Collect your Quarters: ‘Street Fighter’ teases continuation title

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    A mysterious timer posted on the official website for Japanese video game developer Capcom sparked speculation around what announcement would soon be made. Fans connected the dots, forming a timeline which placed the end of the six-day countdown in alignment with the final round of Capcom’s annual Pro Tour fighting game competition. Following the final round of the “Street Fighter V” (2016) tournament, Esports commentators transitioned viewers into two major announcements. A comprehensive anniversary collection of classic Capcom fighter series has been set for release in June 2022.

    Courtesy of Capcom

    What followed was a 40-second teaser clip, displaying a hyper-realistic model of “Street Fighter’s” main character, Ryu preparing to engage in combat with newcomer Luke. The art style of this short trailer is a prominent takeaway and glimpse into the direction this installment will take. From drops of sweat and steam rising off of each character model to the detailed skin blemishes, “Street Fighter” has never looked this realistic before.

    To say this fighting game brand has become a cultural force would be an understatement. The legacy begins with the first installment of the series which came in 1987, a game considered to be ahead of its time. A bug in the original engine of the arcade release allowed players to perform chain combos, linking one attack to another and maximizing damage inflicted on opponents. With clunky mechanics and an input system yielding hit or (more often than not) miss command of special moves, the original “Street Fighter” game was popular but failed to innovate by many standards. It did, however, introduce player one to the franchise’s poster-boy Ryu and his sparring partner Ken, then only playable as player two. Retrospectively, “Street Fighter” is merely a time capsule to a time before the popularization of fighting games in the gaming industry.

    After the release of a few spinoff entries, Capcom distributed the title that single handedly changed the landscape of the fighting game community forever: “Street Fighter II: The World Warrior” (1991). Its overall polished look and full roster of characters with unique movesets to choose from slated the game for success early on. Over seven re-releases and updates have followed in the subsequent years, with the latest entry dating as recent as 2017. “Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers” (1993) introduced the super combo, a move that inflicts even greater damage after successfully executing an intricate input. More than a mere sequel, “Street Fighter II” is a far cry from its predecessor.

    From the USSR based professional wrestler, Zangief, to the All-American, flash kicking Guile, there is no denying the “Street Fighter” roster is rooted in caricatures of global identities. While the fighting styles are derived from world athletics and martial arts — muay thai, kickboxing, tai chi among others — the true appeal for casual players is the thrill that comes with pulling off a dragon punch or fireball for the first time. It is no surprise “Hadouken” is one of the most recognizable sound bites in gaming history.

    The transition from 2D to 3D graphics was an unsteady process across the gaming industry. For fighting games, the struggle prevailed. As franchises like “Tekken,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Soul Calibur” found their footing in the new terrain, “Street Fighter” continued on as a 2D fighter. With titles like “Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior’s Destiny,” a prequel to “Street Fighter II” and “Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike” which houses timeless competitive play, there was a looming notion that the brand would inevitably get left behind.

    Just short of three decades after the release of the original World Warriors title, “Street Fighter IV” (2009) served as the canonical sequel to “Street Fighter II.” The distinctly stylized graphics influenced by calligraphy-esque ink patterns premiered alongside a catchy pop-rock anthem “The Next Door” (2009) by the 14-member Japanese boy band EXILE. Apart from spinoff titles, this trailer release marked the first time fan favorite characters Ken, Chun-Li and Sagat could be seen battling with 3D style graphics.

    “Street Fighter 6” seems to be pushing forward the foundational artstyle found in the franchise’s previous 3D games with each character having personalized ink effects emphasizing move sets. Whether the gameplay will reflect the simplicity of earlier entries or feature a variety of fighting modes like the latest editions is still uncertain. The game will surely thrive if its developers focus intently on creating solid training and story modes. Online play with adequate rollback can also make-or-break player experience. Bonus content like dramatic battles and survival mode would be a treat for dedicated, seasoned “Street Fighter” aficionados.

    “Street Fighter” is undoubtedly Capcom’s most beloved and mainstream intellectual property. Following a ten year slump in the company’s fighting game department, the success of this title is crucial. Developers involved with “Street Fighter IV” began hosting official announcements via livestream, racking up audience engagement with the franchise once again. Further details about “Street Fighter 6” are set to come this summer.

    Verdict: Since Capcom has become infamous for launching vanilla versions of their games with the bulk of its superior content being made available for download in the years to come, Street Fighter 6 will have to be a solid game upon initial release to keep its core audience invested.

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