Vega, known as Balrog (バルログ, Barurogu) in Japan, is one of the bosses of the Street Fighter fighting game series. He first appeared as a boss character in Street Fighter II. He is a memorable character, not only for his obsession with beauty, but also for the claw he wields and his unique fighting techniques.
Vega's fighting style is a blend of ninjutsu and bullfighting, thus earning him the nickname "Spanish Ninja".
Vega's character archetype is very familiar in Japanese manga and anime: the Narcissist (ナルシスト, Narushisuto), often depicted as a long-haired, effeminate self-lover. He is arrogant and convinced of his own abilities and invulnerability, almost to the point of megalomania; though this is perhaps justified, as he is shown to be a highly skilled fighter. He can be incredibly sadistic - nearly to the point of being a psychopathic, bloodthirsty, dishonorable warrior in combat, and takes great pleasure in seeing the ugly murdered through his own doing.
Vega's unbridled and solipsistic ego is shown even in his taste in interior decor, as his mansion is decorated with portraits, all of him. Despite his vain personality, Vega's mannerisms will at times show to be elegant and gentlemanly, likely because of his noble background. Additionally, he is also attracted to and impressed by the beauty and strength of young women, notably Chun-Li and Cammy.
He also harbors a tragic side to him. The family trauma he experienced molded his fragile mind to percieve physical unattractivness as not only replusive, but also as a threat. With his beloved mother murdered at the hands of an ugly man, ugliness came to represent evil and cowardice, while beauty represented heroism and strength.
When Street Fighter II was localized in the United States, Capcom was afraid of a lawsuit from Mike Tyson over a character (Balrog) 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.
Vega wears murrey and yellow ceremonial trousers, a red sash, loafers, and white leggings of a matador, suggesting his involvement with bullfighting. This decorative garb also offers matadors ease of movement, and is ideal for Vega's acrobatic maneuvers. Vega also has a purple snake tattoo on his chest, which also circles his arm.
This shows him to be a villain to a Japanese audience, where body tattoos are usually worn by Yakuza members. In Capcom vs. SNK 2, as a win pose, Vega will hold his arm out, with the tattoo coming to life and hissing at the opponent.
Early sketches suggest that Vega was going to resemble a medieval knight wearing a full suit of armor. This idea was scrapped as Street Fighter was about fighters from all over the world, not time. Remnants of this concept are apparent in Vega's final design, including a mask and a sharp metal claw.
This claw is useful for both stabbing and slashing attacks, and gives him a very long range compared to most characters. It is the same type of weapon worn by Geki in the original Street Fighter.
Vega does not wear his expressionless mask to conceal his identity; it is purely to protect his face from scarring or bruising during battle, since he believes himself to be impossibly beautiful. Vega often removes it after fights during his win poses, as well as in certain character select images in various games he appears in. His latest appearances allow him to remove both the mask and claw as special attacks.
It is unknown exactly how durable this mask is. Vega will crush it to dust with one hand if he loses due to a time over in Street Fighter Alpha 3. On the other hand, it takes several hits before the mask falls off, and even then, he can easily pick up and reapply the mask, with no apparent lasting damage.
In the Street Fighter II series, he was depicted as having brown hair, although his endings in the first two updates of the original Street Fighter II and many other games in the series state that he has blond hair; his endings in Super Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II Turbo shows him with blond hair. In the Street Fighter II V anime, his hair is a golden blond and he has blue eyes. his hair is a golden blond and he has blue eyes. Since Street Fighter Alpha 3, however, he officially had blond hair until Street Fighter IV, where in gameplay, he has brown hair, and in the ending, he is blond (though this is exclusive to the Arcade version).
Much like Sagat's eyepatch in earlier games, Vega's claw will always appear on whatever arm matches the direction he is facing (if he is looking to left side of the screen, it will appear on his left arm, and if he's looking right, it will be on his right) due to sprite mirroring. In the Street Fighter EX series, it will always be on his right arm. In Street Fighter IV, however, he changes his claw every time he switches sides, without mirroring; this can be seen in his tattoo, his accessories, and in the mark on his mask. Curiously enough, during the versus screen, his portrait won't be mirroring all the accesories either, with the unique exception of his claws.
Vega was born to a privileged noble family in Spain. For reasons undisclosed, their status dwindled, causing Vega's mother to remarry for financial security. As he matured, Vega studied bullfighting, a cultural tradition. Afterward, he went to Japan and learned ninjutsu, a style he believed meshed well with his natural grace and agility. Combining bullfighting with ninjutsu, Vega went into an underground cage fighting circuit, and quickly became one of the best.
His ugly stepfather murdered his beautiful mother because he felt she did not respect him, and Vega killed him in return. The incident warped his mind, and he developed a dual personality: honorable nobleman by day, sadistic murderer by night. It was this incident that triggered Vega's obession with beauty as a wonderful trait, as well as his belief that ugliness is something evil that should be purged.
Vega oversaw assassination operations for Shadaloo, and was associated with Cammy and the Shadaloo assassins known as the Dolls. When Cammy went rogue however, Vega was assigned to bring her in and although he failed in that mission, Cammy brought herself in and defeated M. Bison, freeing herself and the other Dolls from Bison's brainwashing. When the strain of undoing the brainwashing (as well as a dead-man's trigger in the brainwashing which was meant to kill them if they betrayed Bison) caused Cammy and the other Dolls to collapse, Vega saved them from the burning Shadaloo base because he didn't believe that anything as beautiful as them should die.
Vega then participated in the second World Warrior tournament at the behest of Bison. However, when Bison was seemingly killed by an unknown assailant, Vega disappeared back into his old lifestyle.
It is unknown what Vega was doing since the fall of Shadaloo, although it's assumed he still continued his murderous rampages. He was also rumored to have returned to bullfighting. No one knew for sure, and some even believed that he was dead. He has survived however, and returned, being re-recruited by Shadaloo through a subsidiary division called S.I.N.; an offer he quickly accepted. He does so, however, for two reasons.
First, he had grown tiresome of the aristocratic lifestyle, finding money and power to be an ugly combination. Second, although he found the new head of the organization, Seth, repugnant and ugly as well, he was intrigued at the idea of creating new bodies for oneself so as to be eternally young (despite the mold being broken with Vega himself). He returned to his job as a Shadaloo assassin; however, at S.I.N. HQ, while Seth was distracted by several assailants (not least of whom was a newly-resurrected Bison), Vega stole valuable data on the project, and when Chun-Li did the same thing, he attempted to kill her by setting off the fire alarm, which releases a toxic, fire-retardant spray. He escaped in a helicopter from the exploding base and noticed Chun-Li being rescued from the base along with her copy of the data. Mildly displeased that he did not have the only copy, he resolved to correct the situation later.
Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
As Interpol's pursuit of Shadaloo intensifies, M. Bison dispatches Vega to assassinate Chun-Li. He hides in Chun-Li's apartment while she showers, proceeding to ambush her as she sits idly in her bedroom drying her hair. Though Chun-Li proves to be a formidable opponent, Vega has the upper hand for much of the fight. He sadistically comments on his desire to skin Chun-Li alive before licking some of her spilt blood from the tip of his claw. Chun-Li responds by catching Vega off guard, tripping him and then stamping on his face. Horrified by the damage dealt to his beautiful face, Vega goes ballistic. After a vicious and graphic battle, Chun-Li kicks Vega through the wall of her apartment, sending him plummeting several stories into the alley below. Despite his defeat, Vega's attack takes its toll on Chun-Li, leaving her in comatose for the rest of the movie. Disgusted with Vega's failure, M. Bison dispatches Sagat to find Vega and, should he remain alive, finish him.
Vega made a cameo appearance, briefly shown brutalizing his opponent, Dan, during a fighting tournament.
Vega is one of the many playable characters in Capcom Vs. SNK 2. If he fights against a female opponent (except Chun-Li), the narcissist will introduce himself by throwing a rose at her, in appreciation of her beauty. He will do the same for other "pretty-boy" characters like Benimaru and Kyosuke Kagami, and strangely even M. Bison, though it may be out of respect in the dictator's case. When fighting against characters he considers "ugly" on the other hand (E. Honda, Raiden, Zangief, Blanka, Dhalsim and Chang), he shakes his head in disgust.
Vega appeared in Cannon Spike as a "darker" version of himself called "Fallen Balrog".
Vega is a playable character in Street Fighter X Tekken, where he is sent alongside Balrog to retrieve Pandora; however, the two despise each other, yet they continue to work as team, if only in order to obtain Pandora for themselves. Their rivals are Yoshimitsu and Raven, who ambush them during their travels.
Vega and Balrog's ending depicts Balrog attempting to open the box, but Vega decides to kill Balrog instead for possesion of Pandora. Both being taken over by Pandora, and proceed to attack each other.
Vega is one of the fastest and most agile characters in the Street Fighter series, but also one of the most delicate; his defensive rating is low compared to most of the other characters to balance his incredible speed. Vega is also one of the few weapon users in the series, and the only one that appears in the Street Fighter II series.
Vega's swiftness and flying special techniques make him well-suited for multi-hitting combination attacks, confusing cross-ups, or long-range poking attacks with the reach advantage provided by his claw.
It takes exactly fourteen blocked hits for Vega to lose his claw. This reduces his attack range significantly, and prevents him from using certain Super Combos. Since Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Vega can pick up the claw. In Street Fighter Alpha 3, he can lose his mask as well, though the effect is only cosmetic there. In SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, Vega cannot lose his claw. In the Street Fighter EX series, Vega may reinforce or recover his claw with a super move.
In the Street Fighter IV series, Vega can throw his claw as a special taunt. He can also throw his mask, at the cost of two bars of the Super Combo Gauge, to increase his attack power by 25% (damage scaling is still accounted for, however). If Vega wins a fight without his mask on, he sticks his tongue out to either lick his claw or taunt his fallen opponent.
- As mentioned above, Vega is one of the few Street Fighter characters to constantly carry a weapon, and the only character to do so in Street Fighter II.
- In Super Street Fighter IV, Vega shows a small amount of respect for Guy, saying he expected better of him if he himself wins. While this is surprising considering his personality, it makes sense since both are masters of ninjutsu, and they are arguably the two most mobile Street Fighter characters in terms of agility.
- In Super Street Fighter IV, Vega's second alternate costume bears some resemblance to Zorro.
- Vega is referenced in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 when Ryu defeats Wolverine.
- The name Vega relates to stars as it is the 5th brightest star. Several of Vega's moves are named to reflect this, such as the Stardust Drop or Cosmic Heel.
- Vega's hair has switched between brown and blond through various Street Fighter media, including the games and the anime. It is not clear what Capcom believes his official hair color is, although in the most recent game, Super Street Fighter IV, his hair is various shades of brown, depending on which color of outfit he is wearing. There is a blond verson available by choosing the 10th color option for his default, 1st and 2nd alternate costumes. The 10th version of his 3rd alternative costume features him with paler skin and very dark brown-nearly black hair. Strangely, in the live action films, he is shown with having black hair.
- Vega might be the only character in the Street Fighter franchise to provenly be left-handed. Besides a few exceptions (like his character art in Street Fighter II' - Champion Edition), most of his official illustrations show him with his claw on his left hand.
- In Street Fighter: the Movie, Vega works for Sagat in the underground fighting ring instead of him working for Bison in Shadaloo.
- Vega shares the same birthday with Dudley.
- In the Street Fighter II series, if Vega receives a certain number of landed/blocked hits, his claw will fall off. However, in Street Fighter IV, both his claw and his mask will fall off and the player can pick them up (when playing as Vega).
For more images of this character, see their Gallery.
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