In 1991 Capcom created Street Fighter II, the game has a variety of fighters from around the world, three of whom were from the United States of America. One of them was an African American boxer named Balrog, who is called Mike Bison in the Japanese version.
Balrog has become a staple part of the series, not far behind other recognizable and mainstay characters such as Ryu, Chun Li, Ken and Guile. Once a Mike Tyson doppelgänger, over time Balrog has been given his own individuality.
The bulky boxer with his signature blue trunks and red boxing gloves, like Ryu are the heart and soul of Street Fighter. His raw strength and punching quickness seemingly the same today as when he first appeared in the series' second entry. Like Street Fighter though, Balrog has changed and evolved over the years.
Street Fighter II (1991)
The boxer made his debut in Street Fighter 2, originally as a Mike Tyson clone and non-playable character. It wouldn't be until later, beginning with Street Fighter II: Champion Edition that Balrog would become a playable character.
Balrog is portrayed as an aggressive, intimidating boxer who is seeking the "American Dream" and working for M.Bison's Shadaloo cult to achieve this. Balrog holds the title for being the first playable boxer and second black character to appear in the series.
Street Fighter Alpha III (1998)
It wouldn't be until several years later in 1998 that Balrog would appear in the third instalment of Street Alpha after having been absent from the first two games. Balrog was back and meaner than ever. Still rocking his signature blue boxing attire and red gloves.
Although Balrog was gradually coming into his own character, this was the closest that Balrog came to emulating Mike Tyson's personality and mannerisms. One of his win quotes references when Mike Tyson bites Evan Holyfield's ear clean off. "If you fight like that again, I'll bite your ear off!"
Capcom Vs SNK (2000)
Balrog would manage to make it onto the roster of the Capcom Vs SNK fighting game series. His appearance was akin to his Street Fighter Alpha III design, only he was darker in complexion. While his character portrait made him look goofy, Balrog was far from a joke character.
SNK Vs Capcom: SVC Chaos (2003)
Balrog also appeared in SNK Vs Capcom Chaos. Unlike the Capcom VS SNK series which Capcom developers made, SvC was developed by SNK-Playmore. In this game Balrog was lighter in hue, especially in his portrait photo. Boxer's in game model also looked better than Capcom vs SNK's version.
Street Fighter IV (2008)
Skipping Street Fighter III, Balrog would make his long awaited return in Street Fighter IV, returning to his role as one of M.Bison's henchmen. Street Fighter 4 both revitalized the franchise and gave Balrog his first respectable debut in 3D.
Capcom's portrayal of Balrog in SFIV was as stereotypical and buffoonish as you'd expect them to make him, but there was a certain charm to Balrog that the earlier games hadn't been able to capture in 2D.
Street Fighter X Tekken (2012)
Balrog would be one of the 27 capcom characters to feature in Street Fighter X Tekken, a tag team crossover fighting game which pit the fighters of Street Fighter against Bandai Namco's Tekken characters. His partner in the game was Vega while their rivals were Raven and Yoshimistu.
Street Fighter V (2016)
Twenty something years after his debut appearance, Balrog finally gets a praise worthy design in Street Fighter 5. This isn't a half-assed look either, it is full on "I'm gonna kick your ass". Balrog now rocks a thick gold chain around his neck, a hoodie with shredded arms and shows of his rock solid abs.
It appears Balrog has retired his default blue boxing attire for a more stylish yet intimidating look. Not only that but Balrog appears to have been hitting the gym (or roids) as he's much bulker in SFV. We gotta give credit to Capcom for making him look so badass.