No, not harmful substances, but the Final Fight (and now Street Fighter) character Poison!
While the Street Fighter 4 “series” has been going on since 2009, I didn’t start playing it myself until the second version, Super Street Fighter 4, released in April 2010. Of course, we’re beyond that game now, into Ultra Street Fighter 4, and what a ride it’s been!
Ultra introduced a character from Final Fight called Poison. I’m sure you’ve heard of her, she’s pretty infamous for reasons I’ll probably go into down below! She’s very quickly displaced Gouken and Gen as my character(s) of choice, though I still use them from time to time. She’s spanked her way into my heart!
This post is going to be my tribute to her. The reasons why I think she’s bloody fantastic!
Like, REALLY effective. People have won tournaments with her. A lot of people put her as being one of the top five characters in the game (bear in mind we have forty four characters to play as!). She has a moveset that seems to be able to handle anything. Fireballs with differing ranges and speeds to zone your opponents out. An overhead she can actually COMBO from. Fantastic offensive pressure, but with strong defenses too. About the only thing she lacks is a special move that effectively anti-airs, as Kissed By A Goddess has a tendency to miss a lot, but even then she has her crouching hard punch as a pretty decent ground-to-air move, and she can combo one of her fireballs off of that to begin a mix-up game! Will it be the hard fireball to hit in front as you get up, or the medium fireball to hit behind you? Where to block? WRONG ANSWER!
She goes for the LOW BLOW
You know what a low blow is.
We all fear the low blow.
She represents diversity
OK sure, at face value we have YET ANOTHER scantily clad fighting game lady. She totters around in heels, she’s flashing the cleavage, the camera is VERY interested in her rear when the fight begins.
She’s more than just eye candy though. She’s a successful professional wrestler, she’s got the business savvy to be a pretty decent wrestling manager and promoter too, and according to her ending, has the talent and charisma to front a rock band! She even gets Ryu and Ken to do the stage pyrotechnics with their hadokens, which is damned impressive.
She’s also one of the relatively few trans characters in gaming, and certainly one of the most famous. When originally conceived for Final Fight, Poison was naturally a female in Japan, but Capcom felt that America would object to this as “hitting women is considered rude,” and they felt feminist groups would sue them. She was thusly changed to a transsexual female, because… that made it okay to hit her? I don’t know. Either way, Capcom’s official stance over Poison’s sex evolved from “trans in America, not in Japan” to a simple “she’s a trans female” for the ease of localisation, to “It’s up to YOU!” as a bit of a cop-out.
Over the next 20 years, there’s been some changes, and Capcom’s official stance has and will continue to be that we don’t have a stance technically. It’s supposed to be mysterious; if people want to talk about it on forums or what not they’re welcome to, but we’re not going to give you a straight answer because, well, there isn’t one. We deliberately want to make it a mysterious thing—that question of what’s at the core of this character.
Yoshinori Ono to EGM, 2011
So if you want to see her as having always been female, then go right ahead, but you’re apparently no more or less correct than those of us who say she’s trans.
And if you’re going to make some sort of trans-phobic joke about her, then bugger off.
One other thing I like? During one of the early builds of Street Fighter X Tekken, various characters’ win quotes to Poison came across as rather trans-phobic themselves. Let’s take Chun Li’s for example:
You’re not very lady-like at all! I felt like I was fighting against a guy…
This caught the attention of GLAAD, who informed Capcom that this was offensive and insensitive to trans folk, and Capcom, rather than gone “PFFT!” and went with it anyway, worked with GLAAD to remedy this. Sure, the fact that GLAAD had to intervene in the first place is relatively messed up, but I can appreciate the fact that Capcom worked with them to make sure that there was no offensive crap left in!
EDIT: According to an awesome video I just watched, it looks as if Poison had always been intended to be a trans female!
That circled word from the Final Fight instruction book lists Poison as being a “newhalf,” which is a Japanese slang term for a post-op male-to-female trans-sexual.
Here’s her concept art for the same game, and we see the same Japanese word for “newhalf” appears again! So… what on Earth was changed for American audiences? Nothing, it would seem.
I don’t know why, but I seem to gravitate to the old men in fighting games. From Wang Jinrei in Tekken:
To Gen Fu of Dead or Alive:
Cervantes from Soul Calibur
And let’s not forget the aforementioned Gouken and Gen from Street Fighter:
Poison is most certainly NOT an old man. She’s probably the first fighting game character I’d consider my main that ISN’T an old man, bar Haohmaru.
Why though? Why break the old man trend? Well, all the reasons listed above, really. She’s fresh, she’s exciting, I’ve wanted her to be in Street Fighter for YEARS (Guy and Cody managed to cross over in Super 4, as did Sodom and Rolento back in Alpha, and even Mike Haggar made an appearance in Marvel vs Capcom 3) so finally being able to play as her? Exhilarating! She was playable a year prior in Street Fighter X Tekken but I didn’t stick with that for very long.
Anyway, I have my fingers crossed she’s playable in Street Fighter 5! She’s certainly popular enough, considering that she was on the shortlist to be in the original Street Fighter 4 game, she was one of the most demanded characters in updated versions (according to producer Yoshinori Ono), and in a recent poll from fighting game website EventHubs on who people want to see in Street Fighter 5, Poison came 12th out of 64 characters!
FINGERS CROSSED, PEOPLE