Episode 348: The Evolution of Street Fighter V

Hiya!

It seems so long ago and yet it also seems like just yesterday that Street Fighter V was announced. It’s actually been a good 4 years since Capcom released the game but you can tell the game is winding down. There seems to be no more plans for any additional characters and, with the release of Champion Edition, it does feel like Street Fighter V has reached its final form, so to speak.

With 4 years of development under its belt, the game does have a solid history. Good things and bad things have happened throughout those years. So, with Capcom finally ending support for it, I decided to take one long look at the game’s past and break down my thoughts and feelings I had along those years.

While Street Fighter V was released in February of 2016, the game was already getting some news when Yoshinori Ono and some Capcom staff gave us a little taste of what the game was going to be like in EVO 2014. It only had 2 characters available, Ryu and Chun-Li. The game looked good but also rough at the same time. The animations especially looked sluggish at times and some moves, like Chun-Li’s multiple hand combo and her Tensai-Ranka-esque attack was taken out. The UI looked really ugly also. Even so, I was super excited to try it out… which is why I had to try the beta.

Well, to say I was weirded out by the beta was an understatement. The only thing you can do, if I remember correctly, was go into training mode to play against some of the characters or play online. To say playing online was rough would be an understatement! If you think the netcode for Street Fighter V is bad now, it was horrendous for me during the beta! It certainly didn’t help matters that I was in the Philippines, a country known for lousy internet service! Imagine what a laggy mess that was like! I also couldn’t really play the beta all that much because I kept on getting disconnected from the server!

Anyway, when the official release was out, I did like the game… but I didn’t love it. Street Fighter V, admittedly, was an unfinished product upon its release in February 2016. I didn’t complain about the gameplay aspect since the actual engine and mechanics were solid. The problem was the content. As in there wasn’t much in the form of content.

For some inexplicable reason, Capcom scrimped on a lot of the stuff that made fighting games fun for the single player. There was no arcade mode. There were a few ways to play against the CPU. You could play against a braindead computer opponent through the individual Character Story mode. You can also fiddle with the settings in Training mode to get the CPU to control the other character. You could try your luck with the Survival mode, wherein the computer starts to read your controller inputs at higher levels! I did manage beat it all the way to Stage 100 but I had to cheese my way using Vega/Claw’s wall dives all the way. Even with this cheap method, it was tough going!

The worst thing about Street Fighter V’s early days was the online aspect. You would think that Capcom, by removing most of the single player content, would ensure the online game parts would be as smooth as silk. Nope! Getting an actual online match was a pain as I couldn’t connect with anyone most of the time!

40002? What a very undramatic error message.

Slowly but surely, Capcom did start adding some stuff to the game. After a couple of months, they opened up the in-game store where you could buy stuff using either real money or Fight Money, Street Fighter V’s in-game currency. Capcom touted that you could actually earn enough Fight Money to get all of the DLC characters for free. While that’s technically true, you can only earn just enough and you’ll have to grind really hard to win more Fight Money later on. I do think Fight Money was a good idea but a poorly executed move. Then again, maybe it was intentionally a poorly executed move so that more people would use their hard earned real money to buy all the stuff. I mean, that’s what I did with every Season Pack DLC!

Season 1 also had a few additional stuff, such as A Shadow Falls, Street Fighter V’s full-fledged Story campaign. It took a while to come out but, frankly speaking, it wasn’t worth the wait. A Shadow Falls did give us a brief glimpse to future characters like Urien and Juri as well as Kolin and Alex. However, the actual story of A Shadow Falls was a bust. It was fun when it came out, I will admit, but that was because this was the only “real” single player content that didn’t end in a couple of minutes! I may have liked it when it came out but I haven’t touched A Shadow Falls ever since I completed it.

The first 2 seasons of Street Fighter V were kind of a slog, in retrospect. The game was solid and Capcom was releasing 6 new characters per season. During Season 1, we got Alex, Guile, Balrog/Boxer, Urien, Juri and Ibuki. In Season 2, we got mostly newcomers with Akuma/Gouki as the only returning character. We did get Kolin, Ed, Abigail, Menat and Zeku as well. I would actually say that a lot of the tournament caliber characters came from these 2 seasons. While there were some duds (Alex and Ed come to mind), it’s not odd to see someone pull out a character from either Season 1 or 2 in a big tournament and climb the tournament ladder quickly. It was instant for Akuma, Guile, Ibuki and Urien but it did take some time for the likes of Kolin, Menat and Zeku to get their fanbase. Wish I could say the same for Necalli, FANG and even Laura. Oh, Rashid is still top tier but even that took a while!

Season 3 is when things started to really come together for Street Fighter V. I don’t know what happened but it looked like Capcom finally heard the complaints fans have been making and added an arcade mode! Hence, Season 3 was the birth of Arcade Edition. There were the requisite balance changes for the roster as well as new characters. Another huge addition were the secondary V-Triggers! Each character can now pick and choose what V-Trigger would benefit them. Chun-Li, Rashid and M. Bison got really good secondary V-Triggers but some, like Ryu and Akuma, should stick to their original. Still, giving players the freedom to choose is always nice.

However, the thing that really elevated Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition was not just the traditional arcade ladder but how they implemented the arcade ladder! There are a total of 6 arcade mode options and each of them correspond to a different version of Street Fighter! You can only play characters from the Alpha series when playing Street Fighter Alpha, for example. You do get a ending for each character but part of the charm is collecting all of the art, which can only be done by achieving some special tasks, like completing the bonus stage… which I haven’t done yet! Just stay on your side and toss me the barrels, stupid helper punk guy!

While the new content made Arcade Mode the best version of Street Fighter V yet, the new characters for the season left much to be desired. While it was great to see the likes of Sakura, Blanka, Cody and Sagat return, they weren’t as fun as that one new character. No, it’s not poor old Falke. I’m talking about G! G is one of the most hype characters introduced in the game thanks to his Presidentiality gimmick! His moves are good and, man, that V-Trigger! If there was ever a comeback mechanic, G’s Maximum President is it!

Season 4 was pretty much the sign that Capcom was going to end support for Street Fighter V sooner than later. They only added 4 new characters, E. Honda, Poison, Lucia and Kage. Besides Poison and maybe Lucia, I haven’t really seen any character from Season 4 in the tournament scene just yet. Besides the aforementioned new additions to the now bulging roster and some modifications to some moves, Season 4 also added something new: a secondary V-Skill for each character! Some of them, like Guile’s, Vega/Claw and Sakura drew out a great new V-Skill, others such as Ryu and FANG did draw the short straw. In my opinion, just by adding new V-Skills elevated Street Fighter V even more to probably its best state yet.

This leads us to the current season, dubbed Champion Edition. While it’s technically not a new season, it does feel like it is. This is the final year Street Fighter V will be part of the Capcom Pro Tour. There doesn’t seem to be any new updates on the horizon. We did get a slew of balance changes as well as a couple of new characters, Gill and Seth. This rounds Street Fighter V’s cast of characters to a healthy 40, which isn’t bad at all!

All that Fight Money I’ve been collecting is now useless since all it does is buy extra Fighting Chances now, since the release of Champion Edition, all the new characters most of the DLC costumes and stages are now unlocked by default. I will admit I’m rather vexed by this since I spent so much money on Chun-Li costumes over the years, and, boy, are there are lot of Chun-Li costumes! Speaking of costumes, you can tell that Capcom focused on all the female characters getting new threads because that’s obviously what sells! I’m still waiting for my FANG swimsuit costume, Capcom!

It did take Capcom a while to get the game to the great state it is in now. I will admit that, when it launched, the game was a crapfest as there wasn’t a reason for a casual or single player to get it. It actually took them 2 whole years for Street Fighter V to get good with Arcade Edition. It was worth buying that time then. Oddly enough, it’s hard for me to heartily recommend buying Street Fighter V: Champion Edition now. At around $30 US, it seems like a steep price for a 4-year old game, even though it’s the best its ever going to be. I’ll bet all my unused Fight Money Capcom will placing Street Fighter V in the discount bin next year… when they reveal Street Fighter VI.

Byee!

What are your memories of Street Fighter V? Let me know in the comments section below!

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