||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (May 2013)|
|Street Fighter character|
Ken in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, as illustrated by Bengus.
|First game||Street Fighter (1987)|
|Voiced by (English)||Eddie Frierson (Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie)
Jason Douglas (Street Fighter II V, ADV dub)
Jimmy Theodore (Street Fighter II V, Animaze dub)
Scott McNeil (Animated series)
Steven Blum (Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation)
Steve Cassling (Street Fighter Alpha: Generations)
Reuben Langdon (Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter X Tekken)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Tetsuya Iwanaga (Street Fighter Alpha series, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter EX 3, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Pocket Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Namco × Capcom)
Kōji Tobe (Street Fighter III: New Generation and Second Impact)
Yūji Kishi (Street Fighter III: Third Strike, SNK vs. Capcom series, Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter X Tekken, Project X Zone)
Gō Yamane (Street Fighter EX 2, EX 2 Plus)
Monster Maezuka (SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom)
Kenji Haga (Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Street Fighter II V)
Kazuya Ichijō (Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation)
Eiji Hanawa (Street Fighter Alpha Generation)
Toshihiko Seki (Street Fighter II drama CD)
Keiji Fujiwara (Japanese dub of the Street Fighter live-action film)
|Portrayed by||Damian Chapa (Street Fighter)
Christian Howard (Street Fighter: Legacy, Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist)
|Fighting style||assassination arts (暗殺拳をルーツとした格闘術 ansatsuken o rūtsu toshita kakutō jutsu?)|
Ken Masters (ケン・マスターズ Ken Masutāzu?), originally spelled in Japanese as 拳 (Ken), is a video game character created by Capcom. As a main character, he has appeared in all of the Street Fighter games along with his best friend and rival, Ryu. Like Ryu, Ken's goal is to test his power against many different fighters, and strives to become stronger.
Street Fighter games
Ken made his first appearance in the original Street Fighter released in 1987. He is characterized as the 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). The single-player tournament can only be played with Ken after the second player defeats the first player in a two-player match. Ken was also named one of the best fighters in the game.
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, 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 produce a line of action figures, Ken was given the surname "Masters". 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 video games with Street Fighter Alpha 2.
An all-new Street Fighter game would not be released until 1995, when Street Fighter Alpha was released. Plotwise, the game was 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 beat-em-up 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 Eliza. Street Fighter Alpha 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.
Ken's following appearance is in the Street Fighter III where he has a son (Mel) and his own student (Sean SF3). In Street Fighter IV, Ken enters into the world tournament while waiting for the birth of his son (Mel).
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 Straker, 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. He also was a scientist in the future, implying a genius level intellect. Other than that, the game has little or no plot ties to the original Street Fighter and its part in the canonical Street Fighter series is disputed.
Outside the mainstream Street Fighter games, Ken appears in 3D form in the Street Fighter EX games, in X-Men vs. Street Fighter, and the Capcom vs. SNK series. Ken has appeared in every Marvel vs. Capcom game except Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. He also appears in the arcade game Street Fighter: The Movie produced by Incredible Technologies, as well as in the The Movie, in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos by SNK Playmore, where he has an alter-ego named Violent Ken (洗脳されたケン Sennōsareta Ken?, lit. "Brainwashed Ken"), in Namco × Capcom, and in Project X Zone. Ken Masters is featured in the most recent Capcom fighting game, Street Fighter X Tekken.
Ken was originally conceived as a palette-swap of Japanese lead character Ryu; as an alternate character to appeal to the emerging American player market, as well as likely continuing response to Japan natives interest in American culture fandom.
Starting from the original Street Fighter, Ken has been consistently depicted with neck-length blond hair (actually dyed blond), black or dark brown eyebrows and wears a red sleeveless keikogi with a black belt. Since the original Street Fighter, Ken has fought barefoot and wore yellow arm bands without gloves (unlike his rival Ryu, who originally wore red slippers with sparring gloves, and began fighting barefooted in subsequent games).
In Street Fighter II his appearance remained mostly unchanged from the original, with his yellow arm bands replaced by brown gloves. The Street Fighter Alpha prequel series features a younger Ken than depicted in Street Fighter II and other games. He wears yellow gloves, similar to the yellow arm bands he wore in the first game, but has much longer hair, which he holds together with a red ribbon as a ponytail.
He was voiced by Scott McNeil in the Street Fighter animated series. In Street Fighter II V, he was voiced by Jimmy Theodore in the Animaze dub and Jason Douglas in the ADV Films dub and in Street Fighter II: The Movie, he was voiced by Eddie Frierson. He was voiced by Kazuya Ichijo in Japanese and Steven Blum in the dub for the Street Fighter Alpha movie. In Street Fighter II V and the Street Fighter II animated movie, Ken is depicted with reddish hair.
Damian Chapa portrayed Ken in the 1994 Street Fighter movie, where he is a con artist alongside Ryu. After the two unsuccessfully try to scam Shadaloo Tong leader Sagat, they are arrested by Allied Nations forces. Guile offers them their freedom in exchange for infiltrating Bison's base (to whom Sagat runs guns) and revealing its location so that the AN can make a military strike and free the hostages captured earlier in the film. When Guile eventually infiltrates Sagat's base and chaos ensues Ryu and Ken try to help free the hostages but split up when the AN forces arrive (according to Ken the soldiers get paid and that they should not risk their lives). Ken later comes to Ryu's aid when he is ambushed by Vega and Sagat. While Ryu defeats Vega, Ken defeats Sagat.
Christian Howard played Ken in Street Fighter: Legacy. Reuben Langdon, who provides Ken's voice and motion capture in the Street Fighter IV series, plays him in the live-action short film Street Fighter x Tekken: The Devil Within.
Promotion and reception
Ken has often been recognized as one of the best Street Fighter characters. IGN ranked Ken at number six in their "Top 25 Street Fighter Characters" article, noting his contrast to Ryu while subsequently questioning his lesser appeal, and stating "he's just as indispensable to the series as Ryu is. After all, could you imagine a Street Fighter game without him? Perhaps, but it probably still wouldn't be the same." GameDaily listed him at number six on their "Top 20 Street Fighter Characters of All Time" article, noting the contrast between himself and Ryu. The same site ranked him sixth along with Ryu in the Top 25 Capcom Characters of All Time with editor Robert Workman saying "It was just impossible to choose between one of these world warriors". Another feature, "Top 25 Gaming Hunks", situated Ken eighteenth, stating it was hard deciding between him and Ryu. In the February 1992 issue of Gamest magazine in Japan, Ken ranked at ninth along with Blanka as Best Characters of 1991. In the January 30, 1997 issue, Ken ranked at number 49 in Top 50 Characters of 1996. In 2009 GamePro ranked Ryu and Ken as number nine in their list of the best palette-swapped video game characters, adding: "While some may have argued that Street Fighter 2's depiction of Ryu and Ken utilized palette swapping, a true palette swapping aficionado would know that only the original Street Fighter exploited the swapping of palettes." GamesRadar writer Tyler Wilde published an article focusing on Ken's and Ryu's development across the franchise under the title of "The evolution of Ken and Ryu." While comparing these two characters, IGN's Jesse Schedeen stated that Ken could "easily suffer from Luigi Syndrome" for his resemblance with Ryu, but thanks to the sequels, Ken gained his own fighting style separated from Ryu's.
Some sites have commented on Ken's techniques due to being relatively overpowered. The Guardian recommended Ken alongside Ryu for beginners in Street Fighter IV with Ken being better at close-up fights as a result of his powerful uppercuts. In a humor article by GameSpy, the Super Street Fighter II Turbo version of Ken was mentioned to have become unbalanced to the point he was the strongest character from the cast. In Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Ken was also noted to be one of the three more powerful characters from the game alongside Chun-Li and Yun. Similarly, Dave Cook from Now Gamer called him and Tekken's Eddy Gordo one of the most hated characters from their franchises due to their overpowered moves. In another article, Cook listed a fight between Ken and Eddy Gordo as one of the fights he wished to see in Street Fighter X Tekken calling it the "ultimate battle of super cheapness." UGO Networks placed Ken at #4 on their list of Top 50 Street Fighter Characters", stating "If you're a fan of dragon punches, you play Ken.".
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