Fighting games aren’t really known for their fantastic storylines or great plot writing. Instead, fighting games focus on their characters, making them interesting to learn about and fun to play at the same time. It’s difficult to intertwine a personality with a fighting style that players can relate to but Street Fighter does it better than most.
Vega is a great example of a character who’s got it all. He’s got the looks, the mysterious backstory, the iconic sounds and aesthetic, and everything else to make a memorable character. That being said, there’s a lot of information about Vega that most players actually never catch.
10 His Name Was Originally Balrog
The Street Fighter series is somewhat infamous for its naming of characters in the early games. The main antagonists of the games all had their names swapped around for western releases of the game after it was released with different names in Japan. For example, the original name for Balrog was M. Bison, which explains why he looks like Mike Tyson. In the west, they couldn’t get away with this for copyright reasons, so the names were switched.
Vega as western players know him was originally called Balrog, and our version of M. Bison is known as Vega in Japan. To keep things extra simple, a lot of regions like Europe have simplified the names so there can be no confusion. Vega is Claw, Balrog is Boxer, and Bison is Dictator.
9 He’s A Spanish Ninja
Vega was always planned out to be a ninja character who could zip around the screen with acrobatic attacks and frustrating tactics. What changed about him was actually his nationality. Originally, he was supposed to be from Thailand since the team wanted to include a certain group of nationalities in Street Fighter 2.
After the creative process started, Vega was changed to be a Spanish ninja, inspired by the Nameless Asura in Fist Of The North Star. Both characters are extremely agile, wear a mask, have their hair braided, and use blades.
8 He Has A Hint Of Batman In Him
Vega’s backstory and even his original designs all scream a Batman story gone wrong, almost as if it were mixed with a bit of Heath Ledger’s Joker. That is to say he suffered a tragic event as a child where his mother was killed by his step-father. His step-father was an ugly man, and he saw his mother as beautiful so the lesson he took from this was “ugly people deserve to die.”
After he became a successful assassin and amassed a fortune from it, he even started to invest in an armored suit to help him take down his victims. The parallels between him and the Dark Knight are very noticeable but at the end of Street Fighter 2’s development, they scrapped the armor and went with his classic look.
7 Long List Of Murders
It’s no secret that Vega is an evil bastard, but since his story was written so long ago, many fans have forgotten how bad he actually can be. Before joining the ranks of Shadaloo, Vega was a professional assassin who killed hundreds of people internationally.
One of those victims was actually Chun Li’s father, which fueled the hatred among the two even more, giving Chun Li a target and rival to work towards defeating. Their battles in the Street Fighter animated movies have a bit of extra sauce to them when this detail is thrown in the mix.
6 Player 2
Two people using the same character at the time was unheard-of so Capcom tried to figure out a way to explain it with lore. This is a really interesting way to approach video game logic and match it with the logic of reality. In the Street Fighter manga, the heroes have to face off against their evil twins basically, which explains how two of the same character can be on screen.
In Vega’s case, he works with Chun Li, and she actually starts to relate to him while they fight the super evil versions of themselves. This concept of an extra evil Shadaloo that outshines the original was pretty comical but still a nice take on a classic mechanic.
5 Beauty Is His Downfall
In Street Fighter Alpha 3, Vega’s role got a little more nuanced since there were so many reintroduced characters. In this story, he actually finds himself conflicted on whether to end or preserve the life of someone he finds beautiful.
Bison orders him to bring Cammy in for death in fear of her becoming too powerful. Vega up to this point spent his whole life murdering without a second thought but since Cammy was a clone of his boss Bison, and a candidate to host his soul once he passed on. Vega refuses to give her up and actually hands her over to Delta Red for safekeeping.
4 Mirrored History
In the early days of Street Fighter, Capcom would simply mirror sprites depending on what side characters were on so it was easy to process what was happening and what side players were standing on. This led to some weird instances like Vega’s claw changing hands to face the camera, even though he obviously wasn’t actually changing hands. This is also why in old games, Sagat’s eye patch seemed to be on both eyes, since it was visible from both sides.
In later games, Capcom changed this so that Vega actually switched hands on-screen, creating a more fluid experience and continuation. It’s clear he switches hands because he has a tattoo on one arm that can only be seen when he’s facing right.
3 Claw And Mask
Some of the most iconic parts of Vega’s gameplay since his inception are the workings of his claw and mask. His claw changes his whole move set granting him further range with it on, and better grabs when it’s off. Players also know that when he gets hit enough times, the mask and claw can fall off until he reclaims them on the stage.
What many players don’t know is that it takes exactly 14 blocked attacks for his claw to come off in the original games. In Street Fighter V, he loses his mask at around 80% of his health bar. It used to have defensive penalties to lose the mask but in the latest entry, they’ve removed this strange feature.
2 Flamenco Tavern
The tavern in Street Fighter V is a remake of Vega’s classic stage that acts as a gambling center and hub for other illegal activities. Vega is known from his story and the movies to be a cage fighter and this tavern is probably where that all started. When the stage is introduced, a cage drops down from the ceiling and creates a stage for the patrons to watch the fight.
In Street Fighter V, the stage is actually banned from competitive play because Vega gets access to a special move. Vega is able to latch on to the cage and fly around more than normal, giving him an extra advantage on his home turf.
1 Probably Ambidextrous
It’s clear that Vega can change the claw from hand-to-hand since in Street Fighter IV, he holds it in his right hand, but in Street Fighter V, he also holds it in his left. This is a very interesting detail in the context of the Street Fighter universe because it makes him the only character to be not right-handed.
All other characters in the series prefer their right hands to their left, and Vega seems to be able to use both, changing on the fly or between games. From a gameplay perspective, it isn’t that crazy, but it’s interesting that he would be the only character to be ambidextrous.