It would be pretty easy to suggest that the Street Fighter series of video games is composed of the most famous fighting games ever. Back in the good ol’ drop-a-quarter-to-play days you couldn’t walk into a blinking, buzzing game room at the local mall without being greeted by Ryu and Ken throwing their bulked-up punches.
Capcom’s Street Fighter V, for the PC and PS4, is the 2016 version of all that nostalgia. Because while things have obviously changed considerably since the simple six-buttons-and-a-joystick play of the ’80s, there’s still a lot here to recognize. For better or for worse.
For those who have never thrown or blocked a powered-up punch in this franchise, it’s essentially a game where you choose one of, in this case, 16 different brawlers and step into a series of one-on-one timed battles with the other exotic fighters. Each character has his or her own set of jumping and tumbling light, medium and heavy attacks, as well as the ability to block most incoming blows to reduce the damage dealt.
From there it’s just a matter of figuring out the necessary combination of button presses and clicks of the thumbstick to master more powerful attacks that involve fireballs, magical energy blasts, electrical zaps and the like. When your foe’s health meter runs out, you’re the victor. When yours runs out, well, you get the idea.
The game’s various attacks look like they could level a crash of rhinos, but beaten foes only appear dazed by fight’s end. Of course, if Junior were to attempt a jump kick to little sis’s chest, such a friendly outcome is certainly not guaranteed! At least there’s no blood and guts or ripped out spines here as Street Fighter V takes the tried and true mechanics of past games and weaves in the new V-Gauge fight system. It adds to the distinct special skills, reversals and triggered moves each character can call on. And learning how to best use and power up these abilities changes the flow of the fast-paced battles considerably.
Street Fighter V isn’t very easy to just pick up and play, especially for the uninitiated. Now, that’s more of a good thing than a bad thing when looking at it from the perspective of a parent who doesn’t much want the kids to be endlessly practicing their virtual fight club skills. But I thought it’s worth relaying here that the game is very coy about spelling out all those special whiz-bang moves you can access. You pretty much have to figure them out on your own through a lot experimentation—experimentation that lots of players are going to do online, getting their tails kicked over and over again by more seasoned players.
Beyond the realities of the fighting itself, the real punch to a gamer’s solar plexus comes in the form of the battling characters themselves. These are bold, brassy guys and gals, to be sure. Some are little more than surly, snarling goons. And a few grunt out swears such as “d–mit,” “a–,” “b–tard” and “bloody h—.” Most of the female fighters are … voluptuous, you might say. And both men and woman aren’t shy about showing off their sometimes crazy-over-the-top curves. (We see barely covered breasts, teeny micro shorts, exposed backsides and even up-under-a-T-shirt exposure.) In a sentence, this game doesn’t hesitate to peep and peek as battlers are busy bouncing, bapping and bashing.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.