Snake versus mongoose. Chocolate versus peanut butter. Ryu versus Ken. Such rivalries have existed since the dawn of time, and while the first two are outside of our area of expertise, the friendly competition between fierce-eyed Ryu Hoshi and blonde-haired Ken Masters is one we can safely pick a winner for. These two train as brothers, occasionally putting their skills to the test with a bit of sparring. Though each street fighter has his points, many gamers feel this question burning deep within their hearts -- when it comes down to it, who is the better world warrior -- Ryu or Ken?
Strengths: Though he and Ryu share a similar training background and fight with the same style, Ansatsuken, their execution of said style varies wildy. Ken's moves tend to focus on quick, multi-hitting movements, as evidenced by his more rapid hurricane kick, or his flaming shoryuken. He's also a bit lighter on his feet, rolling around the battlefield like a golden-headed monkey.
Weaknesses: Ken's a bit of a joker, and doesn't take his training as seriously as Ryu. He's also a family man— he's got a wife and kid to look out for.
Street Fighter III. SFIII's Ken is a lean, mean, combo machine. This might be Ken at his most skilled. His shoryuken seemed to burn like a blow torch, and his kicks went on for miles.
SvC Chaos. Here we see a Ken brainwashed by M. Bison, reduced to a simple fighting machine. While he is completely ruthless in this state, he's also lacking in some of the cleverness that helps set him apart from his fighting contemporaries.
Strengths: Ken may be lighter on his feet, but that's because Ryu's are carved from granite. His kicks hit harder, his shoryukens smack more strongly, his hadokens hado like freight trains. And Ryu is a man whose training won't be complete until the day he heads for the big dojo in the sky. Part of that comes from his burning desire to be the best, and part of that comes from the incredible self-control he needs to keep his darker instincts at bay ...
Weaknesses: ... otherwise known as the satsui no hado. Ryu's got a seed of darkness in him a mile wide, made of a thick, tarry layer of bloodlust and wrapped up in nougat-y hatred. It's this "evil intent" that helps drive him to train so fiercely. He knows that there's an evil within him, and it's friggin' strong. If he doesn't train to maintain his self-control, he's going to lose his crap, and people's faces are going to get bashed in, balloons are going to get popped, and puppies are going to get kicked. While he can occasionally tap into this darkness for a power boost, it's at a cost: his humanity.
Street Fighter Alpha 2/3. This is when Ryu's satsui no hado revealed itself for the first time, and we see a new side of him, otherwise known as Evil Ryu. Evil Ryu's faster and more vicious than normal, gaining some of the murderously evil moves of Akuma while giving them his own hard-hitting flair.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Winners don't do drugs, and evil ain't everything. MVC3's Ryu has attained the highest power we've ever seen from him. Here he can tap into the hado kakusei, unleashing the full potential of his training. In this state his shinkuu hadoken is a screen-filling beam of pure awesomeness, and his shinkuu tatumaki senpu-kyaku is a whirling storm of wind, lightning, and kicks to the face.
Overall Winner: Ryu
Ken is truly an exceptional fighter, and should Ryu ever have to lose, he'd gladly lose to his friend. But that day will never come. Ryu is a man dedicated to the way of the fist, training tirelessly, always looking for the next great battle. He never thinks his performance is good enough, or that he's trained hard enough. Ken, however, knows when it's time to hang up the keikogi and call it a day. While this gives Ken a much nicer home life, it's also the thing that will keep him from ever surpassing his best bud, which is why Ryu is the winner in this head-to-head battle.