Ryo is a playable character who appears in a number of SNK brawling video games.
He’s a spoof of the leading Street Fighter character, Ryu. But perhaps fittingly, Mr. Sakazaki is not as mighty as Ryu.
That said if you’d like a slightly different take on Ryu or fighting game characters in general then here’s an alternative.
While Fatal Fury came first, Art of Fighting canonically happens first. Making it the first SNK beat ‘em video game to happen chronologically, and thus making Ryo kind of an OG in his universe.
(That’s of course if you ignore Samurai Shodown which has a few ties, but happens centuries earlier.)
- Real Name: Ryo Sakazaki.
- Other Aliases: The Invincible Dragon.
- Known Relatives: Takuma Sakazaki (father), Ronnet Sakazaki (mother, deceased), Yuri Sakazaki (younger sister).
- Group Affiliation: Mexico Team/Kyogen Karate Team/Art of Fighting Team (really all the same team they just like changing their name).
- Height: 5’11” (1.80m). Weight: 165 lbs. (75 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Blond.
Powers and Abilities
Ryo is a superb martial artist. He’s close to the higher tiers in his universe, although not quite the top.
His look, the character design, and how he plays are as standard as you can get for a fighting game character. His fighting style is stated to be Kyokugenryu Karate or Dragon Style Karate, which looks like typical karate moves.
As for gameplay he has short-range projectiles (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Energy Blast), advancing kick moves and of course a Dragon Punch rip off. It goes without saying that he can also jump really high as befitting of the genre.
The thing that makes him slightly different from, say Ryu, is that he has a sort of rapid punch (similar to Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap). In later games he also develops more defensive techniques such a parries.
Other than that he’s said to be proficient in restoring and driving his motorcycle. He also occasionally does carpentry and grows vegetables in his backyard.
History (part 1)
Ryo and his sister Yuri were born either in Japan or the fictional (but dangerous) American city of South Town. However, this seems to have been retconnedMaking changes to a character or story after the fact a few times and isn’t really clear.
It doesn’t really have much of an impact on his origin, anyway. Just know that he has a Japanese father and an American mother, and that he’s been living in dangerous South Town from an early age.
His father Takuma was a martial arts instructor. He trained his son to inherit his dojo.
Ryo would later gain a sparring partner named Robert Garcia. This wealthy Italian trained with Takuma, and became both his partner and both lifelong rival.
(Obviously this mirrors Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter).
Ryo was a shy and timid boy and wasn’t necessarily cut out to be a fighter, but…
On his tenth birthday, his mother perished in a car accident. Soon afterward, his father mysteriously disappeared. This forced Sakazaki to take odd jobs such as construction to help provide for his sister and keep the dojo afloat.
Despite Robert’s persistence, Ryo refused to accept his large donations. Sakazaki saw it as his duty to provide for his family. His father’s words constantly echoed in his head, “Real strength must be felt with the heart and mind – not the fists. Therefore it cannot be faked.”
Art of Fighting One
Ryo’s younger sister Yuri is kidnapped by local crime lord Mr. Big. Ryo and Robert take to the streets to rescue her.
(Unlike with many classic one-on-one fighting games, the backdrop isn’t a tournament. The pair simply gets into street fights and beats the info out of criminals and other lowlifes.)
Robert really only had one notable duel. That was with King, a bar owner. A skilled kickboxer, she dressed in a man’s tuxedo, as she didn’t think most fighters would take her seriously due to her gender.
During the ensuing fight one of Ryo’s attacks ripped her shirt, exposing her gender. Ryo being a gentleman helped her cover up. He then learned that the only reason that she had been working for Mr. Big was to pay for her brother’s surgery in the hopes that he would be able to walk again.
Ryo and King then teamed up to take down Mr. Big. They have remained staunch allies and something of a love interest to this day.
With King’s help, Sakazaki-san was able to track down Big’s hideout and challenge the villain to a duel. Ryo won, as heroes tend to do. But then the crime boss called out his best enforcer to challenge Ryo.
Out stepped a muscular man in a karate gi wearing a tengu mask (Japanese crow demon). The two began to fight and surprisingly the stranger used a familiar style. After another long hard battle Ryo was finally prevailed.
After the crisis
Filled with rage, Ryo was badly beating his opponent when his younger sister Yuri appeared, shouting that this man was none other than their long-lost father.
Takuma Sakazaki had been blackmailed into working for Mr. Big’s crime syndicate all those years ago. The crime boss had threatened his children’s safety. Takuma had started wearing the tengu mask — and referring to himself as Mr. Karate — to preserve his family’s honor and save his children the shame of having a criminal father.
However, Ryo had now proven to the entire city that he was more than capable of protecting his family. Mr. Big’s criminal organization was thus vanquished for good…or were they?
In the chaos Big slipped away as per the usual villain conventions of the day.
Here’s an AoF playthrough on Neo-Geo, with Ryo as the Player Character. A few minutes of it should give you a solid sense of it.
History (part 2)
In later games it was revealed that Mr. Big was merely a lieutenant within a much larger organization. The real boss was actually none other than Geese Howard.
This prominent business man had used Big and others like him as essentially middle management to insulate himself. He thus kept his public image intact as he ran things from afar.
Art of Fighting 2
Ryo found out about this, which enraged him. Along with his father, Robert and a few other allies they stormed Geese’s complex. This team was eventually able to defeat Howard.
The game states that Ryo received a formal duelling invitation. But this conflicts with the later game, Fatal Fury, being presented as the very first King of Fighters tournament. Rather than AoF2, which canonically came before it.
In the grander scope of things this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Geese was supposed to be practically invincible, as he was both a wealthy crime boss with an army of thugs and a world class martial artist. Until Terry Bogard, the main protagonist from the early Fatal Fury games, took him down.
Our proposed No-Prize HypothesisA made-up explanation to plug a plot hole is that Ryo and gang did go after Geese. They put enough a hurt on his empire and left him partially exposed. But with his money and influence he was able to mostly sweep it under the rug and still maintain a respectable façade.
Still, to the criminal element of dangerous South Town, it became practically an open secret that Geese was the real king of the underworld.
Fatal Fury Series
Ryo doesn’t have much to do with the series other than making a few guest appearances in later upgrades of the game.
Storyline wise Ryo is stated to have a friendly rivalry with Terry Bogard. It makes sense that SNK would thus link the two poster boys of their early flagship games.
But that said, Ryo was already second banana to Terry by the time Bogard was introduced. When King of Fighters came along he and his family were already less of a priority.
Power level wise Ryo likely wouldn’t be much of a match for Terry. So it’s likely that he was around somewhere in the background, fighting for prize money and street rep to help his dojo.
Art of Fighting 3
Ryo is but a background character in this game. He only appears in some of the endings.
The main story follows his training buddy Robert. Mr. Garcia travels to Glass Hill, Mexico to search for an old friend that’s gone missing.
This game was widely panned. SNK has stated it was merely a non-canon experiment. They seem to be sticking to their guns, too. None of the original characters who appeared in the game have gotten so much as a mention or even a background appearance.
King of Fighters Series
Art of Fighting and King of Fighters officially take place in different universes. But while there are some discrepancies, there’s nothing really major separating the two.
And it makes a lot more sense to have a large mythos showing different aspects of their vast universe, than having a few separate dimensionsOther realms of existence that are not our universe that share some of the same characters.
In 1994, Ryo and Robert open a satellite dojo in Mexico. But this is forgotten after a year or two. It’s later repeatedly stated that the dojo is always hard up for cash, so the odds of this Mexican dojo still being around are pretty slim.
The Sakazaki family gets an invitation to participate in the KoF tournament, which features three-person teams. Their original team is Ryo, Robert, and Takuma.
Yuri feels snubbed at being left out, as by this point she’s a capable fighter in her own right. But her father would rather keep her away from serious tournaments. Out of protest, Yuri joins the tournament’s Women’s Team.
Oh, yeah and their dojo regularly gets trashed by challengers and rivals when the family isn’t there to defend it. This happens so often that it’s kind of become a running gag within the series.
Like most teams, the trio lacks a strong impact on the main storyline. Their reasons for joining are pretty much the same every year – to win some prize money and hopefully attract more students to the dojo.
They are still stated to be one of the higher tiered teams though.
King of Fighters XIV
The family opens a BBQ restaurant with the help of veteran Fatal Fury fighter Richard Meyer.
Ryo thinks that this is a step in the wrong direction for the family. He leaves to go on a training sabbatical, taking with him the dojo’s most prized student Knushnood Butt.
(Yes, that’s his actual name. Why they didn’t stick with the original Japanese name or something much more reasonable like “Franco Rodriguez” is a mystery to the gods).
Where is he now?
The latest in-continuity game released is still Garou: Mark of the Wolves.
There, Butt (te he) is stated to be the successor of Kyokugenryu Karate. He has opened up a successful dojo in his native Brazil.
The rest of the Sakazaki family isn’t really mentioned. But it’s somewhat implied that Ryo and likely others are still around training themselves and other students. So perhaps they’re semi-retired from fighting?
Ryo is a half Japanese half White American man with blond hair. He sports the slim muscular build befitting most serious martial artists.
Like a lot of mixed race characters his apparent ancestry can vary depending on the artist. However he quite often is drawn to look a lot more Caucasian by Japanese artists. Perhaps it’s the blond hair and the fact that he lives in America?
His go-to outfit is an orange karate gi with the sleeves ripped off. Of course he has sparring gloves and of course he goes barefoot.
Once again I know everyone is tired of the comparison, but his outfit looks an awful lot like Ken and Ryu’s with a palette swap. The only real difference is that he wears a black T-shirt underneath.
Whew, boy! Just another generic martial arts type.
He’s very serious and extremely loyal toward friends and family. He firmly believes in growing stronger and improving through old fashioned hard work. A lot of this likely stems from having to raise his sister.
Likewise, he’s a little bit old school and sometimes very blunt. This often puts him at odds with his trendy younger sister, Yuri, and his wealthy friendly rival, Robert.
He is pretty forthcoming that he may not be the brightest guy in the room or the most charming. But he also thinks that they are merely fault to be overcome.
“Kyokugen Karate is peerless; you should know that by now.”
“I let my guard down, but I’m not out yet.”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
The Sakazaki Family can be inserted whole cloth. Takuma would have likely trained Bruce Wayne when he was younger.
The family has likely crossed paths with Richard Dragon and other martial artists.
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 07||Str: 04||Bod: 05|
|Int: 03||Wil: 04||Min: 06|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 05||Spi: 06|
|Init: 025||HP: 060|
Adrenaline Surge: 05, Dispersal: 02, Energy Blast: 04, Jumping: 02, Superspeed: 04
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Adrenaline Surge works with all Powers, except for Jumping.
- Dispersal can only be used when dodging attacks.
- Energy Blast is diminishing.
- Superspeed can only be used to sub for EV and to add to initiative.
Acrobatics (Athletics, Dodging): 06, Gadgetry: 03, Martial Artist: 09, Vehicles: 03
Bonuses and Limitations:
Both Gadgetry and Vehicles are limited to motorcycles.
Expertise (carpentry and growing vegetables), Iron Nerves, Languages (Japanese, possibly Spanish), Lightning Reflexes, Rich Friend (Robert Garcia), Schtick (Nuclear Punch, Telescoping Feint).
Robert Garcia (high), Takuma Sakazi (high), Yuri Sakazaki (high), King (high), Kasumi Todo (low), Terry Bogard (high).
MIA (protecting his sister, Yuri and upholding the name of Kyokugenryo Karate).
Responsibility of Power.
Martial instructor, prize fighter.
The Telescoping Feint Schtick represents sudden extra reach from his Energy Blast. It can only work when Energy Blast is available.
It’s hard to pin down, since the story is rather vague. But if he did actually defeat Geese Howard in single combat, then his Martial Artist would’ve likely been much higher at 10 or even 11.
Likewise his Hero Points total would be at 80 or so. And his Mind and Spirit would also be boosted another point.
Source of Character: King of Fighters.
Helper(s): Eric Langendorff.