounded by his encounter with Rose, who has intricate ties to M. Bison. She tells him that he cannot defeat Bison unless he fights him at the cost of his soul. True to form, when Ryu confronts Bison, he is defeated despite putting up a valiant fight. Bison takes the semi-conscious Ryu and begins brainwashing him, using the revelation that the Satsui no Hado - the dark power Ryu struggles to avoid using - is akin to Bison's own Psycho Power.
This scene is interrupted by the entrance of Sagat, Ken, and Sakura, each of them having followed Ryu for their own reasons. While Ken and Sakura distract Bison, Sagat challenges the brainwashed Ryu (different versions of this story coexist; in one version, Sagat is offered this battle as an enticement to stay with Shadaloo). Sagat quickly notices the effects Bison's brainwashing have had on Ryu, and, at Sagat's urging, Ryu comes to his senses to confront and defeat Bison, destroying him temporarily.
Super Street Fighter II Turbo
During the World Warrior tournament, Ryu enters to test his skills, and defeats many of the new warriors. He encourages Ken to re-enter as well. However, it is unknown how far Ryu himself progressed in the tournament, although it is implied he may have lost to Ken.
Super Street Fighter IV
Sometime after the second World Warrior tournament, Ryu enters into a new tournament to further master his skills as well as reunite with his longtime friend Ken for another rematch. During his journey he meets up with Sakura whom he encourages to train harder. Meanwhile Ryu also meets up with a former rival Sagat and remembers the promised rematch as they fought. During the final round with the Tournament Host Seth (actually a copy of him), he defeats him in the S.I.N. headquarters. During and after this battle the building fell around them as Ryu unleashed the Satsui no Hado on the BLECE machine, a weapon of mass destruction developed by S.I.N. that harnessed the energy in the human body.
During this, Sakura - who has been searching for Ryu - finds him and the BLECE machine, and a pulse of energy from it knocks her into a wall. Ryu defends her by unleashing a Shoryuken on the machine, and they leave the building together, the weapon destroyed.
He then encounters Gouken, who has in fact survived his last battle with Akuma, and Gouken uses the "Power of Nothingness" to seal the Satsui no Hado which is eating at Ryu, knocking him unconscious.Akuma then arrives on the scene to challenge his brother for a death duel, the winner of which will claim "the cub" (meaning Ryu). The outcome of the duel is unknown but, since Ryu is later seen free of Dark Hado's influence, it is very likely that either Gouken won or the battle ended in a draw (possibly interrupted).
Later, Ryu and Ken chase their long-lost master along a cliff face, with Ken wanting Gouken to stick around while Ryu wishes him well. Afterwards, he and Ken trek through the desert while Rufus mocks them on his motorcycle, though it later breaks down and he is left pushing it while Ryu and Ken finally reach Ken's jeep. Ryu later bids Sakura farewell as she, Dan and Blanka leave for home on a cruise ship. Some time later, having decided that his battles have made him stronger, he meets a now-older Sakura. What happens next is unknown, although Gouken might have taught Ryu the Shin Shoryuken and Denjin Hadoken at some point before Street Fighter III.
Street Fighter III
Years later, Ryu enters the third World Warrior tournament to further advance his fighting abilities. His most notable fight during the tournament is against Hugo, who is able to withstand his Shin Shoryuken and hold his own. Though disputed if canon or not, he is defeated by Oro, and continues his travels afterward.
Shortly after the tournament, Ryu meets up with Ken for a friendly match, from which Ryu emerges the victor (canon in question). He also serves as Hugo's pro-wrestling tag-team partner for a brief period of time before moving on.
At some point, he encounters Alex, whom he solidly defeats. Ryu encourages the young wrestler to continue honing his abilities against strong opponents. Fascinated by Ryu's skill and determined to become stronger, Alex soon sets out to find Ryu for a rematch.
Ryu is usually a silent, humble, serious individual whose severity is often juxtaposed against the light-hearted, fiery persona of his best friend, Ken. He travels the globe with a stern nature, often appearing to others as boring or detached. On rare occasion, Ryu shows a very bad sense of humor. Cool and calculating, patience is Ryu's biggest strength. Ryu's overarching goal in Street Fighter is to become a total master of his fighting style. To this end, Ryu plays the part of the wandering warrior, and takes both his travels and his training very seriously. Although he appears to be aloof and unemotional, Ryu is actually a kind and good-hearted person. He respects others with skills equal to his own and holds heroic figures like Captain America, Spider-Man and Cyclops in high regard, as seen in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. However, by the time of Street Fighter III, it seems that Ryu has developed a somewhat more friendly personality. He is still very quiet and reserved, but is willing to greet people with a smile and some kind advice, very much like his master Gouken. Ryu doesn't exactly consider himself a heroic person, but he does fight for innocents when he sees injustice.
There is, however, a dark side to Ryu. His drive to improve himself, no matter the difficulty, can sometimes develop into a drive to win and to be the best, no matter what the cost, as these two goals are so dangerously similar. This darker drive is fed by, and in turn feeds, the Satsui no Hado within him, an influence which Ryu must constantly fight to suppress (at least until the time of Street Fighter III). Ryu's desire to be better can sometimes make his advice to his defeated opponents seem more arrogant and judgmental than Gouken's, though he is fundamentally well-intentioned. In times when his inner darkness threatens to overcome him, Ryu relies on his friends and rivals - primarily Ken, Chun-Li, Gouken, Rose, Sagat and Sakura - to keep him grounded and snap him out of it.
Gameplay and fighting style
Ryu is the quintessential "basic" character of the series, with an intuitive array of punches and kicks and very basic special moves. This simplicity makes Ryu a favorite for beginner and intermediate players. Ryu is available in every single Street Fighter game, allowing players familiar with previous Street Fighter games to begin playing immediately, without having to worry about learning how to use a new character. There are various tweaks in his moveset, depending on the game.
Ryu's techniques are the Hadoken, which has become a staple projectile in fighting games and is generally referred to as the "Fireball"; the Shoryuken, or Dragon Punch, an uppercut which is a favorite among many players; and the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku or "Hurricane Kick" as most refer it to.
In later versions of Street Fighter II, Ryu is able to perform the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku in the air, and gains the ability to use a more powerful Hadoken that is an actual fireball. In the Alpha series, he has a tactic known as the "Hado no Kamae" which is a tactic of trickery, fooling the opponent into a potential counter. In the Street Fighter III series, Ryu gains the Joudan Sokutogeri, a powerful side kick that shoves opponents away with great force.
In the Street Fighter EX series, his Tatsumaki Senpukyaku is replaced with a flying kick attack which can be done in succession by inputting the same command twice or three times. In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he gains the Ren Hadoken (a compact Hadoken which can be rapid fired 5 times), the Baku Hadoken (an exploding Hadoken that causes the opponent to wall bounce), and the Hado Shoryuken (Where he performs a Shoryuken infused with a Hadoken that hits 2-4 times).
In Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, Ryu's special attacks take on electrical properties, and feature the least costume changes in the game. He also gains a Mighty Combo called the Reppuu Jinrai Shou, multi-hitting punch combo that ends with a Shoryuken.
Many of Ryu's Super Combos are more powerful versions of his normal moves. His trademark Shinku Hadoken is a five-hit Hadoken, and the first Super Combo in the series. The Shin Shoryuken is a close-range high-powered uppercut, and the Shinku Tatsumaki Senpukyaku is a multi-hitting kick.
In Street Fighter III, Ryu can use the Denjin Hadoken Super Art, a ball of pure energy that can be charged to deal more damage, hits and "stun". The Shinku Tatsumaki Senpukyaku is now his EX Tatsumaki.
Ryu has a unique ability in Marvel vs. Capcom, where he is able to change his fighting style (and outfit), to those of Ken and Akuma (to compensate for the lack of the two characters in the game). In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ryu gains the ability to temporarily enhance his fighting power through a Hyper Combo called Hado Kakusei which not only increases his speed by 15%, but also upgrades his other Hypers as well.