NOTE: This is a spoiler free review.
Story time. My very first Street Fighter II character was Zangief. He was physically the biggest in the eight person roster, and he looked as if he could beat the breaks off of blond guy, and girl with the kicks. Even army guy was no match for his strength. Until stretchy arms guy clobbered me. Then the next person up, who sat his quarter up by the screen to indicate he was next, used blonde guy, and shot blue stuff out his hands. That's what I needed! And from that point on, I was hooked. I watched Ken get married, get a better dragon punch, take on a student, get new kicks (not shoes), and...wait...is that a pony tail? He became less and less of a Ryu clone, and turned into a business man, and in one variant, became Violent Ken. I say all that to establish my love for the franchise. I've played Street Fighter religiously since Street Fighter II, and I've wrestled with all of it's variants. I've got cartridges. I've got discs. I've got cabinets. And for the first time in a long time, I can say that the new game - Street Fighter 6 - is the crème de la crème. The Shippu Jinraikyaku of fighting games. It's the best Street Fighter has been in ages.
I'll get to the characters and new fangled mechanics in a bit. First, I would like to address why there's a full RPG tucked ever so neatly inside Street Fighter 6. It shocked me so much I ended up spending endless hours on it. It's a complete game-within-the-game. You get to create a character, and start in Metro City. The very same Metro City that former mayor Mike Haggar saved from the Mad Gear gang. Yes, THAT Mike Haggar and THAT Metro City from Final Fight. You meet the aforementioned Luke, who has decided to become a teacher, and a mentor to people that want to become better and stronger than they were. In the middle of the onboarding process, a character named Bosch shows up, and in Pokemon Red and Blue fashion, also wants to be the strongest, and wants to go on his own path. Luke decides to kill that comparison, and sends you both out together. To have each others backs, mostly. But you know, Blu...I mean...Bosch wants to forge his own path.
Now what I won't do is tell you how this shakes out, because I want you to find out the story yourself. I will say this. The Street Fighter lore here is thicker than Marisa. By that, I mean it's big, it's palpable, and it's everywhere. On the signs of buildings, you'll see ads for Hakan (SFIV) products, and fake movie posters featuring Hugo (SFIII). You'll meet characters and see landmarks from previous games. In the square, the entirety of Street Fighter history is paved on the ground as part of a walk of fame kind of presentation. The entire city is just homage to the entire Street Fighter universe. Even the NPCs have a lot of background, related or not, and you just want to talk to each and every one.
When you approach an NPC (non playable character for my casual readers) you have up to three options. The first option is the standard of any RPG, and that is talking. They have a reason why they're here, and will talk your ear off if you let them. Some even have a comment bubble over their heads, and will sometimes further the storyline. They will not automatically talk to you, and as you walk up to them, you'll see their level, and options. Did I say level? I did. Because there's another thing you can do with the vast majority of them. Fight.
You can just choose to catch the fade with almost anyone. The game is still Street Fighter, and you are a fighter in the streets. You can just beat people up. At anytime. For any reason. You don't like a person's face? Fight 'em. You think you can take the guy at the food truck? Fight 'em. When you engage someone in a fight, you can either ask them to fight, or use one of your later-learned specials to use out in the field. Once you challenge them, the game goes into your regular Street Fighter mode. Each NPC has a number over their heads, and it tells you what level of experience they have, so if you are at level 1, and someone is at level 15, it's best you leave that person alone, or you'll be on your back in no time.
When you begin your endless vagabond quest, Luke downloads an app to your phone. It is 2023, after all. The app is your go-to menu. It shows your status, items collected, mission progress to move along the story, your map, messages, a camera, world tour, and messages. There are other tabs to be unlocked later in game, but no spoilers! Your status tab is the key to your adventures. I love this so much. It's so very simple, but so very good. This is a Street Fighter game, right?
There are 5 options in the skills tab. As you fight through the streets, you gain experience points. As you level up from these experience points, you also get skill points. You get new skills to learn via a skill tree using these skill points. The tree starts with four options, and the skill tree is a tournament bracket. You have four things to choose from, You get two. Then two others open up, and you can choose one, once you get to the top, you automatically get the last one, or the "winner" of the skill tree. Innovation, ya'll. The next tier is an elite 8. You can choose upgrades like make your punches or kicks have more power, or get a discount at the shop. You can also unlock more slots for special moves.
You can set special moves for your character when you fight in the streets. When you start, I believe you get just a few. You can have any special move you unlock set to your character. You cannot set two special moves that use the same motion. A Hadoken uses the quarter circle forward motion with a punch, so naturally, you can't use the sand blast because it uses the the same motion. You can also set aerial skills, and eventually all 3 level super arts. You pick these up from the masters in the game, which is another option in the skills tab. Then there's your gear.
While running around in Metro City, you can stop at stores and buy clothing and accessories. These aren't just for looks though, because again, this is an RPG tucked into a fighting game. These accessories, from hats, to shirts, to socks and shoes, can up stats like vitality, throw strength, and defense. You can even get an extra ability depending on the gear. Right now, I have high voltage, which increases the charge of my super arts gauge. Now if you want to wear the strongest gear, but not look like a crazy person (outside of the zany avatar you've created) there's a tab for gear appearance. You can set your gear for the attributes you want, and then set gear on how you want to look on screen. Later, you can enhance these items and accessories, but I've already said too much.
The last two things I'll get into here are the Map and World Tour. When Luke sends you out, he sends you to find your first master outside of himself. Later your map is unlocked, and this map will show you everything you need to know. Some would call this hand holding. I call it THERE'S A RPG IN A STREET FIGHTER GAME! On this map are mission markers, store and food truck locations, and even fast travel locations. Once you unlock fast travel, you can click those at will, and just go. You can also open fast travel by clicking a button, but why would you? You can also set pins on the map, this will show up on the mini map in game. The masters' locations are also indicated on the map.
This is where all the Street Fighter lore kicks in. The in-game roster is scattered through out the game. You can approach them, and become their student. Once you become their student, you can then use their style. They will tell you what they've been up to since Street fighter 4, 5, and 3 (canon order), and you can even bribe...er....gift them items that will strengthen your bond and level them up. The more you use their skills, and interact with them, the more the bond grows, and the more moves they'll teach you. And there's no exclusivity. You can have anyone take you under their wing, with a few caveats. There are a couple in Metro City, and then eventually, you get to travel around the world. You have to go to Japan to meet a certain one, just as you have to go to the UK. Once you unlock this feature, it's probably the coolest element about this game.
I'll wrap it up here, because my Editor in Chief is probably sick of me talking about this part of the game (Yup - E.H.). World Tour mode is probably the coolest thing to happen to a fighting game. I love every bit of it. And I purposely left some of the good stuff out. The text message conversation with a certain SF legend made me laugh so loud, I almost woke up my household.
Whew. Street Fighter 6 has two other modes, one that is standard to fighting games. Fighting Ground is where you're going to find all your run of the mill fighting options. Versus Mode is your couch mode. You can do one on one, or team battle, where you can do up to 5 on 5 single elimination matches. There are different options you can set here too. You can even do doubles. You can also do extreme battle. There are six modes here. Down and Out is where you have to knock down your opponent five times. Rules and Regulations has you be the first to perform specified actions on the screen, with no life bars. You can cross these with gimmicks like Bull Run, where a bull runs into the screen at random, or Mecha Friend, where you can turn enemies to friends, and they will help you attack your opponent. You can have a straight up match, with no gimmicks, but then you might as well go back to versus.
You have a full training mode, which is by far the most customizable training mode I've ever seen. You can also do this couch co-op. You can set different parameters, and set up pretty much any scenario. This is the lab of all labs. You can turn on combo practice, where your opponent will automatically block if your combo is dropped. There are other specific practice types here too, such as "Whiff Punish" Practice, and ever frame meter practice. I think the right word here is robust. Yeah. Let's use robust. You can also go right into tutorials from here. Tutorials have beginner, intermediate, and advanced tiers. They will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about how this particular fighting game works, and probably Street Fighters of the past. Wake ups, Armor, even the new Drive Gauge. It's all here, and it's hands-on. You can't move on to the next item until you complete the task at hand.
In this same training mode, you have access to character guides. If you want to learn a character to the fullest, this is your go to. It gives you basic background information and how to play the character. What they're good at, and not so good at, will all be told to you in the very first option. The game gives you a nice little demonstration for each character. and you can go straight to the next guide. The guide takes you through all the special moves, super arts, and fundamental and advanced strategies. They call Ken "An aggressive character with a ton of powerful kicks", and I've never felt more proud of them giving the homey the tools needed to win, despite all the things you learn about him in World Tour. Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink. This is not hands on, but combo trials are. You can do combo trials with every character, and they too are broken into three sections. Beginner, intermediate and Advanced. It's totally up to you how you want to learn, but learning here is key.
There are two separate single player specific sections here as well. Your online mode is pretty self explanatory here. You can participate in ranked matches, casual matches, and custom rooms without all the pomp and circumstance. You also have an arcade mode, which has a story mode for each character. You can do 5 or 12 stages, and there is an opening cinematic and each character has their own path. You can set the difficulty from the second you select your character.
Then there is the battle hub, and everyone has had experience with this mode from the betas, so I'll be brief. This is where most of the online action is. You can take your avatar from World Tour, and run around in this dome. You can set your character, and set it to where you automatically accept ranked or casual matches. There's a chat on the side. There are ways to challenge an opponent, by sitting at one of the cabinets and waiting. You can also fight using your created character and the moves you have set for them in World Tour, and remember, the more zany and out of whack you make you character, the easier it is for that character to be hit. And to my fellow Wi-Fi people, no worries. It runs great for you, too.
Within the battle hub is a store where you can, again, buy accessories and clothing. There are hubs to join online timed tournaments. You can access extreme battle from here. The absolute coolest thing you can do here is play old Capcom games, like Final Fight, Street Fighter II, and Puzzle Fighter. Unfortunately, these are local play only, but I'm sure someone, somewhere will find a way to play these online. I wonder if it's possible through share play on PS5.
Capcom REALLY wants you to play their game, whether it's your first Street Fighter or your 30th. They have implemented three different control methods. Classic mode is your 6 button light medium heavy punches and kicks setup. Modern controls let you perform special attacks with a direction and a button, plus a special attack button, and dynamic mode is more of a super beginners anyone can play all special moves mode. The latter setting is not available to use in online play, while the former is able to be used in all modes. In fact, you start World Tour in Modern Controls. I don't know why. I do not like it, but if it brings more people to the game, the more the merrier.
Lastly, I can't say enough how much the new characters stand out here. The world warriors, from the original Street Fighter II game are all here, and they're designed to feel like grizzled veterans, but now with different lifestyle changes. Blanka is a tour guide for Brazil, for instance, while Ken has fallen from grace, and looks as if he has stopped pulling his punches. Your new challengers from Super Street Fighter, Deejay, and Cammy, are better and flashier than ever. Returning from Street Fighter IV is Juri, now more in tune with her cold blooded killer persona, while Luke is no longer the young punk from Street Fighter V. There are 6 brand new fighters, and you will see a lot of Kimberly (Bushinryu ninjitsu) and Marisa (Italian colosseum conqueror) mains, don't be surprised if you see French woman model turned ballet dancer Manon, and the mysterious JP pop up. Lily has ties to T. Hawk from SSFII, and Jamie is the drunken style break dancer with ties to Yun and Yang (SFIII). I say again, the lore is insane (What are you even talking about? - E.H.).
There is SO MUCH MORE I can say here. The Drive gauge is game changing, and is responsible for any of your comeback moves. It's also responsible for your EX moves. Use it wisely. Also, having three supers, plus a critical art is very nice. A CA is a level three super when your life is down past 25%. The whole fighting system is revamped, and I can't put it down. Even the parry system is back and improved. The matchmaking even lets you select if you're a beginner or an advanced player. There's no way you won't be able to find your way to become great.
You have the options to turn on commentary and play-by-play, both in English and Japanese, with some of your favorite famous commentators, Like Tasty Steve, and Zelina Vega from WWE. The touches in World Tour when you engage in a fight, the background stays the same, wherever you are. The stages are beautiful, fully animated, and crowded. You can turn the background crowd off, if you're easily distracted. Also there's a graphics settings, but I don't know why you would play this outside of performance mode, which is a buttery 60 FPS. Of course you can set your controller buttons, and you can even tune even camera options. They really did it. Just wait until you open the gallery. I'm leaving that one up to you. Also, there is a fighters pass in lieu of a store, to earn more characters. Sorry, not sorry - I think it's ok.
They gave us everything. Out the box. I can gush about this game more, but you should go play it. Like right now. If you got this far, because you wanted to know why I gave it the rating that I did, then congratulations. It's a game for Street Fighter fans, and dare I say it, it's accessible to button mashers. It would be interesting to see a modern controls tournament of people who've never played, or hardly played a Street Fighter game. Hmm. Capcom, I tip my hat to you. This game is excellent!
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Joseph is the resident streamer for Gaming Nexus. He grew up playing video games as early as the Atari 2600. He knows a little about a lot of video games, and loves a challenge. He thinks that fanboys are dumb, and enjoys nothing more than to see rumors get completely shut down. He just wants to play games, and you can watch him continue his journey at Games N Moorer on Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook gaming!View Profile