For the past couple of weeks, I have been giving my impressions of the newly dropped characters for Street Fighter V’s Season 5. Capcom made us wait for a long time and I myself have been taking my time to check on the characters. I already gave my thoughts on Lucia and E. Honda for a specific reason. I think, among the 3 new characters, they are the ones that we’ll be seeing a lot of because of their strengths. That does mean that, sadly, I do think that Poison is the weakest of the trio. Not that she’s a weak character but she does seem to be the character that will really take some time to really squeeze out her potential.
Like with Lucia and E. Honda, let’s go talk about her aesthetics. Poison’s physical appearance hasn’t changed much since her Ultra Street Fighter IV form. Besides having shorter hair, she looks virtually the same. She still has one of the most revealing outfits with the torn wifebeater shirt and ridiculously short jean shorts. Capcom did make a few changes, like giving her a stocking on one leg while the other stocking seems to be covering her other arm. Besides that, she’s still has one of the most sultry looking character designs in the game.
There is one really major change in her appearance from Ultra Street Fighter IV but it actually plays into how she controls in Street Fighter V. Instead of carrying a riding crop as a weapon, Poison now bring a whip into the battlefield. This is a big switch as it also changes the way Capcom design her gameplay. In Ultra Street Fighter IV, she generally played like a Shoto who can throw fireballs and uppercut jumpers. In Street Fighter V, she lost all of her moves from the previous game and she plays a little more like a Dhalsim as she built to frustrate the opponent with her keepaway game.
In actuality, most of Poison’s normals have a shorter range than you would expect. The only ones that do have really good range would be the ones executed with her heavy punch. The standing heavy punch hits way in front while the crouching version hits much further away and hits low. There are some drawbacks to them, however. Like Dhalsim, you can whiff punish these attacks by hitting the whip so you can’t really throw them out willy-nilly against someone expecting them or an opponent with really good reactions. Those normal attack also have tremendous startup and recovery so someone with really good reactions might be able to stuff them or, if they’re blocked when the opponent is too close, Poison can eat a damaging combo in retaliation.
Poison does have some other really good normals. Her crouching medium punch is a fantastic anti-air and, while it doesn’t have much horizontal range, you can link it into her standing medium punch normally or her standing heavy kick on counter hit. It also forces her opponent to stand, enabling her to attack with her V-Skill; more on that later. Her standing medium kick has good range and is special cancellable. I think that her standing heavy kick is underrated. It may not look like it has a lot of range but it does move Poison forward slightly so does have somewhat deceptive range.
The meat of Poison’s moves are definitely her special attacks. All of them have some utility but takes a lot of finesse to use as one mistake with their usage can lead to her taking a huge punish. Her multi-hitting whip is her most damaging special but is super unsafe on block. It can also mix up the opponent if you switch between her light or medium and her heavy versions. The light and medium version leaves them standing while the heavy version knocks the opponent down. Since they look the same, you can use it to confuse your opponent into thinking one is another. Her forward moving flip kick can go over projectiles with correct timing and the best version is probably the medium kick version since you can link it into her fastest normal, the standing light punch. Her upper heel kick is a great anti-air as Poison doesn’t have an upward hurtbox when executing it. They also work well in combos but you have to be aware that the heavier the attack, the slower the startup. So using the wrong version will lead you receiving a huge spanking!
Poison’s most useful move is her whip stance. The light version hits low, the medium has the best range and the heavy doesn’t hit grounded opponents but can snipe jumpers. You can also delay or even cancel the attack portion. Delaying the attack does leave Poison unable to block and in a counter state but you can use it to make them meaty against characters getting up off the ground. The EX versions give the attacks other properties. The low version will knock them into the air, enabling Poison to follow up with the light version of the upper heel kick. The medium version pulls the opponent closer for either a throw or a frame trap. The heavy version has better juggle ability. The best thing about the whip stance is that you can cancel it and attack immediately, which can lead into some devastating combos. It’s a more advanced technique; I can’t do it reliably and I can’t even complete Poison’s 9th trial because of how hard it is! I can, however, see pros using the cancel to tack on a lot of damage.
While all of the things I mentioned may make Poison seem like a perfectly utilitarian character, her biggest weakness are her V-Skill and her V-Triggers. Her V-Skill has her using the whip to swing across the screen like a certain superhero who is being torn between Sony and Disney. It goes through projectiles but can be ducked under. This is why, if you’re putting this in combos, you might need to always start with a crouching medium punch to make sure it connects. It’s unsafe on block but, since Poison can follow it up with another attack, you can make it safe and actually do a mixup or two. Even so, it’s rather slow and there are going be players who will just start anti-airing it.
Her V-Triggers are rather disappointing. Her V-Trigger 1, Poison Cocktail, lets her throw molotov cocktails. They don’t do all that much damage but they can juggle the opponent really well. It’s main purpose, however, is to set the floor on fire, causing white damage to your opponent, much like Dhalsim’s V-Trigger 1. This is good in theory as it can cause your opponent to panic but a really calm and collected player will be able to withstand the pressure and, well, play normally. This feels like a really setup heavy V-Trigger. Her V-Trigger 2, Toxic Glamor, gives Poison two command grabs. The close version comes out quickly, does really good damage but has very little range. You can use her EX medium whip stance to combo into this version. The far range version has Poison winding up but can latch onto juggled opponents. V-Trigger 2 is good for resetting the situation but will always end with the opponent knocked down.
Her weak V-Skill and V-Triggers aren’t her biggest weakness, however. What makes Poison seem low tier is that, besides her Critical Art, she doesn’t have any invincible moves. She also doesn’t have any attack that’s great for getting her off her back. This means that, once the opponent gets in close, it’ll be hard for Poison to get back into mid-range, which is where she excels thanks to her long-range attacks.
I do think that, right now, Poison does seem weak but that’s because her offense isn’t good. However, if the Poison player can keep the opponent at a distance with her attacks and do a good job at controlling them into staying at Poison’s range, they can win. The problem is that, right now, there are some characters, namely Menat and even Dhalsim, that can stand toe-to-toe with her on that aspect.
With that said, Poison can be devastating under the right hands. A guy like Infiltration, who is good at frustrating opponents, or Justin Wong, who like the play the defensive game in Street Fighter V, can make Poison work for them. While she seems weak, I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what she brings to the table. I believe our perception of Poison will change once more of her tech is explored.
What’s your take on Street Fighter V’s version of Poison? Let me know in the comments section below!