M. Bison, ruler of Shadaloo crime syndicate based in Thailand, sponsors the "second" Street Fighting tournament. The first one ended when Ryu defeated the reigning champion, muy-thai kick boxer Sagat, with a devastating Shoryuken uppercut across his chest. Several of the events that lead to the second tournament have been retconned since the development of the Street Fighter Alpha series which takes place between Street Fighter and Street Fighter II. (Although it is commonly believed that Ken competed in the first Street Fighter tournament due to his appearance in the game as the second player, he did not actually participate according to Capcom's official continuity.)
Click on the character's names to be taken to their individual move lists.
- Blanka: A mutant who grew up in the jungles of the Amazon in Brazil, after being separated from his mother in a plane crash. He enters the tournament in hopes of finding his mother.
- Chun Li: A member of the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, who is searching for clues leading to the identity of her father's murderer. She suspects that M. Bison is responsible. She is considered to be a student of master martial artist and fellow street fighter Gen.
- Dhalsim: Generally a pacifist, Dhalsim uses his Yoga-endowed supernatural limb stretching abilities to compete in the tournament to raise money for his impoverished village.
- E. Honda: Dismayed by the thought that the world does not take Sumo Wrestling seriously, Edmond sees the tournament as the opportunity to prove to the world that sumos are the ultimate fighters.
- Guile: Aware that his senior officer, and best friend, Charlie died at the hands of M. Bison during a dangerous escape, Guile is bent on avenging his friend's death and taking M. Bison down at any cost, possibly even the love of his family.
- Ken Masters: The son of a wealthy business man, Ken was an unruly child until his father thought it might be best to send him to Japan to learn discipline through martial arts training. Along with his sparring partner Ryu, under the training of Gouken, he became one of the greatest fighters with a passion for proving it.
- Ryu: Orphaned at a very early age, Ryu was adopted by Gouken who raised and trained him in his martial art. Eventually, Ken joined them in Gouken's remote mountain home in Japan, and the two became fast friends. Events in Ryu's life lead him to constantly struggle between the mastery of fighting techniques, and the mastery of self control. As a result, he seeks out a constant stream of fighting challenges to test his own abilities.
- Zangief: After becoming the greatest wrestler in all of Russia, and loosely entering several world competitions, the second Street Fighter tournament gives Zangief an opportunity to simultaneously prove that he is the greatest fighter in the world, and single handedly shut down the ruthless Shadaloo crime syndicate for his motherland.
Boss characters are not playable in the original Street Fighter II, but they become playable in every revision of the game thereafter.
- Balrog: Once a great boxing champion in America, Balrog was disgraced when he was stripped of his title for his brutality and increasing use of illegal moves such as head butts. Full of shame, he is recruited by M. Bison to become a high-ranking henchman in Shadoloo, giving him a purpose again.
- Vega: Vega prizes beauty above everything else in life. The son of a Spanish bullfighter and a Japanese ninja, he has combined techniques from both parents into a deadly martial art that involves the use of a claw weapon on one hand. M. Bison recruits him for his ability as an assassin and due to his reputation for cruelty.
- Sagat: Once the greatest muay-thai kick boxer and mighty world street fighting champion, Sagat experienced tremendous shame for losing to diminutive (compared to himself) Ryu. Forsaking everything else, he trained endlessly for a rematch with Ryu when he encountered M. Bison. With no interest in Shadoloo, he declined the invitation to join until M. Bison promised him that if he joined, he would almost certainly face Ryu again.
- M. Bison: Seeing himself as the rightful dictator of the world, M. Bison appreciates the power of the human fighting spirit, and technology's ability to enhance it, over firearms and weapons of mass destruction. M. Bison officially hosts the second tournament of world warriors in an effort to isolate and employ only the greatest warriors that the world has to offer, forcefully if necessary.
- Cammy: At this point in the story, Cammy is recovering from amnesia with no clue about her past. Having joined the Delta Red forces, she joins the tournament because she knows that M. Bison is somehow linked to her past. Her story is fleshed out in the Street Fighter Alpha prequels.
- Dee Jay: His only ambition for joining the tournament is to be the only recording artist that's also a world street fighting tournament champion. Fame and glory are his goals.
- Fei Long: Facing criticism as a Hong Kong martial arts movie actor, Fei Long decides that it's time to prove to the world that he is the "real deal" by winning the tournament and restoring the adoration of his fans.
- T. Hawk: The only new challenger with an actual axe to grind with M. Bison, Hawk is seeking revenge for the destruction of his home town, the murder of his father Arroyo Hawk and the kidnapping of his little sister. He vows to, at any cost, hunt down M. Bison and make him pay for his crimes. Note: It is later revealed in Street Fighter Alpha 3 that Cammy and T. Hawk's little sister were both part of M. Bison's project to create a team of 12 assassins known as the Killer Bees. Though T. Hawk's sister is never seen, Juni and Juli from SFA3 are two more members of this team.
Secret character Akuma
In Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Capcom introduces it's first 2D Fighting secret character Akuma. Known as Gouki, he is the brother of the sensei of Ryu and Ken, known as Gouken. Gouki and Gouken were taught the art of the same fighting style from their sensei, Goutetsu. Their martial art was designed as a form of martial arts that could be used for murder. When Gouken passed the knowledge of their fighting style to Ryu and Ken, he withheld the killing technique of the style from his students. Gouki, on the other hand, became consumed with it, becoming more demon than human as he allowed the murderous intent within him to grow. Eventually he returned to Gouken's dojo for one final showdown, and walked away as the only survivor. Now Gouki wanders the earth in search of only the greatest fighting challenges capable of feeding his never-ending hunger for battle. Though his story is primarily told through the Street Fighter Alpha series, he is first seen here, obliterating M. Bison before challenging the player if the player was strong enough to fulfill the requirements to face him. The move that Akuma uses on M. Bison is called Shun Goku Satsu, but was named the "Bison Killer" by fans. Although Akuma has access to the move in several other games, he can not access it in SSF2T other than to kill M. Bison before the battle begins. He returns, much older, in the second part of the Street Fighter III series. The Street Fighter Alpha series depicts Ryu's struggle with a murderous intent similar to the one that consumes Akuma. Akuma recognizes this struggle and is interested in seeing Ryu fall victim to his inner rage for no other reason than that Akuma might have a worthy competitor to fight against.