GameplayThe player competes in a series of one-on-one matches against a series of computer-controlled opponents or in a single match against another player. Each match is a series rounds in which the player must defeat their opponent in less than 30 seconds. If a match ends before a fighter is knocked out, then the fighter with the greater amount of hit points left will be declared the round's winner. The player must win two rounds in order to defeat their opponent and proceed to the next battle. If the third round ends in a tie, then the computer-controlled opponent will win by default or both players will lose. During the single-player mode, the player can continue after losing and fight against the opponent they lost the match with. Likewise, a second player can interrupt a single-player match and challenge the other player to a match. The game controls consists of an eight-directional joystick and depending on the cabinet: six attack buttons, three punch buttons and three kick buttons of differing speed and strength; or two mechatronic pads for punches and kicks that determined the strength level of the player's attacks. The player uses the joystick to move towards or away from an opponent, as well to jump, crouch and defend against an opponent's attacks. By using the attack buttons/pads in combination with the joystick, the player can perform a variety of attacks from a standing, jumping or crouching positions. There's also three special techniques which can only be performed by inputting a specific directional-based command and button combination. These techniques were the White Fire, the Dragon Punch and the Hurricane Kick. Unlike the subsequent Street Fighter sequels and other later fighting games, the specific commands for these special moves were not given in the arcade game's instruction card, which instead encouraged the player to discover these techniques on their own.
The player takes control of a Japanese martial artist named Ryu, who competes in an international martial arts tournament to prove his strength. The second player takes control of Ryu's former training partner and rival Ken, who challenges Ryu in the game's 2-player matches. Normally the player takes control of Ryu in the single-player mode, however if the player controlling Ken defeats Ryu in a 2-player match, then the winning player will play the remainder of the game as Ken. The differences between the characters are mainly aesthetic, as both of them have the same moves and techniques.
The single-player mode consists of a series of battles against ten opponents from five different nations. At the beginning of the game, the player can choose the country where their first match will take place, with available choices of Japan or the United States, as well as China or England, depending on the DIP switch setting. The player will then proceed to fight against the nation's two representing opponents before proceeding to the next country. In addition to the regular battles, there also two types of bonus games which player can compete for additional points, including a table breaking and brick breaking bonus games. After defeating the initial eight, the player will travel to Thailand to fight against the final two opponents.
Street Fighter was directed by Takashi Nishiyama and planned by Hiroshi Matsumoto, who both previously worked on the overhead beat 'em up Avengers. The two men would leave Capcom after the production of the game and were employed by SNK, developing most of their fighting games.
There were two different arcade cabinet versions of the game: a Regular version, which was sold as a tabletop cabinet in Japan and as an upright overseas, that featured the same six button configuration later used in Street Fighter II and a Deluxe cabinet that features two-pressure sensitive pads. The pressure-sensitive pads determine the strength and speed of the player's attacks based on how hard they were pressed. In the American and Worldwide versions of the game, Ryu's and Ken's voices were dubbed so that they yelled the names of their moves in English. The localizations of the subsequent games left the characters' voices in their original Japanese language.
Street Fighter was ported under the changed title Fighting Street for the TurboGrafx-CD and released in 1988 with an arranged soundtrack. Due to the lack of a six-button controller available for the TurboGrafx-16 at the time this version was released, the strength level of the attacks were determined by how long either of the action buttons were held down.
This version was published by NEC Avenue in North America and Hudson Soft in Japan and was developed by Alfa System and is now available on the Virtual Console for Nintendo's Wii console. Versions of Street Fighters for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, DOS, Amiga, and Atari ST were published by U.S. Gold in 1988 in Europe. These ports were developed by Tiertex. An emulation of the original arcade version is featured in Capcom Arcade Hits Volume 1 for Windows PC, Capcom Classics Collection Remixed for the PlayStation Portable, and Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.