For years, Street Fighter fans have speculated about the influence of the 1975 Walter Hill film "Hard Times" on Street Fighter II. The evidence presented was always pretty compelling enough to believe outright. Not only was the film distributed in Japan under the title "The Streetfighter", for starters, but a couple of its locations also seemed to heavily resemble the stages for both Zangief and Ken.
The Street Fighter II artist Akira "AKIMAN" Yasuda even confirmed at one point that he knew about the film and used it for a reference, but stopped frustratingly short of actually mentioning the title in question.
Over the weekend, however, it appears that he's finally confirmed this long-rumoured connection (as spotted by the folks behind the classic gaming podcast Retronauts on Twitter). When a Japanese Twitter user asked outright if 'Hard Times' had influenced the game, he responded to the question with "ですね" (which roughly translates to "I agree"). This should hopefully put any lingering doubts to rest
According to AKIMAN, in an old interview with Capcom from one month after the release of Street Fighter V, it was fairly common practice for the studio at the time to borrow from films, because the chairman of Capcom loved cinema and wanted its teams to get their "inspiration from movies". In fact, it appears that "Hard Times" didn't just inspire Street Fighter II, but also was used as a reference for Final Fight too.
As AKIMAN told Capcom in 2016:
"I remember stitching together a few movies to make a presentation. Streets of Fire" and Charles Bronson's "Hard Times" were the ones I used back then. Basically movies about fighting. I really took the chairman's words to heart - "Use movies!" he said, so I took that to mean we should just openly plagiarize them (laughs)."
So there you have it! If you're a fan of Street Fighter and need a movie to watch this weekend, it might finally be time to check it out for yourself! It's quite easy to get a hold of and might even give you a newfound appreciation for the classic fighting game.