Capoeira Combatants: The 5 Best Practitioners In Gaming
Look at any fighting game today, and you're guaranteed to find a wide array of fighting styles for each game's respective characters: Judo, Jeet Kune Do for any Bruce Lee tribute / clone characters, Muay Thai, MMA for wannabe UFCers, Boxing, Karate, Kung-Fu, wrestling, Ninjitsu, the list goes on and on. Quite often, these characters will take inspiration from figures in pop culture, and get their fight style accordingly: Street Fighter's Balrog was clearly based on Mike Tyson (before that whole name rotation thing screwed things up), DOA's Bass is obviously Hulk Hogan, and you're blind if you can't see that Tekken's Raven is the half-vampire Blade.
But one style doesn't have that kind of screen presence leading it to be mimiced in gaming; Capoeira, the flashy Brazillian style that's equal parts dance and martial arts. Movies have portrayed everything from drunken boxing to karate, and there's a dozen more movies for every other style. Capoiera has only been shown in bits and snippets in movies and only one focuses on it entirely, the god awful "Only the Strong." As such, there's only a handful of characters in gaming who practice it, and dammit, it's about time they got a little recognition.
1. The first time we ever had a Capoeira character in gaming was with Richard Meyer in Fatal Fury, long before it mixed up with Art of Fighting and simply became The King of Fighters series. His moves weren't as visually stunning, but it whaddya want? It was 1991. Meyer would be the first fighter players would come across, and best suited to his home turf, the Pao Pao cafe, where he was able to launch toward the ceiling, grab hold of the rafters, and attack his opponent from there. He would make cameo appearances in several of the other King of Fighter games, but would essentially pass the Capoeira torch to his trainee Bob Wilson. Little was known about the style at the time, at least by the developers at SNK, evidenced by the misspelling of it as "Kaporeal" in Meyer's win quote.
2. Going old school again with this one. Eternal Champions doesn't exactly echo in the pantheon of fighting games, but it does have a place in history. This Sega fighter did its best to compete with Mortal Kombat, but wound up considered as little more than a rip off. However, it did offer up a considerably more colorful cast of characters, one of which is the green skinned Trident. The history books would have you believe that Capoeira dates back to 16th century Brazil, but in the world of Eternal Champions, it's actually much older, going all the way back to B.C. era Atlantis. Which is ironic for the character, as he's named for the weapon on his arm than his actual fighting style.
3. I might be cheating a bit on this one, but you can't ignore that there is a certain amount of capoeira in Blanka's flippy fighting style, but when you're a green skinned, clawed monster with the ability to electrocute your opponent, that kind of overshadows things. Most of Blanka's technique is owed to various creatures of the Brazillian jungle, but he apparently learned a bit from the country's human population as well.
4. When you have legs as long as Street Fighter 3's Elena, choosing Capoeira as your fighting style makes a lot of sense. Her reach makes her a match even against 'ol lightning legs herself, Chun-Li. Even to date, she's the only character in the history of the series to use kicks, and only kicks in her repertoire. Hell, even Tekken's Eddy Gordo uses some punches here and there. But funny mentioning him...
5. Bit of a three way tie here. The most well known game characters who fights with Capoeira are easily Tekken's Eddy Gordo, Tiger Jackson, and Christie Monteiro. Technically, they're all individual characters, but their stories are about all that separates them, as they all have the same move set. Eddy debuted in Tekken 3, for which Tiger was a palette swap, and Christie would appear in Tekken 4, with all of Eddy's old moves, plus a few new ones. Tekken 3 was the first time gamers could utilize the trickery of the fighting style, transitioning from high attacks to lows, one move into the next, or canceling altogether. By the third game, players could utilize a sidestep feature, which made things even tougher when tackling Eddy's tricky style.