Street Fighter 6 was finally shown off for the first time this past week at Sony’s State of Play presentation, and in a matter of hours the entire roster for the game was out in the wild. Keeping in line with Capcom’s seemingly endless amount of leaks over the past few years. This one showed that all of the faces you have come to expect from the series would be returning for Street Fighter 6.
Outside of the obvious trio of Ryu, Chun-Li, and Ken, it was also revealed that 11 of the 14 returning characters would hail from Street Fighter 2. Characters like Zangief, Dhalsim, Cammy, and Guile would be returning, just like they did in Street Fighter 5… and in Street Fighter 4. Meanwhile, the rest of the returning roster would be made up of two characters from Street Fighter 5 and just one from Street Fighter 4. Meaning if you’re a fan of Street Fighter Alpha or Street Fighter 3, or even Final Fight – from which the game’s setting of Metro City is taken – you’re out of luck until the DLC comes around.
Don’t get me wrong: every fighting game series has characters who just have to be there. The thought of a Street Fighter game without that aforementioned trio of Ryu, Chun-Li, and Ken is ridiculous; the same would go for a Mortal Kombat game without Scorpion or a Tekken without Heihachi. That being said, with Capcom deciding to fill out a roster by bringing back the cast of Street Fighter 2 again – as iconic as that cast is – I think it has gone back to the Street Fighter 2 well one time too many.
Those well versed in the history of Street Fighter will likely read this and point to Street Fighter 3. After six years, four re-releases, and a prequel series for Street Fighter 2, there was finally a Street Fighter 3; which made the incredibly bold move of removing literally every single character from past Street Fighter entries – barring Ryu and Ken – and replacing them with an entirely new cast. Some of those were clear replacements for former cast members. Remy adopted Guile’s playstyle and special moves, and Necro was a hybrid between Dhalsim’s stretchiness and Blanka’s electricity. It was a smart move for Capcom to keep these styles around, but it wasn't quite the same.
Street Fighter 3 didn’t exactly take the world by storm. The series lay dormant for ten years until the release of Street Fighter 4, which went in the complete opposite direction from SF3 by bringing back the entire cast of SF2 and making the core combat feel like a modernized version of that game. Street Fighter 4 was massively successful, proving to Capcom that banking on the nostalgia of the biggest fighting game of all time at that point was the correct move. But the issue wasn’t with Street Fighter 3 moving away from SF2 – any fighting game sequel needs to make changes as it evolves. The real issue was just how far they took it with the ‘New Generation’.
In the years since Street Fighter 4, the cast of Street Fighter 3 has only become more beloved; characters like Makoto, Q, and Dudley frequently top DLC requests for the series. There are some duds in there – I don’t think anyone is in a hurry to get Remy or Twelve back – but Capcom’s success with Street Fighter 4 is a double-edged sword. While bringing back iconic characters like Blanka and Guile is a proven hit, the overrepresentation of these characters five games later robs any newcomers of a chance to be icons in their own right.
Take Alex, for example. In Capcom’s eyes he was the future of Street Fighter when the SF3 series began, he was front and center on the posters and was the one to take down the antagonist, Gill. Flash forward to today and he’s been in one Street Fighter game since and isn't even included in StreetFighter 6’s initial roster, when he's considerably more popular now than he ever has been in the past. The exact same story can be said for many characters in the series; Sean, Urien, and C. Viper. Hell, Street Fighter 5 has an incredibly strong cast of newcomers, and even they could only have two spots in the next game.
The other – more promising – side to the story of the Street Fighter 6 roster is that it has the largest number of newcomers to the series since Street Fighter 3. Capcom is so confident in Luke that it has already added him to Street Fighter 5 and branded him the future of the series. It feels like a big step forward, but it’ll all be for naught if the majority of them are axed to make room for the Street Fighter 2 cast again when Street Fighter 7 rolls around.
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