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Balrog, known as in Japanmarker, is a character from the Street Fighter fighting game series.

Balrog is depicted as an African American boxer wearing blue trunks with white trim and a torn white shirt under a blue tank top. He wears red boxing gloves and boxing shoes. His hairstyle consists of short hair cut in an odd pointing style in the front, similar to Mike Tyson's haircuts from the time Street Fighter II was made. Although usually removed when these illustrations are published outside Japan, some character illustrations feature his Japanese name, "Bison" on the waistband of his trunks. In Street Fighter IV, the waistband now reads "Champion".

Conception and development

In Japan, the character of Balrog is named M. Bison, with the letter being an initial for "Mike", and is intended as a parody of real-life boxer Mike Tyson. However, when the game was to be ported for worldwide audiences, under the suggestion that the character's name and likeness resembled Tyson to the point of infringement, the developers rotated the names of three of the boss characters for the English localization. As they felt the name Vega was better suited for the androgynous bullfighter, they gave him the character's previous name, Balrog, and changed the name of the game's final boss to M. Bison. In Street Fighter Alpha 3, Balrog tells some of his defeated opponents that he's going to "bite [their] ear off", a reference to Tyson's infamous "Bite Fight" with Evander Holyfield.

A character named Mike, who was also an African-American boxer, appears in the original Street Fighter. Although recognized as a separate character, Mike is considered to be a prototype of Balrog due to their similar names (when one considers Balrog s Japanese name of Mike Bison) and backstories.

As a boxer, Balrog is unique in that he doesn't fight with his feet. Instead of possessing three punch attacks and three kick attacks like the rest of the cast, he has six punches, with the kick buttons generally (but not always) used for low blows while the punch buttons are used for high blows. At 6' 5", Balrog was one of the tallest fighters in Street Fighter beside Zangief and Sagat.

Appearances

In video games

Balrog appears in Street Fighter II as the first of four CPU-controlled opponents at the end of the single-player tournament. Balrog would become a playable character in subsequent revisions of the game, beginning with Street Fighter II ': Champion Edition. Balrog is characterized as a ghetto-raised boxer seeking the "American Dream" and one of the "Four Devas" (Shitennou "Four Heavenly Kings") of Shadaloo.

His next major appearance was in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Balrog was a CPU-controlled sub-boss in the arcade version who faced only certain characters and was only playable after certain requirements were met, but also selectable as a playable character via secret code. He was made into a regular playable character in the arcade update and subsequent home versions and given his own in-game plot, home stage and endings. This incarnation of Balrog also appears in Capcom vs. SNK and Capcom vs. SNK 2. Balrog also appears in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos.

Balrog appears in Street Fighter IV, once more serving Shadaloo in the hopes of making easy money.

In film and animation

  • In the 1994 Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Balrog is portrayed as one of Bison's three top men like in the Street Fighter II games, serving as a representative and informant for Bison during a drug deal in Las Vegas and ends up fighting against E. Honda during the final battle. He wears dark green cargo pants instead of his boxing trunks and never actually gets to wear his boxing glove in the film. Balrog was voiced by George Nakata in the Japanese original and Joe Romersa in the English dub.


  • In the 1994 live action film version of Street Fighter, Balrog was portrayed by veteran actor Grand L. Bush and was one of the heroes, more specifically the videographer in Chun-Li's news crew. Like the other members (Chun-Li and Honda), Balrog held a grudge against Shadaloo for ruining his boxing career, after refusing to throw a match for the Shadaloo Tong. Near the end of the film, he dons his regular outfit from the games. He also appears in the arcade and home versions of the Street Fighter: The Movie game.


  • The 1995 Japanese animated series Street Fighter II V features a significantly altered depiction of Balrog where he is a Shadowlaw spy who has infiltrated the FBI. Balrog hires Cammy to assassinate Chun-Li s father Dourai, under the false pretense that Dourai is the Shadowlaw spy. Unlike in the games, Balrog never actually fights in the TV series and only appears in wearing boxing gear in concept art and during the show's second opening animation. He was voiced by Tomomichi Nishimura in Japanese and once again by Joe Romersa in the English dub.


  • In the 1995 American-produced Street Fighter animated series, Balrog appears as a computer programmer working for Bison. He appears in one episode only ("Medium is the Message"), where he was voiced by Paul Dobson






Promotion and reception

IGN ranked Balrog at number fifteen in their "Top 25 Street Fighter Characters" article, noting his similarities to Tyson as well as his role as one of boxing's representatives in fighting games. GameDaily named him one of "Gaming's Greatest Black Characters", noting that while not the deepest character on the list, he had significant longevity as a Street Fighter series character and received praise for representing boxing in the game "alongside flashier martial arts". Edge stated however Balrog "seems a little useless" in light of Dudley, a boxer introduced in Street Fighter III.

References

  1. All About Capcom Head-to-Head Fighting Game, page 340
  2. Top 25 Street Fighter Characters - Day III. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-08-15
  3. Swiderski, Adam (2009-02-25). Gaming's Greatest Black Characters. GameDaily. Retrieved on 2009-02-26


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