Street Fighter is old. During its existence as a series, fighting turned from bar room brawls to a spectator sport. Oddly, Street Fighter gained spectators too. The series has been rebooted, reset, re-released, and remade. There have been lunchboxes, pachinko machines, movies, and books. Prequels and sequels. One-offs and three-offs.
Characters died. Then, were resurrected. Some have grayed, some are eternally young. Others are retired. They’re old too. They cheer in the background of Street Fighter V. They’re story blips now.
And story – story hasn’t changed. Ryu still seeks perfection. Ken remains a showman. Chun-Li demands her vengeance. Bison remains the monster at the heart of Shadaloo. Any new challengers in Street Fighter V’s tiny crowd follow the lead set up 30 years ago.
There remains speed and luxury in Street Fighter V. All of the splash and color of a Guilty Gear will never reach the pinnacle of a swift Street Fighter roundhouse. It’s old, but it’s sure. Hundreds have tried for the throne. The gore ones, the flashy ones, the 3D ones; Street Fighter continues on. Purity in interactive fighting has but one master – that’s never changed.
Street Fighter has fallen before. Fighters have failed – no one liked Street Fighter III’s muscle statue Gill. Spin-offs have collapsed. Capcom Fighter All Stars deserves a grave to itself. Some worked though. Street fighter’s fought Marvel, fought Namco, and fought SNK. Proving grounds have been cleared.
Born in the arcades only to see those arcades die; that’s Street Fighter’s fate. Once Street Fighter was delivered in grandiose wooden cabinets flush with art and lights. People gathered, they learned, and put quarters on the screen to play. Now Street Fighter V is sold piecemeal. People put fivers on their credit card to play DLC dress up in a game which is barely working. No one gathers because they can’t. The lights have gone out.
The internet happened to Street Fighter. It was blindsided by an unexpected opponent – technology. Expectations changed. Street Fighter V is one of the victims.
Someday it will be complete. Every character will have a home. Servers will stabilize. Capcom will grow up and admit they’ve been wrong for the better part of five years. Until then, the lights are gone. The majesty and glow of a CRT is gone. Gone too is the aura. It’s just old.