This year marks the 30th anniversary of arguably one of the most popular gaming franchises in history Street Fighter. Forget Mario and his mushrooms even Pac-Man and his dots, for me the last three decades have been filled with cries of ‘Hadouken’ and ‘Shoryuken’. Street Fighter is not just another beat-em-up it’s the daddy of them all. Ok so maybe I’m a little enthusiastic. Street Fighter wasn’t that great though it did introduce the now standard 6 buttons layout (second revision after the pressure sensitive punch kick version) and the notion of special moves.
Street Fighter 2 is where it all started for me really. Back in the summer of 92’ in the arcades of the Mablethorpe and Skegness. Captivated by that huge screened sit down cabinets, it swallowed coin after coin. Spending those weekends and breaks with my family in our holiday home in Mablethorpe I couldn’t wait to get back there. I would feverishly read anything I could get my hands on do with StreetFighter - something that holds true to this day. This was pre-internet, so it was the likes of EGM and other import mags where I would find strategies and moves lists. Nights spent in bed reading lit by a timid dying torch I was memorising moves for every character.
Of course, I wasn’t any good. Just a kid without any real appreciation of what I was doing. Then something happened, and I didn’t quite understand. While other kids started to worry about what was going on with their bodies as they approached puberty, I discovered combos! What was going on, this wasn’t pure and straightforward move after move any more. If you timed things just right, you could interrupt one move with another, and your opponent could not block! This was for me at least a revelation a whole new layer of complexity to consider. Suddenly know every single move in the game was not enough for me. There was something more to learn a higher level to strive to master.
By now Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo had arrived on the scene. I had been playing for a couple of years, and the home versions on the Megadrive and SNES had just come out. To say I was obsessed at this point would be an understatement I remember evening going so far as making a joystick and button layout that with a pencil and some 2p coins and card so I could practice when I was at home for when I went to the arcade. I would spend hours figuring out combos on the console only to practice them doing the equivalent on my fake joystick.
I don’t recall up until this day throwing myself into a game as much as I did then. As the years passed other versions came and went and I played them all. Never put the same level of effort in that I did with SF2 even through the Alpha series and the multitude of cross over games. I built an l little on the foundation I had made all those years ago never really pushing myself and embracing the more in-depth mechanic of the game.
Maybe it was age, of course at some point we all lose interest in what we promised ourselves as children we would love forever. Occasionally however we find that love again. Like seeing that one partner that you never thought you would see again across a crowded room in a strange city years after you said your goodbyes. Only when you meet you rediscover what you loved in each other, that attraction, the intoxication of discovery. That is where I am right now. I came back to StreetFighter with V only to be a little underwhelmed, it was instantly familiar more so than any of the other games since the original SF2, but still, there was something that wasn’t there. Then just before Christmas of 2017 something happened that brought everything back. My fighting spirit was awakened again, the thirst learns to fight to play.
Out of the blue, I found the literal Ken to my Ryu. After 3 decades someone of my generation who wanted to play. After a few matches, we found we were equally matched in pretty much every respect. Echoing again the camaraderie of the two friends pushing each other to do better we have been playing since. Each is pushing the other to learn more practice harder understand more fully.
Now with the latest release of StreetFighter V out for all to play Arcade Edition brings whole new zen-like balance (to some of the matchups at least) to the game and a whole slew of new things to learn. Having a rival that I can play against on a regular basis really is helping me strive to be better. Even now approaching I recently playing in a local tournament taking 4th place encouraging to continue to learn the game more intimately.
Previously I played on a somewhat casual level. Getting back on board with the game just before this latest patch and in time for season 3 to kick off really is a fantastic time for anyone wanting to play to start. Sure the initial learning curve can be intimidating. However, the reward is high. The level of play is undoubtedly increasing as more people that drifted away maybe even back to the almost ten-year-old SF4 are starting to come back. With frame data being so easy to go by now without buying fast dates hard copy books and the rise of youtube the opportunity to learn the game to a VHL is one that any StreetFighter fan should embrace.
Classic characters like Ryu and Chun-Li are much stronger in Arcade Edition, season three is shaping up to be hugely impressed with the release of DLC characters from previous games as well as entirely new to the franchise fighters bringing that dash of variety back to those that might be getting a little bored. The professional side of the game is also getting a boost, with eSport certification and a slew of both pro and casual tournaments already arranged for 2018 in the UK its looking set to be an excellent year for StreetFighter.
I can’t sing it’s praises enough - SFV:AE is the perfect balance of casual fun for everyman with enough depth in it’s often noted simple gameplay to still IMHO reign as king of the hill of fighting games. In a world full of Tekken’s and OTT cell shaded