If you’ve played fighting games before, you’ve may have come across what is known as the Shoto character. This is the character ar archetype popularized by Ryu and Ken, the poster boys for Capcom’s amazingly long lived Street Fighter series. Capcom then decided that they needed more of these Shotos, so they made more. Sagat came around and aped Ryu’s fireball-jumping uppercut style. Then came Akuma who could do what they could do and added an air fireball. Soon, the Shoto family ballooned to an enormous size and Street Fighter fans started making fun of Capcom for dipping in the well one too many times.
So, in Street Fighter V, Capcom decided to limit the number of Hadouken spamming, anti air Dragon Punching characters. And this, in my opinion was a bad idea. Because of this, the game doesn’t have staple and fun characters like Sakura, Sagat and Dan. I do understand the decision to cut down on Shotos as having too many will make fans decry that Capcom isn’t all that creative with the cast. But there are ways around this…
The easiest thing to do to curb the impression that all Shotos are thr same is to make them look different! They already have practically the same special moves, so why make them wear the same boring gi as well? And why do they all have the same body type as well? Ryu, Ken, Akhma and Dan all seem to have the same height as each other. Give them a little variation.
Take a look at Sagat. Not many people would think he’s a Shoto because he’s a big, hulking brute with a shaved head and an eyepatch. He looks totally different from his rival Ryu. In fact, I’m betting some of you reading this thinks it’s outrageous that I think Sagat is a Shoto. But he does fit the description of what a Shoto is. It’s probably for this very reason why he isn’t in Street Fighter V yet. The same line of thinking can be applied to Sakura. She’s a lithe nimble girl so, yeah, she definitely doesn’t look like like a Shoto even though she’s just mimicking Ryu’s special attacks.
Another reason why it seems like Capcom went to the well too often with Shotos is because of all the different versions of the ones they already had in the roster. I understand the idea of creating a version of Ryu that embraced the Satsui no Hado is a great idea storyline wise. But this just seems lazy to fill in a roster slot with Evil Ryu. It’s also ridiculous to add a Violent Ken and a Shin Akuma. But Capcom did so because it would be cool. The problem is that, even though Evil Ryu plays kind of differently, he’s still Ryu. The same can be said for Violent Ken and Shin Akuma. I don’t fans would mind if Capcom added more new and unique Shotos that played differently than the current archetype. This is why fans were receptive with Sakura. Maybe a part of the reason was because she was a cute schoolgirl, but no one had issues with her being just another Shoto because her moveset was different enough to seem fresh.
I will say that Capcom has been rather good in actually making all the Shotos play differently from each other. They do go through the trouble of giving them different normals and giving their special attacks varied properties. But there are times when I think Capcom could do a bit more than just that. Have you noticed that all Shotos always use the same commands? There’s a reason why a quarter circle forward motion is also called a fireball motion and that weird zigzag motion is called a dragon punch motion. It’s been the standard way of performing those specific moves since time immemorial. Well, do all Shotos have to have the same motions?
Capcom can actually mix the controls up a bit and get creative to make a Shoto that doesn’t really control like one. It would be totally different and something to get used to but I think it would work. I’m all ready to see what a Shoto would feel like if, instead of those quarter circle motions, he uses charge motions instead. It may seem like it wouldn’t work but, hey! Capcom can try something new once in a while. If Vega/Claw can suddenly not be a charge character in Street Fighter V, why not a brand new Shoto not using charge motions?
In fact, do all Shotos just have to be able to use the three main moves they’re known for? I actually don’t think they all have to have the trio of fireball, hurricane kick and dragon punch specials all the time. There are actually a couple of Shotos already in canon that don’t. One of them is Sean as he doesn’t have a traditional fireball. The other one I can think of is, oddly enough, Ryu and Ken’s very own master, Gouken. It’s weird that Gouken’s main anti-air is actually his Hurricane Kick instead of the tried and tested Dragon Punch. But fans ultimately accepted both Sean and Gouken even thought both of them don’t follow the traditional Shoto paradigm.
I do think it’s time that Capcom remove their self-imposed ban on Shotos. I don’t think anyone really has a problem with Shotos. I think the problem is when a new Shoto character is released, they’re usually just a variation of another Shoto, much like Evil Ryu is just an… evil-er version of Ryu. If Capcom actually came out with a totally brand new character that just so happened to study the same martial arts style as Ryu and Ken but added his own twist and style to it, fans would be fine. In fact, they might actually be excited to play a Shoto that plays differently than the other Shotos that came before him or her.
Besides, I really want to see a college-aged Sakura enter the fray of Street Fighter V in Season 3.
Do you have a problem with the number of Shotos in Street Fighter? Who’s your favorite Shoto? Let me know in the comments section below!