The first time I got my hands-on Street Fighter 6, I was instantaneously hooked in by its aesthetically gorgeous, technically intuitive, pyrotechnic-laden, balletic combat sequences, which seem to blend all manner of little bits and nuances of fighting systems I have loved in the past, presenting them in a deeply moreish confection. Parrying is simpler than Street Fighter III but just as rewarding. There are recognisable EX and Focus style attacks, and it was all so easy to pick up and play. I thought about it for days, visions of Drive Impacts, or Hadoukens flying past cherry blossom trees haunting my innermost musings. I was a broken shell for a while, fiending on another go.
Having the full game and its roster to play with extensively, and nothing has changed in this regard. As a one on one, this is something that you just constantly find yourself hankering for one more tear up. If you are all about that online fighting life, the Battle Hub makes getting a match a cinch, and once you have set up your profile you are straight into it. You may well get your ass handed to you initially, but you’ll get there. Even early doors the netcode is stable, and reliable: even cross Play is available. Throwing the Extreme Battle parameters into the mix lends a true sense of unpredictable chaos. You want to fight someone as a rampaging bull causes utter panic? You got it. Explosions, electricity, all manner of crazy restrictions and rules; no two experiences are the same. As “just” a fighting game, this is a terrific piece of work, as the core mechanics are superb, making it easily Capcom’s best since Street Fighter 4.
The new characters are varied, well thought-through, balanced, and unanimously intriguing to learn. Existing faves from previous games are all given a new lick of paint and tune up, whilst still feeling as warmly familiar as your favourite pair of slippers after a day on your feet at work. Just how Street Fighter 4 effortlessly melded brilliant new characters like Abel and Juri and made them feel like you had been playing them since the smoky arcades of the early 90s, the new contenders all feel like they fit perfectly into this world, with most having links to other SF alumni past and present.
Jamie is a swaggering alumnus of Yun and Yang who uses a tricksy Drunken Master style. Kimberley is an adorable 80s hip-hop influenced kid who learned all she knows from Bushinryu legend, Guy. Manon is a catwalk model turned badass judoka, whilst the towering Marisa brings a welcome command throwing presence to join Zangief, whilst also being a lady after my own heart with her love of ossobuco. JP is a Psycho Power wielding enigma, who is clearly positioned as part of some bigger-picture Shadaloo shenanigans. Rounding things out, and the best of the newies in my eyes – is Lily, an indigenous Mexican kid with links to the great T Hawk, sharing some of his moves. She also has a crazy set of fighting sticks, has the ability to generate her own additional power stocks to enhance moves, and is a great deal of fun to play.
Enabling newcomers to simplify the control scheme to a more accessible Modern scheme may sound like sacrilege to old school players like me, but in execution a proficient player using the traditional six button setup will nearly always triumph over someone attempting to spam. The Drive system also acknowledges overuse of its more precious functions by placing your fighter into a state of burnout punishment. The Drive system is incredibly easy to use regardless of how you want to control things.
Its predecessor was a difficult one to love. There was eventually a loaded roster, but shipping it as they did was always going to draw criticism. I distinctly remember the crushing feeling of “Is this it?”. Capcom was obviously deeply affected by this, so like a partner in the doghouse will overcompensate for whatever they have done to vex their other half, they have gone quite frankly almost over the top in bolting on additional pressies to win back the World Warrior fans. And baby, it feels so good.
Quite frankly, World Tour is the bravest, craziest, and funniest slice of balls-out proper video game nonsense I have probably ever seen bolted onto a modern big budget release. From an almost overwhelming list of options, you are tasked with creating your very own in-game avatar and are then thrust into a beautifully stylised mini-open world, the Capcom stalwart Metro City, the same place that you walloped your way through with Mike Haggar back in the day, the moustachioed Final Fight hulk who went on to be the most legendary Mayor the burg ever had, combining his civic duties with a career as a vigilante and active professional wrestler. It uses the vibrant cast of the main game as a series of sensei-like Masters. Progression allows you to spar with, converse with, and carry out missions for your Masters, thus deepening your relationship with them as you progress the flimsy yet shaggily loveable plot.
Despite nobody ever asking for anything vaguely resembling World Tour, it becomes quickly apparent that it is exceedingly generous in terms of its furiously addictive gameplay loops, and staggering amount of content, but also in the way it absolutely refuses to take itself seriously on any level. It harkens back to a time when the likes of SEGA would make really silly arcade games. It is the Dreamcast and Shenmue, sans-sailors. It is impossible to dislike, and I will happily square up in unarmed combat to anyone cold hearted and cynical enough to disagree.
Building those crucial relationships with legendary fighters gives you access to their unique moves and super art techniques; even the stance and movement of your chosen teacher. It never stops being funny seeing my enormous character, who resembles a large wardrobe with a head – move around the battles like Chun-Li.
You begin with a couple of Street Fighter 6 mascot Luke’s attacks, but travelling around and fulfilling missions allows you to create your own unique moveset for the many, many battles you will enjoy – and you will enjoy them. It is really satisfying to be able to combine specials you never ever thought you would pull off outside of one of them hooky Street Fighter II arcade cabinets back in the day. Shoryuken into a Spinning Bird Kick before electrocuting them with a blast of Brazilian voltage? Its all possible.
Learning specials also allows you to use them as Master Actions when exploring the wider world. As well as enabling you to initiate combat with NPCs by attacking them (something which never gets old or stops being funny), the Master Actions also lend proceedings – and it still feels weird writing this – a MetroidVania feel. You can use the aforementioned Spinning Bird Kick to fly through the air and reach platforms, or glide across water hazards. Rising uppercut punches can lift you up to reach higher plateaus. You can even use projectile attacks to destroy destructible scenery, which often leads to collectible rewards or cash.
Traversing the land is simple thanks to plenty of fast travel points, and the eventual ability to fly around the globe to visit far flung heroes and sit under their learning tree. There are secrets and Easter eggs for days, and if like me you have grown up on a sustained and nourished by a concoction of Capcom arcade titles, you will feel overwhelmed with joy at times. Little touches – like geographically accurate food items up for purchase – show how deep the attention to detail runs. Being able to eat a Brown Stew Chicken whilst visiting DeeJay in Jamaica is something I never imagined being a reality. You can have a full blown conversation with Damnd, for goodness sake! There is just so much to do, but nearly everything is there for a purpose – mainly to teach you how to play the game. For example, there is a bombastic pizza related minigame that is essentially a disguised way of showing you how to quickly input commands as you would when performing special moves.
All the fights you get into on the overworld have predetermined sets of conditions – such as performing a certain number of Drive related actions, having to pull off combos, or throw your opponent a set number of times. You can find out what these conditions are by approaching someone and pressing a button to determine whether or not it is worth kicking their head in. Fulfilling these will reward you with extra dosh (and of course, the currency is Zenny), XP, items of clothing, or one of the many items that exist to act as buffs, potions, or crafting materials. Yeah – there is crafting too. And a skills tree. And quite a large one at that! The upshot is that by playing World Tour not only do you have a tremendous time, but you are also being taught all about how to play a Street Fighter game, without even realising it. Oh, and you can also take your crackers self-made avatars into fights in the Battle Hub, which offers up the chance to see what ridiculous abominations similarly minded people around the world have created.
The generosity doesn’t end with World Tour. A full Arcade Mode has some excellent cutscenes, and the bonus of a wild amount of unlockable artwork as a reward for progress. The training missions and practise modes are the best you will encounter in a fighter, period. Not only are there the standard combo input missions, but the extensive Character Guides do a sterling job of actually showing you how each of the selectable characters play.
Rather than just showing you what buttons to press, you are guided through how, when, and why to perform certain actions, based upon the positions of the fighters, hit boxes, timing, and the many other factors at play. Along with the accessible control schemes, stuff like this means that there has never been a better time for first time players to get involved.
There are seven real-life names drafted in by Capcom to provide surprisingly unobtrusive and at times valuable colour commentary to your bouts. These include WWE star and fighting game fan Thea Trinidad, and veteran TastySteve. There are promised online events, a drip feed of DLC including new fighters and costumes – the whispers of a Lil Wayne inspired set of garments has me excited – and a constant rotation of fully playable classic Capcom arcade games, employing the same emulation as their Arcade Stadium. Yeah, you read that right: there are free arcade games buried inside Street Fighter 6.
Without wishing to engage hyperbole too much, this is without question the best fighting game package I have ever played. It is almost too much at times, and is a gloriously overwhelming beast that it is way too easy to sink hours of your life into. Having a fundamentally rock-solid engine is one thing, but the fan service and sheer scope of what Capcom has done in terms of additional content mean that it will keep you going far longer than a one-on-one fighter has any right to be able to. It is the sort of game that when DLC is released, you would actually look forward to splashing the cash to extend the fight. A true classic.
Stunning core game, mad additional modes
Staggering content across the board
Accessibility for all
Music isn’t the best the series has ever seen