The release of Street Fighter V brought hype that comes around once a generation. Capcom got to wipe the slate clean. It gave current fans a fresh start and provided a jump-on point for potential new fans. That means balancing a mix of returning characters with all-new ones to appeal to as many players as possible. Street Fighter V features one of the most diverse launch lineup of characters in the mainline series. But there’s one issue I have with the cast I can’t ignore: the continued over-sexualization of female characters. In this current generation of gaming, it’s awkward, unnecessary, and bordering on gross.
For example, Laura is an all-new Street Fighter grappler. Her Brazilian jiu-jitsu style looks great and her Street Fighter lore has connections going back to Street Fighter III. But she fights in a very revealing top that looks like it barely holds all of her moving parts in place.
What’s more, images popped up soon after her announcement, comparing Laura to adult film actress Christy Mack. I’m all for making attractive characters, male or female. But these two bear remarkable similarities when viewed side by side.
The designs of some of the returning female characters aren’t any better. Cammy heads into battle wearing the most awkward outfit imaginable in hand-to-hand combat – a leotard accented by camouflage painting on her legs. Another example is Rainbow Mika. We see quite a bit of her gluteus maximus in her animations, as well as the ensuing sandwiching of the opponent’s head between her butt cheeks.
We’ve known what color Japanese schoolgirl Sakura’s underwear is since Street Fighter Alpha 2. Elena is from Africa so that means the Capoeira fighter should wear a loincloth into a fight. Poison is Street Fighter IV’s most provocative character, and someone you don’t want your 3-year-old watching as she poses after winning.
When you’ve gone down this road in your character design, something needs to be reevaluated.
That said, having a unique and off-beat character design isn’t a problem. After all, it is a series about a bunch of people who duke it out for reasons ranging from showing one’s strength in battle to a guy wanting to win back his car. (That’s a real storyline from Street Fighter III.)
In fact, take a look at some of the other newcomers in Street Fighter V. They’re arguably some of the weirdest character designs seen in the series. F.A.N.G. is a riff on kung fu comedy flicks, and Necalli usurps Akuma as the most evil looking Street Fighter character, with fiery hair that matches his personality. Dhalsim and Birdie have been revamped from their previous incarnations. Dhalsim has aged and added facial hair that makes him look pretty cool, while Birdie has put on a lot of weight.
We get to see a lot of the male characters run around with chiseled frames, battle scars, and big bellies. So, why don’t they undergo the same scrutiny? Because men haven’t experienced the level of objectification women have, not only in Street Fighter, but in other games as well.
With the influx of female gamers and even more interested in testing the Street Fighter waters with a new sequel, why not ditch the cheesecake? Why not show Laura’s and the other female characters’ strengths beyond their voluptuous bodies? Capcom could have used any number of real-world examples of legitimate women fighters as source material.
As a company working so hard to invite as many new players as it can, they missed the mark on Laura, R. Mika, and Cammy. I’d like to see Capcom learn from the mistakes made in Street Fighter V’s development and make improvements for any future DLC costumes and returning characters. Don’t let this image define Laura, Cammy and R. Mika. They deserve better, and so do the Street Fighter fans.