A new challenger has arrived!
I have to admit, I’ve always been a Mortal Kombat guy. While you probably already now that (If you’ve read any of my work on the site), naturally I still hold a special place in my heart for the arcade standard that is Street Fighter. Spine pulling and bloody spears are great and all, but nothing beats the satisfaction of a killer “HADOKEN” or a fiery Dragon Punch to end the match in a burst of psychedelic colors. Street Fighter is considered the grand-daddy of them all, as Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon reveals their fatalities originate from the popular “dizzy” mechanic players sometimes become stuck in.
And if there is one thing this classic fighting franchise knows how to do, it’s milk a sequel.
There is only one thing more common-place in this series than button mashing and the awesome ass-kickery that ensues. Of course I’m referring the myriad of “upgraded” editions. Starting with Street Fighter II, Capcom has somehow managed to take three sequels and stretch them out to over 20+ (not counting the vs. spin-off series or Alpha prequels). The latest outing with Street Fighter IV is no exception. In fact, after getting its third revamp (fourth version overall), the game has expanded to a select screen of characters so large…it’s almost bursting at the seams! The staff of the Xbox Wire recently touted Ultra Street Fighter IV’s robust roster, bragging that “…the “Street Fighter” roster has now swelled to a whopping 44 characters. If you were trying out a different character every day, that means you’d go about a month-and-a-half before lapping back to someone you tried before…That’s a lot of characters. It means more choices for whatever play style you want, and more challenges for people who already have their one or two characters, and don’t want to change things up.”
Even though they’ve clearly become a master at it, Capcom knows it can only squeeze so much juice from one lemon before it’s time to move on to another. That means Street Fighter V has to happen eventually. While I enjoyed my time sent with the many permutations of the current sequel, I do feel there is room for improvement (or at least adjustment).
Let’s take a look at a few key tweaks that would mean a lot to an old Street Fighter vet like myself.
Is button mashing really such a bad thing?
We’ve all met them. That guy or girl sitting on the couch (or in the arcade if your old enough to remember that) whom just begins whaling away at the controls, furiously hoping to score a few critical hits by accident. While I don’t necessarily want to go back to something that simplistic, the tournament level moves list that you have to master in order to hang with today’s Street Fighter crowd is no joke. At the time, I thought quarter-circle forward was tough to pull off, but today’s advanced level of counters, cancels and reversals are enough to make your head spin. Is there really no happy medium anymore?
Stylized For Stylistic Sake!
Granted, the visuals of Street Fighter IV were pretty freakin’ stellar. The game itself has always leaned towards more of a Japanese (almost Anime) flavor in years past, very much like playing a real-time cartoon. However, and maybe this is the MK fan in me, it would be nice to see Street Fighter take a more grounded approach at some point. I’d love to see the same over the top super moves and bad-ass character animations in a more modern, realistic art style. Some might call this sacrilege, but I think it could be an awesome breath of fresh air. And no I’m not suggesting it look like the ‘Van Damn Street Fighter game…which was based on a movie…which was based on the game.
A little less conversation and a little more action please…except the opposite.
OK, I can already hear the comments section explode in a myriad of rants and raves suggesting that “Jason wants a boring point and click Street Fighter game!” While this is of course not true, I do think something could be said for the lack-luster story telling. I realize that when your connecting to a multiplayer lobby or standing in line to take on your next opponent at a high-profile tournament, story don’t mean jack! But people sometimes forget the rich mythology the earlier games were built upon. A large portion of what you see today in Street Fighter games are things based on obscure references from the comics or animated series, while other back-stories are just plain badly written. The next game, I hope, will see a return to the roots of crafting intriguing narratives that tie the characters together in a more western style (think Reservoir Dogs and less Dragon Ball Z).
While the next game is likely years away, it’s never too late to start laying the ground work. I’m sure there is a cork-board in a Capcom backroom somewhere, covered in post-it notes with possible ideas scribbled on them. While I do feel the franchise I love has run away from me in recent years, I would like to make a triumphant return when the next sequel eventually makes its debut.
I can’t imagine I’m alone in this, as there must be other Street Fighter fans out there whom are also having trouble finding their footing in this new vision of the series. Let’s hope Street Fighter V changes all that.