Way back when Street Fighter IV was new, I was torn between two characters with who I was going to main. The first one was Vega, the narcissistic, claw-wielding ninja bullfighter from Spain, or Blanka, the green man-beast from Brazil. I ultimately stuck it out with Vega because, well, he had a claw (how does he get away with carrying an actual weapon in a fighting tournament?), giving him some reach and I do love his design. But there was always something about Blanka that I also loved. I loved his design as well and I always thought his special ball attacks were just crazy and weirdly enamoring, which is why I always find it strange that not many people like Blanka!
So, when it was revealed that Blanka was going to be one of the newest additions to the Street Fighter V roster in Season 3, I wasn’t totally surprised that there were a good number of fans who expressed their dismay when Blanka appeared in the video running next to Sakura. Well, I personally was hyped to see that green fuzzball back in action! In fact, while most people saved up their hype for either Cody (who’s cleaned up pretty nicely after his prison stint) or, probably more so, Sagat (who just got walloped in the face by Ryu), my hype was already spent because of Blanka! That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to Sagat, Cody, Sakura and even the new characters like Falke and the oddly named G. But, for me, Blanka is where it’s at!
The biggest reason why I’m really excited for Blanka is that he’s usually a “charge motion” character. I don’t get why Capcom has skewed the game for more characters that use quarter-circle motions but, in Street Fighter V, it seems like a lot of charge motion characters have been seeing a dominant resurgence. A few of the most feared characters in the game right now are Urien, Balrog and Guile. These three characters don’t follow the usual archetype of fireball motions and what-not. These characters use the “hold back/down” motion, which is something I’m more comfortable with. I may have switched back to Vega/Claw after trying out Balrog and Guile for a bit but that was because I never felt comfortable playing as the two latter characters.
Anyway, I really hope Capcom decides to retain Blanka’s control scheme of being a charge character. It does really seem to suit the character because of his rather sneaky special attacks. Speaking of which, his special attacks is another reason why I love the character. Most of Blanka’s attack generally revolve around him curling up into a ball and hurling himself into his opponent. If his opponent is on the ground, Blanka’s flings himself horizontally. If the opponent is in the air, he launches himself vertically in the air. Easy-peasy, right? But the reason why I love Blanka is, while his attacks seem straightforward, it’s how you use them effectively that makes them scary. You can use a light vertical ball to more forward and then attack with a sweep or go for a throw. The vertical version is a great way to get out of sticky situations in certain situations. It’s the utility of these attacks that make Blanka a great character.
These special attacks make him incredibly difficult to deal with as well. Blanka can generally keep the pressure on by just spamming his horizontal balls at the right distance. Well, that was before Capcom decided to nerf the move in one of Street Fighter IV’s updates so that you can punish him, even if you connect with it cleanly. Capcom did fix it somewhat with Ultra Street Fighter IV by making the heavy version knock the opponent down but the nerf was just a bit too much.
Blanka is also one of those tricky characters to fight against because he does have a few more tricks up his furry sleeves. The one that people really hate seems to be his hop as he can go behind his opponent in a flash. I don’t get why people are so upset by this since we already have characters like M. Bison in his V-Trigger, who can dash through his foe, as well as Ibuki that’s always had a command dash that does the same thing. Another move is his low slide, which can go under projectiles. Once again, why do people hate this move so much? There are so many other characters that can do this now! Even Chun-Li’s crouching medium punch has this ability in Street Figther V!
I guess this is why a lot of fans do hate Blanka; he’s just got a lot of stuff you have to take into account, which is going to be incredibly difficult to keep track on in a game like Street Fighter V. He feels like a gimmicky character that relies too much on shenanigans to win matches. To that, I say: so what? There have been so many characters that are incredibly difficult to deal with in Street Fighter V (I’m looking at you, Urien) or characters that rely on using the same attacks over and over again to defeat their opponent (Oh hai Rashid!). These characters have been in Street Fighter V for a long while so I really don’t get why Blanka is reviled for these very same reasons.
When Blanka does join the Street Fighter V roster sometime next year, I hope Capcom will keep his in-your-face, shenanigan-laced offensive playstyle that made people hate/love him in the first place. Honestly, the only thing I would change about him would be the way to activate his electricity special. Mashing buttons may be fun when you’re a kid but I would like to have more control over activating it. Maybe make it a “dragon punch” motion or something. After all, it seems like Capcom needs to give all charge characters at least one “motion” special. His electricity would fit that nicely.
Oh, and keep his hairy look as well. Looks much better on him than Akuma’s “dandilion” haircut.
Which camp do you belong to? Do you hate Blanka or love the character? Let me know in the comments section below!