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How Road Fighter 6’s combating fools helped me lastly grasp combating video games




Oh to be a fly on the wall after they pitched the Road Fighter 6 intro film. See, there are guidelines for combating recreation cinematics. You want a montage of various beefcakes, flexing and strutting for the digital camera, then coming to blows in opposition to the crescendo of a heavy rock observe. These conventions are sacrosanct and can’t be damaged. All the pieces from Tekken, to Responsible Gear, to King of Fighters, to Road Fighter 5 follows the identical recipe. Solely this time Road Fighter 6 determined, no, let’s not try this, and as an alternative how about we do a Seventies proto-rap-style piece of rhythmic poetry a la Gil Scott-Heron? With a neon graffiti aesthetic? And in lieu of a social message, let’s get actually existential in regards to the that means of energy! Reader, I have no idea how this bought previous higher administration. I can not think about how they bought it to shareholders. I do not perceive why one of many largest franchises determined to fiddle with the method. Nevertheless it’s a breath of recent air and poses that essential query: What’s energy?

This might sound trivial, however within the context of combating video games, it virtually is smart. These video games are notoriously tough. Many use movement inputs, which for newcomers can take days to drag off reliably. Then you need to hyperlink them into tightly-timed, multi-hit combos. And then you need to whip out your combos in the course of a match, all whereas blocking all the pieces your opponent is hitting you with, desperately in search of a gap, and anticipating no matter sinister mind-game nonsense they will throw out subsequent. And for what? So you possibly can go surfing and, possibly, if you happen to’re fortunate, not get totally eviscerated by some rando of their bed room midway throughout the planet. Why hassle? The SF6 cinematic reaches the one apparent conclusion. ‘We’re all a bunch of fools’.

A screen from Street Fighter 6's intro movie with text that reads, "So I've been thinking about Strength".
Road Fighter Six dares to ask the important query: What’s energy? | Picture credit score: Capcom

I am a much bigger idiot than most. For years, I might get so hyped on combating recreation trailers that I might purchase all of them at launch. I paid full worth for Tekken 7 and Injustice 2 and Samurai Shodown, and every time I might enter ranked and simply get humbled or humiliated or teabagged by Batman. When Road Fighter 5 got here out, I needed to get good so badly I even bought an expert arcade stick, angrily rattling it whereas yet one more Ken shoryu’d me within the face. So once I purchased Road Fighter 6, I knew it was a mistake. Besides, this time, miraculously, it clicked. I do not 100% know why this was the one, however it has one thing to do with Road Fighter 6’s fantastic solid of combating fools.

Road Fighter 6’s intro film.Watch on YouTube

Capcom have realised that, within the comparatively sparse visible panorama of the combating recreation, character fashions are the first canvas for storytelling; and so they’ve elected to inform as many vibrant and variegated tales as attainable. After all, there isn’t any scarcity of classically-proportioned magnificence – Cammy nonetheless has her lycra leotard and newcomer Jamie has abs for days. Nevertheless it’s clear that Capcom needs to symbolize a broad vary of body-types, personalities, and identities. Marisa, the Roman gladiator, has the physique of a titan. Silver-haired JP, the principle antagonist, conceals sinister secrets and techniques beneath a dapper manner. Manon, the French judo ballerina, strikes with the grace and poise of a swan. And these character quirks not solely add narrative texture, they typically assist you study the sport.

JP in Street Fighter 6, a dapper gent with a white beard.

Marisa in Street Fighter 6. She wears a wedding dress along with her Roman helmet and holds a bouquet of flowers.

Jamie lies nonchalantly on the ground, shirt open in Street Fighter 6.

Eternity stands in a sharp tuxedo in Street Fighter 6.
Whereas there isn’t any scarcity of classically proportioned magnificence, with characters like Marisa, Eternity and JP, it is clear that Capcom wish to symbolize a range of body-types, existence, ages and identities. | Picture credit score: Capcom

Working example is sequence protagonist Ryu, the primary character I picked up. He is basically only a generic dude in a karate gi, however Capcom have someway common him right into a monomaniacal martial ascetic. Each straining inch of the person embodies combating recreation spirit – a single-minded obsession with enchancment, footwork, fundamentals, and the drive to battle stronger opponents. You’ll be able to see it within the tooth-grinding set of his jaw on the victory display screen, or the best way he encourages opponents to stand up each time he scores a knockdown. You’ll be able to even see it in his DLC outfit the place, although superficially well-dressed in a natty jacket, his denims have been so ripped and scuffed from sparring they’ve light white.

It is also mirrored in his moveset, which forces you to study the basics. Ryu taught me the controls: methods to throw a fireball; methods to backdash; methods to play an sincere impartial recreation. His equipment is centred round honest play – dodging by means of projectiles, uppercutting jump-ins, or spacing out whiffed strikes with a nasty mid-screen thrust-kick. And all this bought me from Iron to Gold rank. However Ryu was encouraging me to play too honest! After I scored a success, I used to be backing off. After I knocked folks down, I used to be honourably letting them stand proper again up once more. And that is not the way you play Road Fighter, so I made a change.

Ryu in his street clothes in Street Fighter 6. This appears to be a mood board for the character.

Chun Li and Ryu in a clothes shop in Street Fighter 6. Ryu looks uncomfortable.
In a single charming vignette, Chun Li helps Ryu decide some presentable garments. However in-game he is sporting them with sandals and has clearly been combating in them. | Picture credit score: Capcom

My subsequent character was MI6 operative Cammy White. All the pieces about her, from her clipped English accent to her triangular silhouette, is an arrow pointing forwards. Cammy’s strikes all shoot throughout the display screen. Knock your opponent down together with her ‘spiral arrow’ and also you land subsequent to them, urgent your benefit by winding up one other assault as they’re attempting to face. This teaches the artwork of knockdown guessing video games. See, whereas they’re rising, they do not have time to assault. If they fight – and so they will strive – you simply hit them once more. Ultimately they will block. However, in the event that they block you possibly can seize them. And in the event that they bounce your seize, they’re weak to assaults! It is rock, paper, scissors, however the odds are in your favour and your opponent would not all the time know the principles.

Cammy additionally taught me the ‘body lure‘. These are strikes which, when blocked, give simply sufficient time to your opponent to decrease their guard, however not sufficient time to land an assault earlier than your subsequent blow connects. A lure! And in the event that they fall for it, you knock them down once more! Rinse and repeat till you bait out an unsafe reversal, which you’ll be able to punish even more durable. These tips took me to Diamond rank. However I used to be changing into over-reliant on unga-bunga ahead motion. Opponents had been beginning to suss me out. So I made one final swap, this time to newcomer A.Okay.I.

A.Okay.I. is a grasp poisoner, hair turned white from chemical-exposure, half-mad from poisonous fumes. She’s modelled after a viper and all her actions have serpentine, lethal fluidity, wriggling below fireballs and bobbing up with fangs bared. And although her strategy choices are weak, her equipment is constructed round persistence, organising poisons and maintaining your opponent at arms size till you discover a gap to begin your deadly offence.

A.Okay.I. taught me anticipation. She taught me the ‘shimmy‘, the place you bait your opponent into grabbing, duck again on the final second, then lunge. She taught me the artwork of the ‘setup‘ the place you do a dreadful snaking dance, throwing them off rhythm, tricking them into pondering it is their flip, then catching them after they act. Critically A.Okay.I. additionally taught me defence, biding your time, blocking blows, ready for them to take a threat, and turning the tables.

A.K.I. in Street Fighter 6, a poison master with a dramatic sharp-edged haircut and sharp nails.

A rank-up screen from Street Fighter 6 with the player ascending to Master.
Poison grasp A.Okay.I., the viper among the many petals, lastly bought me to Grasp rank. And what did I study? There’s nonetheless to this point to go. | Picture credit score: Capcom

Lastly, after 200 hours, A.Okay.I. pushed me by means of to ‘Grasp’, the very best rank. And you already know what I discovered? I am nonetheless not that robust. There are nonetheless individuals who can slap me round in straight units. I nonetheless get teabagged by offended Kens. However I additionally discovered it would not matter, as a result of I am not right here to win. I simply wish to study extra. I wish to study Chun Lee, whose long-legged kicks and pokes will iron out my iffy impartial recreation. I wish to study Dee Jay and bamboozle my opponents with feints and mixups. I wish to study JP and zone folks from throughout the display screen utilizing exhausting reads and devious conditioning.

And that is what I really like about Road Fighter 6’s philosophy. As a result of getting ‘robust’ is not actually about godlike reactions, and even flashy combos – it is about being a combating recreation weirdo. It is about being a tryhard Ryu, watching hour-long concept movies, studying absolutely the trivialities, and having fun with each sweaty minute of it. Or a tricksy little A.Okay.I., labbing your fancy setups till they’re hard-coded in muscle reminiscence. Or a single-minded Cammy, analysing your weaknesses and overcoming them, like a straight arrow heading ever forwards. So what’s energy…? Overlook about energy. It is the incorrect query. Energy is a by-product; a symptom. Road Fighter 6 teaches you one thing a lot better: How you can be a idiot for combating video Games.