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Sheng Long (シェンロン Shenron?) is a character once thought to appear in the original Street Fighter II game. He is regarded as the most famous character hoax not only in the history of Street Fighter, but in all of fighting games.
The name "Sheng Long" was based on a mistranslation of "Shoryuken", found in one of Ryu's early victory quotes, "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance". The large amount of fans questioning the quote lead to a rumor spread by Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) that Sheng Long was actually a secret boss character fought under extreme conditions. The whole hoax would become one of the most famous hoaxes and video game legends in gaming history, spreading globally.
The hoax influenced the creation of both Akuma and Gouken as characters in the Street Fighter series, with the former appearing in Super Street Fighter II Turbo as a secret boss. Fan appeal for the character affected later Capcom titles, with public requests for the inclusion of Sheng Long in an actual video game leading to the consideration of his inclusion in the The Movie video game and years later resulting in the appearance of Gouken as both a secret boss and playable character in Street Fighter IV.
The name Sheng Long comes from a mistranslated portion of Ryu's Shoryuken; "shō ryū" (昇 龍, "rising dragon") from Shōryūken (昇龍拳, "Rising Dragon Fist"), Ryu's flying uppercut, is "shēng lóng" in Chinese pinyin. This was carried into one of Ryu's quotes to defeated opponents in the English localization of the 1991 arcade game Street Fighter II, changing the Japanese quote, "If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Fist, you cannot win!" (昇龍拳を破らぬ限り、おまえに勝ち目はない！ Shōryūken wo yaburanu kagiri, omae ni kachime wa nai!?) to "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance." As a result players were given the impression that Ryu was referring to an actual person instead of the physical attack itself.
The Super Nintendo (SNES) port of Street Fighter II released shortly after the April Fool prank changed the translation to "You must defeat my Dragon Punch to stand a chance." However, the English instruction manual for the SNES Street Fighter II referred to "Master Sheng Long" as Ryu and Ken's teacher. Instruction manuals for later ports to the SNES and Sega Genesis consoles replaced all references to Sheng Long by referring to Ryu and Ken as disciples of the "Shotokan school of karate". Sheng Long would later appear as Ryu and Ken's master in the Malibu Comic, Nida, who trained with Ryu and Ken, accuses Ryu of poisoning his master, the real culprit is a Ryu clone created by M. Bison. A character named Gouken was later introduced in Masaomi Kanzaki's 1993 Street Fighter II manga as Ryu and Ken's sensei and was adapted into the series' backstory in Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
April 1992 EGM article
The mistranslation spawned rumors about the existence of a Sheng Long character in the game and players sent letters to video game publications attempting to confirm the character's existence. In the April 1992 issue EGM first started the Sheng Long rumor with a hoax article (pictured), the reporter gave an "Honorable Mention" to "W.A. Stokins" ("waste tokens") of "Fuldigen, HA" ("fooled again, ha"), revealing the rumored method to access him in the arcade game. He is described to have over-the-top powers, with projectiles faster than Sagat's Tiger Shot and a spinning kick deadlier than Chun-Li's Spinning Bird Kick, also with the special attack of each fighter and "mega-damage" attack. He was also said to possess an air throw and have a Shoryuken engulfed in flames.
The method described was as follows: playing only as Ryu, the player cannot take a single hit until M. Bison's stage. Then, the player must not hit M. Bison or allow him to land a hit for ten rounds straight. Afterwards, Sheng Long would appear to throw Bison off the stage and face Ryu. When facing Sheng Long, the timer will freeze at 99, leaving a full "fight to the death". This directly inspired Akuma's entry sequence in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, where Akuma comes on the stage and performs the Shun Goku Satsu on M. Bison.
The joke became an international sensation when publications from Europe, Hong Kong and other countries reprinted the trick without verifying it or asking EGM's permission. A Hong Kong comic based on Street Fighter II by Jademan Comics altered their story to include the character. Players tried unsuccessfully for weeks to unlock Sheng Long, until it was revealed in the December issue of EGM that it was a hoax, with the staff stating they were surprised at the worldwide coverage the joke had received.
April 1997 EGM article
During the development of Street Fighter III, fans discussed the prospect of the character's inclusion in the new title. Around the release of Street Fighter III: New Generation, EGM later revived this rumor with an issue in 1997, where they actually gave him a defined appearance and design and further explained his backstory. However, the method to get him was obscured after "Getting 6 perfects" additionally, the words "April Fools" were spelled out in the first letter of the first ten sentences of the article. The character's design was expanded on greatly in the article; Sheng Long was now stated to be the international name for the character Gouken, much like Akuma is the international name for Gouki (which would appear in the Second Impact revision of the game). His profile listed in the article paralleled Gouken's, but instead of Akuma killing him he was knocked into a raging river. The result gave him a scar over his eye and a desire to get revenge on his brother. His fighting style included an air version of Akuma's Shakunetsu Hadoken that knocked his opponent down, a double ground high-low Hadoken, an unblockable Denjin-Shinryuu-Ken (電刃神龍拳 Denjin Shinryūken?, "Electric Blade Divine Dragon Fist") Super Art that would shock the opponent, an air rapid Hadoken super attack akin to Ibuki's Kasumi Suzaku and a third super attack intended to be a stronger version of Akuma's Shun Goku Satsu.
Sheng Long is cited as an influential factor for the Street Fighter series, earning mention in articles such as GameDaily's "Top 20 Street Fighter Characters of All Time" list, in which the character placed nineteenth despite not being an actual character. IGN placed it second on their list of the "Top Ten Gaming April Fools' Pranks", noting it as having the biggest impact of all of Electronic Gaming Monthly's April Fools' jokes. UGO.com named it one of video gaming's greatest urban legends, noting its impact upon the series' success. Capcom's former community manager Seth Killian described the hoax as "a part of gaming history", comparing him to the Konami Code. However, GamesRadar listed it as one of the video game legends that they never want to hear again, stating that while it was a good prank at first, Sheng Long has gone from "sly wink to the fans" to "Borat t-shirt."
The rumor is often credited with inspiring the creation of Akuma, a character who debuted as a hidden final boss in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, due to their similarities, although Capcom has never confirmed nor denied this. As in the hoax, the process of fighting Akuma would require certain achievements met during the game, with Akuma interrupting the final match of the game between the player and M. Bison. The similarity was nodded at in the high-definition remake of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, in which an Xbox 360 Achievement titled "Sheng Long is in Another Castle" could be earned for defeating Akuma in the game's arcade mode.
Sheng Long is mentioned four times in the 1995 arcade game Street Fighter: The Movie in the endings for Ryu, Ken and Akuma. In each of the endings he is stated to be Akuma's brother and the master of Ryu and Ken, but never said to be dead. Despite the repeated mention, Sheng Long does not appear in the game. On January 30, 2007, the game's designer, Alan Noon, appeared on Shoryuken.com's forum and discussed aspects of the game cut during development, among them a playable Sheng Long character.
According to Noon, talk had circulated about adding extra characters that were not in the film. As the Sheng Long hoax and Akuma's debut in Super Street Fighter II Turbo were fairly recent at the time, the designers asked for Capcom's permission to add both characters into the game. Capcom approved the addition of Akuma, but denied the inclusion of Sheng Long.
However, Capcom later unexpectedly approved the addition of Sheng Long. Noon designed Sheng Long's appearance, giving him black gi pants and a long, green, padded/quilted, sleeveless gi style top which was tied off with a black belt, long white braided hair, Fu Manchu moustache, a thick black ribbon over his eyes due to being blinded by Akuma and one hand taking the form of a dragon's claw, described as a result of his power being so advanced that he began to physically manifest dragon like attributes. Capcom approved the design and Luis Mangubat an artist from the development team posed as Sheng Long. However, the character was left unfinished because of time constraints.
- Yoshinori Ono stated "Let's just say that [jokes] that your magazine have reported in the past might find their way into the game as fan service." Executive editor Shane Bettenhausen took this to mean the appearance of Sheng Long in Street Fighter IV, though added that if the character did appear in the game, it would be Gouken. When asked in a later interview by 1UP.com regarding the possibility of Sheng Long's appearance in the title, Ono replied "Are you coming to the Tokyo Game Show? How about you ask me that question again then." Capcom later revealed Gouken as a character in Street Fighter IV, with Ono stating in an interview with Play magazine that his inclusion in the title was in response to fans requesting Sheng Long's presence in the game. Players can also unlock the title "AKA Sheng Long" for their calling card by using Gouken. In an interview in the January 2008 Issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Street Fighter IV producer
On April 1, 2008, Capcom announced Sheng Long as a "secret, unlock-able character" in their Japanese development blog for Street Fighter IV and later posted in their official US blog accompanied with a silhouette of the character. The post took the tone of a Capcom PR representative trying to announce a character without giving away too many details, hinting that "Sheng Long is Ryu's..." then holding back and saying to wait for an official character announcement. Similar to the original EGM joke, the post lists the method to unlock him as requiring the player to win every round as Ryu without taking any damage whatsoever and then perform his "Shoryuken" move during the final boss fight. Reception to the joke the third time was negative and included criticism from 1UP.com. The following day, the Japanese website confirmed that it was indeed a joke and explained the origin of Sheng Long while adding "Sheng Long is still now and always will be, truly a character of legend."
In the release version of the game, Ryu's victory speech is correctly translated as "You must defeat my Shoryuken to stand a chance." This line would later be quoted directly in Ryu's character reveal trailer in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, furthering its legacy.
On March 2017, 25 years after the EGM article was published, Sheng Long was given a "joke" profile in the Shadaloo Combat Research Institute part of the Capcom Fighters Network website. The profile satirizes the Sheng Long rumor, stating that he became a living legend, he appears after consecutive draw games, his moves are impossible to counterattack and always register as counter hits and that anyone that sees him will die after 24 hours.
In keeping with tradition, the profile also lists an exaggerated moveset for him. Apart from the Hadoken (which he performs with one hand), Shoryuken (which he can also do in mid-air) and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, he can also use the Hell's Somersault Throw (地獄巴投げ Jigoku Tomoenage?), a throw that instantly defeats his opponent, Unlimited Coins (連弧院 Renkoin?), an ability that allows him to resurrect himself indefinitely, Bags of Tea (堕伊般 Daihan?), which makes his opponent very angry and a "Critical Art", the Rei-In-Bou (零印棒 Rei In Bō?), which lets him change into different characters. The latter move seems to also poke fun at the many unofficial hacks of Street Fighter II': Champion Edition, most notably Street Fighter II': Rainbow Edition.
Additionally, the background in his artwork is different from other profiles and it has the word "uso" in it, meaning "lie" in Japanese. The profile is also said to be the "800th" (which is actually not the case) and it has since then been removed from the site.
Events inspired by the Sheng Long Hoax
- Led to the creation of Gouken and Akuma. Gouken himself is Capcom's answer to fan demands of a real and playable "Sheng Long."
- Presumably, the reason Ken acquired the flaming Shoryuken.
- Inspired the way of Akuma's debut, attacking Bison before the final battle, officially appearing 2 years after the hoax was first published.
- Started the lore of mentor-type characters (Gouken, Charlie Nash, Dan) using one-handed projectiles.
- Inspired one of Akuma's super move, the Tenma Gozanku, based on one of the hoax's move descriptions, that would later be seen in Street Fighter Alpha.
- Arguably started a trend of unlockable and hidden characters and conditional challengers, all of which is first implemented with SNK's Fatal Fury Special in 1993.
- Arguably led to the creation of Seth, a character who truly has the attacks of most of the SFII: World Warrior cast.
- The original win quote has been referenced multiple times in later games.
- In X-Men vs. Street Fighter, one of Ryu's win quotes is "You must defeat my Aerial Rave to stand a chance".
- In Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, Ken's win quote against Sean is "You must defeat Ryu to stand a chance".
- In the Street Fighter IV games, Ryu keeps the corrected win quote (with "Shoryuken" instead of "Dragon Punch") and one of Gouken's win quotes is "You must defeat me to stand a chance".
- In his Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U trailer, Ryu also says the corrected win quote, albeit in the Street Fighter IV version of it.
- In Project × Zone and its sequel, Ryu says the corrected win quote as one of his Pair Unit victory quotes.
- Sheng Long's profile in the April 1997 EGM article lists his birthdate as April 1st, in reference to him being created as an April Fools joke. His Shadaloo C.R.I. profile also lists it as one of his likes.
- In the 2012 Disney film Wreck-It Ralph, in the portal leading to the Sugar Rush game, there is a writing behind Fix-It Felix, Jr. saying "Sheng Long was here."
- He seemingly shares the same name with Shenron, the mythical dragon from the Dragon Ball franchise.
- It's possible that Sheng Long may be Chinese due to his name, though there is no evidence to support this.
- The EGM hoaxes directly influenced a number of aspects that were later added to existing characters in later Street Fighter games.
- In the third image from the 1991 hoax, you can see the Shen Long character's fist is on fire. Later in Super Street Fighter II, fire was added to Ken's Shoryuken.
- When Gouken became a playable character in Street Fighter IV, he was given a single handed Hadouken, that when using the EX Version, shoots two fireballs out similarly to Shen Long's attack in the 1997 EGM hoax.
- Initially Shen Long was stated to have the moves of all the Street Fighter II cast. Later a character was introduced whom indeed had moves from most of the original characters.
- Sheng Long's design in his Shadaloo C.R.I. profile art has a resemblance to Heihachi Mishima from the Tekken series. His facial hair is also similar to Heihachi's father, Jinpachi Mishima's facial hair.