In Japanese versions of the game, the boxer character was named M.Bison (an homage to Mike Tyson). To avoid a potential lawsuit, the name of the bosses were switched around in non-Japanese versions of the game.
So to avoid confusion, the communities outside of Japan call them Boxer, Claw, and Dictator.
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo is the official fifth and definitive arcade iteration of Street Fighter II. All the games after that are just compilations, remixes, or console ports that haven't stood the test of time.
|The World Warrior||Arcade||1991||8 Characters|
|Champion Edition||Arcade||1992||12 Characters (4 new characters)|
|Rainbow Edition||Arcade Knock off (Not Capcom official)||1992?||12 Characters|
|a.k.a||Hyper Fighting||Arcade||1992||12 Characters + Turbo speed|
|The New Challengers||Arcade||1993||16 Characters (4 New Characters)|
|a.k.a||Grand Master Challenge||Arcade||1994||16 Characters + 1 secret character + 16 secret characters from the previous version + Turbo speed|
|The Anniversary Edition||Arcade Compilation||2003||All the characters of the previous versions (a lot)|
|HD Remix||Console only (remake)||2008||HD mode (17 rebalanced characters) + classic mode (ST/2X)|
|The Final Challengers||Console only||2017||19 Characters (2 New Characters)|
ST or 2X (highlighted in blue) is the one that has been played competitively at EVO, SBO, and many other major tournaments throughout the last 20 years.
Yes, there has been a very active scene for many years all around the world. Japan has been organizing tournaments every week in many areas specially the three main ones: Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. There have been major events every year since year 2000, they are mainly team events like X-Mania a 3vs3 event now known as X-EST, and Kakerugo, a 5vs5 event that occurs in the first week of May. Many foreigners have been travelling to these main events [mirror] since 2013.
USA includes ST/2X as side tournaments in most of the Fighting Game majors across the country. ST/2X was also one of the main games at EVO from 2000 to 2010 and it came back to the main stage in 2012 and 2014. Europe has been organizing events in England and France. France had dedicated events called X-Mania Europe from 2011 to 2014 and it currently includes ST/2X as one of the main games in every Stunfest. There are other weekly tournaments organized other parts of the world like LA, Canada and more occasionally Mexico and Brasil. Canada had a big tournament in 2016 for the Canada Cup. The online platform Fightcade is planning to have their first offline tournament in Spain in 2017.
ST/2X is not the most balanced game since it has many 8-2 matchups. It's not the most fair either since damage and stun are calculated with a small random factor that was not present in some other versions of the game. It's not the easiest one in terms of execution due to its turbo speed and small input windows in the moves.
With that said, the game has some comeback mechanics and design features (including the many bugs in the game) that make it the most fun to play. The game also seems to please a wide range of competitive players, from the ones who love fundamentals to those who like new tech, probably because of the depth in the game that has constantly evolved after so many years of play.
Barely any. Some players claim that some moves have different stun amounts in the two versions. The most well-known one is Zangief's vertical headbutt that can dizzy someone with just one hit in the Japanese version.
It's turbo 3 for the Japanese version and turbo 2 for the US version.
Hyper Street Fighter II (2003) had so many characters from the previous versions of Street Fighter II. Many of them were extremely overpowered, so it didn't seem like a good fit for competitive play.
HD Remix (2008) had several balance changes to many characters that didn't seem to please most of the old school players at that time. However, one of the main reasons is that there was no arcade version of the game which made it difficult for Japan to adopt. Without the Japanese community, it's harder to move all the other smaller communities in the world to the newer games.
Theoretically, USF2 (2017) should have the same problems as HDR if there is no arcade version in Japan. Only time will tell.
There are 16 secret characters, named old characters, that can be selected through a code. Those 16 characters are the ones from the previous version (Super Street Fighter II) and they are the only way to select the classic colors. However, only three of these characters are definitely better than their new counterparts: old Sagat, old Ken and old Hawk.
It's a mix of watching a ton of videos, learn the matchups of your character, and practice execution. Nowadays, Fightcade is the best place to practice online. If you are nice towards other players there will be plenty of people willing to help you which in turn will save you a ton of learning time. During the times that you don't connect online, practice execution in training mode instead of playing against the CPU.
Everyone tries many characters at first. Eventually, you will find yourself more comfortable with a few of them depending on many factors.
An important one might be your preference between charge characters and motion characters. Any fireball character will base their gameplay in zoning at one level or another. There are a lot of non-fireball characters that need to counter that zoning to get close to the opponent and unleash all the damage quickly. If you like to be the underdog, you will probably play one of these non-fireball characters as they are usually low tier.
But not all non-fireball characters are low tier. There are some that have tools to play very aggressively with minimal risk, such as Boxer or Feilong, and there are others that have a lot of air mobility, like Dictator and Claw.
If you want to show off your execution skills, you can also go with characters with crazy combos like DeeJay, Feilong, or Dictator. You can also go for the grapplers, Zangief and T. Hawk. On the other hand, if you prefer a scientific approach, there are characters that take a while to learn as they need a different button for every given situation like Dhalsim or Chun Li. Otherwise, you can go for simpler game strategies with immediate results like old Sagat and Boxer.