Last week, I put up my review for Lucia, one of the 3 new DLC characters for Street Fighter V’s Season 5 DLC. I already planned to review all of the other DLC characters but I started with Lucia because she was the most fun to play as among them. Performing long combos with her and mixing up attack strings just felt the most natural for her. Lucia has the potential to be a strong rushdown character if you manage to get her up close. Basically, she was my favorite character among the new fighters. Who ranks second? That would be your favorite sumo, E. Honda.
How does the returning World Warrior from Street Fighter II fare as the latest character to return in Season 5? Well, like Lucia, E. Honda has a lot of potential and I can only scratch the surface of what he’ll bring to Street Fighter V. I can only give you my impressions on what he can do and my thoughts on his strengths and weaknesses.
First thing I have to talk about is his appearance. I am rather disappointed that Capcom hardly touched E. Honda’s look for Street Fighter V. E. Honda is still your hulking Japanese sumo who looks impressively ripped for someone with all that fat around his gut! He’s still dressed in pretty much his classic sumo wrestling attire but with a huge… towel covering his junk? At least it doesn’t look like he came out of the shower like he did in previous entries? I do kinda wish they gave him some geta sandals or let him keep that big bow on the back from one of his Street Fighter IV alternate costumes. Just spruce him up a bit, Capcom!
One more thing I have to discuss before I go into detail about E. Honda’s gameplay strengths and weaknesses. He has the best character story in all of Street Fighter V. Sure, it has utterly no impact on the overall story of the game. He’s not out to beat M. Bison or become the strongest in the world. He just wants to run a bathhouse and ensure everyone can enjoy it. It’s silly but super fun! Adding to the hilarity are how the proportions just don’t work! E. Honda is always drawn to ridiculous sizes while the other fighters like Laura are just so petite looking!
Now, when it comes to E. Honda’s greatest strength, it would be just that: his strength. His health and stun are higher than normal from what I’ve seen. His normals also generally do a little more damage than average. A basic E. Honda combo can do up to 200 to 250 damage, even without meter! The only real difficulty with doing his combos is that you do need some preparation to confirm into his special moves. As you need to charge back or down to do his Sumo Headbutt or Sumo Smash, you have to be ready to charge back or down at the right time to start the combo.
This can be alleviated by using his Hundred Hand Slap instead but this has its own problems as well. You will need to be ready to piano the punch buttons at the right time to get the special move to come out when you want it. This can be tricky, especially if you’re on a traditional gamepad. Thankfully, for E. Honda players anyway, Hundred Hand Slap is safe on block. So if you mess up, you’re not going to eat a massive punish. Of course, you can reset the combo mid-string and just go for his Oicho Throw command throw, which will do huge damage! This makes E. Honda terrifying up close.
How exactly is he supposed to get in, though? Well, E. Honda is surprisingly light on his feet for such a heavy guy. While not the fastest character by any stretch of the imagination, E. Honda can cover the screen quickly with a couple of dashes. It’s slow to recover but the dash does cover a lot of ground. His two other special moves, the Sumo Headbutt and Sumo Smash, also send E. Honda flying into his opponent. It can be risky as both of them are unsafe on block unless spaced just right. By the way, the EX versions of both of those attacks are great for punishing projectile chuckers. The EX Sumo Headbutt had 1-hit of armor while the EX version of the Sumo Smash is projectile invincible.
Adding to the terror that E. Honda can fill into the hearts of his opponents, his normal attacks all have some utility to them. He doesn’t have a 3-frame attack but the stated armor moves above can make up for that when trying to break up a fake block string. He also has a couple of good anti-air normals with his standing hard punch and standing hard kick, with the punch when the opponent is close and the kick when far. The best thing about his normals is that they have some range to them. His medium punches, both standing and crouching are good pokes. His standing hard punch is good if you can time it at a whiff punish at the right range.
E. Honda’s V-Skill does feel kind of weak. It’s a clap that can nullify projectiles. If he does clap away a projectile, he recovers faster than normal. The V-Skill can also work as an anti-air but it feels rather slow for it to be reliable. It’s just not that good and it only feels useful if you use it as part of his target combo.
Like the rest of the cast, E. Honda has 2 V-Triggers but it feels like his V-Trigger 1 is much more powerful and useful than his V-Trigger 2. When his V-Trigger 1 (which takes 3 bars) is activated, E. Honda can perform a modified Sumo Headbutt that doesn’t need charging. It also has 1-hit of armor, works as an excellent anti-air and can be charged up so that it guard breaks! If the V-Trigger Headbutt connects, E. Honda can perform a second headbutt! The damage from just the 2 V-Trigger headbutts are massive! Did I mention that you can combo into this as well? This makes his V-Trigger 2 look weak and less useful by comparison. Activating his second V-Trigger (which only needs 2 bars) gives him access to a unblockable running grab with 1-hit armor. If E. Honda does grab his opponent, he rushes him or her into the corner automatically. You can combo into this running grab from any of his Hundred Hand Slaps but it doesn’t combo from other attacks, which is a shame. His V-Trigger 2 is okay but E. Honda’s V-Trigger 1 outclasses it.
E. Honda does have some weaknesses. He’s a pretty big target and, as mentioned earlier, he doesn’t really have a quick normal with his fastest button being his standing light kick, which just so happens to be his stubbiest attack. He may be able to do tons of damage but you have to be ready to charge that joystick or smash that punch button at the right time to play him efficiently.
While Capcom did a good job with this rendition of E. Honda, I can’t help but think that, if you’re thinking of playing him, you might be better off picking another big guy who can control space better like Birdie. E. Honda doesn’t feel like a weak character as he has a good enough toolset to overcome the roster thanks to his armored movies. I just feel that he’s a little too complex when you can go a little more braindead with other characters and have the same experience.
What do you think of E. Honda’s Season 5 incarnation? Let me know in the comments section below!