Ken Masters is a video game character created by Capcom. He is one of the main characters from the Street Fighter series of fighting games alongside Ryu, having made an appearances in all major incarnations of the series.
Street Fighter series Edit
Ken made his first appearance in the original Street Fighter released in 1987. The character's name was originally spelled in Japanese as 拳 (Ken), which is the kanji character for fist, although Capcom dropped this in subsequent games, spelling his name in katakana instead (ケン). Ken is described as a former sparring partner, best friend and rival of the main character, Ryu, who trained under the same master (a character whose identity would later be fleshed out as Gouken). Within the actual game, Ken is for all intents and purpose a clone of Ryu controlled by the second player during competitive matches, with the only distinguishing aspects being that Ken wears a red karate gi, has blond hair and fights barefoot (in the original game, Ryu wears red slippers). The single-player tournament can only be played with Ken after the second player defeats the first player in a two-player match.
Ken and Ryu, along with former final boss Sagat, would be the only characters from the original Street Fighter to return in the game's true sequel, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, first released in 1991. In Street Fighter II, Ken is invited to participate in the World Warrior tournament by Ryu, with Ken having already moved away from Japan to live in America. In Ken's ending, he ends up marrying his girlfriend Eliza. Street Fighter II was a breakaway hit for Capcom, leading to the production of revised editions of the same game which included Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting in 1992, Super Street Fighter II in 1993 and Super Turbo in 1994, which all follow the same plot. Numerous spinoff products were made as well during the game's popularity: when Capcom licensed Hasbro to produced a line of action figures, Capcom were forced to give Ken the surname "Masters" to distinguish the character from Mattel's Ken Carson character from the Barbie toyline. The full name Ken Masters would be used in the animated Street Fighter II movie and in the Street Fighter II V series before being canonized in the games.
An all-new Street Fighter game would not be released until 1995, when Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior's Dreams was released. Plotwise, the game is a prequel to the Street Fighter II games which fleshed out the established Street Fighter II characters, as well as reintroduced characters from the original Street Fighter and the Capcom beat-em-up game Final Fight. Alpha features a younger Ken, who is searching for Ryu, having recently won the first "World Warrior" tournament in the events of the original Street Fighter. In Ken's ending in the original Street Fighter Alpha, he defeats Ryu and heads back to America, where he meets his future girlfriend and wife Eliza. Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior's Dreams would be followed by its own line of sequels: Street Fighter Alpha 2, which follows the same plot as in the original Alpha (with a revised ending for Ken); and Street Fighter Alpha 3, which takes place after the events in the first two games. In Alpha 3, Ken is featured in the numerous characters' storylines within the game.
Street Fighter III: New Generation (released in 1997), features an older Ken, who is now married to Eliza and has a son with her named Mel. He also takes a young student named Sean under his wing. Street Fighter III: New Generation was followed by 2nd Impact: Giant Attack released during the same year and 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future in 1999.
Ken, along with Ryu, are seen sparring with each other in the trailer to Street Fighter IV, although both characters' roles in the game are unknown at this point. Ken was confirmed as a playable character for Street Fighter IV on December 6, 2007. The story of IV is set between Street Fighter II and V.
Other Games Edit
In 1990, Capcom produced an action game for the Nintendo Entertainment System titled Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight . The Japanese version of the game starred an original character named Kevin Striker, a cyborg policeman who fought against alien creatures in the future. When Capcom released 2010 in North America, the main character's identity was changed from Kevin to Ken, with the game's story rewritten to imply that he was the same Ken from the original Street Fighter. Other than that, the game has little or no plot ties to the original Street Fighter and the game itself is not recognized as part of the canonical Street Fighter series.
Outside the mainstream Street Fighter games, Ken appears in 3D form in the Street Fighter EX games, in his Alpha incarnation in X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes and in a new form based on his Street Fighter II incarnation in Capcom vs. SNK and Capcom vs. SNK 2. He also appears in the arcade game Street Fighter: The Movie produced by Incredible Technologies, which Capcom later adapted for the home console market, and in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos by SNK Playmore, where he has an alter-ego named Violent Ken.
Ken is most easily recognized by his sparring gloves (yellow in the Alpha Series, red or brown elsewhere) and bright red karate gi with the arms ripped off, similar to Ryu's (Capcom has said that a red gi was chosen to stand out and to reflect his more flashy style of fighting). Unlike Ryu however, Ken's gi shows less wear and tear, this difference was first shown in Street Fighter III and continues in Street Fighter IV. His hair is blonde (some sources indicate that his hair may in fact be dyed; evidenced that some of his sprites have black eyebrows) and has long eyebrows. He wears a black belt at his waist and fights barefoot. In the Street Fighter Alpha series, he had longer hair that he tied back with a red ribbon into a ponytail. The official explanation for the loss of the ribbon is that he gave it to Ryu to wear during the events of Street Fighter Alpha 2 (as stated in Ken's own ending); Ryu was distracted during his fight with Ken because he had just fought Akuma, and ended up losing. Ken gave Ryu the headband to remind him of their fight.
Ken mainly focuses on the Shoryuken move, to the point where his Shoryukens set the opponent on fire. Ken's Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku does not allow him to dodge projectiles at the start of the spin, but spins faster, allows him to hit his opponent up to five times. Ken's Hadouken attacks are less concentrated than Ryu's, but Ken's Shoryuken has more range and does more damage than Ryu's.
- Hadoken: Back in X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Ken's projectile is small but is in long range. But in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, his projectile won't travel a full-screen's distance, and the Hard version goes further than Light Punch. This also applies in Ken's air version of his attack that comes out at a diagonally down-towards angle just like Akuma's Zanku Hadoken.
- Shoryuken: A fierce rising uppercut in a spiraling motion with some horizontal movement in which Ken rockets upwards whilst performing a spinning uppercut that knocks his opponent to the ground. Ken can do this in the air, so you can actually use it as a jump in attack, but it's best used as an anti-air move. The hard punch version has more range and does more damage. One of Ken's best moves.
- Tatsumaki Senpukyaku: Back in X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Ken's technique works the same as Ryu but can inflict multiple hits just like from Akuma's. But in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, his move flies at a diagonally up-towards angle, so it can actually be used as an anti air move. He hits multiple times very fast, and the hard kick version has more range and takes off more health.
- Barrel Roll: Ken quickly rolls along the ground, very similar to his roll move in Street Fighter Alpha 2. If you use this from close range and your opponent isn't in the corner, you can get to their other side. Usually used to escape when your opponent traps you on a corner.
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- Shoryu-Reppa (Level 1): Ken's signature super attack, he performs a series of three Shoryukens that progressively cause more and more damage to an opponent each time they are hit.
- Shinryuken (Level 1): This attack was developed by Ken and he is the only user of this move. It is a powerful Shoryuken that corkscrews vertically into the air, causing a vacuum effect that sucks in the opponent and strikes him multiple times. Tapping the kick buttons will add more hits and damage.
- Shippu Jinraikyaku (Level 1): Ken does a bunch of kicks with his feet on fire and ends with an Hurricane Kick. Additional hits and damage can be added if you mash the kick buttons.
- Shinkuu Hadouken: This move is only available in X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter when Ryu is his tag partner and perform the Crossover Combination.
X-Men Vs. Street Fighter
Marvel Superheroes Vs. Street Fighter
- Sakura Kasugano
- Ken is referenced in Ryu's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds as when you see Ryu going up to fight Iron Fist in the second picture you see on a board in the background "Up Next: Ken vs. Mr X", the latter being a Marvel villain whose main power is using telepathy to predict his opponent's next move and counter it accordingly. During the Dark Reign year-long storyline, Mr. X was a member of Norman Osborn's second team of Thunderbolts. At a first glance, Mr. X could be mistaken for a character with the same name from Mega Man 6, though this Mr. X was actually Dr. Wily in disguise.
- He is the actual rival of Cyclops.
- In both X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, pairing up Ryu and Ken together allows them to perform a Double Shinkuu Hadouken as their Crossover Combination. This is a likely homage to the finale of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, where the two combined their Hadoukens as a finishing move to defeat Bison.
- In Street Fighter IV - onwards, Ken is voiced by Reuben Langdon, who voices Dante in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Devil May Cry: The Animated Series, Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and Devil May Cry 4. Langdon also did the motion capture for Dante in DMC3 and DMC4, and the motion capture for Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 5 (as well as the voice of Dave Johnson) and Resident Evil: Code Veronica. His Japanese voice in the games since Street Fighter III is Yuji Kishi, for whom Ken is his most recognizable voice role.
- To somewhat compensate for Ken's absence in Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, Ryu can alternate into a "Ken" mode where he gets faster, his Shoryuken causes multi-hits and has flaming properties (without the supreme invincibility Ken's had in the preceding Vs. game), and he uses Ken's Hyper Combos instead of his own (sans flames in the Shippu Jinrai Kyaku). In addition, one of Ryu's alternate colors in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (another game from which Ken is absent) is patterned after Ken: red gi, blond hair and yellow gloves.