They say you never forget your first... Clearly whoever said that has never played a Street Fighter game.
While the original Street Fighter was released in 1987, it wasn’t until Street Fighter II: The World Warrior that the fight game community really took notice – sparking a resurgence in arcades in the early 90s and opening the doors for a collection of classic fighting franchises. A cultural phenomenon, Street Fighter II was the most pivotal fight game in the 90s, spawning numerous updates throughout the years. Having celebrated the game’s 25th anniversary in 2016, Capcom has released the eighth instalment of Street Fighter II exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers builds on the success of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, while reinventing itself with a masterstroke of controls, game re-balancing, and adding new in-game features – Street Fighter IV’s point-based online ranking system and original pixel-art graphics or UDON’s HD graphics for a more refined and updated feel. Additionally, there’s also “Buddy Battle” for two-on-one matches, Kinect-like “Way of the Hado” mini-game, online multiplayer mode, and two new palette swapped characters added to the roster.
Who's your main? We break down each fighter to help you get the edge over your friends and opponents. Our tier list below ranks all the fighters in Ultra Street Fighter II including tactics and abilities to regain your crown as World Warrior. Plus, a little trip down nostalgia lane is always good for the soul.
Making his debut appearance in 1991’s Street Fighter II, Zangief is a close range professional wrestler that hails from Mother Russia. Unlike other characters in the game, Zangief has limited mobility and cumbersome movements due to his lack of ability to throw projectiles. Rather, Zangief’s strength lies in the variety of melee moves available in his arsenal – wrestling throws and grappling moves with devastating effect.
Despite having an impressive ability to whittle down his opponents with his close range attacks and high stamina when he’s required to go on the defensive, his lack of reach makes him a challenging character to pick up and play for beginners. Zangief can easily be zoned by any projectile-based fighter and while his moves are devastating, they are challenging to pull off, especially if you’re a novice player.
Introduced to the world in Super Street Fighter II, Cammy is perhaps best known for being the second female playable character in the franchise’s history. Once a deadly assassin for Shadaloo, she broke free from their mind control with the assistance of Dhalsim in Street Fighter Alpha 3. A fan favourite that’s made numerous appearances outside of the series, Cammy’s strength lies in the offensive pressure to keep her opponents at bay.
While Cammy is fleet-footed and her move speed is rivalled by few, she suffers from low-damage dealing attacks and disadvantaged against turtling characters. Her speed allows her to get inside her opponents to deal damage, but outside of being close-ranged, her damage ability becomes limited to her reach. While she is an easy pick up and play character, her advanced tactics require a lot of skill and control.
17 E. Honda
Wanting to prove sumo wrestling’s superiority over other fighting styles, E. Honde entered the Street Fighter tournament, immediately proving that he’s a force to reckon with. An honourable champion, E. Honda is best known for his Hundred Hand Slap and Sumo Headbutt, but still suffers the same fate as the previous two listed on this roster. While his Torpedo allows him to quickly close the distance between him and his opponent, projectiles still give him trouble especially when zoned by a well played character.
His great stamina ranking gives him a slight advantage over other melee-based characters, but since he’s been nerfed, his advantages are limited by the player who controls the joystick. His lack of agility and execution difficulty means he’s vulnerable to counterattacks, while his abilities can easily be avoided with a well-timed jump.
16 Fei Long
Capcom’s tribute to martial arts legend Bruce Lee, Fei Long is a pixel-worthy replica of the famed Jeet Kune Do practitioner. Capcom instilled several similarities to both Lee and Long – they from the same city, they have similar battle cries, and Long’s ferocity and speed are a beautiful rendition of Lee’s prowess. Fei Long is even a famous martial artist movie star.
Fei Long’s offensive skills are remarkable, but have a difficult learning curve, meaning that winning games with Long in the hands of a newcomer becomes a very uphill battle. In the hands of a seasoned veteran, Long is as deadly as they come. Playing as Fei Long is an art-form – a path difficult to take. He’s easy to set up for counters, fireball traps, has challenges with defensive characters, and lacks a strong distance game.
15 T. Hawk
Patience is a virtue when playing with T. Hawk.
First introduced in Super Street Fighter II, Thunder Hawk is a Native American fighter seeking revenge for the destruction of his native lands at the hands of M. Bison.
A juggernaut in the right hands, T. Hawk has a high damage output, offering great rewards for patient players willing to learn his intrinsic combos and moves. Capable of absorbing a lot of damage, T. Hawk suffers from the inability to easily counter characters who turtle up as well as cumbersome movements that require time and patience to pull off. When maneuvered correctly, T. Hawk is devastating on the inside – his Condor Dive gets him close and his Hawk Slam can eats up a lot of his opponent’s stamina. Even with a Super that’s ridiculously ranged and powerful, T. Hawk is easy to counter dropping him on this tiered list.
A product of his environment, Blanka hails from the Amazonian jungles of Brazil. First appearing in Street Fighter II, the feral Brazilian beast is most notably known for generating electricity from his body to stun and ward approaching opponents.
His feral nature means that as a player, you’ll have to enjoy biting people – a lot. In part because of the ridiculous range of his Bite Grab and a great mid-combo attack or combo finisher. Blanka’s Beast Roll, high mobility, and small hit box when crouched means he’s a formidable character to battle. However, suffering from the same fate as Fei Long, Blanka players must master his steep learning curve as he suffers from a lack of defensive capabilities against projectile opponents and getting countered during his Beast Roll.
13 M. Bison
Self-imposed dictator and leader of the criminal organization Shadaloo, M. Bison was the primary antagonist of the Street Fighter tournaments, seeking world domination.
A master of the corrupt power known as “Psycho Power,” it is this power that lends Ultra Street Fighter II its novelty, transforming the docile Ken into one of the new palette-swapped characters of the game, Violent Ken.
A heavily offensive character, M. Bison relies on transitioning a single cross up attack into devastating combos to win matches. His pokes can quickly dizzy his opponents, while his throws have a decent range and damage. On the other side of the spectrum, M. Bison has a weak defensive game, the timing his combos require a great degree of skill, and his difficult learning curve means not everyone can simply pick up and play his character. Limited anti-air capabilities means a lot of his opponents while jump in (a lot!) to deal cross up combos.
12 Dee Jay
Only having joined the Street Fighter tournament to further gain popularity for his singing career, Dee Jay (pun intended), is a Jamaican fighter with a strong close-up game and impressive move set.
A good all around character, Dee Jay’s Machine Gun Punch can destroy incoming projectiles, though only executable with good timing, and his Dread Kicks move is a good anti air and impressively counters low attacks. His Max Out projectile also lends to his maneuverability, controlling the opponent’s position, yet characters with dominant projectiles will pose a problem. As well, due to his size, bigger sized opponents like Zangief and T. Hawk become challenging matches once their attacks are in range and they get inside Dee Jay. He’s also vulnerable to counter attacks as his Up Kicks leave him wide open to cross up combos, leaving him only mid-tier on this list.
Joining the tournament to avenge the death of his friend Charlie Nash, Guile first appeared in Street Fighter II to appeal to the American audiences. The original turtling character, Guile is an excellent middle tier character or in the hands of a high level player, top tiered. His Sonic Boom keeps his opponents at bay and any who dare get close are forced to deal with his Flash Kicks anti air attacks.
A defensive character at heart, Guile has no real tactics available in his arsenal to cause offensive pressure, requiring the use of a lot of Sonic Booms, pokes and space management to win matches. A newcomer to the game will find him difficult to play as he requires exceptional timing to pull off his moves. Guile also has difficulty with countering well-timed cross ups opening him up to defeat in the hands of an inferior player.
Gaining fame not only as the original playable female character in the Street Fighter franchise, but also in the fighting genre as a whole, Chun-Li’s agility and quickness makes her an impressively diverse character.
Entering the tournament to exact revenge on M. Bison for the death of her father, Chun-Li’s strength lies in the variety of poke attacks in her arsenal, while her Lighting Leg Kicks keep all opponents at bay, allowing her to control the space of the fighting environment. Much like Cammy, Chun-Li has low damage output, relying on her speed and fast feet to avoid damage. Despite being a balanced character, her lack of viable combos makes her a difficult character to want to master as she quickly becomes predictable to a knowledgeable opponent.
Winner of the first World Warrior tournament, Ryu entered the Street Fighter tournament to test his skills against the world’s best.
Perhaps the most recognizable Street Fighter character, Ryu is arguably the most balanced character in the Street Fighter series – a beginner-friendly character that’s easy to pick up and play no matter what your skill level maybe. Despite this, top tiered players have had considerable success with Ryu, as in the right hands, he can be a devastating character that’s difficult to manage as an opponent.
His Hadouken and Shoryuken abilities keep opponents at bay when they’re tempted to get in close – particularly close-ranged fighters such as Zangief and T. Hawk. While Ryu is extremely well-balanced with no glaring flaws, everyone at one point or another has played as or against Ryu, which means everyone knows how to defeat him. His secret to success is to surprise with a variety of cross up combos and feint attacks.
Though considered to be Ryu’s original clone, Ken stands on his own two feet, having striking differences from his best friend. His flaming Shoryuken has more damage output than Ryu’s and his Tatsumaki Senpuu-Kyaku or Hurricane Kick can be performed mid-air as an air counter.
Players who choose to play as Ken are gamblers at heart, as Ken is a high risk, yet high reward character. To successfully win as Ken, you’ll always have to go for gold, playing a home run hitter style. Mess up and you’ll find yourself striking out quickly.
Ken’s ability to win relies on his flaming Shoryuken due to its high damage and, with its fast recovery time, it's safe from counter attacks, even if your opponent blocks it. Couple this with his devastating Knee Bash throws and quick speed and you have a recipe for success.
Originally called Mike Bison (M. Bison) in the Japanese versions of Street Fighter II, Balrog is a true brawler at heart – choosing to defeat his opponents with his fists Super Punch-Out!! style. He may be reminiscent of a particular American boxer due to his demeanour and menacing appearance.
Balrog plays very much like the real-life Mike Tyson – he’s quick and powerful, delivering devastating attacks if you’re not careful. His speed allows him to get in close to deliver deciding blows, while his Headbutt attacks have decent reach allowing him to get past any projectile traps. However, his jump game is limited, meaning he’ll have difficulty maneuvering around projectiles, especially Sagat’s Tiger Shot.
These limitations are easily overcome with his impressive offensive pressure tactics, staggering opponents with the flurry and speed of his attacks making him a very powerful top tier character.
6 Evil Ryu
Succumbing to the Satsui no Hado, or “Surge of Murderous Intent,” the same dark energy force that powers Akuma, has transformed Ryu into a villainous character, with absolute power and an unquenchable thirst for war.
One of the first two new characters to join the fight since Super Street Fighter II, this Evil Ryu is a departure from his normal balanced character. Despite having low vitality and stun, his high attack ability compensates for these shortcomings, allowing players to use Evil Ryu as a tank and offensive pressure fighter to win matches. His unique Senpukyaku attack is the perfect counter for low attack or to get around characters who rely on pokes. It also allows you get in close to your opponent to open them for a devastating Shoryuken for a high damage combo. With a super combo that demolishes with massive damage and you have a new top tier character.
5 Violent Ken
First appearing in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, Violent Ken is the end result of M. Bison’s brainwashing, imbuing the normally docile Ken with “Psycho Power,” creating a ruthless and aggressive fighter lusting for power.
An offensive-oriented character, Violent Ken players must take full advantage of the fighter’s quick overall movement and perfect timing to connect combos to balance out his low vitality and stun – even lower than Evil Ryu’s. His regular attacks deal more damage than “normal” Ken's and his Inazuma Kick is a unique overhead attack that can overcome the opponent’s block. Meanwhile, his Rasetsukyaku is a great movement tool to control Ken’s positioning during matches. It even allows Violent Ken to dodge fireballs allowing him to use his Shoryuken when in range or his high damage Shinbu Messatsu super combo. He’s ranked higher than Evil Ryu for the fact that this is his first Street Fighter appearance.
A yoga master with Luffy-like appendages and possessing the ability to conjure fire, Dhalsim is altruistic by nature, only having joined the Street Fighter tournament to raise money for the poor and oppressed.
An exceptionally defensive character with incredible reach to keep his opponents at bay, Dhalsim is a versatile fighter with extensive skill sets to deal with every situation and character. His Yoga Flame devastates when his opponent is pinned in the corner and his Kick Slide allows him to avoid projectiles while opening opponents up for follow up throw. Though be warned, timing must impeccable as a slight miss opens Dhalsim up for counters.
While Dhalsim is a dominant character, he suffers from a lack of combos and his slowness makes him susceptible to offensive pressure. His stretchable limbs give him reach, but it’s not impervious to damage, though if properly mastered, he becomes an unstoppable force.
A narcissistic Spanish fighter, employed by Shadaloo as M. Bison’s personal bodyguard, Vega embodies the Narcissus archetype – obsessed with his own beauty and a self-lover.
One of the fastest fighters in any Street Fighter tournament, Vega’s claw attacks have impressive range and his pokes often leaves his opponents frustrated while his defensive and reactionary game overcomes any opponent willing to get in close. His Wall Dive gives him good mix up tactics and a player that can control the positioning in the match’s arena will always come out on top.
Vega’s difficulties lies in his low defensive rating and steep learning curve as any player willing to pick up and play as Vega must be able to gauge the distance and reach of his attacks as well as have impressive reaction skills. If these can be overcome, then the tools available in Vega’s arsenal can deal exceptional damage to any opponent.
Making his return to the Street Fighter fold to exact revenge on Ryu for defeating in the first World Warrior tournament, Sagat is a member of Shadaloo and known best for his Muay Thai prowess.
While Sagat has been nerfed slightly since his old Super Street Fighter II days, he’s still a force to reckon with, with his variable height Tiger Shot still defiantly abusive – despite the longer recovery time. Timing is crucial to have success with Sagat and developing a sixth sense when playing a Sagat is a necessity. You need to know when to bait your opponent to perform Tiger Uppercuts or when to push them away with your Tiger Shots. Additionally, his Tiger Knee now juggles allowing for demoralizing combos. Though Sagat is a defensive character in nature, he’s still an offensive powerhouse, utilizing the full extent of “the art of eight limbs” to devastate his opponents.
Was there even any doubt who would take top spot on our tiered list?
An enigmatic and powerful warrior, Akuma’s an unofficial entry into the Street Fighter tournament, making his debut as a playable fighter in Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
Considered by many as “broken,” or rather, unbeatable, Akuma has defeated countless challengers before him – especially in the hands of a skilled player. While there are striking similarities to Ken and Ryu, Akuma differs from the two with his powerful movesets, extremely high attack, and frustratingly cheese tactics. His low vitality and stun should level the playing field slightly, but he’s still a formidable opponent for any player who draws him in a match. He can negate your close game with his dominant combos and his quick speeds allows him to use a multitude of tools to quickly whittle way your health. His Raging Demon Super is perhaps one of the strongest Super Combos in the game – with devastating results.