In this character name, his name is typically written in Katakana due to shared heritage, living and being prominent abroad, despite being born in Japan.
Ryo Sakazaki (リョウ・サカザキ Ryō Sakazaki ) is the main protagonist in Art of Fighting, forming the first half of the Japanese series's namesake as the The Invincible Dragon (無敵の龍 Muteki no Ryū ). His name is frequently written in katakana; earlier games used to write his name in kanji (坂崎 亮, Sakazaki Ryō).
In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Ryo was voted as the staff's twenty-fourth favorite character. He shared the spot with Sie Kensou and Toru Kurosawa, a character from Sega's Last Bronx. In the Neo Geo Freak's 1997 Volume 8 character poll, he was voted as the seventeenth favourite character with a total of 602 votes. And In a 2005 poll made by SNK-Playmore USA, he was voted as the fifth fan favorite character with a total of 193 votes. Both Nobuyuki Kuroki and Youichiro Soeda have Ryo as their favorite character from the Art of Fighting series.
In an interview Takashi Nishiyama states that Ryo was created as a homage to Ryu from Street Fighter. Artist Shinkiro has expressed he had no problems with designing Ryo in contrast to Robert Garcia due to Ryo's poor state. SNK staff members Youichiro Soeda said that Ryo and Robert's debut was unique to other games based on the company because it did not focus on fighting tournaments but instead of the duo's quest to save Yuri Sakazaki.
Ryo is the son of Takuma Sakazaki and Ronnet Sakazaki and the older brother of Yuri Sakazaki. Born in the city of Southtown, as Ryo was deemed to be Takuma's successor, he began his martial arts training at an early age. His father instilled him with the difficult principle of self-reliance, where a person's own strength can form their worth in the world, but these days of his childhood training would prove difficult for the young Ryo, who was reluctant to fight due to his kindness and bashfulness. He eventually gained a sparring partner and friend when Robert Garcia was admitted into the dojo.
On Ryo's 10th birthday, his mother died in a tragic car accident. Immediately after, his father mysteriously left their home and left Ryo to take care of Yuri. Forced to fend for himself and his sister's sake, Ryo did this by partaking in construction work and tirelessly strived to defend his family's dojo. Remembering his father's lessons during his training, he also took up street fighting. At first, he did poorly but, after many years of persistence and learning the true meanings behind his father's teachings, including "A man's strength cannot be known only by his fist", "Real strength must be felt through the mind and heart", and to know what he was fighting for, he eventually established himself as a fearsome and renowned street fighter.
Art of Fighting
In the first Art of Fighting, Yuri is kidnapped by Mr. Big, a local criminal mastermind of the dangerous city, Southtown on behalf of Geese Howard. During his journey, Ryo met a bouncer named King, who guides them to Mr. Big's location. With Robert and King's help, Ryo confronts and defeats the kingpin. His pursuit for Mr. Big leads him to a karate dojo where a mysterious man challenges him. When Ryo prevailed, he threatens to finish Mr. Karate unless he told them information about Yuri's safety. Before he deals the final blow, Yuri reveals the man's identity as their father. After eleven years of separation, the whole family is reunited.
Before the events of the second game, Ryo went to the mountains for training. He received an invite for a King of Fighters tournament and accepted it to test his strength. When he reaches the finals, the tournament's host, Geese Howard, expresses his desires to recruit Ryo into his services. Ryo refuses and subsequently fight him atop his office in Geese Tower, and defeats him with tremendous effort. Unfortunately, Geese manages to escape and later enacts the beginning of the Fatal Fury story.
Ryo's role in the following game is reduced to being a supporting character for Robert. In his ending for the game, he hands his sister a ticket for Robert's flight back home and wishes the best for both of them. Additionally, he gains two new rivals: Kasumi Todoh and Jin Fu-Ha.
Presumably, after the Art of Fighting series ended, Takuma retired from fighting and entrusts the Kyokugenryu dojos to Ryo. At least two dojos are in operation, one near Southtown and one is later entrusted to Ryo's student, Marco Rodriguez. This is supported by the fact that Ryo takes over the Mr. Karate mantle that his father once held in Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition and Buriki One.
The King of Fighters
The appearance of Ryo in Fatal Fury Special as a secret final boss was perhaps inspiration to SNK's most notable fighting game series, The King of Fighters. Indeed, much of the appeal of the first KOF game, The King of Fighters '94, was that characters from Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury could fight alongside and against each other. Many details were originally retconned to allow the characters of Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury look around the same age though it's currently accepted that the KOF timeline is separate from their respective series. Although both protagonists would only play supporting roles in the series, Ryo and Terry share a friendly rivalry with one another. This is sometimes implied through special intros, official art, and game openings in select KOF titles.
Throughout the series, the Kyokugen style is depicted as a struggling family business, funded almost entirely by prize money earned from KOF and Robert's vast wealth. Each year, at the conclusion of KOF, the Kyokugen dojo would often have many applicants due to the strong performance of the team. Despite their hard fought success, most of these applicants would later quit, due to either the strenuous training regime or mysterious people who appear and trash the dojo. The family manages to keep two gyms running, one in South Town and a second in Mexico.
Ryo usually teams up with Robert, Yuri, or Takuma to continue spreading the fame of the Kyokugen style. He usually tries his best to keep his sister away from the tournaments and relents to his father's demands. In The King of Fighters 2000, he welcomed King into the team, even through his best friend's protests. Takuma apparently noticed (and somewhat mistook) the respect the young fighters had for one another and presses his wishes for her to join whenever the time calls for it. In The King of Fighters XI, Ryo indicates that Marco is currently a green belt.
By the time of The King of Fighters XIV, the Sakazaki family has opened a Kyokugen BBQ restaurant with the help of Richard Meyer. Ryo, displeasing with his family attitude regarding their training, is determined to leave South Town and is accompanied by his student, Khushnood Butt.
Ryo is very serious about fighting and loyal to his friends and family. He has been given discipline through his Karate training by his father, Takuma. He treats Robert as his rival, but they are best friends. He is a little old fashioned and blunt, which sometimes alienates him from his trendier sister and stylish rival. He's also admits to not being very smart or talented but he believes that these are obstacles for him to overcome. Compared to Yuri and Robert's ideology on training, Ryo believes he can attain greatness in his art through hard work and experience. Having raised both himself and Yuri during their childhood, he struggles with his own wishes to protect his sister and his own wishes to see her grow up. He accepts her growing maturity with bittersweet acquiescence.
It has been implied that there is some romantic tension between him and King. He apparently thinks her to be a good friend though she may think more of him since he contributed to her brother's recovery in Art of Fighting 2. Their relationship is referred to various times during The King of Fighters series. In King of Fighters XIII's story mode, Yuri specifically mentions Ryo and King dating.
- Gather chi: Ryo can gather ki from Gaia, the mother-earth.
- Energy Projectile: Ryo can fire the Kouken and Haoh Shou Kouken blast normally.
- Multiple Attacks: Ryo can channel his ki energy into his arms to deliver multiple punches at a very fast ratio.
- Auto Mechanic: Ryo has restored a motorcycle to running condition, suggesting he has sufficient knowledge of the inner workings of it.
- Carpentry: Due to being engaged in DIY works, and being presumably skilled in it.
- Farming: Ryo has successfully grown vegetables in his backyard, indicating he is gifted with a 'green thumb' or an ability to cultivate plants.
Ryo was taught to be the "tiger" of Kyokugenryu Karate, ironic since his nickname calls him the dragon. In Buriki One, he seems to use ordinary Karate. His main strength relies on his fierce punching attacks, which is closer to his father's style. His (in)famous Tenchi Haou Ken (Heaven & Earth Supreme Sparkle Fist) is a good result of this type of style as such a punch often was able to automatically put opponents in stun upon impact, despite the low damage it did compared to other DM's (KOF XIII amps this up with a stronger version of this technique as his Neo Max).
His Art of Fighting and KOF incarnations tend to differ from one another such as his fighting stance. His Kohou (Tiger Roar) often either faces towards the screen (KOF) or the background (Art of Fighting). In KOF '96 onwards, his signature Ko'ou Ken (Tiger Sparkle Fist) turned into a close range attack afterwards though his Capcom crossovers beg to differ.
Ryo during the NESTS Saga adds defensive touches to his style. His Joudan and Gedan Uke (High-Level and Low-Level Reception) parrying command normals enable him to shave off attacks and press the offensive as Ryo is able to cancel into attacks should he block via this method. Both of these types of parries are based on traditional types of basic blocking seen in most martial arts dojos. His Joudan Uke however, has varied in terms of animation, ranging from a rushing cover block or an outward single arm block depending on the game; and in KOF XIII, his Gedan Uke also gets a change in animation.
- Uma to Boku (The Horse and I) - Art of Fighting 2
- Get High - Art of Fighting 3
- Ryuko no Ken Ver.230000000.0 (Fist of Dragon and Tiger Ver.230000000.0) - Fatal Fury Special
- Ryuko no Ken (Fist of Dragon and Tiger) - The King of Fighters '94
- Yureru Otokogokoro (The Trembling Male Spirit) - The King of Fighters '95
- Kamikirimushi (Praying Mantis) - The King of Fighters '96
- Art of Fight - The King of Fighters '98, R-1, R-2, SNK vs. Capcom: Match of The Millennium
- Ryu-Ko (Dragon-Tiger) - The King of Fighters '99
- Beauty and the Beast - The King of Fighters 2000, 2002, EX, EX2
- Fight to the Limit - The King of Fighters 2001
- Kyoku-gen - The King of Fighters 2003
- After a Long Absence - The King of Fighters XI, XIII (when the music is set to "Type B", console version only, shared with Takuma Sakazaki and Robert Garcia)
- Kyokugen Training! ~ Mountain Seclusion - The King of Fighters XIII
- Tiger & Dragon - The King of Fighters XIV
- Micha Iya! -KOF XIV ver.- - The King of Fighters XIV (as King's opponent)
- A Kiss for Geese, Cyber Edit -KOF XIV ver.- - The King of Fighters XIV (as Geese's opponent)
- ART OF FIGHT ~ Ryuko to Tsubame (Art of Fight ~ Dragon, Tiger, and Swallow) - The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
- Dragon Rising in the Night Sky - Days of Memories
- Masaki Usui - The King of Fighters '94~XI, The King of Fighters XIII
- Masayoshi Kozaki - The King of Fighters XII (Japanese Voice)
- Daiki Takakura - The King of Fighters XIV~present
- Subaru Kimura - The King of Fighters for Girls
- Curt Gebhart - Maximum Impact series (English voice)
- Tetsuya Bessho - Art of Fighting anime
- Alden Crews - Art of Fighting anime (English voice)
- Akira Kamiya - Dengeki Bunko drama CD
Live Action Actors
- Henry HE - Art of Fighting 2 commercials
- Art of Fighting
- Art of Fighting 2
- Fatal Fury Special
- The King of Fighters '94
- The King of Fighters '95
- Art of Fighting 3: The Path of the Warrior
- The King of Fighters '96
- The King of Fighters '97
- The King of Fighters: Kyo
- The King of Fighters '98
- The King of Fighters R-1
- The King of Fighters R-2
- Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition - as Mr. Karate
- Buriki One - as Mr. Karate
- The King of Fighters '99
- SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millenium
- Capcom vs. SNK
- The King of Fighters 2000
- Capcom vs. SNK 2
- SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos
- The King of Fighters 2001
- The King of Fighters EX
- The King of Fighters 2002
- The King of Fighters EX2
- The King of Fighters 2003
- The King of Fighters: Neowave
- KOF: Maximum Impact
- Neo Geo Battle Coliseum - as Mr. Karate
- The King of Fighters XI
- KOF: Maximum Impact 2 - Both playable and Yuri Sakazaki's Normal Outfit-Variation B, also as Mr. Karate
- KOF Maximum Impact Regulation "A"
- The King of Fighters XII
- The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match
- The King of Fighters XIII
- Quiz King of Fighters
- Ryuuko no Ken (Pachislot)
- CR The King of Fighters
- The King of Fighters XIV
- Days of Memories (first and fourth titles) - unplayable
- Athena On Stage - quiz show contestant
- The King of Fighters Mobile
- The King of Fighters Mobile R-2
- Moeyo! KOF Daiundokai
- SNK Gals Island Senkan Battle Gekichinshichaouzo!
- SNK Dream Battle
- The Rhythm of Fighters
- The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match Online
- Metal Slug Defense (unlockable)
- Crash Fever
- Puzzle & Dragons
- Kimi wa Hero
- The King of Fighters: Destiny (Game)
- The King of Fighters: All Star
- The King of Fighters: Orochi Go
- The King of Fighters M: Fighting Stars Assembly
- The King of Fighters for Girls
- SNK Gals' Fighters - during Yuri's ending
- Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushidou Retsuden (Neo-Geo CD version only)
- The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise
- The King of Fighters (pachinko)
- The King of Fighters 2
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves - in Hokutomaru's stage in the third round; also mentioned in Butt's ending
- SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy - mentioned in Nakoruru and Terry's winquotes vs. Yuri; also in Yuri's ending and mentioned by her in Story Mode
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - appears in Terry's Reveal Trailer, background cameo in King of Fighters Stadium Stage, DLC Mii Costume, Spirit
- Ryo is the first champion of The King of Fighters.
- In retaliation to Ryo and Robert's creation, Street Fighter II co-designer Akiman drew an artwork of Sagat holding a defeated opponent by the head during the release of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition. The defeated opponent wore an attire similar to Ryo's: an orange karate gi with a torn black shirt underneath and geta sandals; but had long dark hair tied to a ponytail like Robert. This character later became canonized as Go Hibiki, the father of Dan Hibiki.
- In Neo-Geo Freak 1998, the characters in KOF '98 have their own interviews. Here are Ryo's response to the questions.
- What is your aspiration in this competition? - "I think it would be good if I could reaffirm the strength of the Kyokugenryu at the competition. Winning is the next question."
- Who would you like to fight the most? - "Well ... yes, I want to challenge my father."
- Who would you like to team up with? / Who would you not like to team up with? - "I would team up with my old friend Robert. Next is my younger sister Yuri. She doesn't know what to do unless we work together... The one who I don't want to team up with is my father!"
- What is "KOF" for you? - "It's an official stage once a year."
- Finally, please give a word to your fans. - "A fan of me? I'm glad. Then my fans! Would you like to learn Kyokugenryu Karate?"
- ↑ Official character profile from KOF Maximum Impact Regulation "A"
- ↑ Official character profile from KOF XII
- ↑ Neo Geo Freak 1997-08 archive Neo Geo Freak character popularity poll results.
- ↑ How classic SNK fighting game Art of Fighting was born interview posted on 29th August 2017.
- ↑ - The Man Who Created Street Fighter Archived from The original
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/20080418040335/http://kofaniv.snkplaymore.co.jp/english/comment/remember_kof.php?num=1
- ↑ https://archive.org/details/Neo-Geo_Freak_1998-08_Geibunsha_JP/page/n19
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