Not too long ago I broke down some of what we saw in the latest addition to the Street Fighter franchise. Today I want to talk about why it’s so important for the fighting game community that Street Fighter 6 not only performs well, but also redeems itself in the eyes of all the casual players who picked up Street Fighter V back when it launched in 2016.
Street Fighter’s image
Street Fighter and Capcom have always been at the top, leading by example at the front of the pack when it comes to everything fighting games. They are the company most known for their fighting games, they invented the combo as we know it today, and they created the three of the most well-known video game characters of all time! To top it all off, when fighting games felt like a dying breed back in the early 2000s, it was Capcom with Street Fighter IV that brought the genre back from the dead and reinvigorated the fighting game scene.
This all got lost when Street Fighter V was first released; while the game looked nice and played fine on the surface, the total lack of any single-player content completely alienated new players. The game felt like something made for esports: seemignly tailor-made for veterans, but at the same time lacking a lot of the technical depth that these veterans wanted. While over time the game improved by adding fan-favourite characters, introducing new additions to the game’s main systems, and improving quality of life overall, what didn’t change was that tarnished first experience those new players had all those years back.
Now here we are on the cusp of a new era of Street Fighter with the next game landing sometime around February of 2023. And I cannot explain the amount of happiness I feel that people are loving what they are seeing with Street Fighter 6 so far. This game doesn’t just feel like the next game in the series, this game feels like a passion project by the people at Capcom who adore this series as much as the players do.
We’re seeing transparency from the devs — even with the leaked roster that dropped shortly after the original trailer: the official Street Fighter 6 twitter addressed the situation and handled it excellently. We’re seeing a game that feels like it’s in touch with its roots with the heavy hip-hop and urban theme that it’s sporting.
The game has goddamn battle damage! Outside of Street Fighter II loss screens, we’ve never seen that in a Street Fighter game before. The characters’ poses in and out of “burnout” status feel like series fanservice, too; Chun-Li, for example, normally performs a pose of someone who has mastered kung-fu, but when she runs out of her drive meter and enters a burnout state, she assumes her pose from Street Fighter II. These kinds of things are added to a game when the devs love what they are doing!
Why Street Fighter thriving is important
There are so many amazing fighting games nowadays that we could definitely live in a world without Street Fighter and the fighting game genre would live on and be fine. However, no other title in the genre carries quite as much weight as the famous Capcom flagship, and that’s exactly what Street Fighter is to the whole fighting game community — a flagship.
As the series progressed from the arcade era into esports, Capcom was the first of the developers to create a pro circuit in which top Street Fighter players from all over the world would gather together and compete. The scene had truly become something that lived up to the name of the game’s competitive origin: Street Fighter 2 – The World Warrior.
Now I know not everyone likes the way that esports has affected fighting games: many believe it has led to less depth, less expression and a desire to cater towards more casual players, and this was definitely a big issue for Street Fighter V on launch. If what we have seen from Street Fighter 6 so far is anything to go by, though, then I think veteran players’ fears should be somewhat allayed, as the new game appears to have quite some depth to it.
Now, why am I bringing up esports? Well, that would be because the fighting game scene is about to get hit by something huge in the form of Project L, the Riot-made League of Legends fighting game set to come out in the not-too-distant future. League of Legends is quite possibly one of the most popular and most successful games ever made, and known for its presence in the esports scene.
Fighting games have always been a little bit lower down on the esports scale when it comes to popularity and prize pools, but now we might potentially see a game come in and offer prizes never before seen in fighting games. Plus, this is Riot we’re talking about; for all we know they could add some kind of clause into their contract stating that if you want to compete and earn money in their game, you aren’t allowed to compete in other fighting games titles’ circuits.
My fears may be completely misplaced, but you never can really tell when it comes to these huge developers that have never been a part of the fighting game scene before. Street Fighter thriving is what eases that fear for me. The entire aesthetic of SF6 reflects the scenes and people that made the series into what it is today — and hope it ends up being as powerful as I think it is.
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