The boys of Summer Game Fest have spoken, and they love Street Fighter 6.
The latest installment of Capcom’s venerable brawler was the belle of the ball at the two-day media demo event hosted by Geoff Keighley, with more than a few folks double-dipping to get more time with the game between appointments. This is partly because there were more stations for it than for anything else on the show floor, and partly because everyone I spoke to seemed to have already decided they were going to like Street Fighter 6 before playing it, for whatever reason. (This was in sharp contrast to Sonic Frontiers, a game everyone had already decided they were going to hate before playing it, for whatever reason.)
As someone who had desperately hoped “The Unannounced Capcom Demo” at Hot Geoff Summer would be the remake of Resident Evil 4, I approached Street Fighter 6 with some trepidation. Most of my prior experiences with Street Fighter have consisted of my older brothers pinning me to the corner of the screen with low kicks until I ragequit and cried, which has made the fighting game genre a bit of a blind spot for me in years since.
But the granddaddy of modern fighting games has matured a lot since its sibling-torturing days on the SNES. Street Fighter 6 adds a helpful gameplay tweak that makes getting in on the action a lot easier for fighting-game novices like myself: the option to choose between Classic and Modern control types.
The Modern control scheme allows simplified inputs for Special Moves and Super Arts. This means less time fussing around with finicky combos and timing, and more time blasting fireballs and kicking ass. Purists and longtime series fans probably won’t bother, but it’s a nice option to have if you’re a little intimidated by the genre, or have accessibility barriers that make rapid-fire, multi-button combos challenging.
The SGF demo consisted of one-on-one matches against a second player or a CPU-controlled opponent, whose difficulty could be tweaked on a scale of one to five, with five being the most challenging. (Sadly, we weren’t able to check out the Battle Hub or World Tour, which looks intriguingly Yakuza-like.)
The demo included four playable characters, including longtime roster staples Ryu and Chun-Li, and series newcomers Jamie and Luke. Here’s a rundown of my impressions of all four:
Ryu — Clearly, I’m no expert on fighting games, but I know enough about Street Fighter to know that Ryu is like Mario in Mario Kart — he’s the balanced all-rounder, who can take a punch but also deal out decent damage. He was the perfect starting point for getting a feel for the controls. After a few quick matches, I felt confident enough to ratchet up the CPU difficulty to a four out of five.
Chun-Li — Nimble and strong, Chun-Li was the fastest of the four, but also the character where I most painfully felt my lack of skill in blocking and dodging. I also spent a fair bit of time oogling her awesome design, and playing as her made me want to do squats for the next three hours. (Instead, I spent the better part of the next three hours eating charcuterie and knocking over a glass of wine in front of Phil Spencer. Sorry Phil!)
Luke — I don’t like this dude’s face. Luke seems like the sort of guy who would corner you at a party to talk about blockchain. So I didn’t play as Luke much. (I did enjoy beating him up as my CPU opponent, though.)
Jamie — If Street Fighter 6 were Yakuza 0, Jamie would be the Majima to Ryu’s Kiryu. His moveset has a breakdancing-inspired feel, with lots of spins and leaps. He’s flashy and fun to play, and that’s reflected in his style — I’m pretty sure his outfit has Louis Vuitton print (or a very close facsimile) all over it.
Capcom has been marketing Street Fighter 6 as something “anyone can play to their liking,” and so far it seems to be making good on that promise. I’m especially excited to see more of what the World Tour single-player mode brings to the experience in the months ahead.
Street Fighter 6 comes to PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in 2023.