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The cover of Read-Only Memory’s Street Fighter history book

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Help turn our Street Fighter oral history series into a book

Our new series of features is also part of a Kickstarter campaign from book publisher Read-Only Memory

Like a Hurricane, a Street Fighter history book, will collect old, new, and upcoming Polygon coverage.
Matt Leone has written about games for three decades, focusing on behind-the-scenes coverage of the industry, including books on Final Fantasy 7 and Street Fighter 2.

For about a decade now, I’ve wanted to write a Street Fighter history book. Ask people who know me, and they’ll probably tell you this hasn’t been a secret. Like many ’90s kids, I’ve never quite gotten over the series. And as someone who writes about games for a living, I’ve constantly found excuses to cover it.

There was the time I flew to Japan to meet the guy who created it. The time I interviewed everyone I could find who worked on the sequel. The time I took photos of an X-Men vs. Street Fighter location test and convinced my high school newspaper to publish them. The time I asked the artist behind the SNES SF2 box art to redo it two decades later. The time I posted the first Street Fighter 4 screenshot online and watched the internet melt down.

And on and on.

Now, I’m doing something a little bigger to put all that work to good use.

Over the past year, I’ve been piecing together a new series of Street Fighter history stories for Polygon — essentially taking the template from the Street Fighter 2 oral history that we ran back in 2014, and applying it to a bunch of other games from that era. I’ve spent hundreds of hours interviewing former Capcom employees and editing their comments together thus far, with hundreds more planned.

We’re kicking the series off with Street Fighter 1: An oral history, a look at how the franchise came about featuring new interviews with series creator Takashi Nishiyama, Street Fighter planner Hiroshi Matsumoto, and many others. We’ll be following it with stories on Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter Alpha, and more later this year.

Line all these stories up, and they’ll tell the behind-the-scenes story of Capcom’s fighting game boom in the late ’80s and ’90s — where it came from, what happened when it exploded, and how Capcom spent the next decade chasing that success.

Which ... kind of sounds like a book, right?

An open book shows a two-page layout from Read-Only Memory’s Street Fighter history book
An open book shows a two-page layout from Read-Only Memory’s Street Fighter history book
An open book shows a two-page layout from Read-Only Memory’s Street Fighter history book
An open book shows a two-page layout from Read-Only Memory’s Street Fighter history book

That’s always been part of the idea in the back of my mind. So to try to make that happen, we’ve teamed up with publisher Read-Only Memory — which you may know from some of the best game history books out there, including Sega Arcade: Pop-Up History and Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works. The company also published our Final Fantasy 7 oral history book back in 2018, and the folks there do beautiful work with papers and inks and designs that I can only begin to explain.

Read-Only Memory has just launched a crowdfunding campaign for a book that will collect all of our Street Fighter history coverage, and add a bunch more to tie it together. Check it out here: Like a Hurricane: An Unofficial Oral History of Street Fighter 2.

If funded, the book will contain a significantly expanded version of the Street Fighter 2 oral history that Polygon ran in 2014, our new series of stories detailing what happened before and after SF2, bonus chapters exclusive to the book, and other fun surprises.

Here’s the rundown:

  • An updated, reedited, and expanded version of our SF2 oral history
  • New chapters covering Street Fighter, Super Street Fighter 2, Darkstalkers, Street Fighter Alpha, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter 3, and more
  • Quotes from more than 50 interviews with former Capcom employees
  • A foreword by SF2 planner Akira Nishitani
  • A theme song by SF2 composer Yoko Shimomura
  • More than 60 portraits by illustrator Tyrell Cannon
  • Design by Callin Mackintosh
  • Additional design and publishing by Darren Wall/Read-Only Memory

If you’re not interested in the book but still want to read the stories, don’t worry. We’ve got lots of stuff planned to run on the site over the next seven months.

If you are interested, here’s that Kickstarter link again.

The special edition of Like a Hurricane slides out of its case
A special edition of the book, which will only be available during the Kickstarter campaign, features holofoil cover symbols and a handcrafted case.
A vinyl disc appears inside a sleeve
As a bonus, we asked Street Fighter 2 composer Yoko Shimomura to create a theme song for the book.
A vinyl sleeve with Street Fighter move symbols on it holds a vinyl disc
The vinyl sleeve has been designed to match the book cover with deep embossed move symbols.