I think at this point there are more editions of Street Fighter than there are Ken dolls in this world. Not that it’s a bad thing, because in the past each new edition of a canonically numbered Street Fighter felt like a true sequel in every sense. Most modern fighting games have now migrated to a free-to-play model, some more shamelessly than others, but the 2016 launch of Street Fighter V on PS4 as a “disguised” and overpriced free-to-play title was an utter disappointment. The initial game at launch was so incomplete that the quintessential arcade mode would only come months later as free DLC; Capcom were quite generous that way.
Since then, there was Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition in 2018 which was probably what the 2016 game should have launched as a bare minimum, and from there things got a little better…and also a little confusing because Arcade Edition on PS4 would subsequently get released in arcades. So basically the arcade version of the Arcade Edition. Give it a moment, it will sink in soon.
Regardless of the DLC practices and confusing season passes within edition upgrades, Street Fighter V landing in arcades was what helped it achieve a measure of adoration from the fanbase, more so than its dubious console release. It is now a fixture of modern arcade gaming in Japan, where the culture surrounding it remains as vibrant and thriving as it once was when Street Fighter II was the king of coin-operated gaming. When it comes right to it, it’s hard to stay mad at Capcom when the satisfaction of battling a worthy opponent at the local arcade remains the most magical and satisfying feeling in all of gaming. I had some fun using Kage (i.e. the embodiment of Ryu’s dark side who is not Evil Ryu) at the Taito arcade centre, and even scored one win for my efforts.
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is the current, and most certainly not the last, edition of Capcom’s cash cow fighting franchise. If you have been patient enough to stay away from the game for this long, then this release will certainly reward your virtue by giving you a wealth of content right out of the gate. The most important being the 40 plus road warriors comprising of nearly all the classic combatants and plenty of new faces too.
It’s hard not to love Champion Edition, because for what it’s worth the game looks, plays, and sounds amazing. This is an all encompassing fighting experience which is great for experts and casual players alike. This edition in particular brings together the best features and characters from all the past games, and even includes some familiar faces and mechanics from Street Fighter III. Lest we all forget, the Street Fighter timeline has not moved past the ending of Street Fighter III: Third Strike as the events of Street Fighter V take place before it.
The classic characters are familiar but most have a visual facelift of sorts. Ryu hasn’t changed his trademark fashion much, but Ken continues to try more new outfits and styles than Madonna did during the ’80s. Some of the changes are also to the play style; a good example being Nash, who was once an alternate to Guile, but now has a completely new set of moves and commands. Some play a lot more fluidly and smoothly than they ever did before, where Blanka and Dhalism are noticeably more versatile. Some of the changes are not so welcome, a minor nag being E. Honda’s hundred slap special move animation as it just doesn’t have the same furious flurry anymore.
The cast are all there, and so are the costumes, the modes, and all the little things that should have been available in 2016. Yet, it’s hard to immerse yourself into the excitement when the game feels like logging into a phone app. The compulsory notifications, frequent updates, in-app purchase reminders, and worst of all…the ads (thankfully you can turn these off). Still, a far cry from the epic title screen animation of Super Street Fighter II.
All things considered, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is a satisfying and complete fighting package. It certainly keeps the iconic franchise alive in the hearts and minds of gamers all over. Still, if it were up to me, everyone would be playing Ultra Street Fighter II on Switch instead.