Balrog, known as in Japan, 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. In some character illustrations his Japanese name, "Bison", can be seen on the waistband of his trunks, although it's usually removed when these illustrations are published outside Japan. In Street Fighter IV, the waistband now reads "champion".
Concept and creation
The character of Balrog was originally named M. Bison
, with the letter being an initial for "Mike". According to the staff, the character was originally a pastiche
of real-life boxer Mike Tyson
. Under the suggestion that the character's name and likeness resembled Tyson to the point of infringement
, the developers rotated the names of the boss characters
for the English localization. Thus, the African-American boxer M. Bison became Balrog; the Spanish clawman Balrog became Vega
; and the military commander Vega became M. Bison
. In Street Fighter Alpha 3
, Balrog tells to 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
In video games
A character named Mike, who was also an African-American boxer, appears in the original Street Fighter, although it is never specified whether they're the same character or not; the name Bison is not mentioned.
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 originally a CPU-controlled sub-boss in the arcade version who faced only certain characters, who was only playable after certain requirements were met. He was made into a regular playable character in the subsequent home versions and given his own in-game plot 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 reappears in Street Fighter IV.
In other media
- 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 ranks of the FBI. Under false pretenses, Balrog hires Cammy to assassinate Chun-Lis father Dourai, claiming 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 during the second opening intro. 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
- In the upcoming Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, set to be released in 2009, Balrog will be played by Michael Clarke Duncan.
Balrog's special moves consist mainly of rushing punch attacks that are performed by charging (holding the joystick back or down for a few seconds before tapping it forward or up and hitting a button). Initially, his main moves were the Dashing Straight
and Dashing Upper
, which had Balrog rush forward a certain distance before attacking with a straight punch or uppercut, respectively.
His signature move was the Turn Punch which was done by holding down all three punch or kick buttons for a certain amount of time. In Street Fighter II': Hyper Fighting, the longer the buttons are held down, the more powerful the attack is, doing up to 50% in one hit. It was also initially able to pass through many attacks, although this ability has been toned down and eventually outright removed. A particular conceit of the CPU AI from the Street Fighter games (in particular the Street Fighter II series) is that when controlled by the computer, Balrog sometimes uses special moves in ways that would not be normally possible, like performing many Dashing Uppers and Dashing Straights one after another, without charging first.
In Super Street Fighter II he gained the Buffalo Headbutt, an anti-air attack that can pass through fireballs, enhancing his maneuverability. In the follow-up Super Street Fighter II Turbo, he can also perform altered versions of the Dashing Straight and Dashing Upper which hit the opponent low and knock him down or crouch low under attacks before doing the uppercut, respectively. His Super Combo is the Crazy Buffalo, repeated dashing attacks which can be altered into uppercuts by tapping the Kick button. In Alpha 3, Balrog gained a Level 3 Super Combo called the Gigaton Blow, which sends an opponent flying away if it connected.
In SVC Chaos, Balrog gained a new move called Smash, which would launches the enemy into the air for another follow-up attack. He also gained a new super move (particularly called an Exceed in this game), named MegaSmash which is a powerful version of Smash. It depletes 60% of the enemies life gauge.
Promotion and reception
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.