It’s been a rough 2 years for Street Fighter fans. After a really rocky launch in 2016 and a lackluster DLC roster last year, Capcom really needed something big to reignite fans to return to the game. It looks like they did with the start of Season 3, which just so happened to coincide with the addition and incredibly huge patch that is Arcade Edition. While I’m guessing fans are excited about Arcade Edition’s new bells and whistles, and I am as well to be frank, the thing I was really eager to actually use was the release of Season 3’s first new DLC character. It’s none other than Ryu’s number 1 fan (and rather yandere girl) Sakura!
While I’ve never been one to really use Sakura in any of the previous Street Fighter games, I’ve always liked her overall design and character. I have been thinking though that it was time for her to graduate from high school and move on to something different like what was shown in her ending in Street Fighter IV. Thankfully, Capcom realized this too, as Sakura has finally ditched her sailor school uniform and… what the heck is she wearing? Why does she have a headset on? Is she a motivational speaker now? Okay, I did some research and apparently it’s supposed to be her uniform in the arcade she works in part-time or something. Whatever it is, it looks good!
One of the reasons why I like Sakura’s overall character design is that she has a rather cheerful and pleasing personality. She’s a tomboy, which is why she likes fighting and getting stronger like her idol, Ryu. Yet she still manages to be feminine, striking a really good balance between the two. She still hasn’t lost her charm so I’m glad Capcom didn’t mess that aspect!
As much as I would like to control the character because of how much I like her (but not in a yandere way), I know I can’t. For one, she’s a Shoto character, which has her offense revolve around the special moves that other Shotos use: the fireball, hurricane kick and dragon punch. However, she’s added her own twist to these special moves and they function much differently than Ryu and the other’s versions. In any case, I’ve always had a problem really getting good at using Shotos for some strange reason. I know it’s weird since Ryu is technically the entry point in any Street Fighter game. Whatever the case, I can use them but I can’t really get good at them enough to be competitive with them.
The second reason is actually the biggest reason. Sakura has always been a fighter that’s relied on executing timed link attacks, juggles and long combos to get the most damage. This fact hasn’t changed in Street Fighter V. She’s still a combo monster because of the aforementioned variations of her Shoto specials. They have been toned down since Street Fighter IV as some of them are reliant on using EX meter and her V-Triggers but she still has got some monstrous combos even without them thanks to her rather good normals.
Capcom may have taken away Sakura’s hurricane kick into light kick loops from Street Fighter IV but she can still pump out the damage. This is mostly due to her phenomenal standing medium punch button as it causes enough hit stun for her to link into her crouching medium kick or back+heavy punch. Yes, it does have pitiful range but she can mix that up with her regular standing heavy punch, which you can buffer into pretty much any of her special attacks. It also seems like it’ll be difficult to jump in on Sakura as she has a few normals that’ll knock them out of the air.
Her specials, as mentioned, are just modified versions of all Shotos pre-packaged attacks. Her fireball is your typical projectile but she can charge it up extra damage and, unlike other Shotos, she actually has a fireball that’s angled upwards that you can use to anti-air opponents if you do it early. The great thing about the anti-air fireball is that you can juggle your opponent afterwards, which is where Sakura excels at. Her version of the dragon punch isn’t an anti-air. Rather it’s a forward moving punch that’s great for ending combos and pushing the opponent to the corner. It’s super unsafe, though, so Sakura will eat tons of damage and probably get Crush Countered if this is blocked. Her version of the hurricane kick is something I’ve never been able to get a grasp on before but I do know it’s a great move for extending combos. The medium kick version seems to be the best version in Street Fighter V because you can link the move into her crouching light punch if you’re close enough.
Sakura’s V-Skill is rather weird but does have a lot of utility. It’s a quick hop forward that can follow with either a dive kick, jumping hammer punch that you can juggle the opponent with up to three times and a grab. Basically, it’s a lot like Akuma’s special attack where he jumps at you. The only real thing that makes this special is that each punch or kick has juggle properties. Her Critical Art has two variations, depending on the distance of your opponent. If he/she is far away, Sakura throws a massive fireball at them. If she’s close and the projectile connects, Sakura will go into a canned combo animation for much more damage.
The thing that makes Sakura incredibly special and dangerous this time around are her V-Triggers. Both V-Triggers power up some of her special attacks. The first one strengthens her fireball and adds a energy palm strike, kind of like a poor (wo)man’s Kikosho that Chun-Li uses. The second one improves her dragon punch and hurricane kick. While the first V-Trigger can be terrifying, it’s her second one that has me worried as the enhancements to the hurricane kick and dragon punch simply makes Sakura a juggle master! When activated, Sakura’s second V-Trigger will power up the hurricane kick so that it comes out faster, making it easier to combo into. Not only that, the final hit of the hurricane kick will launch the opponent into the air, giving Sakura the option to juggle them with an anti-air fireball, V-Skill jump attack or a multi-hitting dragon punch! I can definitely see more people using the second one over the first V-Trigger based on this ability.
Overall, Sakura is a great character and has the potential to be one of the more powerful characters in the roster. At the very least, she can stand up to most of the cast with ease thanks to her great combo ability. I may like the character but I’m not looking forward to facing off against her online!
What do you think of Sakura in Street Fighter V? Let me know in the comments section below!