There is a bit of trepidation and excitement every time Capcom announces a new character for Street Fighter V. Long-time Street Fighter fans want their favorite characters in the game, but Capcom wants to deliver something fresh and new to appeal to new and old fans alike. They’ve done an admirable job to date, including the latest character reveal in time for PAX Prime 2015, Rainbow Mika, aka R. Mika.
Getting hands-on with Street Fighter V has been tricky over the last few months with long lines at conventions and a problematic beta launch that had to be postponed. Capcom brought the latest build of Street Fighter V to PAX Prime, and I got a chance to dive into a little bit of competition with Capcom’s Senior Product Manager Matt Dahlgren.
Yes, the game still has Ryu and Ken. Ryu is Ryu, but Ken is not the same Ken we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the years. Capcom tweaked Ken to be a more aggressive character that can rush opponents down and apply more pressure. He has a new dash ability, which gives him another layer of options to add to his already devastating flaming Dragon Punches and Hurricane Kicks. Ken plays refreshingly differently from his previous iterations.
Ken was fun to play around with, but I couldn’t wait to get my shot at the pro-wrestling-inspired R. Mika. She makes her first appearance since Street Fighter Alpha 3. While she does retain a bit of the awkward physical attributes, her gameplay design has been revamped and I love the new play style.
“She’s been fan-requested for years,” said Dahlgren. “R. Mika is the first true grappler to be put in the game. We have been inspired by over-the-top pro wrestling, so you see a lot of fan-favorite wrestling moves thrown into the mix.”
I enjoyed R. Mika’s mobility and simple commands the most. Typically in Street Fighter, grapplers have more complex controls, like performing full 360-degree motions with the controller while pressing buttons. Those moves aren’t always the most user-friendly, especially for new players. R. Mika has the more traditional “fireball” quarter-circle motions. Her bold specials (including calling in her tag-team partner Nadeshiko) make her really attractive to play. Depending on the controller inputs, Nadeshiko can fly in for a body splash or a dropkick from the front or behind. R. Mika can also perform a move where she literally pulls out a microphone and delivers a monologue to pump up the crowd. If given enough time, she can use the monolgue to amp up the damage on her throw attacks.
“Street Fighter is a brand that has tons of characters that are full of personality and that’s where a lot of the appeal comes from. You need your serious characters and your light-hearted characters to even it out,” said Dahlgren.
Capcom wants to remove the barriers new players faced with Street Fighter IV, both as a game that has been around since 2008 and a game that had rather advanced built-in gameplay mechanics from day one. Street Fighter V strips away a lot of tha,t bringing it back to its core and removing the guesswork so prevalent in Street Fighter IV. The game feels a lot faster paced due to higher damage output. Frankly, that could help garner more interest, not only for new and old players, but for viewers of Street Fighter competitions as well. Faster games means more games are being played and that is a good thing.
As a Street Fighter fan, I’m thrilled about a new sequel, but I’m even more excited to see an infusion of new fans that comes with a new sequel. Capcom has the daunting task of keeping Street Fighter veterans happy, while making the game accessible to everyone like 6-year-old Alan who got a chance to try it with his sister.
“It was cool,” Alan said with a big grin. “I liked everything about it.”