Balrog

Balrog

Balrog is a character from Capcom’s Street Fighter fighting game series 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. 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.

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, to avoid litigation, the names of the three boss characters were rotated for international releases. Capcom executives felt the name ‘Vega’ was better suited for the androgynous bullfighter, so they gave his name, ‘Balrog,’ to the boxer character. 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 biting of Evander Holyfield.

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

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 its sequel. Balrog also appears in ‘SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos.’

Balrog returned for ‘Street Fighter IV’ and ‘Super Street Fighter IV,’ once more serving Shadaloo in the hopes of making easy money. He appears in the crossover fighting game, ‘Street Fighter X Tekken,’ with his official tag partner, Vega.

As a boxer, Balrog is unique in Street Fighter games in that he does not fight with his feet (even Dudley, a well-mannered English gentlemen introduced in ‘Street Fighter III’ and the only other boxer in the series has a few kick attacks). Instead of possessing three punch attacks and three kick attacks like the rest of the cast, Balrog has six punches, with the kick buttons generally (but not always) used for low blows while the punch buttons are used for high blows. He also has no projectile attacks, unlike many Street Fighter characters. Many of his special attacks, super combos and ultra combos consist of dash punches. Balrog also has a Turn Punch attack, which can pass through projectiles.

In the 1994 anime film ‘Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie,’ Balrog is portrayed as one of Bison’s three top men, serving as a representative and informant during a drug deal in Las Vegas. He wears dark green cargo pants instead of his boxing trunks and never actually gets to wear his boxing glove in the film. In the 1994 live-action ‘Street Fighter’ film, Balrog is portrayed by veteran actor Grand L. Bush and is 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. In the 2009 ‘Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li,’ Balrog is played by Michael Clarke Duncan, and served as Bison’s bodyguard and is not a boxer.

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