Friday, April 18, 2008

Year of the Fighter: Part One (Continued)

So, like I said last time, I will be using this post to talk about the characters of Capcom's upcoming Street Fighter 4. However, before we get to that I would just like to go on record with a recent fighting game newsflash: What the fuck? I mean, I will admit that X-Men vs Street Fighter must have sounded weird at first, but this just sounds bad. And not like bad as in "bad ass" or "bad to the bone"... just plain bad. Horrible, if you will. I suppose if Green Lantern is playable then I'll give it a shot though. Anyway, back to SF4.

As stated in my previous post, Street Fighter 4 has been confirmed to have all the original SF2 characters (Dee Jay, T.Hawk, Fei Long and Cammy are still sitting on the bench with their fingers crossed), as well as 4 new characters. Rather than go in depth into each of the tried and true SF2 alums, I will just post this link to the Japanese website (Don't worry, all the important links like "Characters" and "Gallery" are in English) which has a plethora of screens and artwork for all the characters. There isn't much to report of the returning guys other than the transfer from 2-D to 3-D, and with Capcom tweaking and revising their faces and bodies to better reflect... well... themselves, talking about their visuals now won't so us much good.

Crimson Viper
was the first new character to be shown by Capcom, and I can't say in good faith that it was an encouraging start to me. From a design standpoint, it looks to me like someone took Iori and Vanessa from KoF, mixed them together, gave the result Travis Touchdown's sunglasses, and called it a day. Visual issues aside, she looks like she plays fairly well and her "style" is kind of interesting. She is an American spy who uses a slew of gadgets to enhance her fighting skills to World Warrior Tournament levels. She has gloves which emit electrical charges as well as high-heels with flamethrowers and boosters which allow her to double jump. I think it would be cool to really push the fact that she needs these gadgets to fight with the likes of Ryu and company by maybe having a losing pose (like maybe for a "Time Over" result where she loses) where her gadgets short circuit and she retreats or gives a very disheveled look, but that's just me.

Next to be shown off was Abel, a French amnesiac who fights using a Sambo/Mixed Martial Arts style. Abel was what really got me to believe in Capcom's character design again because he looks good from both a visual and gameplay viewpoint. His design is very basic and is kind of a throwback to old school Street Fighter. When it comes down to it, almost all the Street Fighters wear costumes which reflect their fighting style or country of origin. Zangief dresses like a Pro Wrestler, Ryu and Ken both dress in traditional Japanese Karate uniforms (Albeit with the sleeves removed), Sagat is in Muy Thai shorts, and even an off the wall character like Vega (pun TOTALLY intended) has a costume based in such a way, since his pants and shoes are based off the uniform of a Matador. When Abel was first shown off, some people were put off by his attire, but if you've ever seen Russian Sambo, you wouldn't give it a second thought (Which is why at first I was convinced that Abel was Russian). His style of play is exactly what you would expect from a Mixed Martial Artist, he is basically a hybrid throw character (Meaning like Zangief he has command throws, but his game is not entirely based on them, similar to Alex from Street Fighter 3). The only bad thing about Abel is that in my view his existence almost definitely precludes Alex from being in this game, something that saddens me greatly.

The third character shown off was El Fuerte, a Mexican luchador. At first, all we got of El was his character artwork picture (Look at his picture in the "Character" section of the Japanese SF4 site I linked earlier and that's it) and much like the other characters the embellished, calligraphy style of art was really misleading for him. He looked incredibly bulky and made some people question his role in the game because one giant wrestler seemed to be a enough (Not to mention a Mixed Martial Artist who has throws as well). However, in game shots revealed El to be a more lithe, acrobatic, combatant very much akin to (duh) famous Mexican luchadors. One thing that has been noted by players from the location tests in Japan is that he seems to have a jovial and over-the-top attitude, kind of like the class clown of the roster. A video of some of hies moves, along with his Ultra Combo (Which I think looks AWESOME) can be seen here.

Finally, the latest fighter that we have been given the... pleasure... of meeting is Rufus. Now, I suppose officially Rufus isn't a character yet because Capcom has yet to release his info to the public, but he is playable in the location tests in Japan. I honestly don't know what to say about Rufus. I was so pumped about the new characters of this game. C Viper looked odd but seems to play alright. Abel looked great, and El Fuerte looked pretty cool as well, then came this guy. To get the basic idea of Rufus, imagine you have an Orange Easter Egg. Paint the top 1/5 of it pink. give it a yellow ponytail. Now where a human would normally have arms and legs, put orange peanut M&Ms. And there you have a scale representation of Rufus. I wish I was joking. The worst part is he doesn't even look like he plays interesting. I have nothing against fat guys in fighting games (Chang, Mr. Heart, and Earthquake are all cool with me), but first off they need to look human, and then they need to play in a style that fits them, and Rufus does neither of these things. I can't help but think Rufus is Capcom's idea of a burn towards Tekken 6's Bob like how Dan was created to poke fun at Ryo from Art of Fighting, but there is no reason for it. The reason Dan was created was because Capcom thought SNK ripped them off by combing Ken and Ryu to make Ryo who also threw fireballs, but one-handed (Because of this, Dan throws his one-handed as well, and they only go a few inches from his hand). So in the end, from my point of view, Capcom is 2-2 design-wise, and 3-4 playstyle-wise.

As far as any more new or returning characters are concerned, all we can do now is speculate. As Ono stated in the interview I linked in my first Year of the Fighter post, the character select screen needs to be symmetrical, and if the layout is eight on top, eight on bottom, we can look forward to either two more or four more fighters (I'm thinking four because ten and ten looks better from a "design sense" than nine and nine). Since previous interviews have had to do with the unequal number of female fighters (so far it is 2 females to 14 males) I think most, if not all of any new additions will be ladies, and if I were a betting man I would put my money on seeing Cammy returning to action. I personally would love to see some characters, male or female, from Street Fighter 3. It makes sense storywise (If that matters to anyone) since SF4 takes place between SF2 and 3. Ono himself said that Ibuki could see her way into a console port (I don't know why not in the arcade, possibly due to the time it would take to create and test her with an expected arcade release of July). I happen to think Elena and Makoto would be awesome to see as well. A promising poll of Capcom's blog asked which character people wanted to see return in 4, and one of my favorites, Dudley, was the the number one pick, so here's hoping that Capcom can trim the fat (wink wink, nudge nudge, say-no-more say-no-more) and give us something to talk about, in a good way, for the next few months.

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