Balrog is a tall, heavily built and very muscular African American boxer. He wears blue boxing trunks with white trim and a torn white shirt under a blue tank top. He wears red boxing gloves and boxing shoes. His hairstyle consists of short hair in what appears to be wide cornrows; this hairstyle is similar to Mike Tyson's haircuts from the time Street Fighter II was released (February 6, 1991). Official artworks at the time also depicted him sans a canine tooth in the upper right side of his mouth.
In Street Fighter V, Balrog wears a blue openly hooded robe with yellow outlines and ripped sleeves, at the back it has the design of "Crazy Buffalo" in a black round sign, a large golden crown with clouds and several red stars, the outline on his boxing gloves are black with gold star designs, his boxer shorts are black and he wears matching boxing boots with white outlines.
His first alternate costume is a business attire similar in design to the one he wore in Street Fighter II V.
His second costume has a little resemblance to his primary outfit but in a United States flag motif. He wears a white and red stripped long sleeve hoodie, blue trousers with white star designs, white sneakers and fingerless gloves.
When Street Fighter II was localized in the United States, Capcom was afraid of a lawsuit from Mike Tyson over a character with his likeness and a similar sounding name (his Japanese name being Mike Bison). Additionally, when the designers presented the game to Capcom USA's marketing department, they believed that the name Vega was a weakling's name. They decided to rotate the names of three of the four boss characters in the following manner:
- The boxer is known as M. Bison in Japan and Balrog in the U.S.
- The Spanish assassin/bullfighter is known as Balrog in Japan and Vega in the U.S.
- The evil dictator and head of Shadaloo is known as Vega in Japan and M. Bison in the U.S.
In certain illustrations, including ones for the Street Fighter II series, his Japanese name, "Bison", can be seen on the waistband of his trunks, although it is usually removed when these illustrations are published outside Japan. In later games, the word "Champion" appears in its place. Many of his moves retain their bison/buffalo theme.
Balrog is generally self-centered, hot-tempered, arrogant and sadistic. He is a belligerent pugilist who possesses an insatiable urge for money and a vicious, bullying mean streak, often refusing to take responsibility for his actions. Despite being a once great prize boxer, Balrog has intentionally cheated in his fights whenever he felt like it, and has even killed one of his opponents (though by accident).
Balrog is also shown to be somewhat unintelligent; when M. Bison was believed to be dead after the events of Street Fighter Alpha 3, the role of leader of the organization fell to him, and it collapsed immediately (obviously due to his poor intelligence and complete lack of management skills), which forced him to work security at casinos and other places just to get by.
His motivations for joining Shadaloo and M. Bison throughout the Street Fighter series have always been to attain massive wealth, fame and glory so he can be on easy street for life. As such, though Balrog would cheat, steal or even kill to this end, he is not evil so much as he is greedy, and takes little substantial interest in Shadaloo affairs otherwise; he also relates to characters with similar motivations (e.g. C. Viper).
Balrog also displays an extreme affinity for women, with Chun-Li being the only exception. He also greatly despises Vega (his occasional partner as an assassin working for Bison) due to his "pretty boy" persona and tends to annoy, tease and make fun of him whenever he gets the chance.
Rising from a childhood of poverty, Balrog was once a great boxing champion and prize fighter. He was banned from boxing for permanently injuring his opponents and accidentally killing one (as well as his illegal maneuvers, particularly his headbutt), so he joined the Shadaloo criminal organization, and worked his way up from the bottom, eventually becoming M. Bison's chief enforcer.
While running errands for Bison, he killed Dhalsim's elephant with a single Gigaton Blow. In one mission, Balrog was sent to terminate Birdie. Although he did not know why, Balrog went anyway. Birdie told him about the Psycho Drive, and Balrog agreed to help him find it, thinking he could make money from it. When the Psycho Drive exploded, Balrog realized that he had not been paid recently.
When Bison was killed at the hands of Akuma, ownership of Shadaloo was transferred to the former prize fighter. Unfortunately, he ended up running the entire organization into the ground in no time. After the fall of Shadaloo, Balrog was back on the streets, working menial jobs (such as casino security, as seen in his Street Fighter IV intro cutscene).
When Bison makes his return with the construction of his new body, Balrog is immediately brought back into the organization, hired by Bison to guard Bison's replacement bodies, which Balrog refers to as "dolls". Balrog is not satisfied with this, however, and forms a new get-rich-quick scheme. He manages to make his way into the S.I.N. building (along with fellow agent Vega).
While looking for treasure in his ending (possibly anything he could sell), he stumbles across a young bandaged boy begging for help. Initially disinterested, Balrog notices a mark in the shape of the Shadaloo symbol glowing on his hand. Realizing the boy could hold some valuable secrets, Balrog pulls him out of the ruins, believing he's finally lucked out.
However, when Balrog asks what the boy can do, he reveal that he is powerless on his own; though Balrog assumes he's useless, he carries the boy off anyway. Balrog is convinced that the child will be of use to him later, and owes his as much in return for rescuing him.
On October 2015, a datamining of Street Fighter V's PC beta test revealed fighter data and character meshes of "Boxer", later revealed to be refering to Balrog, along with six other fighters (Dhalsim, Juri, Urien, Ibuki, Alex and Guile). Balrog and the rest of the characters (except for Dhalsim who was confirmed earlier as a default fighter) were later officially confirmed as DLC on December 5th, 2015 at the PlayStation Experience. Balrog's reveal trailer was released in June 27th, 2016.
Capcom vs. SNK gamesEdit
In Street Fighter X Tekken, Balrog is sent alongside Vega to retrieve Pandora. The two despise each other, but continue to work as a team, if only in order to obtain Pandora for themselves. Their rivals are Yoshimitsu and Raven, who ambush them during their travels.
Balrog and Vega's ending depicts Balrog attempting to open the box, but the former prize fighter tires of his co-worker's vanity and decides to kill Vega instead for sole possession of the box. Both are taken over by the influence of Pandora, and proceed to attack each other.
After the credits roll, a post-ending shows Balrog's fate.
If the player defeated Ogre with Balrog, he wins the fight and kills Vega, obtaining Pandora for himself. Balrog then uses its powers to finish off his enemies, starting with his former boss M. Bison.
If the player defeated Ogre with Vega, Balrog loses the fight against Vega and is killed.
Street Fighter 1994 filmEdit
In the 1994 live action film, he was portrayed by Grand L. Bush and was one of the good guys, more specifically the camera-man in Chun-Li's news-crew. Like the other members (Chun-Li and E. Honda), Balrog held a grudge against Shadaloo for ruining his boxing career. Near the end of the film, he dons his regular outfit from the games.
In Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Balrog is portrayed close to his original role in the games, which is largely as dumb-muscle for Bison. Interestingly enough, he does not don his boxing gloves when he fights E. Honda. He is voiced by Joe Romersa in the English dub and Joji Nakata in the Japanese version. He first appears in the series as a representative Shadaloo at a criminal convention in Las Vegas, where he watches a battle between Zangief and Blanka. Later, he accompanies M. Bison to Thailand for the final showdown. While Bison battles Guile and a brainwashed Ken battles Ryu, Balrog battles E. Honda.
Though Balrog has the upper hand initially, repeatedly punching and head butting Honda in quick succession, Honda strikes back with a head butt of his own. The two charge at each other and the impact of their collision causes both of them to hurtle off a cliff side. The rest of their fight is not shown; Honda defeats Balrog, and is seen carrying his unconscious body up the mountainside following Bison's defeat.
Street Fighter 1995 cartoon seriesEdit
In the 1995 animated series, Street Fighter, Balrog is not only a boxer but also a scientist (in contrary to his trademark "brainless muscle" stereotype) who programmes Shadaloo computers for M. Bison, with his storyline intact. Even though the series follows the movie, Balrog and Dee Jay's personalities seem to have been switched during production. He is voiced by Paul Dobson.
Street Fighter II VEdit
In the anime series Street Fighter II V, Balrog, despite not being a boxer, still works for Shadaloo as a spy with the task of infiltrating the police forces in charge of investigating and foiling Shadaloo's criminal activities and reporting such operations directly to M. Bison, while posing aside the law officers as a legitimate Interpol executive. Using this disguise, he tricks Cammy - who in the series works as a mercenary assassin and has no relation with Shadaloo - into assassinating federal Hong Kong police officer Dorai after telling her that he is the supposed drug lord in Chinese branch of Shadaloo's drug route - but Do Rai survives later on, despite his heavy injuries. After fighting Fei Long (who was protecting the still-alive Do Rai), Cammy realizes she has been deceived by Balrog and attacks him the same way she did to Do Rai, but without killing him. Cammy then quits the job and hands the badly mauled Balrog down to Fei Long.
Street Fighter IV: The Ties That BindEdit
He makes a cameo appearance in Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind, sitting inside of the Shadaloo Aircraft that Seth escapes into at the end of the movie. He doesn't have any lines.
Comics and mangaEdit
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Fan film Edit
Balrog is the focus of the short documentary fan film, Balrog: Behind the Glory, which debuted on Evolution 2011 Championships. The short film was produced by Chubby Boy Films.
The film depicts the brief history of Balrog, his childhood story of being bullied and fighting against the bullies, his training from his father who also once boxed, his winning success in his boxing career and popularity in the media, his marriage and divorce with a supermodel, how he was being taken advantage of managers and business due to his greed, his controversial headbutt that killed a boxer, thus resulting into a disqualification-ban in boxing and arrest, his path into Mad Gear and Shadaloo, his name switch from Mike Bison to Balrog, and what has happened to him afterwards. The documentary interviewed Balrog's father Greg Bison, a book author Micah Shultz who wrote about the rise and fall of Shadaloo, and former Trainer Tim Tashun.
Gameplay and fighting styleEdit
A strong but unskilled boxer, Balrog relies on punching speed and raw strength, giving him strong normal attacks. The majority of his moveset is composed of several variations of dashing punches, including his Super Combos. There is, however, a certain amount of versatility to his moveset; among his punches are uppercuts, smash blows, and overhead swings, which can keep the opponent guessing if used well.
As boxers, he and Dudley are the only characters in the Street Fighter series whose movesets are almost entirely comprised of arm-based moves (punches, elbows etc.); their polar opposite is Elena, whose moveset (excluding grabs) consists solely of leg-based moves (kicks, knees etc.). Balrog will also resort to moves considered illegal in boxing whenever he sees fit. His moveset usually includes a headbutt, and during his second Ultra Combo in Super Street Fighter IV, he grabs and headbutts the opponent, then stomps on their foot - the only time he uses his foot at all in the games - and finally nails them with an elbow shot.
In Street Fighter V, Balrog gains more unrefined boxing moves and appears as a contrast to Dudley's special moves. His V-Skill is the KKB; he is able to twirl his body while moving forward, deflecting projectiles and making string combos together against his opponents. His V-Trigger is the Crazy Rush]; once its activated, it allows him to do a various combo between both a Charging Buffalo and a Bursting Buffalo. His Critical Art is the Gigaton Blow; he unleashes a destructive straight punch to his opponent.
- Dash Straight - Balrog can hurl himself across a great distance, leading with his fist. During the Straight, he holds his arm directly out in front, knocking down anyone who fails to block the attack high.
- Dash Upper - Much like the Dash Straight, Balrog launches himself forward from his position. Only this time, he keeps his arm by his side, ready to perform an uppercut when he reaches the opponent.
- Dash Ground Straight - In Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Balrog gains the ability to dash towards his opponent, and perform a Straight punch at a lower level. At the outset, it looks exactly like a Dash Straight, but at the very end, Balrog lowers his glove, hurting any opponent who doesn't block the attack low.
- Dash Ground Upper - Also in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Balrog gains the ability to perform the Dash Upper from a lower position. If Balrog connects with this move, the opponent will be knocked down.
- Turn Punch - During the match, Balrog has the ability to tense up one of his arms and store power. He can release it at any time, but the longer he stores it, the more damage the resulting punch will do. While he stores up this power, he loses access to a couple of moves.
- Buffalo Headbutt - Headbutts are illegal in real boxing matches, but that never stopped Balrog from employing one if he felt it would give him the upper hand. Beginning in Super Street Fighter II, Balrog gains the ability to crouch down, and quickly jump into the air, smashing opponents with his forehead. He can pass through many attacks at the very beginning of this move.
- Crazy Buffalo - Balrog's Super Move is a consecutive series of non-stop Dash attacks. He has the ability to alternate between Dash Straights and Dash Uppers throughout the entire attack (hold or release any kick button to alternate between the two moves). If timed properly, it can even juggle an opponent.
- Before Street Fighter V, it was originally speculated that Balrog may have been the African American boxer Mike, one of the NPC opponents in the original 1987 game due to their similar appearance and movesets in addition to Balrog's name being Mike Bison in Japan. Capcom however were always insistent that they were meant to be two different characters. The Street Fighter World Warrior Encyclopedia (hardcover version) also lists them as seperate individuals as does the Street Fighter V website, which has a separate character page for Mike with redesigned artwork for him, thus ending the long speculation.
- In Street Fighter IV, in one of the African stages (Small Airfield), there is a black S.I.N. plane and Balrog can be seen in the door of the plane (he will rudely open the door with a punch). If Balrog is selected, Vega will be in the plane instead. If Balrog and Vega are selected, M. Bison himself appears in the plane.
- Unlike most characters, Balrog does not have any Unique Attacks.
- Balrog is shown with all his teeth in the Street Fighter IV sub-series, while in the past games, he has a missing canine tooth on the upper right side of his mouth.
- Balrog is the only one of the four bosses from Street Fighter II that does not appear in the Street Fighter EX games.
- Balrog's win quote from Street Fighter II through Hyper Fighting is written incorrectly ("My fists have your blood of them!"). This is corrected in Super Street Fighter II and onwards ("My fists have your blood on them!"). The SNES versions of Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting and Super Street Fighter II replaced this quote with "Get up, you wimp!", more likely due to Nintendo of America's strict policy of censorship at the time.
- In the manga Street Fighter III: Ryu Final, it is said that after Shadaloo was destroyed and Gill established himself, Balrog went into the wrestling world.
- On the Street Fighter II casino stage, the nickname of the game's lead designer, Akira Nishitani (Nin Nin), can be seen; it appears as a Casino called "Golden Nugget: Nin Nin Hall". In the remastered version of the stage for Street Fighter V, the casino was renamed "Golden Bullion: Shadaloo Hall"; the word "Nugget" was likely changed to "Bullion" as not to step on the toes of a real life casino of the same name, and Akira's nickname was likely changed because he has long since left Capcom to form Arika.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 http://www.capcom.co.jp/sf4/bison.html
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Street Fighter: World Warrior Encyclopedia Hardcover
- ↑ Street Fighter II Turbo SNES manual, p.30
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 http://www.capcom.co.jp/sfv/chara_bison.html
- ↑ http://www.streetfighter.com/uk/characters
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdRZx3JJ7Ns
- ↑ http://wccftech.com/street-fighter-pc-beta-file-analysis-revealed-unconfirmed-characters/
- ↑ http://hadoken.net/sfv-audio-leak/
- ↑ http://game.capcom.com/cfn/sfv/column-100880.html