As you play through your bouts of Street Fighter V online, you wonder to yourself: how in the Nine Hells did Capcom come up with the idea of a stretchy Indian mystic with “yoga” powers and flame breath? You’re not the only one, as many fighting game fans do ponder about it.

Retro game site Shmuplations republished a 2003 interview with Street Fighter and Final Fight designer and illustrator Akira Yasuda about his works at Capcom. He talked about how character designs for Dhalsim and claw-wielder Vega were born out of an unspoken rule that encouraged them to push the boundaries of their creations. Basically their glitches and mistakes during pre-production made them laugh and go “hmm..let’s add that to the character AND in the game”.

We’ll break down the quotes from the interview:

On Dhalsim

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“In the actual planning documents, we set a limit on punches, that they couldn’t extend further than 128 pixels. But in that process of reviewing the characters, we decided to extend it a little further, then a little further, then a little further more… until one day we saw how long his arms came out and everyone cracked up.

That was the moment we knew it was good.”

On Vega

“When creating new characters, I had to choose a country for a fighter to hail from and then find a fighting style to match it. After matching all those up, the only ones that were leftover were ‘Spain’ and ‘Ninja’.

I wanted to use ninjas for Japan, but Japan already had karate and sumo. So I just combined what he had leftover and came up with the ‘Spanish Ninja.’

Akira said that he wasn’t sold on the idea, but the Spanish Ninja idea grew on him and ended up teaching him how to be flexible while stepping out of one’s comfort zone when doing designs.

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On Chun-Li

Akira was inspired by Tao from the movie Genma Taisen, but dolled up so that she shows her bare legs and sport a bodycon dress. She eventually looked like a “fake” kung-fu fighter in pro wrestling.

The truth is, I had almost no time to come up with Chun-Li. I had to review the animation patterns for all the different characters, you see. Plus some characters ended up having too many patterns and we couldn’t fit it all into the memory… shaving that down and making cuts took us about half a year.

Akira’s solution to trimming the animation down is to create all her unique and flashy moves first, then re-used the animation from other characters for her normal punches and kicks.

Check out the rest of the interview here. 

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