Though I wasn’t great on following its news, at some point it became apparent to me that I was going to have to pass on Street Fighter V. Maybe it was with the announcement of the new characters, F.A.N.G., Necalli, Rashid, and Laura (eh, okay). Maybe it was when I learned that there’d be no traditional Arcade mode. Maybe it was when I saw that classic characters such as Guile and Balrog (and others? Where’s Blanka? Where’s Akuma??) would be locked behind DLC walls. Though I remained excited at the prospect of a new Street Fighter game in theory, all these things left me cold. The exclusion of Arcade mode, in which you play against the computer, seemed especially wrong. Not just because that’s a staple of fighting games generally, but because it meant that the game would be geared towards the online crowd.
There are days when I feel like a gaming relic, what with my stalwart single-player, offline sensibilities. I know that single-player gaming isn’t going anywhere, and that there remains an incredibly strong call for it in action-adventure games. But one the things that I relish about fighting games is me, alone, battling it out with the A. I. I’m not very good with fighting games (though I love them so), and these battles give me the chance to be as terrible as I want to be, as frustrated as I want to be, and as glorious as I want to be. Those are not feelings I’d attain over a questionable internet connection with JudoJane13, no matter her skill level.
But wait!, you say. The game offers local co-op! That’s a plus, isn’t it? Yes, at least they didn’t take that away. And that’s great for me and my husband or any other challengers that happen to be in the house at the time. I l-o-v-e playing fighting games against another human being in relatively close contact (not too close though, lest a stray elbow be thrown in mock aggravation). There’s something about the electricity produced during couch co-op in general that seems to only heighten when players take on their favorite fighter’s personas. It’s awesome, and yes, we’ll always have that. But that alone isn’t enough of a reason for us to invest in Street Fighter V. It still remains…incomplete.
Then again, maybe this new generation of fighting games, where online play rules, just isn’t for me. I don’t (necessarily) mean that in an egotistical way, but rather in the way that my Mom looked at me oh so many years ago when I brought home my first pair of platform shoes. That “been there, done that; you have fun” look that she gave me spoke volumes. And now…I get it. I get that successive generations always forge their own paths to make the old new again, to create something special and unique to their wants and needs. That’s how it’s going with gaming, as were in the midst of a definite transition in an industry that’s scrambling to stay relevant. Things are either going to go with the steamroller or they’re going to get steamrolled. Frankly, I’d rather see this new iteration of Street Fighter be the most successful one yet than for it be crushed in the name of “progress.”
So I leave Street Fighter V to the players who love it, play it, and will look forward to every new batch of content that comes along. May you fight with all the fury and passion that only comes from the pure joy of playing a Street Fighter game!