I’ve loved fighting games for as long as there have been fighting games.
In fact, I’ve been playing them since before there have been fighting games. I loved arcade releases like Karate Champ and Yie Ar Kung-Fu, both of which introduced us to the idea of competitive one-on-one combat either against the computer or another player. I even played Capcom’s original Street Fighter when it was new, at a point when the community still hadn’t decided that such games should have their own genre to call home. And then, of course, along came Street Fighter II, and I ate it up—just as I did its follow-ups and competitors from SNK, Namco, Sega, and many more.
So, it’s a little hard for me to now admit—as the biggest fighting game tournament in the world kicks off, no less—that, for 26 years, I’ve been calling one of Street Fighter II‘s most important revisions by the wrong name.
Last week, I was working on some text for one of the variety of projects we do here at EGM. As I wrote a very brief blurb on the arcade history of Street Fighter II and its successive upgrades, I noticed a mistake in part of the text that someone else had written. There, on the screen, were the words “Street Fighter II: Champion Edition”—which was clearly wrong, as everyone knows the game’s name is Street Fighter II: Championship Edition.
In any other situation, I probably would have just fixed the mistake and moved on, but in that moment, something inside of me gave me pause. That is the name of the game, right? I asked myself. I mean, of course it was. The game originally hit arcades in 1992, bringing with it massive changes like the ability for players to pick the same character or play as the bosses—how could I have spent 26 years getting such a pivotal fighting game’s name wrong?
And then, I checked to confirm that it was indeed Street Fighter II: Championship Edition.
Except, it wasn’t.
To say that I sat there in a state of shock for a few moments is in no way an exaggeration. Yes, it’s just one name of one game being off by a few letters, but it was the official name I had known said game by for as long as it had existed. It’s like if I suddenly learned I actually live in the Unified States of America, or that they’re “handburgers” instead of hamburgers. How had I been wrong for so many years, and how had nobody ever corrected me throughout all of that time?
Desperate for answers, I tried to figure out what may have originally caused me to have “Championship” in my head. Then, an answer popped up: that had to have been the name of the special Street Fighter II release that was made for the Genesis, created to allow Capcom to avoid their exclusivity agreement for the original game with Nintendo. So, I check—but that wasn’t the answer. The Genesis version did have a slightly different name, but nowhere in Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition could a “ship” be found. (Though I’m sure many fan fiction writers and fan artists will disagree with me.)
Enter the Mandela effect.
In 2012, “paranormal consultant” Fiona Broome coined the term “Mandela effect” for the “phenomenon of collective false memory.” Named after her insistence that thousands of people remember reports of the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela in the 1980s—which did not in fact happen—the idea is that, for one reason or another, huge groups of people can share the same memory of something that actually isn’t true. This concept was illustrated beautifully a few years ago when the internet became awash in people having deep arguments if the long-running children’s book series is the Berenstein Bears (with an “ei”) or the Berenstain Bears (with an “ai”).
Wondering if I was living alone in an alternate reality where “Championship Edition” was the game’s true subtitle, I brought up the topic on Twitter.
I kicked off a quick poll with a simple question: Without looking the answer up, just from personal knowledge, what was the name of the direct follow-up to Street Fighter II? The answers I got both shocked and reassured me. Out of the 160-plus people to reply to my poll, 39% said that the game’s name was “Champion Edition,” while 61% said that it was “Championship Edition.”
I wasn’t alone.
Unfortunately, my attempt to reconcile the confusion I’d found myself in had then lead to others discovering the horrible truth.
— Scott’s Bad Takes (@skrefetz) July 27, 2018
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT TOO
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW
— ( n u n ) *·₊·* (@spacegetup) July 28, 2018
I am 1000% with you. I stared at this tweet for minutes saying “there’s no way.”
— Dan Dunham (@StrangeCoding) July 27, 2018
I now live in a post–Championship Edition world, and I’m not sure what that’ll mean for me on the road ahead. I’ve tried in the days that followed to train myself to say “Champion Edition,” but every time I try, it sounds so foreign and strange and wrong. At least now, however, I know for certain that I’m truly not alone. Even beyond my Twitter feed, search the internet, and you’ll find everything from forum posts to cosplay galleries to Amazon product listings to ROM sites to even coverage from older video game magazines all talking about “Street Fighter II: Championship Edition” without even a second thought.
I now no longer wonder about how I could have been wrong about the game’s name for so many years—and instead wonder how many more people there are out there like me, who will—at some point in the future—also question everything the know about reality when it comes time for them to learn the truth.