How exactly were players meant to figure out special moves in games such as Street Fighter II?
I don't think I ever read the manual to any of those games, but maybe they contained a full list of all attacks per character?
And in the arcade, maybe it said them on the machine?
So it was all about memorizing and then the dexterity of doing it quickly in the game? Or was it also about actually discovering the right combination by aimlessly mashing buttons endlessly? I was never able to do any special move no matter what combination I tried in any of those games, except for some basic ones and only by accident.
Basically, would reading a guide online listing the attacks be cheating and bypassing the point of the game?
I was a kid back when Street Fighter II came out, and the Arcade Cabinets I saw did not have any moves on them, you just had to figure it out.
Though research on the internet suggests that the https://www.retrogames.cz/manualy/SNES/Super_Street_Fighter_II_-_SNES_-_Manual.pdf did apparently have a list of moves in the manual, so other console versions may have.
As for similar games, I recall having to use a notebook and write down the moves we figured out for Mortal Kombat. That and buying gaming magazines (the internet wasn't much of a thing back then).
Even back before the days of wide spread Internet access you could often buy magazines/guides that listed the moves for stuff like this, so I doubt anyone cares about this being "missing the point".