So the newest and last character for Capcom’s Street Fighter V’s Season 2 has been released for a couple of week now and fans had different expectations for Zeku. We knew he was the Bushin-Ryu’s last grand master before Guy took over. We knew he was going to be a weird character that could switch fighting styles in the middle of a battle like Gen because of the leaks that came out. But I don’t think anyone expected to see Strider Hiryu enter the world of Capcom’s Street Fighter world!
Zeku, like I mentioned, is a character that actually has two forms, Old Zeku and Young Zeku. They each have two totally different fighting styles and that seems incredibly cool. In his Old Zeku form, he seems to be much more suited for playing a more defensive style, poking at his opponent from a distance. His Young Zeku form, which makes him suspiciously look like Strider Hiryu from the Marvel vs. Capcom games, is more for the offensive minded player as this form gives him access to his arsenal of Target Combos.
This may seem like a boon as you can switch your form depending on the situation but I think, ultimately, Zeku will be more like Gen, with most players just focusing on one form and switching up once in a while just to keep their opponent guessing. In fact, from my time playing with and against Zeku, I have a sneaking suspicion that most players will get really good at using Old Zeku rather than New Zeku, but that’s because Old Zeku seems to be the more well-rounded form of the two.
What makes Old Zeku such a great character is the different special attack kicks he has. All of them can hit his opponent at a great distance and can push them away quite a ways, even on block. Not only that, the attack part of his special attacks seem to last much longer than what you see on the screen, making it difficult to really get a bead on when you can get in. His Bushin Gram-Koku, or his fireball-kick motion special attack, makes Zeku perform a horizontal kick attack with some kind of slashing animation in front of it. The slashing animation can cancel out projectiles while also hitting the opponent, making it an excellent zoning tool.
Old Zeku also has a few anti-air special attacks. His Bushin Gram-Teki, looks like the Koku version but it knocks the opponent up in the air so you can juggle your foe with the Koku. Teki only hits against standing opponents so it’s hard to insert into combos effectively so most of the time, you’re going to be using Koku to end combos. His Bushin Gram- Ban, his “dragon punch” motion special kick attack, is an awesome anti-air as its hitbox seems to go way above Old Zeku’s head! The EX version also seems to be invincible on startup so it’s a great way to get out of pressure… if it hits. All versions of the Ban kick has loads of recovery time so, if you miss or someone blocks it, get ready to be pummeled hard.
His old form also has some weird command jump, called the Bushin Jakura, much like Guy did, which makes sense since the latter was the former’s disciple. He can follow it up with a kick, a grab or a dropping elbow. This is probably Old Zeku’s special attack that feels useless. The grab can only make contact with grounded opponents, which is really strange. The kick is decent as you can use it as a way to maneuver over fireballs in a pinch. But the best one is probably the elbow drop as it crosses up. However, the Jakura as a whole just feels weak as all attacks, whether it be the kick or the elbow drop, doesn’t work as an overhead.
Zeku’s normals in his Old form are decent. However, only a few of them can cancel into his really formidable special attacks. This may seem like a weakness but it doesn’t really feel like a really big one. He can still pressure his opponent really well with them as his normals are mostly safe on block, making it difficult to determine when to actually counteract under a flurry of his punches and kicks. His best normal for poking is his crouching medium punch since he leans forward much like Rufus did in Street Fighter IV. Suffice to say, Old Zeku can be a defensive monster while being able to turn up the pressure with his safe normals when necessary.
That’s not to say Young Zeku, or his Strider form, is no slouch. If you’ve ever played Guy from Street Fighter IV, you already have a handle on what to expect with this form. Young Zeku is incredibly quick and is frightening when up close. While most of his normals aren’t exactly as safe as in his Old form, Young Zeku’s has loads and loads of Target Combos, which are great once you manage to pierce through the opponent’s defenses. Some of his Target Combos are even cancelable into his special moves and even his V-Skill, making them all the more scary.
What makes Young Zeku not as good as Old Zeku is his list of special attacks. Like Guy, Strider/Young Zeku can dash in and follow it up by stopping immediately, do a sliding sweep or an overhead kick. It’s terrible if you try to use them from full screen as an alert foe can do a preemptive move, like jumping forward or perform some move that’s fast enough to counter the dash, if you give them enough time to react to it. Using it at midrange seems to be your best bet for this move. Also, like Guy again, he has the Hozanto, which is a quick shoulder smash that can go under projectiles if timed right. The light version of the Hozanto can be used as an anti-air if spaced properly as well. However, all versions of the Hozanto are unsafe on block.
Young Zeku does have a move that Guy doesn’t have: the Bushin Sho. It’s a quick palm strike and can nullify projectiles. It’s probably Young Zeku’s best special attack. It’s great for ending combos for sure damage and you can even juggle your opponent after a Hozanto. It also seems to push your opponent out of your immediate vicinity, making it difficult to counter when blocked. It’s only real weakness is its short range as it only hits right in front of him. Also, while the medium and heavy versions are safe, those versions come out slow, making them more difficult to put into straight up combos. You’re probably better off using the light version as it comes out comparatively fast and only far reaching quick attacks can actually counter it.
Zeku has two ways to switch between forms. The most convenient way would be his Shukumyo special move as you can do it anywhere and you can even cancel it out of a normal just like any other special attack. Inserting Shukumyo like this may catch your opponent off guard if they expect you to complete a combo. The other way is with his V-Skill but it relies on Zeku connecting cleanly with it. It seems to be much more difficult to connect with his V-Skill as Old Zeku rather than Young Zeku. Young Zeku can combo it with a couple of Target Combos and even with a Hozanto. Old Zeku’s version of the V-Skill has his crouching down and performing an uppercut, which looks like it’s a decent anti air but I have yet to see it make contact with a jumping opponent. Like I said, the most reliable way to change forms is using the Shukumyo special.
Zeku’s V-Trigger, the Itaden, is similar in both forms. Itaden enables Zeku, whether Old or Young, to dash in and link his attacks much like Juri’s V-Trigger, but in one shot. You can only link from your weaker buttons to your harder ones. This V-Trigger can be scary in the right hands as it’s really easy to cancel from a heavy attack, activate V-Trigger, perform another heavy attack then launch into the Idaten chain combo for really big damage. It’s only drawback is you can’t cancel the Idaten chain into a special attack. You can end the chain with your Critical Art, however.
Speaking of Zeku’s Critical Art, Batsuzan Gaisei, it’s incredibly good as well. It seems totally invincible at startup and can even connect from his different special attacks. It doesn’t matter if the special attack is Old Zeku’s Bushin Gram-Teki or Young Zeku’s Hozanto. Properly timed, you can still combo into Batsuzan Gaisei with relative ease. It’s also really quick as well. What makes it better than a lot of the other Critical Arts out there is that it’s a really good anti-air as well.
With that being said, I still think Old Zeku is the form that most people will be using for now because of that form’s ability to zone and frustrate opponents. Young Zeku may have the ability to apply pressure and close the gap between him and his foe but there are already so many other characters that can do this and much better, I may add. I’m not saying that Young Zeku is a total bust but he does seem to be the weaker of the two right now. I do hope there’s some pro in his room right now, figuring some unnoticed tech that no one is utilizing for Young Zeku right now… but I’ll bet that same guy is still going to use Old Zeku a whole lot more still.
It’s a shame… I really like Strider.
Which do you think is the better of Zeku’s forms? Old or Young? Let me know in the comments section below!