Fighting Zangief in Street Fighter II

Sparked by a recent Twitter post, there was a discussion on what the easiest Street Fighter II CPU AI is to fight.

While you can learn the AI ticks all around, I’ve always felt Zangief’s AI was the easiest to grasp across the board with Ryu. Playing as either Ryu or Ken, it seems Zangief struggles hard against neutral jump kicks – if he tries to get close for an attack, he gets hit by the kick, and if he tries to jump in, he also gets a kick for his troubles.

In Championship Edition/Turbo, Ryu gains the mid-air hurricane kick, which adds major damage off a jump kick hit confirm. Zangief learns a few new tricks in Super Street Fighter II, but playing reserved with neutral air attacks still takes him down pretty handedly. It’s just a shame Super converts the mid-air hurricane kick to its “helicopter” property, eliminating the very damaging tactic from the previous version.

I shared a quick video, and, by all means, these aren’t the end-all, be-all strategy for each fight, but they are tactics I’ve used for years playing at home. The fights in the video include (all fights are on the game’s default difficulty, CE is on the game’s default Hyper settings):

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (Super Nintendo): Zangief takes point-blank hadokens if you tag him just before his grab range.

Street Fighter II’ Championship Edition (Sega Genesis): The mid-air hurricane kick move blasts Zangief out of a neutral jump hit confirm.

Super Street Fighter II (Sega Genesis): Zangief’s AI gets a little more refined in this version, but, thankfully, he doesn’t have his Banishing Fist move yet. This means even the point-blank hadoken tactic can work to some degree, but playing a reserved neutral game still completely controls the CPU Zangief.

(Also notice, in the Super SFII video, the CPU starts to block neutral jump inputs, something players are not able to do!)

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, IndieSnack


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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