Andrew Beaujon‘s nostalgic anti-Soviet post has me looking around every corner for America vs. Russia artifacts. Today, one of those artifacts found me. I saw a cyclist wearing a Street Fighter II shirt at the intersection of Euclid and Champlain. The back of said shirt depicted the ultimate early ’90s, fictional Cold War match-up: Guile versus Zangief.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Street Fighter video game series, Guile is one of America’s finest: a blond flat-top sportin’, dog-tag-wearin’, camouflagin’ Air Force pilot. While Zangief (pronounced either Zang-eef or Zan-gef, depending on your hometown arcade’s geographic coordinates) was (and still is, though the character no longer schmoozes with a Gorbachev look-alike during the game’s story scenes) every American child’s worst Soviet nightmare: 6-foot-5, 300 lbs., with a mohawk, mutton chops, a body covered in scars, red high-top leather boots and a tiny red posing thong. Guile’s signature move is the “Sonic Boom,” and Zangief’s the head- (and soul-) crushing pile driver.
True lovers of the Street Fighter series spend all of their free time (and, it would seem, disposable income) at the few arcades that still host the game, but with the U.S. setting up missile defense shop in Poland, and Russia sending even more tanks into Georgia, now seems like the perfect moment to bring the SNES classic—-and the anti-authoritarian mentality that motivated its protagonists—-back to mainstream play.