Akuma isn’t one of the original Street Fighters. He made his first debut in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, the fourth version of Street Fighter II. Though, you might not have seen him unless you were an especially proficient player or had access to cheats. Akuma’s life began as a secret character. Rather than only remaining hidden for one game, he’s remained a secret through many installments in the series. If you wanted Akuma, you almost always had to work for him.
Reaching Akuma so you could fight him was quite a challenge in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. First, you needed to beat your eight opponents, Balrog, Sagat and Vega, all without being beaten and needing to use a continue. In addition to that, you needed to earn a high score or have gotten to what should be the M. Bison fight in under 25 minutes. If you were good enough to meet those goals, you’d fight Akuma instead of M. Bison.
However, it was relatively easy to fight as Akuma. In his first outing, you code control him with a simple cheat code. When choosing a character, linger on Ryu for three seconds, T. Hawk for three seconds, Guile for three seconds, Cammy for three seconds, Ryu for three seconds, then hit Start at the same time as all three punch buttons. With that fancy scrolling, you’d step into Akuma’s shoes.
Akuma’s second appearance also involved special circumstances. In Street Fighter Alpha, he’s again present as a secret character and hidden boss. To fight him, you must choose a standard character, then press and hold the Start, strong and forward until the match begins. He’ll be your first match. To be him, a first player would need to move to the random character box on the left, then press down, down, down, left, left, left, then jab and fierce all while holding the start button. You’ll then get to be Akuma.
His presence as a secret character continued for Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact. In this entry, you must prove yourself to fight both him and Shin Akuma, another version of him. Akuma appears if you get three perfect wins, not taking any damage. To take on Shin Akuma, you need to beat Akuma with specials two rounds in a row. Playing as him involved a cheat code that was a callback to his original appearance. You needed to select Ryu, then press down, down and up, head to Ken, press up, up and down, go back to Ryu, press up, head back to Ken, press down, scroll over to Sean, then press down, down, up, down, up, up and up. Akuma would then unlock.
Street Fighter IV‘s first iteration keeps Akuma hidden, with time being the key to making him appear. All you have to do is play until you’ve unlocked Cammy, Dan, Fei Long, Gen, Rose and Sakura. Once they’re free, play as someone you’ve already used to beat the game. In this run, get one perfect win and only win. If you get through without any continues, Akuma becomes playable.
Even one of the worst Street Fighter games locks Akuma away. In the console versions of Street Fighter: The Movie, you can use Akuma in the Street, Versus and Trial modes. Choose Guile on the character selection screen, then press up, R1, down, L2, right, L1, left and finally R2. Akuma will then appear instead of Guile, allowing you access to the character.
Fortunately, these sorts of requirements weren’t present in all games. Akuma is a member of the immediately available cast in Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, Super Street Fighter IV and Ultra Street Fighter IV. He’s also playable in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, Capcom vs. SNK 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Street Fighter x Tekken and Tekken 7.
After seeing all those hoops people had to jump through over the years to unlock Akuma, having to use Fight Money or real cash to get him in Street Fighter V suddenly seems like a walk in the park.