When it comes to fighting games, only a few can hold a candle to the Street Fighter series and its track record of excellent breakneck melee action. Since 1987, five main Street Fighter games and numerous crossovers and spin-offs have been released.
Street Fighter V (2016) represents the series at its very best. It is a masterful fighting game that has managed to not lose touch with its roots over the last three decades: a true modern classic.
Young and old alike, if you haven’t played a Street Fighter game, let’s just say you’re missing out living under that rock. But nevertheless, in case you never got to experience the fighting game phenomenon, here’s a brief history of the series and a rundown on how their mechanics work.
Following the success of the original Street Fighter, Street Fighter II came out in 1991, eclipsing its predecessor and cementing the series as Capcom’s flagship franchise. The second installment in the series established the limited health-bar, side-scrolling fighting game formula, which titles like Mortal Kombat still use to this very day.
The fighting system of the game seems relatively rudimentary on the surface, yet it is also loaded with underlying complexities. The inputs to do basic kicks and punches, directions, and even special moves are simple enough to execute, but the best players know how to chain these very specific moves into longer, lethal combos to an absolutely devastating effect. In this way Street Fighter is at once very approachable but on the level of more technical fighters like the Tekken or Soul Calibur series.
In Street Fighter V, there are over 30 characters with their own unique move sets, voice lines, and costumes. Whether they’re a Ryu, Ken, Guile, Chun-Li, or Blanka main (you name it), long-time fans of the series can play as the same base eight characters that they did when they were kids and newcomers will find characters that speak to their play styles. Street Fighter V has something — or rather someone — for everybody, no matter if you like a slow, hulky fighter; a swift, nimble one; or someone who’s more balanced and well-rounded.
There are also a slew of outstanding stages, new and old, to choose from, each of which feature some of the best chiptunes to brawl to. The tracks on stages like Metro City Bay Area and Serene Junkyard will leave your head bobbing as you frantically mash your controller’s buttons. The vibe that each arena’s groovy music puts out makes the fighting feel electric.
Best of all, Street Fighter V introduces a whole new sort of move into the mix: the “V-gauge,” which gives each character a set of three new special moves when charged.
This feature pushes the combat in the game to a whole new level, adding a game-changing dimension to the already lighting-fast fighting with which players can turn the tide of any battle at the last moment.
Beyond advancements in combat, the most recent addition to the Street Fighter franchise also features cross-platform play, so no matter what console you rock, you can face off against any other player, making it a fighting game with one of the largest player pools in the world. In short, there’s no dearth of competition.
Because of its massive following, Street Fighter V has amassed one of the most robust competitive scenes in fighting games, which is saying something since it’s already been out for more than three years. It’s not uncommon for the hype surrounding fighting games, even ones as long-standing as Street Fighter, to fizzle out.
As far as cons go, the one major criticism that many gamers have made about Street Fight V relate to its relatively sparse single-player content.
Additionally, while it’s true that it is a bit lacking in substance as far as plot goes, it’s a Street Fighter game. They’ve never been known for superb storytelling, but are renowned for top-notch combat. Street Fighter V more than delivers on that front.
When it comes down to brass tacks, there really isn’t any downside to Street Fighter V. That’s largely because it delivers so well on what you expect out of it.
At its core, the game is the same fighting game that lifelong gamers have been blistering their fingers playing for decades. But it’s been finely polished and streamlined into the sort of fluid combat experience that audiences expect today. Most importantly, it’s a blast to play — the hallmark quality that has made Street Fighter so successful all these years.